I tend to think every place is sort of the same, at least in terms of the essentials.
The majority of its large buildings are raised three or four feet from the ground, standing on dozens of concrete stilts: local government offices that take up an entire block, six-storey apartment buildings, a sizeable new Orthodox seminary currently under construction, even a hulking factory at the city’s edge. It gives the place a tentative feel, as if it were perching on the soil like a bird on a branch. The purpose of the stilts is to prevent heat from the buildings warming the ground, since this would melt the icy soil on which their foundations rest, causing them to sink. The wooden houses that remain in the centre of the city, and the many more that make up its poorer outskirts, show the wisdom of the new pile technique: you can tell the age of a building by how close to the pavement its windowsills have sagged.
Ostensibly, this is an article about permafrost and climate change, but just as a description of a totally different place, it’s worth checking out.
Also, it led me to looking at Google Maps imaging of the area. Which led to me zooming in on Pyongyang. Because you can zoom in on Pyongyang.
via Helen DeWitt