Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Frankfurt Gestalten

Frankfurt Gestalten
Frankfurt Gestalten seems a useful forum, part of the OKF Open Knowledge Foundation.

A search for Niddastrasse at the time of writing, for example, yielded thirteen results, ranging from parking issues to a mouse- and rat plague in the Ottostrasse, between Niddastrasse and Mainzer Landstrasse.
Ed Gray in his current exhibition at the Crypt of St. Pancras Church seems to have captured King's Cross; the relationship between King's Cross Square (as it currently stands) and the Euston Road (The A501) - minus the median railings which remain opposite the bus stands, and with the colourful range of people using the area. The buildings 1-11 Euston Road in mid-field, currently threatened by a planning application,and the tidy versions of the MacDonalds York Way, the Lighthouse and distant Travelodge Gray's Inn Road complete the scene.

Monday, 28 November 2011

King's Cross Square

Left: Stanton Williams Designs for King's Cross Square. Right: Gaylord Investments' recent proposal for the Euston Road side of King's Cross Square

The importance of King’s Cross as an international gateway has grown over the last decade, and since Terry Farrell's proposal for the Mayor’s Hundred Public Spaces Programme, which suggested a worthy terminus to Euston Road as one of the capital's grand boulevardes, and of course there has been a global financial crisis. Still, there was a doubling the capacity of the underground interchange, and international-calibre designs for the iconic stations. But despite Camden's 'place shaping' efforts, now the disconnected vision (or lack of vision) of this civic space has seen the calibre of civic design descending to the standards of Gaylord Investments and Transport for London.

A future award candidate? Better to return to the 'Great Spaces' plan.

Update 5 January 2012

Camden New Journal "Shattered Dream"
Developer Nigel Bennett (of Metropolis Planning and Design) was said to have had his dream shattered with the recent refusal of planning permission by Camden Council. Bennett cited 'anti-development' 'lobbyists' as interfering with the project which, despite CABE's report, Bennett personally considered to be an exciting contemporary design. He vowed to appeal over the eighteen grounds Camden gave for refusing planning approval.

Can King's Cross Square have good quality design, world standard architecture and positive civic development? Could it be a Great Space?

Friday, 21 October 2011

BesetzteStraße: Gemischte Strassenbenutzung zu jede Tageszeit, am Beispiel der Bahnhofsviertel Frankfurt und London

Zusammenfassung (English version here)
(aufgearbeitet mit hilfe M. Kuglitsch Oktober 2011)

Straßen in Innenstädte könnten lebendiger sein, könnten auch eine nachhaltigerer Rolle im öffentlichem Raum spielen, wenn NutzerInnen von Straßenraum (BesetzerInnen der Straßen) und auch die Gestaltung für diversen Nutzungen der Straße zu jeder Tageszeit - besser verstanden waeren. Die Forschung Werden die Qualität von gemischten Straßen in inneren, dichten Stadtbezirken rund um die Uhr untersuchen. Im Vordergrund der Forschung stehen die Erfahrungen der BenützerInnen, Dies sowohl als auch die Vorgehensweise beim Entwurf der Strasse, da zweiteres für verbesserte Qualität in der staedischen Infrastruktur bestimmend ist.
Die Analyse von Praxis und Theorie in Europa - auch Weltweit - dient als Hintergrund für die Untersuchung zweier Beispielsfallen; jeweils an Verkehrsknotenpunkten in Bahnhofsviertel Frankfurt am Main und in Bahnhofsviertel King's Cross London, GB. Diese Beispiele veranschaulichen die dicht besetzten und auch bekämpften Strassenraume und werden als Probeexemplar herangezogen um die Grenzen der Idee eines gemeinsamen öffentlichen Raumes, eines sogenannten Zivilraumes zu erforschen.

Beabsichtigt ist die Erhebung von Fallbeispielen, wo Stassenbenutzung und Strassengestaltung anhand betroffener AkteurInnen festgehalten werden.  Durch die Analyse der Veränderungsprozesse sollen neue Informationen über Benutzerperspektiven und Qualität von Strassen dokumentiert werden. Weiters wären Entwurfsvorschläge zu machen, um die benutzergerechte Qualität zu stärken, beispielsweise  Lebensqualität, Sicherheit, Attraktivität. Zuletzt werden Beispiele zur Umgestaltung und Modellierung entworfen, um zu Bewerten, inwiefern die beabsichtigten Verbesserungen (aus Sicht der BenutzerInnen) erreicht werden.

Occupying the Street

Occupying the Street:
Mixed-Use Street Design for all Hours, London and Frankfurt
Train Station Areas
October 2011

Aim of Research
For inner-urban streets to become more liveable, and to perform a more sustainable role in the public realm, requires a better understanding of users, and of the design of spaces for use at all hours of night and day. The research aims to investigate qualities of mixed-use streets in dense urban transport-hub-areas at various times, with respect to both the user experience and the effect of design processes for urban street environments in regeneration. Analysis of European and international practice and theory provides context for investigating case study streets in Frankfurt-Bahnhofsviertel and London-King's Cross. The two examples of densely occupied and contested hub-area streets will be used to test limitations to co-producing streets as shared public realms, and as civic spaces.

Draft Objectives of Research Project
The objectives begin with analysiing street user experience and street design for the case studies. Analysis of processes of change, via nine research method clusters, will inform an appraisal, incorporating user perceptions about street quality. A second objective is to make design proposals for improving desirable qualities identified by users, such as liveability, safety and attractiveness. A third objective is to model and test some limited examples of design interventions, to determine their likely effectiveness in achieving the intended improvements vis-à-vis perceptions of these users.

Reflections on the research at a milestone point. (Transfer Interview and Report)
Four suggestions which arose from the interview were:
1. Research questions (and interview questions) should consider the agency of design and management of streets, and the degree to which management reflects the diversity of street users.
2. Consider how the movement function is addressed as a user requirement in the study.
3. Consider the nature of the research output and its utility.
4. Assessment of ethical issues and personal safety involved in the field work (esp night time, marginalised people.

Eight other issues raised for further consideration during the interview and in the report were;
1. Should analysis be prioritised in order to best shape the ongoing research?
2. The movement function of streets and their role in the wider movement economy should be better addressed in the methodology. A 'rudimentary syntax analysis of urban grain' might be extended to analysing the differences between a highly-managed non-local movement system and the set of local needs.
3. Mainstream Street Design Practice is based largely on normative and technocratic understandings, and explicit investigation into the management regime and its interaction with the local population would be of interest.
4. A positivist design paradigm is implied in the project methodology; survey, analyse, predict and provide. If design is used as a research tool, design methodology and methods of design evaluation must be carefully considered. Also consideration should be given to how design criteria will be established and tested.
5. How will the findings complement existing practice, if not eg. by design outcomes? How would outputs inform future design and management?
6. Psycho-geographic aspects of methods cluster 2 need further explanation.
7. Ethical concerns for working with hard-to-access user groups, working at night in inner cities need to be considered, along with personal safety, and a risk assessment would formalise these.
8. Would practical outputs of the research study leasd to improved practice? If so, who is likely to benefit from or to undertake this type of practice, and will outputs of the study be presented in a form that can inform practice?

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Cyclist killed by HGV operator in King's Cross on Monday

Min Joo Lee, 24 year old fashion student at Central St Martins was killed in front of King's Cross Station on Monday morning. Her fashion design work was featured on the fashion website in March. The famous school where she studied at Central St Martins has just moved into the Granary Building behind the station.

 Work by Min Joo Lee from

Min Joo Lee was crushed and killed on her bicycle in a collision with a heavy goods vehicle at the road junction Euston Road / York Way / Gray's Inn Road / Pentonville Road, part of London's Inner Ring Road  A501 and an integral part of the infamous King's Cross 'gyratory'. In 2007 in Camley Street, also very nearby the new CSM campus, artist Emma Foa (56) was killed by a turning lorry, crushing her against railings. The driver who killed Foa had been looking for some paperwork in his truck, and was fined £300 for his "inadvertence", but allowed to keep his driving licence.

I was appalled in April 2010 when the 25 year old artist, photographer, graphic designer and music-video director Jane Helliwell was crushed to death by the driver of the 390 bus on Oxford Street. In April 2009, Meryem Ozekman, 37, a fitness instructor and experienced cyclist, was crushed by a lorry driving on the Elephant and Castle roundabout. I was horrified the following day, when 29-year-old architect Rebecca Goosen was crushed to death as the driver of a 32-tonne cement mixer turned left into Goswell Road from Old Street, in Clerkenwell. A pattern of cyclist deaths caused by heavy goods vehicle drivers is clearly continuing.

Rhiannon Williams reported in the Islington Gazette that a spokesman for Transport for London had said of Monday's event: “We are extremely sorry to hear of the death of the woman following a collision with a HGV in Euston Road. More needs to be done to prevent serious harm befalling London’s cyclists, and TfL is working with other organisations across London to tackle this serious safety issue.” The TfL spokesman said that it was the 13th cycle death in London in 2011 compared to 10 last year. There is an ongoing debate (and hopefully increasing awareness) about cycles and heavy goods vehicles sharing the road, and personally, I am increasingly wary of approaching anywhere near these vehicles especially when moving near junctions.

The road should be safer for women and men of all ages and driving abilities, whether experienced or not. However the managers of the street and everyone who uses streets, whichever form of movement they use, need to be responsible for this safety, and this doesn't seem to be currently adequate to reassure us of safety in King's Cross.

Charlie Lloyd's 2010 bike blog article "Lorry drivers have no more excuses when it comes to cycling blind spots" covers many of the campaigns and issues about HGV-cycle conflict, including the need for drivers of heavy vehicles and cyclists to take greater care. Personally I try to be noticed by all other road users on my bicycle, but if inadvertently I go unnoticed, in the case of a heavy goods driver (like one checking for papers) the results could be deadly. How can we make the inner city streets like this one safer? Who else could be involved in the process? Transport for London? Cyclist and Driver communities? Pedestrian Organisations? Universities like Central St Martins? Local King's Cross Communities? Who should care about people being killed on roads where we live and work?

An Urban 75 discussion thread, 'Cyclist Killed at King's Cross Lighthouse', with a hundred comments at the time of writing, suggests this road death in King's Cross on Monday will raise many more questions yet.

Camden New Journal published this story on 27 October: Cyclist deaths - ‘Ghost bike’ at the deadly junction that killed fashion student Deep Lee .

Cyclists killed in collisions with lorries include:
Min Joo Lee (in King's Cross)
Emma Foa (in King's Cross)
Madelyn Wright (in King's Cross)
Cath Ward (in Stratford Upon Avon)
Jayne Helliwell (in Oxford Street)
Rebecca Goossen (in Clerkenwell)
Meryam  Ozekman (in Elephant and Castle)
Daniel Cox (in Dalston)
Catriona Patel (in Oval)
Craig Newton (in Edinburgh)
Naoko (in Hammersmith)

Occupying Streets on fb

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Retrofit Caledonian Road - Green Sky Thinking

The workshop for Open City's Sustainability Workshop began with assessing Walkability, Liveability and Sustainability in lower Caledonian Road, King's Cross. An initial brief walking audit took in the livelier one-way-traffic section which is part of an overloaded heavy transport gyratory (A5203) feeding a ring road. Workshop participants broadly appraised some of the commercial and residential uses (interviewing a shopkeeper at Vx) before investigating the street impact of the Vaultex fort at All Saint's Street and a new garden classroom at Thornhill Bridge on Regents' Canal.

Detailed demographic analysis can be based on detailed building information and drawn from mapping tools like  London Profiler to help build a detailed 'pathology' of this 'high street'. The junction of  Killick Street was identified as a key breaking point in the street form and activity, and one participant showed with case studies in Tottenham and Ashford that there were transferable principles for sustainably retroffitting the urban landscape here, to make liveable walkable places.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

On the High Street

Discussion at the Urban Design Group event in Cowcross Street tonight suggested that the High Street, which many have seen as a core public urban space in traditional town and city centres, is currently undergoing fundamental change. 
Joanne Cave pointed to differences between high streets and shopping malls as public gathering places, but concluded that mixed use was also key to rich colourful and vibrant high streets. The New Economics Foundation's Clone Town 2010 report was referred in the second presentaton by Elizabeth Cox, suggesting that declining diversity and distinctiveness, but also a declining proportion of independent local shops to non-local businesses on high streets with global supply chains, meant that profits were being drained away from local communities.
The role of transport was barely touched upon, yet, clearly not only building use and footway use are critical to the spatial balance of the high street, but also the carriageway occupation, from vehicle size speed and weight to the role of parking and carriageway-related signs and equipment in the other two zones, and how readily the latter are traverseable.

Never has the traditional high street been under so much threat.  Internet retail is capturing an ever increasing portion of consumer spend, out of town shopping centres continue to expand and locally owned stores are being progressively replaced by nationally owned chains to the extent that one high street is virtually indistinguishable from the next.  More recently high streets have been the focus of rioters and a ‘roller shutter mentality’ that could see them turn from places of delight into areas of desolation and danger. 

Yet high streets have always been and still are the focal point of our communities.  If the high street declines, then we lose far more than retail choice: it is the identity of urban living that is at stake.  So what can be done to ensure high streets thrive in the 21st century?

Joanne Cave - Partner, David Lock Associates.

Joanne will be discussing the function and identity of high streets, the impact that regeneration initiatives have had over the last 10-15 years, and how retail habits have changed along with the approach of developers to high street redevelopment. She will also look at allied issues of security, maintenance and democracy.

Elizabeth Cox - Head of Connected Economies, New Economics Foundation

The New Economics Foundation (NEF) has been at the forefront of analysing the economic and social problems of the High Street and developing solutions.  Recent reports include Clone Town Britain, and Ghost Town Britain II – Death on the High Street.  The NEF has also developed community based programmes that aim to address the issues including Plugging the Leaks, aiming for economic regeneration through catalyzing the inventiveness and enterprise of local people; and the Reimagine Your High Street programme which looks at co-ordination, design, promotion and economic development

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Zukunft der Innenstadt - Future of Inner Cities

Gezeigt am Schirm hier im Vortragssaal des Perth Convention Centre bevor dem Eroeffnungsvortag des Prof Freestone war ein 'Fly Through der zukunft' der City of Perth. Ein Flug durch glaenzende Hochhaueser, eine 'Vision' wo man auf der Lage der Stadt am Ufer der Swan Fluss 'kapitalisieren' sollen. Nyungar Elder Robin Collard hatte das internationales Publikum nach ihrer Willkommenssage jedoch vielmehr beraten dem 'Sense of Place' hier in Perth am Djerbal Yerrigan (Swan Fluss) gut zu ueberlegen.

Nach Freestone (hier 'Tomorrowland') jedoch sollten Stadtplaner in Australien der fehler der bisherigen Planung zu ausbessern versuchen, und vor der 'Schwarzen Schwan' ereignisse der Gegenwart und nahen Zukunft, auf mehreren Themen - endogamous development / lokalisierung einbeschlossen - vorbereiten um Zukunftsplanungsbereit zu sein. Boomtown 2050 beinhaltet mehr dazu.

Live Blogged from Perth Convention Centre tweeted via @BesetzteStrasse
Robert Freestone (UNSW) WPSC Keynote Mon 4 Jul 2011 02.30 GMT

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

BesetzteStrasse - Occupied Street

BesetzteStraße: Entwerfen Mischstraßen zu allen Tageszeiten, Beispiele Frankfurt und London Bahnhofsvierteln

Occupying the Street: Mixed-Use Street Design for all Hours, London and Frankfurt Train Station Areas

Zusammenfassung / Abstract (21 June 2011)

Straßen in der Innenstadt könnten besser belebt sein, könnten auch eine nachhaltigerer Rolle im öffentlichem Raum spielen, wenn StraßenraumbenutzerInnen / oder StraßenbesetzerInnen - und die Gestaltung für diversen Nutzungen der Straße zu allen Tageszeiten - besser verstanden waeren. Die Forschung werde Qualitaten von Mischstrassen in dichtere, innere Stadtbezirke untersuchen, zu allen Tageszeiten, bezüglich sowohl Erfahrungen der BenutzerInnen als auch Entwurfsvorgehensweisen, nachdem zweiteres für verbesserte Qualitaet in staedtische Strassenumwelt für die Stadterneuerung bestimmend ist. Die Analyse von Praxis und Theorie in Europa - auch Weltweit - dient als Hintergrund für die Untersuchung zweier Beispielsfallen; jeweils bei Verkehrsknotenbezirken im Frankfurt aM und im London England. Beide Beispiele, die dicht Besetzte und auch bekaempfte Strassenraueme veranschaulichen, werden als Probeexemplare benutzt, um den Grenzen einer Idee der gemeinsame öffentlichen Raum, einer Zivilraum, zu erforschen.

Inner-urban streets can become more liveable, by performing a more sustainable role in the public realm, through a better understanding of users and design for occupation at all hours of night and day. This research aims to investigate qualities of mixed-use streets in dense urban areas at all hours, with respect to both the user experience and the effect of design processes aimed at making quality urban street environments in regeneration. An analysis of European and international practice and theory provides the context for this investigation of two case study streets, in transport hub districts of Frankfurt and London. These two case examples of densely occupied and contested streets will be used to test the limitations of the idea of the street as a shared public realm, a civic space.

Erstmal beabsichtigt ist eine Analyse der Erfahrungen den StrassenbenutzerInnen mit Strassengestaltung (Street Design), mittels Fallbeispieluntersuchungen. Analyse der Änderungsprozessen werden eine Zusammenfassung informieren von Benutzerperspektiven über Qualitäten von Straßen. Zweitens werden Entwurfsvorschläge zu machen, um benützerInnen-gewünschte Qualitäten zu stärken, z.B. Lebensqualität, Sicherheit, Attraktivität. Drittens, es werden begrenzte Beispiele der Umgestaltung modelliert und Probiert, um zu Bewerten, inwiefern diesen die beabsichtigten Verbesserungen (von sicht der BenutzerInnen) dürfen erreicht werden.

The objectives of the research begin firstly with an analysis of street user experience and street design via case studies. Analysis of processes of change will inform an appraisal which incorporates user perceptions about street quality. A second objective is to make design proposals for improving desirable qualities identified by users, such as liveability, safety and attractiveness. A third objective is to model and test some limited examples of design interventions, to determine their likely effectiveness in achieving the intended improvements vis-à-vis perceptions of these users.