Friday, 21 October 2011

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?


  1. What design interventions are you planning? Have you done these already? Do you need volunteers? I would love to hear more about this.

  2. Hi Roxanne, I have not designed the interventions yet, but I am looking to interview people who use Caledonian Road or Niddastrasse!