On my first day in Santiago, I was immediately struck by the openness of the city. As I walked to get lunch, all of the stores along the way had their doors open to the street. Escalators to the mall were accessible straight from the sidewalk. The separation between indoors and outdoors was often minimal to none.
The openness of the city is difficult to describe. The word that seems to best explain it is permeability. Many of the malls in the city, for instance, do not act as one heavy volume on a city block. They are permeable in the way that the lower level has paths to cross through the block, with shops all around.
Often times during architecture school, it is common for someone to begin a project by trying to create areas with an ambiguity of space. That includes me, but it wasn't until I visited Santiago that I realized what that truly means. From division of interior and exterior to separation of public and private spaces, so much of Santiago seems to blend together and act as a whole rather than piece by piece. Even parks behave in an entirely new way. They don't act as an isolated destination the way I have seen many parks in Ohio. Rather, they serve as both recreational areas and as circulation paths through the city.
The impact of all this is the creation of a blended, unified city. Locals and tourists, children and the elderly, and even dogs and humans all live as one.
Implementing this into cities like Columbus would completely transform the place, and certainly in a positive way. Take the Oval on campus, for example. It is by far one of Ohio State's most popular spaces and serves the dual purpose of play and circulation. Perhaps Columbus is not quite so literally possible since the climate of Ohio is nowhere near as favorable in Santiago. Still, creating spaces that are permeable as opposed to heavy volumes has the potential to create a more usable city.