The built space is what surrounds us most of the time, the vast majority of us living in urban environments where architecture and urbanism are the protagonists. Architecture is probably the art form with the strongest impact on us, working with the human subconscious, often without realising how heavily the surrounding buildings influence us. 

The built environment interacts with our mood and feelings, defining the atmosphere and our relationship with the city and its other inhabitants. What surrounds us is important to us as individuals because of the emotional load we tend to give to the spaces around us. Our native city, the neighbourhood and the house where we grew up – they all become spaces of affect. We build inner cities that define and shape us, and the sight of a dear place arouses a certain feeling in us. Our own identity is determined by the connections we make with the world. Subsequently, the identity of the city we live in can influence the way we define ourselves.

The urban space reflects the social, cultural and ethnic aspects of a place. The coherence of the social component of a city is essential, and a well-defined identity determines a space for which people feel responsible and which encourages their constant involvement. In essence, public space can be defined by being together. Culture is one of the main elements that stimulate the feeling of belonging to a community.

Urban identity is what distinguishes one city from another. In the age of globalisation, the struggle for a unique identity specific to each urban space should be even more important. The spreading of modern urbanism principles in the post-war period led to great similarities between cities around the globe. Although the trend is towards universalisation, uniformity, cities are struggling to preserve their individuality and shape their defining image. Urban identity, this distinctive character of an urban space, can be based on a set of inherited features, on history and heritage. Cities with a strong historical component must maintain the continuity between the past of the built, preserved and restored space, and the new architecture that integrates and respects the local history. In the context of globalisation and homogenisation of urban spaces, what distinguishes them from each other is the link with local traditions and cultural heritage: architectural style, decorative elements, local building materials etc.

Forging a strong identity is a lengthy process that requires the involvement of all citizens. Through their sustained effort, even the communities without relevant historical heritage can build their own unique image. It is essential to understand and define the character of the place where we live – the need to make associations with significant places is deeply human. Urban spaces reflect, harmonise and improve the experiences of the people who live in them.