Today's urbanist may also see a future gondola station, a walkable destination, or the potential for sustaining natural pockets amid the built environment. But what compels such vision? I'll take a leap of faith here, in order to put a modern gloss on the human imagination that conceived the edge of the earth in Italy, long ago.
The city is a perpetually incomplete project; it is constantly being remade and reshaped by the changing state of our world, whether by the interventions of its governing bodies or the powerful actions of its residents. Architecture can and must speak to this adaptability, as both a technology and reflection of social change.
Picture an ancient city full of intricately carved stone temples, where millions of pilgrims and ascetics come to bathe in the holy waters of the Ganges, as Hindus have done for hundreds of generations. Now, imagine that the holy water of the Ganges is being monitored by electronic sensors to detect pollution levels, and the lights illuminating the streets and houses of this city are fitted with motion sensors and calibrated to save energy.