Towards understanding quality of urban space

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The humble London bus shelter illustrates connections between quality of space and quality of life, the theme of EUSS 2011. London bus shelters are designed by architects. Their brief emanates from the planning system. The bus stop area and spaces linking it to its surroundings fall into the realm of urban design. Their wider context depends on a multitude of values influenced by diverse protagonists. The planned objective of a bus shelter is to accommodate persons who are using buses. Its function is to provide shelter, a roof, somewhere to sit, a view to see the bus arriving. The functional requirements devised by the bus company and its controlling transport department are for people to get on a bus and alight as fast and as economically as possible. When bus conductors were withdrawn to save a second salary, machines were installed for passengers to buy tickets in advance, thereby accelerating the process of entering and stepping off the bus. Another economic criterion is to produce the bus stop as cheaply as possible. It has to be vandal proof to prevent expensive maintenance and repairs. Moreover, it has to generate income. For this reason it offers space for advertisements. A prototype applied London-wide generates economies of scale, although it may not satisfy local conditions.
Quality of Space – Quality of Life : Planning for Urban Needs of diverse timeframes. 2nd AESOP European Urban Summer School 2011, Lisbon
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