Week 5 2017

Literature:

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:

General
Cross section, blueprint, drawing
Buildings
Trees
Corners
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 43: 5th- 9th December 2016

Monday (5th Dec) facilitation a workshop with 22 school children form Giralang in Canberra. Student age ranged from 8- 10 years.

Task: Imagine and create your ideal street.
Time frame: 45 minutes
Groups size: 5-6 pupils
Material: Cardboard, plasteline, markers, glue, coloured paper, scissors, tape, wooden sticks

Some of the outcomes were:
– sofas on streets,- a water and sand play area on every street,
– Rock climbing streets,
– Areas where you can find pets (sharing them across the street)
– Tree houses,
– Cubby houses,
– Star lab,
– Parks and trees,
– Swings,
– Biggest adventure playground in the world,
– area where you are allowed to make a fire,
– miniature race space,
– most Cul-de-sac were converted into water play areas or other recreational spaces,
– road space was narrowed to one lane in pink colour and a parcoure put in
– playing field at the end of the street
– conversion into one way street

–> interestingly no child was drawing cars in the street

Rachel, Tom, Lisa and I will write up an article for a journal paper in Design Principles and Practices Journal: Design in Society https://secure.cgpublisher.com/conferences/382/web/proposals/new_proposal_entry

Tuesday:

completed the review of Donald Appleyards book: street compiling ten years of his research on traffic and neighbourhood streets. Note stickers are in the book.

Wednesday:

Idea: to restructure the PhD topic down to street and not cities. (helps to narrow the focus)

Based on the reading I’ve once more revisited the three questions trying to narrow down the research problem:

  • What is an optimal experience for people in street spaces?
  • What are the environmental triggers that facilitate change?
  • How can this device be used to support optimal urban experiences in public spaces?

After that I’ve revisited the introduction and the provisional title (see link below)

revised-introduction

Martin Heidegger (1972). On Time and Being. Harper &Row. New York.

Definition: dialectic

‘adrift inn contradictory statements… One allows the contradictions to stand, even sharpens them and tries to bring together in comprehensive unity what contradicts itself and thus falls apart. This procedure is called dialectic.’ p.4

‘To think Being itself explicitly requires disregarding Being to the extent that it is only grounded and interpreted in terms of beings and for beings as their ground, as in all metaphysics. To think Being explicitly requires us to relinquish Being as the ground of beings in favor of the giving which prevails concealed in unconcealment, that is, in favor of the It gives. As the gift of this It gives, Being belongs to giving. As a gift, Being is not expelled from giving.’ p. 6

‘We perceive presencing in every simple, sufficiently unprejudiced reflection on things of nature (Vorhandenheit) and artifacts (Zuhandenheit). Thing of nature and artifacts are both modes oppressively when we consider that absence, too, indeed absence most particularly, remains determined by a presencing which at times reaches uncanny proportions.’  p. 7

‘Plato represented Being as idea and as the koinonia of the Ideas, when Aristotle represents it as energeia, Kant as position, Hegel as the absolute concept, Nietzsche as the will to power, these are not doctrines advanced by chance, but rather words of Being as answers to a claim which speaks in the sending concealing itself, in the “there is, It gives, Being”. Always retained in the withdrawing sending, Being is unconcealed for thinking with its epochal abundance of transmutations. p.9

In relation to present and time: ‘we understand the present as the now as distinct from the no-longer-now of the past and the not-yet- now of the future. But the present speaks at the same time of presence. However, we are not accustomed to defining the peculiar character of time with regard to the present in the sense of presence. Rather, we represent time- the unity of present, past and future- in terms of the now.” p. 11

Kant says: time thus represented: ‘It has only one dimension’ in Critique of Pure Reason, A31, B47).

Time-space: ‘the name for the openness which opens up in the mutual self-extending of futural approach, past and present. This openness exclusively and primarily provides the space in which space as we usually know it can unfold. The self-extending, the opening up, of future, past and present is itself pre-spatial; only thus can it make room, that is, provide space. ‘ p.14
Time-space as commonly understood, in the sense of the distance measured between tow time- points, is the result of time calculation. In this calculation, time represented as a line and parameter and thus one-dimensional is measured out in terms of numbers. The dimensionality of time, thought as the succession of the sequence of nows, is borrowed from the representation of three- dimensional space.’ p. 14

True time is four-dimensional. past, present, future and nature of matter. –> holds them toward one another in the nearness by which the three dimensions remain near one another. (nearing nearness, nearhood –> Nahheit) used by Kant. Brings future, past and present near to one another by distancing them. p.15

‘Time is not the product of man, man is not the product of time. There is no production here. There is only giving in the sense of extending which opens up time-space.’ p.16

‘What determines both, time and Being, in their own, that is, int heir belonging together, we shall call: Ereignis, the event of Appropriation.’ It is not simply an occurrence, but which makes any occurrences possible. p.19

His conclusion: “The task or our thinking has been to trace Being to it own form Appropriation- by way of looking through true time without regard to the relation of Being to beings. To think Being without beings means: to think Being without regard to metaphysics. Yet a regard for metaphysics still prevails even in the intention to overcome metaphysics to itself. If overcoming remains necessary, it concerns that thinking that explicitly enters Appropriation in order to say It in terms of It about It. Our task is unceasingly to overcome the obstacles that tend to render such saying inadequate.’ p. 24

After finishing the Heidegger book I’ve revisited and amended once more the three research questions:

What urban street environment is optimal for playful experiences?
What are the environmental triggers that facilitate change?
How can play as a heuristic device be used to allow for optimal urban experiences in streets?

Street literature

Key aspects from

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

First line in the book in relation to the lived experience in ancient streets in Rome:

 

The incessant night traffic and the hum of noise condemned the Roman to everlasting insomnia. “What sleep is possible in a lodging?” he asks. The crossing of wagons in the narrow, winding streets, the swearing of drivers brought to a standstill, would snatch sleep from a sea-calf or the emperor Claudius himself.

 

Carcopino, Daily Life in Ancient Rome p.1

Nearly everyone in the world lives on a street. People have always lived on streets. They have been the places where children first learned about the world, where neighbors met, the social centers of towns and cities, the rallying points for revolts, the scenes of repression. But they have also been the channels for transportation and access; noisy with the clatter of horses’ hooves and the shouts of their drivers, putrid with dung, garbage, and mud, the place where strangers intruded and criminals lurked. p.1

In the nineteenth century the streets of European and American cities were no better than those of ancient Rome, although outside observers saw dirt and overcrowding as the main problems. p.1

–> today’s problem streets have predominately movement function, air pollution (fine dust and smog), noise pollution, and marginalisation of all other street function that lead to impacts on health and well-being in particular higher levels of physical inactivity, overweight and obesity, leading to diabetes two as well as depression

Garden City movement sought to make streets safe though cul-de-sacs, residential squares and neighbourhood units, with safe pedestrian pathways to the school. Modern architects “freed” their buildings from the street by placing them at right angles to develop quite green spaces.

–> increased car ownership (still continuing) more traffic as predicted; parking lots and more roads replace safe green open spaces. P.3

1961 Jane Jacobs glorified the intricacy and diversity of the old city and called for a return to the street. ”She argued that the lively urban street, was the safest place in the city.” Criminals could be identified on it, while in the parks and anonymous grounds of modern housing projects no one took it upon themselves to look out for others.” P. 3

Colin Buchannan in England published an influential report Traffic in Towns, à the report suggested to introduce the concept of zoning the city into “environmental areas”, where the environment would be the dominant concern. P.3

Herbert Ganz focused on the social homogeneity in neighborly relations. (1968). He also accused Jacobs of falling for “environmental determinism” by arguing that the design of housing and streets could in itself bring diversity to urban street life. P.4

Environmental concern really just begun to emerge in the 1980 in the US and looking into the overall satisfaction in residential areas.

Studies in 1975 emerged that found noise in the street due to heavy traffic. The most poignant issue was the large number of children injured or killed by traffic. p.5

The 12th international study week in traffic engineering and safety in 1974 reported that 84% of children under 10 years of age were injured within 800 m of home, and 70% of all accidents in the Netherlands involved children under 6 occured in streets carrying less than 3000 cars a day. p.8

OECD conference April 1975 “Better towns with less traffic” the street has personal and social meaning for adults and old people, too. We need not romanticize street life to be willing to protect it. p.9

First there must be a community willing to address the traffic issue. p. 10

four steps:

  1. thorough understanding of activities and mindset of the residential area (e.g. problems with groups and change);
  2. variety of strategies can create more livable streets and protected neighbourhoods to alleviate conditions where traffic in necessary.
  3. Effective participation programs that inform and encourage those affected by traffic changes to become involved in the planning process. –> I would suggest changes to meaningful engagement
  4. Reliable and relevant methods of assessing the costs and benefits of changes to different population and stakeholder groups. p.11

 

environmental analysis of the City Planning Department of San Francisco on the Urban Design Plan in 1969. p.15

  • vegetation
  • quality of view
  • maintenance
  • facade variety
  • distinctiveness form other street blocks
  • distance of each block from open space

Finding: streets with heavy traffic have no children on its block outside. p.16

Traffic noise index (Griffith and Langdon 1968)

Ask about important feature of the public (street) space to the person. p.24

 

Task:

to explore what is it like to live on as street where people can play? Several ways in which more streets can be safer and healthier for people?

 

 

 

 

Week 42: 28th November – 2nd December 2016

Work on narrowing and defining the street environment:

Also  I’ve been thinking about my research approach, based on the work Stevens has done. The next logical step is to create a tool (mechanism) how to measure play in urban streets. This can not just reveal the tension between consumption and production of space, but help to give designers a tool to assessing  play in cities.

Defining the problem in context of the street (why street):

  • street has a movement function as well as a place function.
  • sections can be confined
  • easy to observe people (public space)

Traditionally (pre- industrialisation) the street had a high place or production function. In particular with the advent of the car the street was given more a movement function. While acknowledging that the street can and have to cater for both there needs to be a balance achieved in order to enable healthier neighbourhood (e.g. social inclusion, cohesion, air quality, noise, perception of safety etc.).

One may argue that the place function in streets is increasing lost. Speculation and thoughts around causes lead to change in perception of safety, volume and speed of vehicles (movement function), less objects that attract (physical attributes that appear to people), quality of micro- climates.

Urban design literature has investigated numerous ways to increase the quality of spaces through amenity. Steven argues that we need to shift towards a more holistic approach. In his book he elaborated through a discourse analysis on the dialectic of play in the city.

I believe an empirical approach through precise classifications (tool) of play behaviour in urban streets may add value to his approach.

Stevens: ” The propability of play also appears to be enhanced by greater connectivity and permeability  in the circulation network a a whole (p. 69).

When a street system is densely interconnected, any particular street or site which may be a destination in itself is also a secondary or incidental destination within many other orbits of activity (Alexander 1965).

Conclusion –> By creating a  empirical tool  that can assess the quality for play in a street –> this may be a way forward to improve health and well-being.

Heuristic inquiry through observation

Revisiting research question (test writing without play):

What makes place optimal for people( fun) in cities?
What are the environmental triggers that support improved outcomes for people (fun) in cities?
How can our cognitive behaviour (fun) contribute or create health co-benefits in cities?

Test now with the amended questions from week 41:

  • What are the aspects of peoples cognitive behaviour (fun) that reveal and facilitate change in the urban social spaces?
  • What are the  health co-benefits of fun?
  • How can this device be used to inform optimal urban experiences?

Next steps revisit my classification of play and investigate place theories?

Elements of play:

overview

Most common play behaviour’s assessed in Potsdam (under old definition):

  1. playing around
  2. Putting something into play
  3. making play with someone
  4. playing up on words
  5. playing tricks
  6. playing for time

Callois four categories:

Vertigo

  1. Cycling
  2. loosing weight (jogging, running)
  3. bike racing
  4. twisting/ rotating

Simulation

  1. pets (walking the dog)
  2. using computer devices (smart phone/ internet/ virtual reality)
  3. listening to music
  4. imagination/ day dreaming (holding hands)
  5. window shopping
  6. photography / reading and writing
  7. toys (playing with sticks, loose material

Chance

  1. joking
  2. speech play
  3. playing with metaphors
  4. playing music/ voices

Competition

  1. collection (coin machine)
  2. bike racing
  3. jogging

Attempt to use the results of my test phase to inform the development of the classification. However note, that these classification sit under the assumption that play is an intrinsic induced activity, that constitutes freedom, based on the acceptance of risk in its temporary transformational nature.

Note: Look into situationists, political activism and concept of ‘leisure’, habitus, place theory (what makes a place)

Consumptive street spaces

measures of elements which are examples of play:

  • distances (object to subject and subject to subject)
  • level and sorts of playful social interactions
  • movement through space (speeds)
  • level of risk/ perceived safety
  • active frontages
  • commercial use of the space (outside dinning, display of commercial goods and services)

Literature:

Merleau- Ponty. (1958). Phenomenology of Perception. Routledge Classics. London and New York.

‘It requires that two perceoved lines, like two real lines, should be equal or unequal, that a perceived crystal should have a definite number of sides, without realizing that the perceived, by its nature, admits of the ambiguous, the shifting, and is shaped by its context. p.13

Müller-Lyer’s illission, one of the lines ceases to be equal to the other without becoming ‘unequal’: it becomes ‘different’. That is to say, an isolated, objective line, and the same line takes in a figure, cease to be, for perception, ‘the same’. p.13

The word perception indicates a direction rather than a primitive function. p.13

A shape is nothing but a sum of limited views, and the consciousness of a shape is a collective entity. The sensible elements of which it is made up cannot lose the opacity which defines them as sensory given, and open themselves to some intrinsic connection, to some law of conformation governing them all. p.16

‘Memory is built out of the progressive and continuous passing of one instant into another, and the interlocking of each one, with its whole horizon, in the thickness of its successor. The same continuous transition implies the object as it is out there, with, in short, its ‘real’ size as I should see it if I were beside it, in the perception that I have of it from here.’ p. 309-310.

‘Movement is merely an accidental attribute of the moving body, and it is not, so to speak, seen in the stone. It can be only a change in the relations between the stone and its surroundings.’ p.312

‘The phenomenon of ‘shift’, and implies the idea of a spatial and temporal position always identifiable in itself.’ p.313

Gestalttheorie –> Wertheimer talks of Erscheinungen and Darstellung p.318

‘Consciousness is removed from being, and from its own being, and at the same time united with them, by the thickness of the world. … The consciousness of the world is not based on self-consciousness: they are strictly contemporary. There is a world for me because I am not unaware of myself; and I am not concealed from myself because I have a world.’ p. 347