Urban interventions: Part A
Deriving the urban interventions for urban design based on the principles from the paper reads. The first blog explores the medium that activates street life, and the philosophies that are required to enhance the overall quality of the streets in day-to-day life.
Takebacks on well-renowned authors regarding the uses of sidewalks in the city that redefine the space analogy, which goes hand in hand with the critical regionalism that enhances the quality of space.
- Takebacks on 1. Jacobs, J, The uses of sidewalk: safety, in The City Reader
- Takebacks on 2. “Critical Regionalism: An Architecture of Place” from Repairing the American Metropolis: Common Place Revisited (2002)
1a. Quick overview of the architect and his work:
Whyte William is a popular sociologist who helped draft a comprehensive design plan to improve New York City’s parks and plazas. Hunter college in the City University of New York appointed him as a distinguished professor. By surveying and interviewing people, he understood the demographics and formed a hypothesis about how people used the urban space. He also assisted in developing a restoration plan for Bryant Park, New York. Through his study, he also observed that women tend to use public plazas more often than their counterparts and are sensitive to annoyances. He is a keen observer of the environmental factors that contribute to the public plaza design.
b. Whyte William’s idea regarding the urban scape and how the quality of street life influences the mindset of the people:
Observation of the New York City plazas was made using sighting maps, time-lapse cameras, and interviewing people. The male-female ratio suggested well-managed public plazas. He was a keen observer as to where each gender would occupy the seats based on preferences. The functionality of space also guided the different categories of where people would gather. The effective radius in the core of the downtown area of New York is about 3 blocks, and about 80% of the people occupy the area.
c. Location of plazas in the public realm:
Location is one of the key factors in analyzing how actively the spaces would be utilized. Some of the best plazas were in close proximity to public transit and had strong pedestrian access. Some of the popular plazas in New York were narrow and long rather than widely stretched out. The light and air were crucial aspects to be considered while designing these public plazas. Seating was a major concern in how these spaces were utilized and how active they were.
2a. Quick overview of the architect and his work:
Jane Jacobs is a neighborhood activist who started writing about city life and urban planning as an associate editor of Architectural Forum.
Her book “The Death and Life of Great American Cities” hit the world with a different chord in 1961. She intends that “meanwhile parks are good, the crowding was bad”. The parks could be potentially dangerous and the safest place for children could be the crowded neighborhood. She critiqued the contributions of Le Corbusier and Ebenezer Howard in the book “Home Remedies for Urban Cancer”.
b. Outlining the factors that differentiate a good city sidewalk from an unsafe city sidewalk:
The Death and Life of Great American Cities were Jane Jacob’s finest works. She focuses on “The Uses of Sidewalks: Safety”, outlining her basic notions that essentially make the neighborhood safe for both women and children. This book was a scathing attack on the planning establishment. Nonetheless, it was a loving invitation for the middle-class gentrification of a formally working neighborhood. In contrast to Louis Wirth’s theory, which is based on the size, heterogeneity, and density in the city creates a distinct urban personality. She talks about social cohesion and the reality of safety and the overall perception.
c. Importance of streets in day-to-day life:
Some of the former books of Jacob include “The Economy of Cities and Systems of Survival”. She talks about the importance of streets and how it serves a purpose besides vehicles. The streets are the fundamental element that makes the city interesting, and the safety of the sidewalks is the key factor bordering the great cities that distinguish the suburbs and the urban cities based on this factor. She points out that if this fails, it leads to the failure of the city structure attracting robbery and unsafe environments at various degrees using the example of Los Angeles and how the crime rates are astounding. She points out the failing factors and how they can be avoided by straightforward methods rather than evading the issues of the city streets being unsafe. By adding repetitive enterprises to initiate the usage of sidewalks. She uses the example of Hudson Street, where she lives, and how active, usable, and safe the streets are both during the day and night. These are some of the fine examples along with the other cities of Boston or any other animated neighborhood of great cities that unite the joint effect of the sidewalk which is not differentiated in the least and that is its strength.
Figure 1 and 2 : https://cyclingindustry.news/tfl-endorses-nactos-priority-for-active-travel-street-design-guide/
Figure 3,5,6,7,8,9 and 10: https://www.rios.com/projects/horton-plaza/