Vertical cities: farewell horizontal?

I love this urban style, it is perfect

Paul Dobraszczyk

Robin Hood’s Bay, North Yorkshire

Recently, whilst holidaying on the northeast coast of England, I became fascinated by the vertical quality of the built environment there. In the Yorkshire coastal settlements of Staithes, Runswick Bay, Whitby and Robin Hood’s Bay, many of the houses are constructed on steep-sided land fronting natural bays or man-made harbours. Built mainly from the 16th century onwards, these villages and towns presented a remarkably dense built environment, presumably to take full advantage of what nature had provided – to cash in on the lucrative coming together of sea and land, whether through fishing in the case of Staithes and Whitby or smuggling at Robin Hood’s Bay.


Whitby harbour

The density of these settlements – their small houses all connected by extremely narrow cobbled paths and steep steps – and their fascinating vertical topography reminded me of the favelas of Rio-de-Janeiro and other informal housing…

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