Downtown, Oranjested, Aruba

Unfortunately, much of the old Dutch-style architecture is vanishing from the heart of this Caribbean capital, replaced with soulless glass and steel boxes. I am strongly opposed to the trend of placeless architecture. A sense of place, a context, or a reference to local history creates a particularness that keeps urbanscapes from all looking the same. I think Cleveland should look different than London or Marseille. In a quickly evolving society, distinctive architecture helps to ground us.

In many places the squeegee of progress has scraped clean any reference to the past so that not only has the sense of place disappeared but also a sense of time.

A small island in the Dutch Antilles, Aruba has not a lot to recommend it. It’s only real importance is centred in an oil refinery sunbathing on the south point, belching a cloud of unknown gasses into the cerulean Caribbean sky. That obscuring vapour would perhaps be useful on a battlefield to provide cover for advancing troops, but here, just thirty miles from the coast of Venezuela, it provides only a brief shadow for the banana boats hastening from Caracas.