Monday, 17 September 2012
clutter and decluttering ----- ent-rümpel-ung
disenfranchisement and enfranchisement ----- bürger-berechtigung bzw entrechtigung
accessibility ----- zugänglichkeit
active frontages ----- sozial aktiv Fassade
adult entertainment ----- erwachsenenunterhaltung bzw rotlicht bzw milieu
motor vehicle (car)-centric planning ----- autogerechtes (motor fahrzeug) stadtplanung
character of place ----- ortscharakter
collaboration ----- zusammenarbeit
conflict ----- konflikt
deemed to comply with planning ----- planungentsprechend
design ----- design gestaltung
distinctiveness of place ----- ortsbesonderheiten
diversity ----- vielfalt
drug addict, drinker ----- drogensüchtige mensch
emotion love - hate ----- liebe hass, mag night mag, unangenehm / angenehm
(or milder like / dislike, agreeable / disagreeable)
energy ----- energie
gender male-female (masculine / feminine / gay etc) ----- mannlich - weiblich - schwühl
greening ----- begrünung
mode of transport ----- verkehrsart
noise - sound ----- geraüsch / klang
pavement-parking ----- gehsteige / gehwege / autoabstellplatz / parkplatz
price ----- preis
professional silos ----- expertentrennung
recognise others ----- erkennung anderen
safety and health ----- sicherheit / gesundheit
time - day - night - year - season ----- zeit - tag - nacht - jahreszeit
transitional place - node ----- übergangsort / knoten
trees ----- bäume
Friday, 27 July 2012
Segregation - the post-WW2 highway engineering technique of dividing road space between users - has apparently made London streets temporarily less congested and more inviting - but for the twenty-first century city, the 'architecture' of occupying street must evolve with a new urban environment. Cyclists were agreeing with Snow on twitter that (ironically) the ZIL lanes had made Whitehall more pleasant for cycling.
Segregated cycle infrastructure, in the form of dedicated lanes, even re-purposed olympic (VIP limousine) lanes may be one way to make a visible political gesture in support of cycling. We have seen this in the form of the blue 'Boris' lanes - where there have also been cycle fatalities. I have seen an example on Peace Avenue, the main east-west traffic artery in the rapidly-developing Mongolian capital Ulaanbaatar. There, a short section of segregated green-painted cycle lane was installed to promote a local political campaign to modernise and globalise (in appearance at least) a city full of jeeps and coal-fired power stations. These lanes have done little for pedestrian environments, for aesthetic qualities of streets, or for any holistic idea of liveable streets. In London, 'Going Dutch' as the London Cycle Campaign is branded, will require more than road-space reallocation, but also changes in head-space of all street users. In inner-city London, there is currently too little understanding distinctions between roads and streets in the public realm.
In the case of London, the task of developing more liveable city streets might be helped somewhat by maintaining VIP lanes as a legacy for cycling, and by continuing to deter motorists from entering London. The cause will be helped somewhat by the prevalence (in both road space and head space) of urban cycling advocates like Jon Snow, my boss, Mark Sutton (and me - MAMIL tendency noted). However, streets will also have to be reclaimed by citizens as part of the public realm, beyond 20th century transport engineering (TfL). The physical environment of London streets needs to be recolonised and designed by, with and for people who live and work in them. GC
Friday, 6 July 2012
Reviewing more than forty interviews I conducted, I composed twenty main themes.
Hotel guests from China visiting the Frankfurt book fair don't understand the situation with Frankfurt drug-users in the street (F14)
2. contrast of different types of people
"that place makes great dumplings" two architects, also "we saw someone ‘painting a building with their with fingernails’ " i.e. drug user scratching wall in the street (F18)
3. safety and health in the street and behind the building fronts
In Niddastrasse I conduct industrial health and safety checks in offices and workplaces here, DBSV calls for provision for blind people, kerbs, crossings (F4)
4. active frontages
I've walked Niddastrasse for twenty years. The street is very narrow at the Taunusanlage end, has inactive frontages (F21) I didn't notice the gambling hall (F14)
5. greening the street
"Niddastrasse needs a few more trees" cafe waiter at Luna Park talking with two architects, also graphics office also Dona Carmen F21
6. ideal future of Niddastrasse
Church minister imagines Niddastrasse as heaven: "no drugs, no prostitution, the born-again into God's Kingdom" F5
nobody has mentioned obsolete duplicated or unnecessary signage or street furniture
8. habitable street space
Furriers morning coffee meetings at benches outside cafe Luna Park, birthday party. Restaurant tables on Karlsplatz
9. vehicle traffic flow
vehicle access is important. Parking fr 25h Hotel. Narrow end, street parking. The area has a high level of public transport accessibility (F19)
lack of active frontages F21
Songs of Caledonian Road / King’s Cross London
1. two way and one way streets
Safety on the traffic gyratory: cyclist and heritage activist (L14), advertising exec (L19, L13) Shared space difficult to use for blind people and guide dogs, tactiles are ambiguous (L3)
2. attractive old buildings and scale
nice buildings on lower Caledonian Rd - advertising exec (L19) even in cold weather and rain
3. public realm design
public realm risk and safety (L1) Huxf (L2) Russell spaceshaper process games to collaborate CN (L10)
4. pedestrian safety
safe, viable, vital and attractive streets lighting near buses L7 Sanaz
5. cycling environment
King's Cross to Marylebone by bicycle - less Stop-Start than Fft, non-signal controlled junctions left traffic, shop facades (L8) cycle activists “Bikes Alive” K (L17, L19, L16) nature, (L15, L14) LCC
6. mix of uses
Green Sky thinking L6, north section improvements Vaultex planter boxes, Cine club and Mosque
Difficult to get agencies together to deduplicate signage and unnecessary street furniture (L12)
8. Distinctive Independent Shops
Shopkeeper says Tesco chain store has benefited small independent Italian Continental Delicatessen (L13)
9. Vital and distinctive area
Visitors Italy (L18) Belgium (L11), optimistic about the future of the area, London vitality
10. Gyratory removal
return to two-way traffic will require removal of some buildings (L20)
Thursday, 14 June 2012
(Would you like to briefly describe this Hotel?)
Thursday, 19 April 2012
A group of Frankfurt Station-Quarter Residents in March wrote an open letter about their dissatisfaction with the local 'drug problematic' and its impact on living in the area. The Railway Quarter in the centre of Frankfurt (Bahnhofsviertel) is (in)famous, not only for its well-organised Red Light Area, but for its long standing drug strategy, called the Frankfurt Model (Frankfurter Weg), which has been developed to tackle the regional problems of drug abuse.
The letter-petition from Residents, addressed to the Lord Mayoress, to the election candidates for Lord Mayor, and to all participating institutions of the city's monthly Monday Panel (Montagsrunde) is also published on the blog Bahnhofsviertel Frankfurt. The letter stated that the situation for residents had become 'unbearable' and cited three recent conflicts on the street between residents and drug-users.
According to the same blog, there has been a reassuring response and there has been some improvement since March, and there will be a workshop (Werkstatt Bahnhofsviertel) about the issues, to be held on 7 May.
OFFENER BRIEF AN:
– Die Oberbürgermeisterin der Stadt Frankfurt –
– Die Kandidaten der Oberbürgermeisterwahl –
– Alle teilnehmenden Institutionen der „Montagsrunde“ –
monatlich tagendes Gremium zur Drogenproblematik Frankfurt bestehend aus
Dezernat X (Umwelt, Gesundheit und Personal),
Amt für Gesundheit,
Jugend- und Sozialamt,
Geschäftsstelle des Präventionsrates,
Vertreter der Drogenhilfe
Saturday, 17 March 2012
These routes provide vital arteries for London’s commercial traffic, in addition to their place, function and importance for pedestrians and cyclists. In considering lower speed limits on such routes, therefore, the potential benefits in terms of both safety and liveability of our town centres needs to be taken into consideration alongside the important transport functions these routes perform..."
In a recent letter from TfL Streets, this statement suggests that, in the difficult business of balancing place and movement, the "reality" of managing TRLN roads (Transport for London Road Network - the strategic arterial routes) is complex, implying that it may be difficult to change.
Is the "commercial traffic" transport function and the average speed of "commercial traffic" (higher that 20mph? - usually default of 30mph in built-up areas) more important than walkability and liveability of high streets? For what reason does this (historical, commercial) motorised movement take precedence over place in TfL Streets approach?
The TfL Streets response above does not answer my original question about the effect of 20mph limits on journey time reliability (as part of the smoothing traffic flow agenda) on TRLN roads. I have followed my question with another enquiry about TfL Streets' methodology for balancing movement and place (see Manual for Streets MfS).
Yesterday at New London Architecture gallery, Sir Peter Rogers from the Mayor's office talked about regenerating 90 outer London High Streets where people live and work. Case studies were presented from Willesden Green, Streatham / West Norwood, and Brentford. Transport - and TfL Streets management of high streets - were hardly mentioned until the question was raised at the end. Mark Brearley, head of Design for London, cautiously broached the topic of the ongoing problem of "recalibrating" the motorised traffic balance with place quality in the public realm.
Thursday, 1 March 2012
Documents published by London Borough of Camden and the Mayor of London (Local Development Framework, Unitary Development Plan, London Borough of Islington and Mayor’s London Plan) guide the development of King's Cross Central including King’s Cross square. I would advise you to contact London Borough of Camden to find out about specific design principles applied when King’s Cross square planning application was reviewed."
Monday, 27 February 2012
There was little activity in the street besides motor traffic around Wharfdale Road, but there were increasing numbers of revellers standing in the street as I passed Simmons and Keystone Crescent opposite the Tesco on the corner of Caledonia Street. There was a row of cars parked along the east side of Caledonian Road, almost to the junction of Pentonville Road, and there were many people in the street in front of the fast food shop and the Burrito place. There seemed to be activity around an event at Scala on the Kings Cross Bridge. In front of the line of parked BMWs and Mercedes saloons, a group of young Asian men with their arms around one another was standing looking quizzically at a tall black Islington parking warden with long curly hair, as she held up her compact digital camera to photograph the line of vehicles. "Bus Lane" she said to them.
Wiliam Craig Marshall's 'Itinerant Traders' featured in Spitalfields Life
Sunday, 26 February 2012
(Background on new Street Design - Angela Saini on Thinking Streets BBC January 2012)
Research recordings on-site 25 Feb 2012
[RBKC Highway Engineer]...and that was because of the [CB??] that we put the parking in the centre of the road as opposed to the kerbside as well.
The other thing was that we did reduce a number of the trees in Exhibition Road, and, again, we did actually cut some down, but we replaced more than we cut down, with semi-mature trees as well. All of the eight trees along there were all planted as part of the scheme, they came in from Holland and...
Traffic noise / about scooter / motorcycle parks (Question by Amanda UDG)
There aren't any on Exhibition Rd but there are some down in South Kensington
..and there's no cycle parks up this end...?
No, you are right and yes, that is something that we are reconsidering, actually..
There is a huge number of resident car parks here with no cars on them - have you got an opportunity to re-visit that assessment and perhaps take some of them out?
Absolutely, yes, that's right.
And maybe put in more trees?
Trees are a little bit tricky actually, you've got services, and we've also got the tunnel and that sort of thing.
But, yes we are in a sort of assessment period, we only finished the scheme in October last year. So we'll wait and see how it beds in.
As I said before, vehicle speeds are a little higher than we'd ike especially on the section and particulaly in the evening as well. So we migfht have to come back and tweak to do that - maybe just enforcement..
and also some of the turning bans of the A4 are being ignored as well, so we have to look at that.
So the other thing is we are getting requests for more benches down the south section as well - coming out of the Tube station you've got nowhere to sit. There's a bit of resistance from residents there though, because they tend to attract undesirables as well...
1'55" author in informal discussion with Q*
[Practicing urban designer working at an architecture firm in London who studied at University of Queensland, Brisbane]
"We don't really do benches any more, do we?"
Single surface is designed so pedestrians can cross but not walk up and down the carriageway
People seems to be doing the same speed
How do people know where to park and where not to, here? For example, is that guy there doing the right or wrong thing?
...background in planning or architecture? Architecture actually...
There's no signage here saying no left turn.
Back there at the traffic lights there is, no left turn on the actual traffic signals there. We are looking at getting some road markings put in and possibly even building up the kerb..
Is that what all that temporary stuff is for? (cnr Cromwell & Exhib Road)
Yes, its taking a while for people to get used to it.
This also marks the point where the character of the road changes - from this point north its more to do with museums - from this point south you've got lots of cafes and restaurants and shops. We are in the process of issuing tables and chairs licences to allow people to use the space in a better way kind of thing.
These things you see here sticking out of the road, they are called lanterns, and what they do is provide natural light to the tunnel, pedestrian tunnel underneath, and as part of the first stage of the scheme we actually removed them and refurbished the. They actually fell apart - they have been there since 1850, so it took a while to refurbish them.
Also the street lighting's changed here its more in proportion with the scale of the buildings and that sort of thing as opposed to these big masts
... they were expensive, they were £23000 each those lamp columns and the foundation is a huge great block of concrete, which was the first operation we did, to make sure they were all in line
As big as a tree root-bulb?
Bigger than that, they are about 2metres by 2metres, and we had to allow services to go through them.
Basements were the biggest challenge on this job
if you go anywhere near them they start leaking water, then you've got disputes with the owners...
Are the lights on all night?
Yes I believe they are.
Projectors cast light on the whole width of the road
So it is a shared lighting scheme?
We've only got minimal road markings
The banding seems to encourage (motorists to turn diagonally)
We are on the corner of Exhibition centre opposite the Ismaili Centre, Cromwell Road
Well I tell you on the funding side of things
Kensington and Chealsea 13 million pounds
Mayor of London 14 million
Westminster 1 million
so they (Westminster) didn't put much money in at all
for some reason they insisted on a more conventional layout (north of Prince Consort Road)
Its more residential and
It could have been a square
Its a political thing
The residents don't any other users to come up
Is that because of litter?
They pay 2 million pounds a bedroom
The residents don't want the great unwashed hanging around
Forty percent of the road is in Westminster, actually, that's from Imperial College Road
So they did agree to this layout on part of the road...
The York Stone is all recycled that you currently are standing on at the moment,
Again, before we did the work, there was guardrail running all over the place, lots of traffic lines, all that sort of thing, making it difficult for pedestrians to move around. Now we have taken all the guard railing out, we have got a straight across crossing. We have used york stone here, but we are getting people parking on it, which is why its a bit cracked in some places.
In conclusion, the borough policy is trying to use wherever possible high quality materials and reducing street clutter.
Thank you (applause)
We are Street London, the young Urban Design Network and the Urban Design Group
More tours coming up...
Click on picture below for Street Design photos including Exhibition Road
c.2008 (Google Streetview accessed 26 Feb 2012)
The shop had been open two weeks and the sign on the shopfront still said internet cafe - the letting agent's signboard was also still attached above the shopfront. In the window were some flyers advertising introductory offers, and there was a new-looking but inexpensively built set of three workstations with cabinets and mirrors. The packaging for three types of electric hairclippers were displayed on a high shelf alongside some computer-printed photographs of men modelling their haircuts, from the conservative businessman to the sculpted 'Turkish' style to the Anglo-student.
The barber Rajesh* explained in basic English that he was Nepali from Kathmandu, and had established this shop over the last fortnight with daily opening hours of 10.30am - 8pm. He explained that the previous customer was a Bengali with whom he had been speaking Urdu. The barber was a Hindi, the other man a Muslim, who appeared to me to have been testing the barber's abilities. I found Rajesh to be thorough and skilled. He enquired about my background and family and he explained that he had been living in East London for two years, while his wife and son were in Kathmandu.
There was a regular passing footfall on the pavement outside and occasional glances through the glass shopfront on this sunny Saturday. Outside the shop was a sandwichboard stand with four colour A4 flyers advertising the shop. I promised to mention the shop to friends and neighbours.
70 Caledonian Rd. c. August 2008 (Google Streetview accessed 26 Feb 2012)
Wednesday, 15 February 2012
Tuesday, 7 February 2012
Sunday, 5 February 2012
"Its treacherous here", said one passing neighbour in my council estate, a woman probably in her fifties. "If it freezes overnight, it will be icy here. The council are useless here aren't they? Why haven't the cleared the snow?" I said that I had got a snow shovel from the council a couple of months ago just in case of this eventuality on a weekend. "I have been here forty five years" she said. I keep buying lottery tickets, as soon as I can get out of here I will. I did my own kitchen and bathroom a few years ago, with checked pink and white tiles, in the Laura Ashley style that was all the rage then. The council came along later and insisted on tearing it all out to redo the bathroom and kitchen. I said no. My husband died some years ago, and I have stayed here."
Another, more elderly man came out to say he was just staying put in his flat for the Sunday during the snow. "How can people go and visit friends? Why not put it off a week, all that motorway driving with the snow on the roads?" Later, the first woman returned, and the man explained I was not from the council. "You would know how it is here Mick, you've been here about thirty years, not quite as long as me. I could have let out my flat to a hundred and fifty Bangladeshis, on their benefits, you know how they are."
A group of young girls was playing and making a snowman in the estate playground opposite. "Look at the (Bangladeshi) kids playing, they have probably never seen snow before. Well, they've got nothing else to do."
Later, in Argyle Street, two young (Bangladeshi) girls approached, "Can we help you?"
"Here you are, do this section up to the tree."
I went to the coffee shop, snow shovel in hand, and seeing the icy pavements along Pentonville Road, I popped around the corner to look at my study patch, Caledonian Road. I spontaneously but casually decided to clear pavements in front of a couple of favourite shops, Housmann's and Drink Shop and Do. I continued clearing past IPB Postbox while I was there, but the pavements outside the pub on the corner had already been done. I noticed the pavement in front of Tesco across Caledonia Street had not been cleared, nor the south-east side of Caledonian Road in front of Leo's Deli, which being Sunday, was closed.
As I crossed over King's Cross Bridge, I thought better of clearing the pavement there, but passing by Subway on the corner, and having cleared some of the pavement opposite beyond the hire bikes on the south side of St. Chads Street, I did clear a walkable path along the pavement on the north side, in front of Comfort Hotel. Later I found a friendly Polish contractor (working for Camden council on a Sunday casual contract until 9pm) in Birkenhead Street who was willing to come and grit in my council block. "In my country, its minus 30 now, everybody does this themselves."
Thursday, 2 February 2012
The London Assembly's Transport Committee defines congestion with some difficulty in its recent report, "The future of road congestion in London" (June 2011) and relates congestion to journey time reliability, and the mayor's strategy for "Smoothing traffic flow" (mainly, it seems, for commercial or motorised traffic).
"The traditional measure of congestion, traffic speed, is problematic when used in isolation. This is because it fails to take into account the way road space is allocated or that average speed can mask unpredictable changes in the flow of traffic. Increasingly, TfL is placing an emphasis on journey time reliability as an important measure of congestion." (pp12-13) This London Assembly report claims to address "all road users" in London, but seems to be concerned mainly with motorised road users, taking traffic to mean motor traffic. The ubiquitous SCOOT junction control systems do not even take into account pedestrians or cyclists at all.
The House of Commons Transport Committee, in a report applicable nationwide, "Out of the jam, reducing congestion on our roads" (15 Sep 2011) includes pedestrian congestion in town centres, as well as congestion on A Roads and on Motorways "like the M25" within its scope. Transport for London's Head of Streets, Garrett Emmerson actually cited "pedestrians disobeying traffic signals" in the report as a cause of road congestion (p7), implying that pedestrians are not part of the traffic flow, but in opposition, even on streets in London.
A website has recently been launched to help travellers in London to predict increased congestion and journey times during the Olympics Games this year. In all of the work on road congestion (as it is called, rather than street congestion) it is interesting that non-motorised traffic on public highways, including cyclists and pedestrians on footways, is not captured statistically nor regarded as significant for balancing road users in a hierarchy. The hierarchy of users on streets (MfS) ought to be very topical in the current debate about streets in London, especially for non- motorised users.
Verkehrsexperten unterscheiden zwischen „Stau” und „stockendem Verkehr”. In der Schweiz beispielsweise wird „fachlich“ von einem Stau gesprochen, wenn der Verkehr mindestens für eine Minute mit weniger als 10 km/h fließt. Liegt die Geschwindigkeit im Bereich zwischen 10 und 30 km/h, spricht man von stockendem Verkehr.
Friday, 20 January 2012
- F5 Niddastrasse 49 on 12 Jan 12 @ 1700
Interview with minister, Loewe von Judah Gemeinde Lion of Judah Church
- F6 Niddastrasse 54 on 12 Jan 12 @ 2100
Interview with barman, Kafe Luna Park
- F7 Stadplanungsamt - City Planning Department on 13 Jan 12 @1000 Desk based interview with Stadtplanungsamt Informationsstelle - City Planning Information Service
- F8 Niddastrasse 82 on 13 Jan 12
Field Sound Recording, Italian Restaurant Pizzeria 7 Bello
- F8 Niddastrasse on 13 Jan 12 @1200
end-to-end walking interview with two architects who work in Schleusenstrasse
- F8 Niddastrasse 54 on 13 Jan 12 @1300
interview with (another) barman, Cafe Luna Park
- F9 Moselstrasse 6a, on 13 Jan 12 @1400
Desk based interview with Stadtteilbuero Bahnhofsviertel - Train Station Quarter District Office
- F12 Niddastrasse cnr Ottostrasse 13 on 14 Jan 12 @1700 interview with receptionist, Columbus Hotel
- F13 Niddastrasse 39-41 on 14 Jan 12 @2200
interview with receptionist, Chinese Conference Hotel
- F14 Niddastrasse 58 on 15 Jan 12 @1945
interview with receptionist, 25h Hotel by Levis Hotel
- F15 Niddastrasse 63 on 15 Jan 12 @2100
interview with tenant, designer at a Graphic Design and Communications Studio
- F16 Niddastrasse 84 on 15 Jan 12 @2200
interview with shop assistant, street kiosk
- F17 Stadplanungsamt - City Planning Department on 16 Jan 12 @1500
Desk based interview with Stadtplanungsamt Abt. Bahnhofsviertel Staderneuerung - City Planning Department for Bahnhofsviertel Train Station Quarter City Regeneration
- F18 Niddastrasse 54 on 16 Jan 12 @1700
interview with an older lady, at Cafe Luna Park, who had held a birthday party in the street
- Liebfrauenkirche Church Frankfurt on 16 Jan 12 @2100
Field Sound Recording of Church bells
- F19 FH Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences, Frankfurt on 17 Jan 12 @1030 Desk based interview, Dean of Architecture and City Planning
- F20 Niddastrasse 52 on 17 Jan 12 @1200
interview with waiter, Mian Chinese Restaurant
- F21 Niddastrasse 1-110 on 29 Feb 2012
He had visited Frankfurt a number of times for research in this extremely diverse inner city area, where he had studied the streets in detail. It was on the final day of an intensive field research visit in the area, looking at urban design and street design, and conducting many hours of detailed interviews about the area, and seeing junkies, red-light tourists, shopkeepers, business people and creatives in the street, building on his understanding of the area's diversity. His friends, a local guide working at a university and a young architect in a Frankfurt office, had agreed to accompany him to visit Pik Dame, a famous old cabaret club in Bahnhofsviertel, as part of his night life research. He remembered passing by the oft-photographed Pik Dame club on a few occasions before, but had not written down the exact address, thinking the place was either in Moselstrase or Elbestrasse, two smaller streets perpendicular to the main boulevardes. These smaller perpendicular streets were lined with clubs, cafes and the famous sex shops, brothels, hourly hotels and other ambigous red-light establishments.
He suggested briefly locating the club while his two friends were at a cash machine on the corner of Taunustrasse and Moselstrasse, and he walked northwards along the west side pavement of Moselstrasse. Soon, a spruiker standing in front of a club approached to recommend and welcome him into the club. Two ladies with the spruiker asked him to come in and enjoy the club, one a large lady dressed in black like a dominatrix. Declining to enter, he said thanks, he had an appointment. Asking the spruiker "Wo ist der klub, Pik Dame", came the jocular reply "Da sind Sie richtig, hier sind Sie".
The man crossed the street, passing a few other mostly male revellers alone and in groups and parked and double parked cars in the street to continue his search on the east side going south. Soon he asked another spruiker for directions and he was approached by an attractive young woman. Come inside for a drink, she said. He looked at her, as she kept him talking, and she seemed sober, clean, well-dressed and well groomed, with only a hint of an eastern European accent. Could she be a trafficked sex worker, he thought? Her long hair was carefully kept, and her eyes were decorated very subtly with contact lenses and/or glistening eyedrops, it seemed. Her makeup was almost unnoticably subtle, and she seemed no younger than twenty-five. "Please just have a look at our club out of interest" she said, politely leading him by the arm through the curtains. He looked around in trepidation at the interior, which was red and velvety, but more tasteful than expected. The video screen on the wall was playing MTV, not porn as he had feared. They were apparently alone. She guided him to a bar stool and said "Nimm platz, ich lade Dich auf ein bierchen ein. Spater gehen wir oben und..." He hesitated, and said he had an appointment to meet his friends. She reassured him, "Bitte, du bist eingeladen..."
Friday, 6 January 2012
The hard-won revised public realm scheme by Stanton Williams for one of London's most prominent squares is a great improvement on the previous proposals. However, it is completely segregated from the adjoining public realm on Pancras Way and Euston Road, two high streets with important public realm functions in this transport hub area, which will also be fundamental to the civic, architectural, public realm quality of King's Cross town centre.
On the BBC this week, presenter Angela Saini showed how a holistically considered civic street like Exhibition Road might make for a better, safer urban environment, and a 'happier' place. Her review of current thinking on street design in Europe reinforced the importance of interaction between street users and increasing their 'human sensibilities'. Interestingly, it echoed some of William Holly Whyte's 1975 work, The Street Life Project, which was shown at the Urban Design Group this week.
Euston Road, a 'TFL red route', is a public highway for pedestrians and vehicles, and is an urban street with important public realm functions - extending from the line of bollards at the bus stands, across footway, 'carriageway', barrier and more 'carriageway' to more footway, fronting buildings on the south side of Euston Road. This street realm is managed by the Mayor's TfL Transport for London Streets. This square is one of the Mayor's 'Great Spaces' of London, announced in his programme 'Better Streets' (2009) (pdf).
Network Rail's Press Release announces that planning gain of £750,000 is earmarked for Camden to "improve the pedestrian environment along York Way."
Thursday, 5 January 2012
Whether walking or on wheels, preferably self-propelled, people bring urban spaces to life by interacting with places to sit, with street movement, with sunlight, with water, with trees, and with food. Genius.
The street is the river of life running through the city, he says - people come there not to escape, but to partake.
Tuesday, 3 January 2012
Two years ago, at the heart of London's shopping district, a strange thing happened. The big red buses, white vans and black taxis that usually skimmed pedestrians as they tried to beat the maddeningly slow grid of traffic lights at Oxford Circus, were stone still for thirty seconds. And suddenly every person standing at the junction scrambled into the middle of the road.
In one stroke, life changed for the 90 million people who step through Oxford Circus every year. Not only has it made life easier for those on foot by giving them 70% more space, it's also faster and looks neater. In 2010, the council even claimed that it contributed to a 7% rise in annual sales in the area's shops.
The Oxford Circus diagonal crossing was one of the first steps in a growing movement to change streets in Britain and all over the world. Today, engineers at Imperial College London are helping to overhaul South Kensington's museum district, with pavements being levelled down to the same height as the road and new criss-cross paving patterns designed to calm drivers (the scheme is nearly complete and the result is striking if rather disconcerting). In Portishead, near Bristol, a trial that removed traffic lights from a notoriously congested crossing was such a success there are plans to roll it out across the town. Other schemes already constructed include Brighton's New Road and another in Ashford, Kent. But Shared Space has been labelled 'speed-bump science' by its critics - Jeremy Clarkson among them. True, one of the guiding principles is reducing traffic speed, often with the use of raised brick-paved areas (very long speed-bumps!) but proponents insist Shared Space is a creative and radical solution aimed at improving the experience of all road users. And the benefits go beyond reduced accident rates to a host of socio-economic benefits for the cities, towns and villages choosing to adopt such schemes.
In practical terms, a shared space scheme will involve removing the distinction between streets and pavements. No barriers, few if any road markings, no pedestrian crossings, and little in the way of street signage. The result of this street minimalism is that you enter a shared space very much at your own risk. And this is the key to improving safety, traffic flow and quality of experience. The early roots of this innovative concept lies in the work of the late Dutch traffic engineer, Hans Monderman. A passionate advocate of shared space, Monderman and colleagues started small - more than twenty years ago, converted an intersection in the northern Dutch province of Friesland from a conventional signal-controlled intersection to a brick-paved street, giving equal priority to cars, people and cycles. The idea was that people would use their own minds in navigating the streets, building their own informal traffic rules. Research has shown that these kinds of shared spaces automatically reduced traffic speed to under 20 mph - the threshold at which the chances of being severely injured in a road accident plummets. This highly counterintuitive approach - increasing risk decreases accidents is finding favour (albeit slowly and not without opposition) all over the world.
Today, Monderman's vision can be experienced throughout his Dutch province of Friesland, no where more so than in Drachten, an unassuming town that until recently was famous only for being the home of the Dutch electronics giant Philips. As Angela discovers for herself, Drachten's shared space schemes (and those of its near neighbours) now attracts a regular pilgrimage of engineers and planners, from all parts of the world, eager to experience this new urban vision.