Friday, 23 October 2015
A series of very good abstracts were sent to the session, but only 4 papers could be accepted. Thanks to all those who submitted their proposals and congratulations to Adam D'Arcy, Tony Duggan, Máirtín D’Alton and Kate Buckley.
Looking forward to seeing you in Cork in January.
Monday, 12 October 2015
Friday, 2 October 2015
Thursday, 17 September 2015
Thursday, 27 August 2015
The workshop is taking place and we are all busy analysing North Street.
Different disciplines: history, geography, planning, urban design, sociology, sound and architecture.
The results will be shown tomorrow at 4.30 in the Old Museum Building.
Looking forward to another day of mapping!
Tuesday, 28 July 2015
Streets are key elements of urban space; they are in essence public spaces and connect diverse areas of the city, weaving the urban fabric. Our understanding of cities has grown in complexity in the last half century. How do we analyse street space? How do we communicate this analysis? Can we use a language that different disciplines will understand? How can we use these methods to change/improve street spaces?
This workshop will explore different approaches to the analysis of streets as public spaces. We invite students, academics and professionals of architecture, planning, anthropology, sociology, history, psychology, film, media, arts and any other discipline interested in the analysis of public space.
We will develop a series of layers of analysis including but not limited to: mapping, drawings, diagrams, photographs, interviews, archive work, soundscapes and more.
We are not looking for a universal solution to the use, design and management of streets, but a culturally specific array of possibilities that our streets could potentially have. North Street is an ideal case study to consider, for it is in the core of the city, it connects very different areas, and above all it is loaded with meaning and potential.
Join us for two days of exploration!
Tuesday, 3 February 2015
"88 - Good walkways have a good range of destinations along them. Promenades are the spatial expression of human needs and purposefulness. Strolling, walking up and down, seeing and being seen: these embody needs ranging from sensual perception to social contact and consumption."
Mikoleit, Anne, Moritz Pürckhauer, Urban Code, 100 lessons for understanding the city, The MIT Press, Cambridge Massachussets, 2011, p98
With a limited bibliography, but one that is rich in concepts of public space, this study opens the doors of a phenomenological analysis of streets. The 100 lessons are straightforward and have no pretensions, but describe and analyse streets in Soho in a way that makes you feel like you are actually walking them. This lesson, 88, is one of my favourites for it is so graphic and unquestionable. No matter what the destinations are or what the context of the street is, they will be full of life if there are destinations, and practically empty if they are not.
Tuesday, 27 January 2015
Christine Boyer writes a chapter in the book Philosophical Streets, by Dennis Crow.
"...fragmented elements of the city whole are planned or redeveloped as autonomous elements, with little relationship to the whole and with direct concern only for adjacent elements. Fragments of the city are regulated, for example, by special district or contextual zoning, or historic preservation controls, but say nothing about the city as a whole.(...) To play on the analogy futher, this recursive mentality is serial. Mass production is serial so that it is not surprising to find the mass production of city spaces in late capitalism taking on a serial appearance, producing already known patterns or molds of places almost identical from city to city."
Boyer, M Christine, 'The Return of Aesthetics to City Planning', in Philosophical Streets, New Approaches to Urbanism, edited by Dennis Crow, Urbs et Orbi: The Urban Project, volume 1, Maisonneuve Press, 1990, p96
In the context of a book that appears too far from practice to be of much value outside academia, due to a heavily philosophical language, Boyer speaks in a language that can be understood by a broader audience.
The repetition of urban patterns became ubiquitous since the 1960s, but it did especially in urban projects of the 1980s and 1990s. Waterfronts, boulevards, squares, plazas, urban regeneration in general, follows patterns that create urban spaces that appear and feel disconnected from the place and culture they belong to. This applies to streets to a certain extent, but streets are better at keeping a memory of place, for it is hard to erase their identity unless they are partially or completely demolished.
Monday, 19 January 2015
Today: a classic Jane Jacobs on sidewalks.
"Reformers have long observed city people loitering on busy corners, hanging around in candy stores and bars and drinking soda pops on stoops, and have passed a judgement, the gist of which is: 'This is deplorable! If these people had decent homes and a more private or bosky outdoor place, they would't be on the street!'
This judgement represents a profound misunderstanding of cities. It makes no sense than to drop in at a testimonial banquet in a hotel and conclude that if these people had wives who could cook, they would give their parties at home."
Jacobs, Jane, The death and life of American cities, The Modern Library, New York, 1993, 1961. p72
Jane Jacobs writes one of the most simple and straightforward comments on public space. Jacobs is famous for her analysis of cities and their economies, but more so for her rivalry with Robert Moses and her critique of his plans for New York. Her book has had repercussions in planning, architecture and education throughout the world, but has been ignored repeatedly by the practice of planning through the last five decades. The use of sidewalks is inherent to the street and varies through each city's cultural context, but the active use of the sidewalk is a pattern that appears throughout different cultures. An empty sidewalk normally equates with a city that is more dependent on the car, where functions are spread in different zones of the city. A sidewalk that is populated, whatever the activities are, corresponds with a city that caters for different functions at walkable distance, encouraging people to not only go from A to B but to also gather, meet and stay on the street.
Monday, 12 January 2015
And today a contemporary classic. Jan Gehl on walking
"The planning of long, straight pedestrian routes should be avoided. Winding or interrupted streets make pedestrian movement more interesting. Additionally, winding streets will be better than straight ones to reduce any wind disturbance."
Gehl, Jan, Life between buildings, using public space, Island Press, Washington, London, 2011 (Danish 1971) p141
Jan Gehl is an internationally well respected planner and was responsible for the transformation of Copenhagen into a walkable city. His work is very influential and has transcended national boundaries. In general I would agree with most of his observations, but this one written in 1971 seems not only romantic but limited. Yes, winding streets can be very interesting and it is very enjoyable to walk through a path that is continually changing. However this remark ignores the relevance of the great thoroughfares of 19th century grand plans, which accomodate diversity in the context of a long straight road. What about Champs Elyseés? Paseo de Gràcia? Avenida de Mayo? Unter den Linden?
More on Jan Gehl to come soon.
Monday, 5 January 2015
From an academic erudite as Vidler to a more down to earth Rudofsky. Streets for People
"...for the street is not an area but a volume. It cannot exist in the vacuum; it is inseparable from its environment. In other words, it is no better than the company of houses it keeps. The street is the matrix: urban chamber, fertile soil, and breeding ground. Its viability depends as much on the right kind of architecture as on the right kind of humanity."
Rudofsky, Bernard, Streets for People: a primer for Americans, van Nostrand Reinhold Company, 1982,1969, p20
Perhaps not as well known as his contemporaries Jane Jacobs and Kevin Lynch, Rudofsky is as ruthless a critic of American and British post war urbanism as them. Better known for his groundbreaking: Architecture without Architects, he is also an insightful observer of the public realm. He uses streets as his weapon of choice and confronts American examples with European ones, mainly Italian. Through his experience, living in both Europe and North America, he can speak as an insider and outsider. There is a balance in his observations between the formal and the social, which bridges a gap that still needs more analysis. Rudofsky's observations are valid now, and should be a useful source for practitioners in architecture and urban disciplines.