Week 12 2017

After several disruptive weeks – pushing child friendly cities and play in media and at events I am back on the PhD research.

The feedback form the Assessor was to use Stevens work as a basis rather than Lefebvre. This led to an revised PhD proposal and contemplation about new research questions.

Project Proposal can be accessed here: PhD Proposal 23 March2017

Maciocco, G. & Tagliagambe, S. (2009). People and Space, New Forms of Interaction in the City Project. Urban and Landscape Perspectives 5; Springer. doi 10.1007/978-1-4020-9879-6_1

The City Project: intermediate Space and Symbol (p.164)

“The loss of the differential quality the city has suffered in its drift towards the “generic city”, a phenomenon of reduction of diversity, standardisation of life and the space produced by shopping, which has become “a primary way of urban life”, “the apotheosis of modernisation” (Chung 2001), the foolish outlet of the doctrine of form (of the city) that follows the (consumer) function in the same way throughout the world, the “unexpected revenge of functionalism” (Chung, 2001).

Chung C. J., Inaba J., Koolhaas R., Tsung Leong S. (2001) Harvard Design School Guide to Shopping, Taschen, Cologne.

Linked to the “generic city” is the process of “thematisation” of the city, the transformation of the city as a theme-park, an experience of places that is also the model of the place of pleasure (Jacobs 1998), a model that requires a glance turning everything into a show, that tends to blend in with its surroundings (Caillois, 1984) and that produces an absence of reference point, like the space of a labyrinth, spectacular and supervised, making the contemporary city uniform (Bataille 1970). But it is a desired labyrinth, that represents a complete mosaic of different types of landscape that make up, indeed, the “dark object of desire” of society (Vos and Meekes 1999).

Bataille G. (1970). Le labyrinthe. In: Bataille G. (ed) Oeuvres complètes, Gallimard, Paris. Caillois R. (1984). Mimicry and legendary. Psychastenia, October n 31.
Vos W., Meekes H. (1999) Trends in European cultural landscape development: perspectives for a sustainable future. Landscape and Urban Planning 46 (1-3).

The representations, images, our society creates for itself of landscapes as “desired products” express detachment from reality. In this detachment between reality and representation lies the contemporary incapacity to “represent” the city , to “see it”. What is projected in images aberrant to the point of losing their reference point is nothing more, probably, than the loss of the reference point as such, a loss affecting language, the same loss that affects the inhabitant when he tries to imagine the city (Soutif, 1994). If we do not go to meet the real, in the lived in space, unsettling pairs of opposites like real city/simulacrum city and citizen/non- citizen (de Azua 2003) will become established, where the figure of the “non-citizen” will correspond to the loss of the urban collective conscience and, with it, the loss of the city as a conceptual unit.

Soutif D. (1994) Topes et Tropes Le plan de Ville et la Référence. In: Dethier J., Guiheux A. (eds) La ville Art et architecture en Europe 1870- 1993, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris.

de Azua F. (2003) La necessidad y el deseo. Sileno nn. 14-15, pp. 13-21

“The space of the mind that gradually develops as the subject understands, in his acting and often after he has acted, the sense of this actions and those of others and that, in this sense, opens up to the world of relations that feeds the collective conscience.” (p.165)

–> Is the post capitalist city a place where symbols are exchanged? “The expressive strength of the symbol is essential for collective gaining of awareness of the elements that preside over our spatial life. ” (p.165)

The symbol represents,  always, “something else”, it refers to something different and never uncodifiable. (p.166)

“A symbol can be understood as a “bridge cast” between the universe of visible phenomena and the invisible, between reality and possible worlds.” (p. 167) –> play is a possibility and create opportunities for reaching out to a different world!

“The active, collective glance at the city makes us feel we belong to a whole, it reveals to us the contemporary public space.” p.13

Brodsky J. (1995) On Grief and Reason: Essays, Farrar straus Giroux, New York.

“The more substantial an individual’s aesthetic experience is, the sounder his taste, the sharper his moral focus, the freer- though not necessarily the happier- he is (Brodsky 1995, pp. 49-50).


Week 8+9 2017

Last week I’ve been doing more editing on the overall PhD proposal. This lead to the conclusion to decouple the introduction and work with Andrew on the refined version of the one pager.

I’ve commenced pilot fieldwork in Canberra on Friday and Saturday.

Found that I need to further revise my matrix reflecting some of the actual play activities:

One of the most compelling findings, is that of those people that displayed play behaviour the majority were listening/ consuming music.

This reflects some of  Debord work “The Society of the Spectacle”:

‘Stars of consumption, through outwardly representing different personality types, actually show each of these types enjoying an equal access to the whole realm of consumption and deriving exactly the same satisfaction therefrom. Stars of decision, meanwhile, must possess the full range of accepted human qualities; all official differences between them are thus canceled out by the official similarity which is an inescapable implication of their supposed excellence in every space.’ p. 39

‘Thus false conflicts of ancient vintage tend be resuscitated- regionalisms or racisms whose job it now is to invest vulgar rankings in the hierarchies of consumption with a magical ontological superiority. Hence too the never- ending succession of paltry contests- from competitive sports to elections- that are utterly incapable of arousing any truly playful feeling. Wherever the consumption of abundance has established itself, there is one spectacular antagonism, which is always at the forefront of the range of illusory roles: the antagonism between youth and adulthood.’  p.40

Reflection on the fieldwork pilot in Canberra

Pilot observation took place on a Saturday from 7.00 am to 3.30 pm (due to camera failure and weather change the observation concluded).

Observation remarks:

  • most people walk alone and listen to music (7 am -9 am)
  • The shared spaces have predominantly a movement function. People only stop and engage with each other on edges.
  • socially marginalised people start to populate the space (8.30 am onwards)
  • Cafes and shops open (8-9 am)
  • people use intersections for crossing only/ play happens either at the edge of or on a footpath
  • pillow sculpture focal point for playful behaviour
  • people usually sit on benches near pillow
  • people flow mostly through the middle of Garema
  • music player sets up near pillow (1 pm and stays there for the afternoon)
  • people sit on cubes
  • window shoppers stay under the awnings near the edges
  • two children play with sloped pavement surface around the trees (not too much with the coloured pavers) –> starting to use loose element from tree droppings to play with

Play behaviour assessment:

53 people – playing around
9 people – playing up on words
7 people- playing a part
6 people – playing for time
5 people – playing tricks

Critical remark: This assessment was purely based on my own interpretation of the situation. I found it uneasy to capture all activities. Therefore I questions somewhat the reliability of this part of the observation, unless one interviews the people right after the observation. Although I believe that most people are not even aware that they actually display play behaviour.

Human behaviour:

Group sizes:

Majority of people are alone. However, the proportion of people that are not alone, most of them are allocated to the group size of 2 people, followed by 4 people (mostly families), three people and rarely 5 or more.

Preferred play setting










Week 7 2017

Milica kindly provided me with additional comments that made it into a revised version of the PhD proposal.

The latest version can be accessed here: phd-proposal-feb15

The corresponding draft assessors response can be accessed here: assessors-response-ghm-feb-2017-15


In preparation of the document I found myself going back to earlier versions and realised that some of the writing in the comprehensive versions of the assessor response will become the chapters.

If everything goes alright I can commence with the data collection in Canberra in mid March in Canberra, ideal temperatures too, and in Germany end of May, June or July.

The shut-up  and write question is useful to complete tasks.

Papers and conferences

Lisa and I are co-authoring on a paper on design process of healthy environments and meaningful engagement with children. This will be presented at the Spaces and Flow conference on 12-13 October 2017 http://spacesandflows.com/2017-conference

Also my paper presentation at the International Play Association has been accepted. I will present my early findings and the PhD concept http://canada2017.ipaworld.org/themes
The abstract can be accessed here: play-and-the-city-ipa


Debord, G. (1994) The Society of the Spectacle. Zone Books. New York.

‘THE WHOLE LIFE of those societies in which modern conditions pf production prevail presents itself as an immense accumulation of spectacles. All that once was directly lived has become mere representations.’ p. 12

‘In a partial way, reality unfolds in a new generality as a pseudo- world apart, solely as an object of contemplation….The spectacle in its generality is a concrete inversion of life, and, as such, the autonomous movement of non-life.’ p. 12

‘THE SPECTACLE APPEARS at once as society itself, as a part of society and as a means of unification. As a part of society, it is that sector where all attention, all consciousness, converges. Being isolated -and precisely for that reason -this sector is the locus of illusion and false consciousness; the unity it imposes is merely the official language of general separation.’ p. 12

‘ THE SPECTACLE IS NOT a collection of images; rather, it is a social relationship between people that is mediated by images.’ p. 12

‘It is by far better viewed as a weltanschauung that has been actualized, translated into the material realm- a world view transformed into an objective force.’ p. 13

The spectacle is ‘the very heart of society’s real unreality. In all its specific manifestations- news or propaganda, advertising or the actual consumption of entertainment -the spectacle epitomizes the prevailing model of social life….In form as in content the spectacle serves as total justification for the conditions and aims of the existing system. It further ensures the permanent presence of that justification, for it governs almost all time spent outside the productive process itself.’ p. 13

‘The language of the spectacle is composed of signs of the dominant organization of production- signs which are at the same time ultimate end- products of that organization.’ p. 13

‘lived reality suffers the material assaults of the spectacle’s mechanisms of contemplation, incorporating the spectacular order and lending that order positive support. Each side therefore has its share of objective reality. And every concept as it takes its place on one side or the other, has no foundation apart from its transformation into its opposite: reality erupts within the spectacle, and the spectacle is real. This reciprocal alienation is the essence and underpinning of society as it exists.’ p. 14 –-> play can be one of those eruptions!

‘IN A WORLD THAT really has been turned on its head, truth is a moment of falsehood.’ p. 14

‘Understood on its own terms, the spectacle proclaims the predominance of appearance and asserts that all human life, which is to say all social life, is mere appearance. But any critique capable of apprehending the spectacle’s essential character must expose it as a visible negation of life- and as a negation of life that has invented a visual form for itself.’ p. 14

‘For the spectacle, as the perfect image of the ruling economic order, end are nothing and development is all- although the only thing into which the spectacle plans to develop itself.’ p. 15- 16

‘The spectacle is the chief product of present- day society.’ p. 16

‘For the spectacle is simply the economic realm developing for itself – at once a faithful mirror held up to the production of things and a distorting objectification of the producers.’ p. 16

‘The spectacle is by definition immune from human activity, inaccessible to any projected review or correction. It is the opposite of dialog. Wherever representation takes on an independent existence, the spectacle reestablishes its rules.’ p. 17

‘The spectacle is hence a technological version of the perfection of separation within human beings.’ p. 18

‘SO LONG AS THE REALM of necessity remains a social dream, dreaming will remain a social necessity. The spectacle is the bad dream of modern society in chains, expressing nothing more than its wish for sleep. The spectacle is the guardian of that sleep.’ p. 18

‘BY MEANS OF THE SPECTACLE the ruling order discourses endlessly upon itself in an uninterrupted monologue of self-praise. The spectacle is the self-portrait of power in the age of power’s totalitarian rule over the conditions of existence. The fetishistic appearance of pure objectivity in spectacular relationships conceals their true character as relationships between human beings and between classes; a second Nature thus seems to impose inescapable laws upon our environment. But the spectacle is by no means the inevitable outcome of a technical development perceived as natural;on the contrary, the society of the spectacle is a form that chooses its own technical content.’  p. 19

In the course of this development all community and critical awareness have ceased to be; nor have those forces, which were able – by separating – to grow enormously in strength, yet found a way to reunite.‘ p. 21

‘THE GENERALIZED SEPARATION of worker and product has spelled the end of any comprehensive view of the job done, as well as the end of direct personal communication between producers. As the accumulation of alienated products proceeds, and as the productive process gets more concentrated, consistency and communication become the exclusive assets of the system’s managers. The triumph of an economic system founded on separation leads to the proletarianization of the world.’ p. 21

‘OWING TO THE VERY SUCESS of this separated system of production, whose product is separation itself, that fundamental area of experience which was associated in earlier societies with an individual’s principal work is being transformed -at least at the leading edge of the system’s evolution- into a realm of non-work, of inactivity. Such inactivity: it remains in thrall to that activity, in an uneasy and workshipful subjection to production’s needs and results; indeed it is itself a product of the rationality of production. There can be no freedom apart from activity, and within the spectacle all activity is banned- a corollary of the fact that all real activity has been forcibly channeled into the global construction of the spectacle. So what is referred to as “liberation from work,” that is, increased leisure time, is a liberation neighter within labour itself nor from the world labor has brought into being.’ p. 21-22

THE SPECTATOR’S ALIENATION from and submission to the contemplated object (which  is the outcome of his unthinking activity) works like this: the more he contemplates, the less he lives; the more readily he recognizes his own needs in the images of need proposed by the dominant system, the less he understands his own existence and his own desires. The spectacle’s  externality with respect to the acting subject is demonstrated by the fact that the individual’s own gesture are no longer his own, but rather those of someone else who represents them to him. The spectator feel at home nowhere, for the spectacle is everywhere.‘ p. 23


Impact session seminar 16/02/2017

get onto research gate, google scholar citation and research edu

be sure about the operational definitions: proximity, counter factual, precision

–> make a case and tell a story (drop methodology and literature review)



Week 6 2017

Based on the constructive meeting with Milica last week- the epistemological contribution of this research project became very clear and led to a revision of the PhD proposal.

The revised draft can be accessed here and has been send over to the supervisor for comments.


  • the title has changed to : “Play in the city- an international exploration of the play experience in urban streets.”
  • the literature review changed completely and includes the definition of play as well as the operationalisation categories of play in cities.
  • the objective and the aim has been amended.
  • The research paradigm includes an an explanation of the conceptual triad of spaces
  • The methodology part lays a rational account why I choose Yin’s case study approach and two instead of three units.
  • The PhD thesis structure is now in a traditional format.
  • Budget requirement is significantly lower as as the Vietnam case has been dropped, but can be revisited at a later stage.
  • The methods remained the same, but I man thinking of changing the interviews from unstructured interviews on the street, to targeted semi-structured interviews with targeted individuals instead.  (This will allow me to link the ream of memory and play to the great streets (Jacobs, A. research) in the city for play.


click here to access the revised PhD proposal

click here to access the new thesis-structure

click here to access the revised case-study-design-approach


Richard Sennett (1990). The Conscience of the eye. The Design of Social Life of Cities. faber and faber. London & Boston.

‘A city of differences and of fragments of life that do not connect: in such a city the obsessed are set free.’ p. 125

‘Deviance is the freedom made possible in a crowded city of lightly engaged people. But a community of single, middle- aged woman also deviates form the ‘normal’ connection between family and community; immigrants who barely speak the language of natives deviate, so do political radicals… Were one would add up all the “deviant” populations in many big cities, the deviants would form the majority.’ p. 127

The moral order is disorder. ‘The  urban dweller passes from place to place, activity to activity, taking on the coloring of each scene, as easily as a chameleon changes colors in various surroundings.’ p. 127

‘A fragmented self is more responsive. Thus Enlightenment unity and coherence are not, in this urban vision, the means to self-development- an ever more complex, fragmented experience is.’ p. 127

Chicago urbanists came to the conclusion that ‘differences produce disordered reactions rather than the clear perceptions that occur in simpler, more controlled environments’. p.127

Sennett suggests in response to the conclusion ‘Nor did the Chicago urbanists equate and a community: if stimulation occurs as individuals move between communities and scenes, gradually people lose an inner life, they become their skins, their “segmented roles.” This was how the Chicago urbanists came to celebrate the outside, the exposure of humans to one other.’ p. 128

Thought: is a healthy city and place which contains spaces for the inside, safety, intimacy and reflection. A space where people can take their time of explore and making sense of the connections between outside and inside. Playful engagement as a means to gain consciousness.

‘Sheer exposure to difference is no corrective to the Christian ills of inwardness. There is withdrawal and fear of exposure, as through all differences are potentially as explosive as those between ad drug dealer and an ordinary citizen.’ p. 129

‘The essence of developing as a human being is developing the capacity for ever more complex experiences. If the experience of complexity is losing its value in the environment, we are therefore threatened “spiritually”, though the spiritual life of a modern person must unfold is an exactly opposite direction from the path taken by the early Christina who sought to become a “child of God.”‘ p. 131- 132.

The power of interpretation are not disconnected from power and money, but they are more than pure reflections or representations. p.132

‘The medieval city was conceived by its burghers as a place in which people could write their own secular laws, exert their political will, rather than be bound by inherited obligations of manor or village. These laws were as irregular and varied as the streets of the towns, often self- contradictory or unclear, enacted with little sense of anxiety about form, made for what suited the moment. Clarity remained in the realm of the divine’. The motto “Stadtluft macht frei” appeared over many city gates. p.135

In Arendt’ view people in cities fear to make contact as a lack of the will to live in the world. p.135

Goethe notes ‘that without help from many external means, one had enough substance and content in oneself, so that everything depends solely on unfolding this properly’ p. 136 or Goethe, Dichtung und Wahrheit,  Mainz, Beuter Verlag, p. 664

Lavater understood Goethe that there is no destiny or true human nature. There is only struggle from freedom in here and now, or a radical struggle for freedom in the outside. p. 136

‘Transcending identities should make us look at others on the street in a new way’ p. 137

‘Hannah Arendt and James Baldwin represent two people of response to indifference. At one pole the subjective world is shunted aside so that people can speak to each other directly, resolutely, politically. At the other pole subjective life undergoes a transformation so that a person turns outward, is aroused by the presence of strangers and arouses them.  That transformation requires the mobilizing of certain artistic energies in everyday life.‘ p. 149

‘The power that marks a society as modern seem to have everything to do with people seizing control over the physical world through inventions.’ p. 151

‘The modern urban analogue between invention and discovery might seem to appear in the contrast between carefully designed streets and streets with no one author’ p.151

‘The power of discovering something unexpected to the eye gives them their value. Such streets are prized, we commonly say, as being full of life, in a way that traffic arteries, for all their rushing vehicular motion, are not.’ p. 151- 152

“Street life” is a symbol of urban provocation and arouse, provocation that comes in large parts from experiences of the unexpected.’ p. 152

Critique of Kevin Lynch’s legible streets: his streets are ‘streetscapes, places that are all about fixed identities of race or class or usage. But no form made apparent on the street leads to the equal and opposite evil, the grid experience of neutrality. How then to invent a form which provokes discovery? How to link invention and discovery?’  p. 152

Thought: Could play lead to discovery and transcend the mind at the same time. We need to define where design sits inside or outside.

The centre was during the sixteenth and early-seventeenth- century for the planners charged with importance, where people could move to and discover something. p.153

Perspectives and other elements drawing people to places and move them around. For example Rome with their arches and Obelisks. (designed by Pope Sixtus V’s). People seem to walk into horizon lines.

‘The reason lay in the trip of the obelisk: it creates a point in space.’ p. 153

‘All the things in a perspectival space can change their appearance by the draftsman’s manipulation of points and planes external to them.’p. 155

‘Perspectival vision transforms an object into a consequence of how it is seen.’ p. 155

‘The art historian Svetlana Alpers distinguished between perspectives that establish “I see the world” and perspectives that establish that “the world is being seen”. A famous instance of “I see the world” is Titian’s Venus of Urbino. p. 156

The spanish steps in Rome is an example where the experience contrasts the intended function. Instead of overlooking the city from one vantage point, the eye wonders between tunnel experience of the streets, the space with an obelisk and fountain in the middle. p. 158

‘coherence’ that encompasses restless movement for the eye through urban design. p. 158

‘Nietzsche called such nonposessive, exploratory perceptions “perspectivism”‘ p.158

‘Anti-humanism’ as used by Arendt, Satre, and their heirs, is a word one would do well to ponder. For the humanists of the historical Renaissance set the example for a visual provocation lacking in much modern urban planning…. The eye which perceived limits, incompleteness, otherness was engaged in the ocular experience of tragedy.’  p. 161

‘The urbanism of Sixtus V show how a concrete object like the obelisk can be used to create a restless, problematic space. It is a space of discovery, of exploration.’ p. 162-163

Thought: Why do spaces as Times square work –> the eye is not in control.

‘the experience of the street establishes human limits’ p.167

‘The humanism of Sixtus V, Serlio, Palladio and Scamozzi was enacted by design’ compared to a linear street in New York. Sennett suggests further ‘the street is indubitably full of life, but it is life bent on survival; it’s exchange, curbs, and negotiations occur without much reflection.’ p. 167

Sennett concludes: ‘Today, the principle of disrupted linear sequence, the street of overlayed differences, is an elusive reality in urban design.’ Further he notes that ‘the invention which designers are seeking, in order to prompt the discovery of others on a street, has something to do with time. Sigfried Giedion argued the experience of time could be designed architecturally and urbanistically- this experience was to him about free and coherent movement..Sennett responses by ‘if overlays of difference are the necessary condition for enacting a sense of connection between people on the street, is the subversion of coherent time a sufficient, complementary condition? And is it precisely this subversion of coherent time which a designer could draw?’ p. 168

Ist die Gefährdung der verbundenheit von Strasse und zeit genug der Strasse als Erfahrungsraum zu sehen? – Sollte der Designer sich diese Gefährdung nicht zu nutze machen und der Strasse in einen Erfahrungsraum zu verwandeln.

Carl Schorske ‘In the cold, traffic swept modern city of the slide-rule and the slum, the picturesque comforting square can reawaken memories of the vanished burgher past. This spatially dramatic memory will inspire us to create a better future, free of philistinism and utilitarianism.’ p. 176 –> Schorske, C. (1981) Fin-de-siècle Vienna: Politics and Culture. New York. Knopf. p. 72

‘In the tasteful glass-and-steel tower with its simple furniture carefully placed, we experience an emptiness that does not duplicate the experience of the Renaissance planners, for whom clearing way was a positive act of making- room- for in the midset of the clamor and mess of the squares and markets.’ p. 180

Clock-time came to be complemented by grid-space. This space/time relationship is anything but the beneficent conjunction Sigfried Giedion imagined. Rather than surprising discoveries, the clock seemed to offer its users only monotony.’ p. 180

in the context of modernity: ‘it is always an illusion to think broader changes in values have dates, the history of the cannon culminating in this invasion is the closest we can come to locating the birth of the modern sense of spontaneity. Spontaneous is dangerous; in the moment of spontaneity, eruption occurs.’ p. 183

Less conflicted spaces are less active and the social centre becomes the edge. p. 197

Should we design for conflicted spaces as interaction intensifies life.

‘The planner of a modern, humane city will overlay differences rather than segment them’ p. 202

‘Displacement rather than linearity is a human prescription.’ p. 202

‘It is this deity, rather than the Christian god of suffering, whom we need to inscribe in the spaces of the city.’ p. 252

Play it is…




Week 5 2017


Jacobs, Allen, B. (1993) Great streets. The MIT Press, Cambridge & London.

‘You go back to some streets more often than to others, and not just because the things you do or have to do are more centrered on one than another. Maybe you focus a part of your life more on one street for reasons not necessarily economic or functional. Maybe a particular street unlocks memories or offers expectations of something pleasant to be seen or the possibility of meeting someone, known or new, the possibility of an encounter.’ p.2

‘Streets are more than public utility, more than the equivalent of water lines and sewers and electric cables, which, interestingly enough, most often find their homes in streets; more than linear physical spaces that permit people and goods to get from here to there.’ p. 3

‘Communication remains a major purpose of streets, along with unfettered public access to property, and these roles have received abundant attention, particular in the latter half of the twentieth century. Other roles have not.’ p. 3

‘In a very elemental way, streets allow people to be outside. Barring private gardens, which many urban people do not have or want, or immediate access to countryside or parks, streets are what constitute the outside for many urbanities; places to be when they are not indoors. And streets are places of social and commercial encounter and exchange. People who really do not like other people, not even to see them in any numbers, have good reason not to live in cities or to live isolated from city streets. The street is movement: to watch, to pas, movement especially of people: of fleeting faces and forms, changing postures and dress….It is possible to stand in one place or to sit and watch the show…. Everyone can use the street…Knowing the rhythm of a street is to know who may be on it or at a certain place along it during a given period’ p.4

The street a place ‘to feel greeted and welcomed, to be part of something larger than oneself. As well as to see, the street is a place to be seen. Sociability is a large part of why cities exist and streets are a major if not the only public place for that socialbility to develop.’ p. 4

‘The people of cities understand the symbolic, ceremonial, social and political role of streets, not just those of movement and access.’ p. 4

‘The interplay of human activity with the physical place has an enormous amount to do with the greatness of a street.’ p. 6

Dolf Schnebli, architect, wrote: ‘A good urban street is always good in a context. Its goodness can change- if Hitler is in charge of the city, all streets are bad…To eat in a beautiful space is nice, but if the food is bad, I prefer good food to an ugly place. I prefer good food in a beautiful place. But bad service may destroy the whole thing. Therefore the best- good food, good space, good service, good company. We could go on.’ p.7

Criteria for good streets:

  1. help to make community: streets should facilitate people acting and interacting to achieve in concert what they might not achieve alone.  ‘A great street should be the most desirable place to be, to spend time, to live, to play, to work, at the same time that it markedly contributes to what a city should be. Streets are settings for activities that bring people together.’ p. 8
  2. physically comfortable and safe. He points out that ‘physical safety is another matter, and it can mean many things. One shouldn’t have to worry about being hit by a car or truck or about tripping on the pavement or about some other physical thing built into the street being unsafe. –> I believe he is talking about perceived safety.
  3. encouragement of participation. ‘ For over 15 years on the main street of Curitba, Brazil, a long, long strip of paper has been laid on the pavement every Saturday morning, held down by wooden sticks every meter or so, theereby cerating hundred of individual white paper surfaces. Children that come are offered a brush and paint, and they do pictures as parents and friends watch….Participation in the life of a street involves the ability of people who occupy buildings to add something to the street, individually or collectively, to be part of it. That contribution can take the form of signs or flowers or awnings or color, or in altering the buildings themselves. Responsibility, including maintenance, comes with participation.’ p. 9
  4. The best streets are remembered. They leave strong, long continuing positive impressions. –> a street is memorable. p.9
  5. street is representative- ‘it is the epitome of a type; it can stand for others; it is the best. p.9

Urban settings: scale of the street and block and buildings and spaces –> also the setting of peoples lives.

‘There is a magic to a great street. We are attracted to the best of them not because we have to go there, but because we want to be there. The best streets are joyful as they are utilitarian. They are entertaining and they are open to all. They permit anonymity at the same time as individual recognition. They are symbols of a community and of its history; they represent a public memory. They are places for escape and for romance, palces to act and to dream. On a great street we are allowed to dream; to remember things that may never have happened and to look forward to things that, maybe, never will.’ p. 11

Jacobs analysed streets in categories:

Cross section, blueprint, drawing
Traffic, parking
sidewalk, pavement details

The eyes move. Gibson ‘In the ordinary vision of everyday life any long fixation of the eyes is rarity…It is equally rare to perceive the environment with the head motionless.. The visual field is ordinarily alive with motion.’ p. 281-2

‘Great streets require physical characteristics that help the eyes do what they want to do, must do: move. Every great street has this quality.’ p.282

Qualities that help a good street:

  • Trees
  • Beginnings and endings
  • many buildings rather than few, diversity,
  • special design features (details)
  • places
  • Accessibility
  • Density helps
  • diversity
  • length
  • Slope
  • Parking
  • Contrast
  • time


Week 4 2017

Further on literature:

Appleyard, D., Gerson, S., Lintell, M. (1981). Liveable Streets. University of California Press Berkley. Los Angeles, London.

questions about the desired lifestyles and activities:
‘street life. Children wanting to play, and people talking, sitting, strolling, jogging, cycling, gardening, or working at home on auto maintenance are all vulnerable to interruption.’ p. 35

Perceived intrusion and the disruption of behaviour
‘Danger and Accidents. Traffic is in itself dangerous. Most children are killed or injured on a street near their homes. It can create the fear of danger, especially for parents of small children.
Nuisance- noise, vibration, air pollution, glare. Perceptions of the nuisances vary when inside and outside dwellings. Their perceived effects may be accompanied by hidden health effects.
Appearance and Maintenance. Pride in the appearance of the street and awareness of it as a liveable environment can be affected by the visual impacts of traffic and its emissions, and by the presence of trees, vegetation, and other amenities. Street maintenance and neighbours upkeep play a significant role in the street’s appearance.

Impacts on street life. Traffic can suppress children’s street play, adult conversation, sitting out, gardening, and other street activities.’ p. 35

‘adaptive behavior. Unpleasant environments can force people to change their living patterns. They move to the back of the house, forbid their children to play in the street, even sleep in the daytime.

the street as a sanctuary (clean, quite, maintained, attractive, safe), child-rearing, accessibility, and neighbourhood identity. (Ben Elia, 1979) (p. 53)

Appleyards study found in relation to values that social qualities were generally ranked low. He reasoned along the following comment ‘it is almost impossible to predict what the neighbors will be like when choosing a street to live in’. (p. 51) Although having ‘interesting people and activities on the street, a quality popularized by Jane Jacobs,

‘Danger for children disturbed over 50 percent of the residents even on light streets, rising up to 80 percent on heavy streets.’ p.57

‘Careless and speeding vehicles were nearly as much of a problem on light streets, where 57 percent expressed annoyance at them.’ p. 57

Noise is the primary disturber of indoor activities. p.62

Vulnerable groups

‘In the more densely populated older central areas of our cities there is often little nearby relatively sheltered play space for children. Back yards may be minimal, if they exist at all, and are used for the storage of many things, often bulky and sometimes dangerous. There is frequently little space between the dwelling and the street, save a fairly narrow sidewalk, on which children may gather and play. Parks are often distant and may be physically more dangerous to children than the local street itself.  Furthermore, the activity level on the street and sidewalks may stimulate the children and thus lead to a preference for this area as a location for gathering and play. Children cannot be expected to exercise at all times the vigilance necessary to prevent traffic accidents, nor can they be constantly monitored by more responsible older people in order to avoid accidents (Sandels, 1975).’ p. 125

Problems of play on heavily traveled streets, there are the dangers incurred in travel to school and short local trips –> households with children are especially sensitive to the hazards of residential streets with heavy traffic levels. p. 125

older people may have difficulties with their sight and hearing that make them much less aware than others of the presence and speed of traffic. (Carp. 1971). p.125

  1. ‘Children have a central need for game and continuous movement, because they are  developing physically and must learn to adjust and revise previously learned movements. They love to play and engage in games all the time, often giving up one game for another quite suddenly. Their play rules up to the age of eleven or twelve are quite indeterminate and changeable: This is the reason why we meet children who show off, trying to dash across the road just before a car passes, who hop on one leg over the zebra crossing, who use the safety bars between the pavement (sidewalks) and the roadway as vaulting bars, or who stand and fight in the middle of the road.
    Children therefore find it difficult to grasp and follow rather complicated rules to which traffic conforms. They cannot predict the movements of cars, they cannot put themselves in the position of drivers, and they expect so- called “safe” places like pedestrian crossings to be safe at all times.
  2. Second, children have physiological problems. They cannot look over the tops of cars to assess situations, so they must often go into the street before seeing traffic. In 20 percent of all children’s accidents in the Skandia Report (1971), the children were obscured by parked vehicles. Their low eye-levels direct their attention to pavement level and items of interest in the road itself, making it difficult to see high road signs placed well above their vision.
  3. Children “react with their whole personality” to everything which interests them, and they therefore find it difficult or impossible to do more than one thing at a time. “For example, we have seen 6-7 year-olds who are unable to cross the road and watch out at the same time but who instead try to look first and then walk: we have seen in the same age category those who are so entirely forget the traffic around them”— (Sandels, p. 132). This place numerous limitations on children’s ability in traffic conditions. Many, for instance, prefer to cross on straight streches of road rather than at intersections because the intersections are too complicated for them to grasp.’ p. 128
  4. There are problems of instruction. Children may not understand the full sentence or terms of the adult giving them instructions. Even among eight year old’s less than half of them understood what was meant by ‘crossing the road’.Children quickly forget instructions, especially when they come impulsive.’ p.129


It was practice in Sweden in the 1970s to introduce methods for accidents with children. Planning of housing areas; better location of kindergartens, schools, and play grounds; safe stops for school and other buses; elimination of curbside parking; separating pedestrians from cyclist and motor traffic. p. 129

‘Children should never be required to cross a main traffic street o the way to school. If for no other reason, streets of the residential area should rigorously exclude through traffic. Another reason for routing through traffic outside the neighbourhood is to set bounds to the district, giving it a “clear identity in people’s consciousness ‘ (Perry, 1929). p. 148

Perry proposed ‘neighbourhood units’ in 1929 within which schools, local streets and parks would be protected from through traffic, which was to be confined to the periphery of the unit. p. 147

‘European cities have grown mostly from medieval origins, with small-scale, narrow, nongeometric street patterns. Later alterations and overlays form subsequent periods have emphasised arterials, which often cut through older quaters.’ Since Hausman’s Paris, many of these have been long, straight boulevards. The narrower, frequently disconnected street patterns were for local traffic. p. 151

environmental capacity has three factors.

  1. Streets with over 50 percent vulnerable pedestrians (old, young, mothers with prams).
  2. Streets with 25 percent to 50 percent vulnerable pedestrians.
  3. Streets with less than 25 percent vulnerable pedestrians. p. 153

‘Physical conditions need to offer different level of protections, depending on “visibility for drivers, fewer parked pedestrian access to dwellings, etc.” Hence streets could be classified as offering high, medium, and low levels of protection.’ p.153

Safety, comfort, convenience, appearance,

general level of pedestrian activity, especially the numbers of children. All of them were used to calculate an environmental score for an area.

Environmental quality of a street was determined by traffic volume, width of street, vulnerability, and physical levels of protection. p. 153

First environmental areas: Barnsbury and Pimlico in the UK.

A Statement of Principles was introduced as the “Charter of Street- Dwellers’ Rights.  p. 243

  1. The street as a Safe Sanctuary. Slow speeds, cars are guests bu emergency services should be still provided. p. 243
  2. The street as a livable, healthy environment. The street should not be subject to noticeable noise or vibration from traffic. No discomfort by traffic, a place where people can sit, converse and play. p.244
  3. The street as a community. local celebrations, optimal size is debateable but should be the street block itself. p. 244
  4. The street as neighborly Territory. respecting private domain is symbolic. maintain their street, tree planting, flowers and other amenities.
  5. The street as a place for play and learning. Places which are diverse in character, with different kinds of surfaces, adequate space to play all the street games children like to engage in, places where they can hide, places where they can build things without disturbing adults. ‘Backyard can accommodate many of these activities, but in central cities the street is often the only place available. The street as a learning environment (Carr and Lynch, 1968, Lynch, 1977). On it children can learn much about nature, through plants and trees, the sun and the wind, and through exposure to the earth itself. They can learn about social life if there are people on the street whom they can safely meet. Learning about this larger city depends on their freedom to roam safely in their neighbourhood.’ p. 244
  6. The street as a green and pleasant land. “Greening the street” sympbols of the cycle of life.
  7. The street as unique historic place. people take pride in places that have a special identity. ‘This identity may be due to some unique qualities such as views, a small creek, an old tree, gardens or buildings. Residential streets should be destinations, not routes.’ p. 244.

Woonerf concept:
‘ 1. The sharing of the street space between vehicles and pedestrians. To this end curb distinctions between the sidewalks and street pavement are eliminated.
2. Conveying the impression that the whole street space is usable by pedestrians. To this end abrupt changes in path direction, vertical features, surface changes, and plantings and street furniture are all designed as obstacles to vehicle travel and to create a residential atmosphere.’ p. 250

The real power of the ‘woonerf’ concept lies in the traffic rules and clear signage.

a) the street is for people playing on road is permitted and encouraged.
b) cars may not drive faster than a walking pace.
c) drivers may not impede pedestrians within a “woonerf”
d) pedestrians may not unneccessarily hinder the progress of drivers. p.251



Literature to get:

Great streets by Jacobs, Allan B, 1995, Paperback ed. Book:




Week 3 2017

This week I’ve finished the second draft of my assessors response and circulated it to my supervisors.

The draft can be accessed here: assessors-response-ghm-1601

Further on literature:

Appleyard, D., Gerson, S., Lintell, M. (1981). Liveable Streets. University of California Press Berkley. Los Angeles, London.

On the difference of heavier and lighter streets:
despite of the ‘pleasant appearance, its environment was inferior to the slightly less immaculate light street. The ultimate irony was that the rents were higher on the heavy street, probably because of the faster turn over of apartments.’ p. 26

‘Life on the light street, on the other hand, was in some ways idyllic. Residents were much more engaged in the street. They saw it as their own territory. Their children played on the sidewalk and in the street. They had many more friends and acquaintances, and they were generally much more aware of its detailed qualities. The contrast between the two was striking. On the one hand alienation, on the other friendliness and involvement.’ p. 26

On light streets people tend to have more children. The lack of children in the heavy street may be partly explained by the fact that social life was impoverished and many treated the street as a transient hotel than as a residence. p. 27

Ecology of the street graphic p. 31


Controlling driving behaviour depends on understanding and communicating with the driver psychology –> perception, expectation, and attitudes. p. 32

‘The Emmissions from traffic include noise, vibration, air pollution, dirt, trash thrown out of windows, and visual ugliness. Control of these emissions through vehicle redesign is an important way of increasing street livability.’ p. 33



Richard Sennett (1990). The Conscience of the eye. The Design of Social Life of Cities. faber and faber. London & Boston.

‘This divide between inner, subjective experience and outer, physical life expresses in fact a great fear which our civilization has refused to admit, much less to reckon. The space full of people in the modern city are either spaces limited to and carefully orchestrating consumption, like the shopping mall, or spaces limited to and carefully orchestrating the experience of tourism. This reduction and trivializing of the city as a stage of life is no accident.’ p. xii

He sees a profound “spiritual” reason behind why people are willing to  tolerate such a bland scene for their lives. Further he notes that the way cities look reflects a great fear of exposure. ‘”Exposure” more connotes the likelihood of being hurt than of being stimulated.’ p. xii

Cities remove the “threat” of social contact through intervention such as street walls faced in sheets of plate glass, highways that cut of poor neighbourhoods from the rest of the city, dormitory housing developments. p. xii

Christianity set Western culture upon the course that built a wall between the inner and outer experience. p. xii

Further Sennett argues that ” attempts to unify the inner and outer dimensions simply by tearing down the wall, making the inner and outer one organic whole, have not proved successful, unity can be gained only at the price of complexity. p. xiii

–> He wrote this book in 1990, prior the advent of the smart phone technology. Through modern technology this wall has somewhat shifted or might be even broken. Sennett considers the next big task: how to revive the reality of the outside as a dimension of human experience. p.xiii

Sennett suggest that this battle on the street of witnessing diversity and difficulty can only be won, by an changes of ones orientation. In other word by keeping the balance. The Greeks referred to it as sophrosyne (grace or poise). This person today would be considered as ‘centered’. ‘A city  ought to be a school for learing how to lead a centered life. Through exposure to others, we might learn how to weight what is important and what is not. We need to see differences on the streets or in other people neither as threats nor as sentimental invitations, rather as necessary visions. They are necessary for us to learn how to navigate life with balance, both individually and collectively.’ p. xiii

Donal Olsen in his book “The city as a work of art” argues that creative powers take a humane form and turn people outwards. He suggests that our culture is in need for an art of exposure; this art won’t make us victims one another. Instead it allows for more balanced adults, capable of coping with and learning from complexity. p. xiv

‘theory’ comes from the Greek word ‘theoria’ –> meaning ‘look at’  ‘seeing’. –> physical experience in light with understanding  or ‘illumination’. p. 8

In relation to feelings, truth and the street:
Experiences such as ‘love become disturbed because feelings are kept insight, invisible- the realm where truth is kept. And places people live in become puzzling. The street is a scene of outside life, and what is to be seen on the street are beggars, tourists, merchants, students, children playing, old people resting- a scene of human difference. ‘ p. 9

Lao-tzu: “The true reality of a room is not its walls but the emptiness they contain.” quoted in Paul Zucker, Town and Square (New York: Colombia University Press, 1959) p. 94.

Medieval city builders were not concerned with order- instead they created contrast between order and disordered spaces with no need to understand it. p. 14

The discontinuity was created by permitted random houses and squares. Their sprouting created the ‘necessary contrast to make clarity speak as an experience of faith’. p. 14

The parvis (the space in front of a church was part of the zone of immunity), was a place of public ritual, plays, and political speech. The open space sanctuary resolved itself into gardens- transition zones that function as silence at the center. p. 17

This parvis protected the people from the city. p.19

–> similar to Gozo, Xhara Play in front of the church, festival in the piazza.

‘This dualism between inside and outside became first visible as urban form in the medieval way of marking territory.’ p. 18

Medieval builders protected the spirits within the church and walls from the street. p.21

Ferdinand Tönnies – distinguished between ‘Gemeinschaft’ and ‘Gesellschaft’. For him ‘Gemeinschaft’ encompasses a face to face relationship in a place that ‘was small and socially enclosed.’ p. 23
A ‘Gesellschaft’ was a more exposed mute exchange.

Sennett creates an example evolving around a pot. Buying a pot at a local market, involving haggling was an experience associated with ‘Gemeinschaft’. Compared to buying a pot in a department shop in silence as an operations, which is associated with ‘Gesellschaft’. p. 23- 24.

‘The more enclosed and inward in each is supposedly the more sociable. Images of people touching and talking, their communion as their bond, are scenes of subjective life at last established and opened up: Gemeinschaft could literally be translated as “sharing what is within me.’ p.24

Sanctuary in western culture is associated with the possibility of psychological development. p.24

According to Freud- human development is about gradual unfolding, physical, mental and psychological, each step consequent for the future. p.30

The stimulation of the street as a place to develop lacked the sequential order of internal rooms of an house and self-development became opposed in visual terms. p.31

Sennett made the remark, ‘an early Chrsitan would read the modern design as bound to fail because our culture is in pursuit of self-development rather than a faith transcending the self.’ p. 31

One may argue in order to evolve we need to stop self- development and start focusing on enabling environments where we can transcend ourself’s.

Further Sennett argues in relation to western culture and space, that a space of authority, has developed as a place for precision: ‘that is the guidance it gives to others’. p. 36

‘Today the secular spaces of authority is empty; it looks like the side street of the Rockefeller Center.’ p. 37

‘The visual forms of legibility in urban design or space no longer suggests much about subjective life or heal the wounds of those in need. The sanctuary of the Christian city has been reduced to a sense of comfort in well-designed places where other people do not intrude. Safe because empty: safe because clearly marked. Authority is divorced from community: this is the conundrum of sanctuary as it has evolved in the city.’ p. 37

‘The planner sees who designs neutral, sterile environments. The planner never meant to, of course. Still, it is curious how the designers of parking lots, malls and public plazas seem to be endowed with a positive genius for sterility, in the use of materials and in details, as well as in overall planning. This compulsive neutralizing of the environment is rooted in part in an old unhappiness, the fear of pleasure, which led people to treat their surroundings as neutrally as possible. The modern urbanist is in the grip of Protestant ethic of space.’ p. 42

The Protestant imagination of space is expressed as a desire for power. An obsessive inner struggle with a deep hostility towards the need of others through a resentment in their pure presence. For example homeless people on the street ‘they are resented because they, who are obviously needy, are visible. p. 45

In accrodance to Sennett this implies a cultural problem visible through impersonality, it’s alienating scale and it’s coldness resulting in a lack of value. p. 46

The acceptance of visual denial in everyday life becomes the new ‘normal’. In fact more than that as Sennett points out as reassurance with ‘nothing as important as the inner struggle to account. Therefore, one can deal with the outside in purely instrumental, manipulative terms, since nothing outside “really” matters. In this modulated form, neutrality becomes an instrument of power.’ p. 46

Street grids –> an expression of culture. A rationality of city life. ‘No physical design, however, dictates a permanent meaning. Grids, like any other design, become whatever particular society make them represent.’ p. 48

‘The grid has been used in modern times as a plan that neutralizes the environment.’ p. 48
The loss of a center is the second way to neutralise a space. p. 49

In the modern context citizens ‘are a complicated instrument of offices and restaurants and shops for the conduct of business.’ p. 52

The grid is a ‘weapon to be used against environmental character’ p. 52

The grid as a place for economic competition, to be played upon like  a chessboard. It was a space of neutrality,  a neutrality achieved by denying to the environment any value of its own.’ p. 55

‘Places without centers or boundaries, spaces of endless, mindless geometric divisions. This was the Protestant ethic of space.’ p. 55

‘The refraction of power is as true of modern architects as it was of early capitalist who sought to take control of the world through detachment.’ p. 62

‘The spiritual struggle in its form as Protestant ethic denies the outside a reality in itself; denies the value of being present in the world.’ p. 65- 66

‘Control is a meaningless word uptown; here it is a synonym for anxiety.’ p. 66

‘The material abundance aroused by the division of labor were to be frustrated in the course of the industrial revolution, as in the home this principle of division of labour was to create an environment of emotional isolation. … It was indeed in those inventions which aimed to unify, rather than those which aimed to divide, that the Enlightenment showed true genius. This genius marked the Enlightenment’s planning of the physical environment, indeed shaped the very conception of the “outside”. For instance, the Enlightenment of the gardener sought to aid Nature in provisioning the pleasures of walking. Flâner means in French “to stroll along, observing,” a flâneur one who delights in doing so.’ p. 74

‘Consciousness that one is viewing an illusion is a heightened state of subjective self-awareness, and yet this was for Enlightenment no barrier to looking outwards.’ p.77

culture in opposition to civilization
‘culture represented for them the force of wholeness in society, while civilization represented a certain kind of acceptance of difference.’ p.79

‘Few planners who have pursued this path in the last generation would want to argue that “the people” best know their own needs; whether or not that is true, it is beside the point. In a society threatened by passivity and withdrawal, to encourage ordinary citizens to talk about social realities is to make the speakers care about one another.’ p.87-88.

‘The city is not only a civitas- a place of communication. It is alson on urbs,’ physical places that connect us. p.89

‘the is a conflict between building and people. the value of a building as a form is at odds with the value of a building in use. changing historical needs are seen as threats to he integrity of the original form, as through time were a source of impurity.’ p.98

‘ But in time enthusiasm arouse by experiences of unity between inside and outside subsided;”unity” came to refer to what objects were in themselves.’ p.99

The modern cult of the object is about what is left when the artist no longer strives to arouse that momentary sympathetic union between people and their environment. He or she seeks only for the sublime effect- the seizure, the shock in itself, for itself. At that moment anti-social art is born.’ p. 103