‘Definite space, fuzzy chronology -­‐ the planning history of the 20C street revisited’

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The street is a definite space but a strange category of object - void rather than solid. It is multifunctional: a public realm for trade, display, communication and social encounter; a channel for every kind of movement and a highway for vehicles; an architectural environment with distinctive aesthetic of enclosure, perspective and ‘townscape’; an outdoor environment and part of the urban eco-system; a micro-climate with distinctive patterns of temperature, wind, sun and shade and humidity; a public infrastructure, a political economy in miniature with a unique combination of ownership and governance; a place with a name, address and identity - a locus of collective memory. The standard chronology of 20C street history is a three-step ‘Death and Life’ narrative, based on the evolution of design theory, that sees it embraced by fin-de-siècle urbanism, rejected by the Modern Movement, rediscovered by postmodern urbanism. By reviewing this narrative from the perspective of the many distinct functions that streets perform, my paper reveals a fuzzy and overlapping chronology that puts both the death of the 20C street and its resurrection into question. The paper will also directly address the overall conference theme of the multiple governance of geographical space.
Book of proceedings: Annual AESOP Congress, Definite Space – Fuzzy Responsibility, Prague, 13-16th July, 2015
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