hidden europe 4

Privileged places: a small town eulogy

by Nicky Gardner


hidden europe alights upon a trinity of urban delights: Damme (Belgium), Ribe (Denmark) and Ystad (Sweden)

Planning is a profession riddled with paradoxes. Utopian impulses drive planners to strive for urban perfection, and yet many of the most striking examples of amiable and successful communities which we encounter on our travels around Europe seem to be spaces that have evolved in spite of planners rather than because of them.

Nowhere is this more evident true than in some of the older small towns of northern Europe. These are places that we rush through en route to somewhere greater and grander, the places where the fast train no longer stops (if it ever did), often by-passed by the major highways. They are towns which have been entrusted for centuries with the Rame of urbane civility, a burden they seem to have shouldered easily and with no great pretensions.

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