If we take a look European cities, we can see their similarities and know the reason for neighboring colonies and countries having the same distinctive features. But what about Non European Cities, if we look at Cities such as Mexico City, Sanaa’A, Toronto and much more. The question to be asked is how has European architecture and influences reach these places, and left their mark. And for these European influences in Non European areas, was it the first form of architecture, infrastructure, and colonized by the European or was these Non-European areas inhabited before gaining these European influences. Was it through invasion, political decision, and just through admiration. And also there is infrastructure built before European incorporations, how different are these architecture from the European way of building and colonizing.
If we take a look at Mexico, it can be said it’s a giant place in a simple descriptive way. The earliest accounts of civilization in Mexico was nomads tribes in the north. There is a myth on how Mexico city was founded, the myth is that the nomads were to look for a land where there is an eagle eating a serpent on a cactus, but this is as they say a myth but most of the Mexico natives believe it to be true. This land that we know today as Mexico City was surrounded by mountains and lakes. The civilization which inhabited this city was known as the Aztec tribe. They had already develop their own urbanism in Mexico and had their own infrastructure, which consisted of temple construction and islands in a grid like pattern which were separated by lakes and crossways would be used as transportation means.
When going to Mexico City now, at certain historical places you will see evidence of European civilization, such as the Palace of Fine Arts along with Cathedrals, all of which was a product of the Spanish invasion of Mexico in the 1500’s. With this downfall of the Aztec civilization, there begins to be reorganization of infrastructure by the Spanish colony. They began to destroy and build new infrastructure but kept the design of the roadways and pathways. With evidence from the site of the “squares of three cultures”, we can see that the Spanish layered their infrastructure over the Aztec own. Evidence of the Spanish is all over Mexico City, as with the architecture, which is Baroque, which was a dominate architectural style of the Spanish Colonies.
If we take a look at Islamic, Most of the their architecture for example has a very close relationship with their faith and beliefs. As with the Mosque, which is always to a great caliber, with a dome and always in the center of their cities or towns. Islamic cultures are very strict and so with most of their urbanism, it has the same aspect as well, as their city blocks, narrow streets and individual dwelling is strictly based on segregation.
As with European urbanism, most of their infrastructure are in the lines of a horizontal design while with the Islamic urbanism, its vertical. As in most of their buildings, are built upwards, this can be a result of lack of space such as in the city of Sana’A.
And with Mexico City, we see a mixture of European and Native urbanism, but over the years, we almost see a type of schizophrenic identity in their infrastructure.
• Abu-Lughod, (May 1987), “The Islamic City- Historic Myth, Islamic Essence, and Contemporary Relevance”, International Journal of Middle East Studies, Vol.19, No.2, pg 155-176.
• Saoud, Rabah, (August 2002), “Introduction to the Islamic City”, Foundation for Science Technology and Civilization, Ahmed Salem