Architecture and Urban Design are not extensions of each other, they merge seamlessly. Maunuel de Solà-Morales work is not driven by planning or the art of city building, it is instead the concept of stimulating urbanism, through minimum interventions achieving the maximum effect. Hans Ibelings writes on urbanity, “the work of de Solà-Morales consists to a large extent of interventions at points where there is little energy, if any at all. His interventions unleash a heightened potential: the possibility of urbanity”. Urban Acupuncture to de Solà-Morales is built upon this underlying principle. He believes the essence of urbanity lies in the balance of urban mixity and density, between building and activity. Approaching the sites with an attentive and cautious approach to the richness of the sites, both the existing richness and most importantly, the potential richness.
De Solà-Morales writes that he works on the skin on cities, that the architecture of surface texture is the raw material of his urban projects. It is this skin that is experienced, urbanity made of touch and vision, of sensations and suggestions. “It is the urban matter that transmits to us, at its most sensitive points and neutral zones, the qualitative energy that accumulates collective character on certain spaces, charging them with complex significance and cultural references and making them semantic material, social constructions of intersubjective memory.” The power that is held within the skin of the city is overwhelming. The art of Urban Acupuncture is the manipulation of this skin.
As with acupuncture as a medical application de Solà-Morales states that the location of the sensitive point is the first step in the strategic treatment of the urban skin. To identify the sensitive point, “the skin of the city has to be observed with the attention of a detective who scrutinises the tinniest clues in it wrinkles and their apparent lack of connection”. It is only after this in-depth scruitinisation has been undertaken can the intervention be conceived considering, adding, removing, modifying or the restructuring of things. Surprise and intuition are as important in the urban project as coherence and understanding.