In the UK, there is a hard edge to cities not found in the US. A certain grimy texture to the urban environment, nearly hidden in plain sight, just in and around modern glass palaces and quaint old architecture. I wondered about it for a long time, then realised it comes from experience. This pedestrian zone is actually fun to walk in – but it is brought to you by the EU, or at least, the Luftwaffe. It all had to be rebuilt after World War 2 because the devastation was so total and so merciless. But that is the other thing that makes UK cities special. They’ve been around. They’ve seen things, people and ideas come and go. And yet there are always renewal projects going on. It is a testament to what is possible if things are maintained; how the imagination brings old and new together; and a buffet of textures, impressions and vibes that make up the souls of cities.