I left America about six weeks ago to fly to England. Being an architect and a lover of history I thought being here would be a wonderful opportunity to see some beautiful European and medieval architecture. All of my life I was only ever able to see any of it through movie depictions, television programs or in magazines. Now that I have been through a majority of this country, I can honestly say that none of it has disappointed me. In fact, the only thing that I have found disappointing is that in America there is very little to compare to what is here. I realize that the history of America is much younger than in Europe, but it’s still a shame.

Wandering the streets of towns and cities I can’t help but compare the architecture and everything else here to that of the U.S. I feel rather partial to the narrow streets and businesses all set up and operating through the day. It makes me think of what Napoleon Bonaparte said about this country, “England is a nation of shopkeepers.” Although many might disagree with that statement, I personally think he might have been right. But I say that in a flattering way and not to degrade. Quite honestly, I often wish that I had been born in Europe rather than the States.

I have a friend back home who is a bit of a health fanatic. He runs his own small health food chain geared around the best creatine supplements on the market. He is a bit obsessive about his buildings and he asked me to take special notice to the difference between the gyms and health food stores in America and here in England. Of course, I would prefer to look at it from an architect’s point of view instead.

The first difference I can see is the locations in where the fitness centers and health food stores are placed. The ones that I know in America are not usually built in the most convenient locations but rather a little out of the way. Here in England I can see them on very busy streets where people tend to flock throughout the day. They seem more accessible to walk to than the ones back home. In America, the fitness centers are more horizontally centered but here in England they aren’t as wide and have more floors to them. The actual architecture here is more interesting than back in America. The ones I’ve seen actually look like small palaces with a royalty feel. The American fitness centers often have a very boring supermarket touch and look to them from the outside. Internally, the British fitness centers gave me a more home feel. In America you don’t feel like you’re at home at all but actually in a gym.

As for the health food stores, I really haven’t found too much of a difference. There are unique looking health food stores in both countries but it really boils down the cultural background of the individual who is running the business. It seems like a lot of the better workout supplements are getting sold from home these days, so it was actually kind of tough to find a bunch of health food stores to compare for him. It’s just like restaurants in that regard. Overall, I couldn’t really choose which style I would choose over another.

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