The text introduces a notion of the city as a condition that has undergone constant regeneration and sometimes sudden and dramatic change. It argues that the reality of the city in its complex and imperfect state has been largely forgotten and undervalued in terms of the present. The text highlights the dilemma of planning for a future which fails to engage with places as they are, and it touches on values of reuse, imagination, and experience in the context of architectural design. The architectural projects of East are used to illustrate and expand upon some of the ideas contained in the essay, each of which seek to show how good relationships are intrinsic to the urban life of the city, and how the value and quality of architectural design depends on its setting and situation as much as the hermetic determinants of an architectural design brief. High Streets are cited as a special opportunity for rethinking the city, and the piece finishes by asserting the primary role of public space as an infrastructure aimed at facilitating the metropolitan potential of urban life.