September 13, 2012 \ City & Land
by David Page
Think of the historic cities and towns we admire; their built form is structured by the routes and ways through. Sometimes these spaces widen to form squares and parks but what characterises them is the containment of pedestrian passage. Often it might seem these spaces have become stuffed with cars and when we look beyond these favourite places, we find the new streets designed, not around the walking public, but simply, the car.
‘Designing Streets’ from the Scottish Executive will transform these new streets by re-focusing from the car back to the pedestrian quality. Over the last ten years, before the publication of this document, Page Park have sought, without that regulatory support, to create decent streets.
Remember the last windy and wet day you spent in the city or town, remember how you used the buildings as shelter against the driving wind and rain, remember how your passage through the town zigzagged from under canopy, by a protective façade, slipping into a doorway. Remember how you thought ‘I’m glad I’m not out in the open’. Streets and their enclosing buildings regulate the environment for us to use more comfortably. Clydebank developed a street structure in response to these issues that was based on an idea of defining width and scale rather than capacity for use. It hypothesised that if you created a variable street dimension that use and building form would adapt to suit. The result would be a variety of different street characters that in the long run would become the environmentally controlled short-cut routes for future citizens. This masterplan map was codified into a simple representational way-finding map form.
The Wauchope Masterplan for EDI takes this concept of a variety of street typologies to a more detailed level. Four distinctive streets have been identified, modelled on Dutch home zone principles. The first explores a stepping 6m wide street form. The second maintains a consistent 6m wide shared pavement with buildings hard to one edge and a setback landscape to the other. The third has both a 6m shared pavement with set back buildings either side and the fourth is a ‘courtyard’ parking street.
This menu of street type is then applied in the masterplan aligned on significant vistas, connecting to adjacent neighbourhood streets and opening out at significant junctions into urban spaces.
The Bellgrove competition explored this varied typology of public open space. Three typologies are suggested. The first, running north-south, Duke Street to Bellgrove Station, the second is a stepping courtyard form of streets interlinking with the back-court gardens and the third, an extended public square and garden adjacent to the railway station. These, in turn, lock into the re-defined adjacent characters, Bellgrove Street, Duke Street and Melbourne Street.