Publication: Which standards for public open space? a new conception for the 21st century city
What all historical centres have in common is that they are built along streets, and streets make up most of their public space. Streets make up between 25 and 35% of the land area of these urban centres. It is not too difficult to see the impact of modern ideas of city planning on the urban fabric. Watch whatever city on google maps and shift outwards to almost any new development begun in the latter half of the 20th century. All these areas are characterized by having fewer streets; greater distances between intersections; mid to low building coverage; either high or low rise buildings and density; but always extensive open spaces, mostly green areas. Cities are made of buildings and the spaces between them, both private and public (Marshall, 2004). Planners and policy makers have invested more in the design and regulation of the built up areas, standards mandating parks and gardens being a notable though limited exception to the rule. The recent critique of contemporary urbanism, has stressed the need of interconnecting again the two separate halves. In this paper we deal with the problem of what should we demand from public open space (POS) in the cities of the 21st century. In particular, we address the question of the balance between streets, public parks and gardens. Eventually, we ask the question of how much POS is needed and what are the best ways to supply it? Until fairly recently, “orthodox” planning culture would have answered unanimously in favour of more parks and gardens, a trait severely criticized by Jacobs in the following quote: In orthodox city planning, neighborhood open spaces are venerated in an amazingly uncritical fashion, much as savages venerate magical fetishes… Walk with a planner through a dispirited neighborhood and though it be already scabby with deserted parks and tired landscaping festooned with old kleenex, he will envision a future of More Open Space (Jacobs, 1961, p. 96).
Book of proceedings: Annual AESOP Congress, Spaces of Dialog for Places of Dignity, Lisbon, 11-14th July, 2017
All rights reserved