Green infrastructure in liminal streetside spaces : cases from European city cores

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Human interactions ranging from everyday socialization to celebratory gathering and insurgency are all more or less accommodated along the streets of contemporary Western cities. In the denser quarters of European cities, in particular, the street is the setting along which much of the civic life of urban dwellers is played out. As the pedestrian moves laterally from the roadway curb outwards, a narrow ribbon of quasipublic/private space that emerges from adjacent buildings is usually encountered. In the city core and inner ring suburbs, this transition zone harbours stoops, landings, areaways, pavement gaps at foundation walls, facades, sills and lintels, handrails, stairwells, and other niches that present urban dwellers with tight-but sufficient opportunity for streetside horticulture and related accoutrements. It is this underappreciated transition zone, and the recreational and expressive activities associated with growing plants in it, that is addressed below. I use the term convivial green street to convey an assemblage of features and patterns in a supportive context (street, built form). This setting is enacted by gardeners (residents, merchants, employees) who cultivate plants to a degree sufficient to elicit some sensory appreciation on the part of passers-by and, now and then, to prompt social engagement between cultivators, neighbours, and passers-by who share the street’s frontage.
Book of proceedings: Annual AESOP Congress, Spaces of Dialog for Places of Dignity, Lisbon, 11-14th July, 2017
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