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7. the built environment is meaningful and communicates

GPO – Brisbane, QLD, AUS

Image: we used to design public buildings to look like their function and also provide community benefits. Brisbane’s GPO has a clock, pedestrian cover and provides a safe mid block short cut! Does your local post office do this?  No more.. libraries, post offices, council offices in shopping centres or business parks. They need to be activating street based centres!

The built environment is a powerful communicator. It speaks of and reflects our culture, community values, aspirations and achievements. It reflects us. It tells a story. How and what it expresses will largely determine the meaning of a place to us and its level of 'memorability' and meaning.

Our urban places provide the stage of life for most of us. Our memories, our links to the past as well as the future, are influenced by the impressions that the built environment makes upon us. The meanings that individuals take from those impressions are the substance of humanity. We have a duty of care to create places for the future well being of all the inhabitants.

Other Principles:

  1. The city is a public place
  2. Permanent residents should have priority
  3. Urban Manners
  4. The domain of people is the ground
  5. Landowner’s rights and responsibilities
  6. The city/ town is a market place
  7. The built environment is meaningful and communicates
  8. Synergy

 

Related Blogs

Call the (Urban Design) Cops!

How social trends will affect police station location

Do police buildings make us feel safe and secure?

Police - building on their vision?

The under-appreciated role of the Police Station.

 

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6. The city / town is a market place

Salamanca Market - Hobart, TAS, AUSThe city or town is a setting of an infinite number of exchanges – economic, social, cultural and political as well as personal – planned, spontaneous or accidental. The scale of opportunities, facilities and settings for these exchanges are what make the difference between a small settlement and a city. The purpose of a city or town is to create settings to maximise the opportunities for exchange while minimising the need for movement or travel. To optimise and maximise these opportunities, a public space network of high quality is necessary.

"We need cities.   Not as places of work or fabrication, but as dense social concentrations, interpersonal exchange centres, protracted fun places, sites of pleasure and of the very quality which is etymologically bound to cities - civility....and.....for the live-alones, for the wired, webbed, globally electric, work-alones, for the elderly ..who suffer.. cabin fever, the lack of recreational amenities, the absence of human intercourse."

(Meades, 1998 Dec/Jan)

Traditionally, the city / town is a market place.  However, more people like us are learning or working over the internet and exchanging goods. Cities now need to feature great places in order to attract visitors and creative people (not all of them need to be there out of necessity).

Other Principles:

  1. The city is a public place
  2. Permanent residents should have priority
  3. Urban Manners
  4. The domain of people is the ground
  5. Landowner’s rights and responsibilities
  6. The city/ town is a market place
  7. The built environment is meaningful and communicates
  8. Synergy



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5. Landowner’s rights and responsibilities

Image: A photo of a ‘scrape off’ in Florida. In the USA there are around 19% of shopping centres are dead or partially closed.  http://www.cnu.org/node/48  

As Julie Tamaki reported in the Los Angeles Times:

Although enclosed malls are not on the verge of vanishing - they continue to average higher sales per square foot than their outdoor counterparts – in recent years, more enclosed malls have been closed than have opened, according to a study by the International Council of Shopping Centres. From 2001 to 2003, more than 30 shopping centres, most of them enclosed, ceased functioning as malls, with many replaced by outdoor developments. (“More Shopping Malls Going Alfresco,” June 3, 2004)

A freehold landowner is entitled to certain rights on the land. However, in return for the enjoyment of those rights, they must also accept and exercise some responsibilities.  While enjoying the privileges of ownership, we must add value to the quality of the adjacent and surrounding public space. The landowner’s benefit should never be at the expense of the quality of the public domain.

 

Image: 'Greyfields in Goldfields' Nineteen percent of USA shopping malls are vacant or dying. Besides being an eyesore, these properties are a lost source of business and tax revenue and can hinder a community from reaching its full potential.  The goal is the conversion of these troubled properties into thriving developments that provide a return on investment for owners and economic and social support for their host communities. Rather than blighting their surroundings, these large, often centrally located properties could be vibrant mixed-use town centers or walkable residential neighborhoods.

Other principles:

  1. The city is a public place
  2. Permanent residents should have priority
  3. Urban Manners
  4. The domain of people is the ground
  5. Landowner’s rights and responsibilities
  6. The city/ town is a market place
  7. The built environment is meaningful and communicates
  8. Synergy

 


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4. The domain of people is the ground

Salamanca Place - Salamanca, Hobart, TAS, AUSImage: how often do we meet our friends for dinner and the first this we say is "you wouldn't believe how far away I had to park!".  The places we like are generally not dominated by parking – we don't meet for dinner in a Westfield Shopping Centre!  So why do design places now which put cars before people?

Many of us come to know cities or towns through the use of the private car. However, decisions which affect the form and function of cities and towns must be related to the pedestrian experience. After all, this is how we interact with the city and each other.

"Any place worth its salt has a parking problem"

James Castle

Other Principles:

  1. The city is a public place
  2. Permanent residents should have priority
  3. Urban Manners
  4. The domain of people is the ground
  5. Landowner’s rights and responsibilities
  6. The city/ town is a market place
  7. The built environment is meaningful and communicates
  8. Synergy
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8 Synergy

Image: an example of a small lane in the hierarchy of Melbourne streets. However, 100 years ago this was an important address - with significant buildings locating impressive entries (in spite of it’s size). Which all contribute to the quality of place now.  Do we still think like this?

The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

The city is a collective. It is a grouping and a relationship of the large and the small. Over time, the small is as important as the large. Even though small parts are important, their value can only be judged in how they contribute to making the whole better.   The parts are only parts until they are placed in the context of the rest of the city.  Every part and element is a component of the collective which, when everything comes together and in relation to one another, is the city.

Various elements, qualities and actions in the making and management of a city cannot be given value or relative importance on the basis of measure or magnitude. Sometimes the least significant action or influence, over time, becomes formative and highly significant. 

Fisherman’s Dock – Hobart, TAS, AUSConsistent buildings (often driven by function or 'urban manners') tend to be associated with great places. 

Most cities benefit from a small number of iconic buildings, like the Sydney Opera House, Effiel Tower and Guggenheim Museum. Generally, they do not demonstrate urban design qualities (like active edges). So they should be the exception rather than the rule. They are also difficult to manufacture – they tend to be appreciated over time.  Be wary of the architect who wants to design you an iconic building for your place!

Other Principles

  1. The city is a public place

  2. Permanent residents should have priority

  3. Urban Manners

  4. The domain of people is the ground

  5. Landowner’s rights and responsibilities

  6. The city/ town is a market place

  7. The built environment is meaningful and communicates

  8. Synergy

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