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Streets play an important role in urban structure. From the introverted and closed "Lifangzhi" in Tang Dynasty to extroverted and open "Xiangfangzhi" in Song Dynasty, the shape of the Chinese traditional cities has undergone a radical change. Not only is the street a channel to connect two places, but it presents a significant part of the public space in urban areas. The biggest competitive advantage of the street is its ability to support social interaction as a part of the daily routine.
However, the emergence of the car changed has the transportation method. Towards the end of the twentieth century the amount of vehicular traffic increased quickly so that most streets became and continue to be dominated by the car and people's daily activities disappeared. And with the development of the modern city, the traditional lifestyle and character missed. Increasing number of people start to ask for human space and unique city culture which root is mainly city's own traditional culture context. Although the traditional shape of cities and architectures has its own historical limitations, people are still able to learn from these rich heritages.
This research studied on the Chinese traditional public space, especially on the street public space, to abstract the main design components, which combined with modern commercial and residential spaces and people's activities in different function areas, to find out how to revival the street public space.
1.1 research topic
In a certain sense, Chinese traditional urban space is an extension and amplification of rural settlements. Linear streets space system forms the main structure of the city. It is hard to find a large open space like square in western country in ancient Chinese city and instead of that, places held fairs and markets were always enlarged spots on the linear space system and, of course, belong to the whole street system. The aim and essence of Chinese traditional architecture and urban design is organizing different spaces into a perfect system to satisfy different requirements from different people, so space design and organization are the basal content of Chinese traditional architecture and urban design.
Although different functions were put into different parts of city in ancient China, it was hard to be separated clearly as all functions were related to the open spaces. Especially with the collapse of introverted and closed "Lifangzhi" in Tang Dynasty, people were able to walk free relatively, so human behavior, activities and open space became whole and indivisible. It can be seen that in traditional China, outdoor space of settlement overlapped the public space - people's daily life happened on the streets, private space would be public space sometimes. Traditional street space held an abundant activities and showed different information at one time, thereby it was hard to explain the street space clearly but it was harmonious. A Chinese painting Riverside Scene at Qingming Festival drew by a famous painter named Zhang Zeduan in Beisong Dynasty showed the scene of Chinese traditional bustling street life expressly.
However, due to the rapid development of urbanism and demand of post-war reconstruction, the idea of functionalism became the mainstream of urban planning theories. Athens Charter established the key position of functionalism in the urban planning area, and over-emphasized the function zoning. It deviated from the diversity of the life and the city became lifeless and impersonal. China has not been spared. Especially after reform and opening up, Chinese government tried to be "international standard" so increasing number of modern buildings were built and traditional architecture and streets disappeared.
Fortunately, after bearing the cool buildings and similar cities, not only the government officers and professionals but also citizens began to ask for a human space of city. Reshaping a new image of city with regional culture character becomes an important issue in urban design after modern architecture and urban planning theory. A well-known Chinese architect Wu Liangyong wrote in Beijing Charter "The culture of architecture comes from a local accumulation of history. It manifests itself among the built forms and in day-to-day living, exerting a voiceless influence on the experience and behavior of the inhabitants. In a sense, it is the soul of our cities, towns and villages." (Wu2000) So trace back to find a root for urban design of modern city is feasible and effective.
A celebrated book the Image of the City wrote by Kevin Lynch is considered as a landmark of study on urban design. The author considered that five elements - paths, edges, district, nodes and landmarks -were the basal points of structure of city image which also had main effects on the images of cities. Street, as the first part of five elements, is the structure of the city and it is also an important part for people to get image of city. People observe the city while moving through it, and along these paths the other environmental elements are arranged and related (Lynch 1960, p47).
Chinese traditional street is a linear space with complex functions including commercial and residential while modern city street cannot get rid of those functions, so it is feasible for planners to design a street space start from a traditional image of city.
1.2 current state of knowledge
Kevin Lynch, a great American urban designer, based his research on the study of people's behavior. In his celebrated work the Image of the City, he abstracted five elements - paths, edges, district, nodes and landmarks to describe an image of city after researching three American cities. He found that citizens identified a city though reading those five elements; so urban design should not be a subjective creation of architects and urban planners but need to consider the observation of citizens. He associated the practice with the theory to show how these five elements effect on the people's imagination. Clarify these five elements is a feasible method to explore and organize a city with its own identity.
A Japanese architecture Yoshinobu Ashihara compared the exterior space of Italy (western countries) and Japan (eastern countries), put forward a series of conceptions of perceiving space, such as "D/H and W/D Proportions" and "P-space and N-space" etc. in Exterior Design in Architecture. In his other book The Aesthetic Townscape he analyzed the relationship between the buildings and streets and introduced some key points of the street space design. In addition, the design examples of outdoor spaces furnished in the book were all from author's design which rooted from his theories so it can be seen clearly that the practice relates to theories strongly. The basis analysis of quantitative study on space form and person's feelings, as well as the scale of urban space lead both Exterior Design in Architecture and The Aesthetic Townscape to be the celebrated works in the field of modern urban design.
Life between Buildings wrote by Jan Gehl paid more attention on the requirements of people and people's activities for public space and assessed the quality of the public area according to those requirements. The author analyzed the methods of how to attract people to come to the public space and let them talk to each other in different scale, from house to city.
Jane Jacobs put forward human scale in cities in her work The Death and Life of Great American Cities. She tried to set up a new concept of neighborhood that based on the streets life. "Streets and their sidewalks, the main public spaces of the city, are its most vital organs. Sidewalks, their bordering uses, and their users, are active participants in the drama of civilizationâ€¦" She also put forward the concept of "street eye" which agreed with keeping small-scale block and different shops on the street to increase the chance of meeting people on their way so that the community would be safer. She started a new point of viewing our city and urban public space.
Urban Architecture and Urban Design pressed by Southeast University are both important works on the urban design theory in China. Urban architectures thinking about the mean and aim of the urban architecture divided the city into "axis", "core", "group", "structure" and "surface" to research the urban space (Qi Kang, 2001). Urban Design expounded the theory and practice of urban design comprehensively and systematically (Wang, 1999). Street as the structure of the city was studied in those two books but in general.
1.3 research question
The use of streets has changed over the centuries, especially after the emergence of cars. The amount of vehicular traffic increased beyond expectations of the early days at end of twentieth century. The car dominated most streets. In many locations there are few people-using street as a pedestrian resource, with the resultant loss of the 'eyes of the street' as described by Jacobs(Woolley 2003, p78-82).
In addition, the power of government in the field of urban planning and design cannot be ignored particularly in China. Politicians and decision makers always ignore the importance of the streets design, especially streets public space design. As the politicians and decision makers pay more attention on the development of the economy, cities in China became look all the same. Streets, as an important part of the image of city, are designed cool and wide, considered more about cars instead of people. Traditional streets inspirit lost.
As traditional streets were alive and friendly to people, design a kind of "traditional streets" is a good start to revival the public street space and renew the city context. How to revival the street space in modern city by studying on the traditional street space? That is the question need to be answered in this research.
2 development of public space
"Public space" originated in European countries whose political context, social development and structure were distinct from China. Habermas, a German scholar, put forward the concept of public space in his work The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere to express the social basis and structure of capitalist democracy. In the late 1980s, the re-translation of this book aroused great interest of scholars on the concept of public space. The architects also began to use this concept to explore the urban and architectural space.
In the introduction of the concept, the architects retained the basic meaning of "public" and removed something Habermas emphasized (such as dialogue, public opinion formed and so on). Hertzberger said:"This extreme opposition between private and public - like the opposition between collective and individual â€¦" in the beginning of his work Lessons for Students in Architecture. The concept of "Collective and individual" simplified "public and private" as the difference between one and many, which weakened the concept of original sociological meaning. However, it does not matter as nowadays, common agreed that the public space is a place, from large plaza to small open space in front of house, all people, without distinction of race and status, are free to access to.
2.1 Chinese public space
Traditional Chinese society is quite different from the traditional European society. China experienced a long time of feudal society, and never emerged a democratic political system like ancient Greek and Roman Republic. The concept that individual was subordinate to the family and the state, formed as a common sense from thousands year ago in China. The feudal emperor is the embodiment of the country and the sole representative of the country. Authority as the representative of imperial power took responsibility for public affairs. It formed a top-down management institution from the emperor to local authorities which constitute a public power field in the sociological sense. Space for these different levels of power is the original Chinese public space.
Although in the traditional Chinese city, the representative public sphere occupied most of the public space form, the evolution of the space "shi" (a place like market, but people came to there not only for selling and buying goods but also watching shows, listening opera, eating and drinking, meeting and communicating with friends.) showed the public in the bottom never gave up to fight for their own public space right.
Since the Spring and Autumn Period (770 BC to 221 BC), "shi" for the people living in the city emerged and extended to the Sui and Tang dynasties (581 AD to 901 AD). During this long period of time, "shi" was characterized as inward and closed. "Shi" and dwellings were surrounded by the high walls and could only open in a certain time. In this way, "shi", as the most important public space for people, was under the control of strict political forces. In essence, it was the same as the Imperial City which was the representative public area.
However, as the inevitable result of the development of society, the commodity economy must break though those political obstacles ultimately and the closed system in the city was broken finally. During Northern Dynasty (960 AD to 1127 AD), the emerging shops, restaurants, tea houses and other different kinds of shops lined along the streets and led the street spaces became the most dynamic urban public space. The elimination of "closed" is the start of forming public space for citizens. Public spaces were no longer barriers to the public activities for political reasons, and the "shi" space became a public space for citizens, which was distinguished from representation sphere. From then on, city space developed freely and integrated with citizens' activities, which lasts thousands years and forms its own characters still affecting on modern cities more or less.
Chinese traditional public space combined citizens' life style, social relationship and nature environment, and focused on people's activities. The characters of Chinese public space can be abstracted in three words: plurality, multi-meanings and ambiguity.
From the late of Northern Dynasty, Chinese traditional public space in city was normally open. Decorated archway and screen wall were used to separate and limit the space. Square belonged to street system and both of them had pleasure scale. Traditional Chinese were good at using external space of houses and formed their own peculiarities. As a material interface limited building space, it did not clearly demonstrate the three-vector space divided by solid walls. Because of the intervention of social activities, there were no obvious boundaries between external space of houses, streets and squares. Entertainment, ritual, commerce, communication and other activities were combined by public space which was generally a long street in city centre with teahouse, ancestral halls, stores, workshops and restaurants etc.
In traditional China, people was the core of the space which meant that people's perception and behavior can assessed the value of space. A certain kind of structure played a role as a mark while the corresponding space created a place to hold people's activities. So due to the different behaviors of person, the different state of mind, people would feel different meanings of place. Take street for example, it might be formed as an access between simple structures for business at first and then became a permanent road. Normally it was just a road for people to pass and stay, however, when there was a fair, the street could be constituted by different behavior and psychological feeling. The multi-image in the space enriched people's live.
Chinese traditional public space accommodated natural environment elements with social content. Three-dimensional street held multi-dimensional and various activities which were always changing. For example, the public space of traditional Chinese architecture temples and towers offered places for different kinds of people to viewing, climbing, wedding and so on. Different activities gave people different experience so the spirit of the place was not fixed.
2.2 western countries public space
Many European cities have a very long history. Ancient Rome began city construction from seventh century BC which was the foundation for later cities. All these cities have experienced ancient Rome, Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque and other different historical and cultural stage. The different periods of urban public space are embodied in urban development and continuation of the historic buildings also shows different characteristics. There are two main different kinds of public space in European cities: square and street, both of which has its own characters. This chapter focuses on the characteristics of street space.
Rome street space includes free streets and closed squares enclosed by the Republic Square and the Empire State Plaza in Ancient Rome, free alleys formed in the Middle Ages and also axis streetscape developed during the Renaissance and Baroque. The city of Venice is famous for its medieval irregular streets and Water Street. Paris not only has the medieval streets of freestyle but also the axis street of urban renewal in the middle of 19th century with typical Baroque axis landscape and street construction uniform characteristics which really formed Paris' urban space style. It can be seen clearly that in the different background of social and historical, the material environmental characteristics and context of urban public space design are always accordant. The city's streetscape showed the same characteristics:
Strict controls on building facade style, height, scale and color in the historic district.
To ensure a consistent street facade, architecture style, height, color and scale of historical district are controlled and guided effectively by city authority. Take Paris for an example, the control of street architecture follows the three sections of the facade identified by the urban renewal period of Othman. People attach great importance to the effect of buildings along the street on the external environment and constraints of the buildings construction in a strict framework. The height of buildings on the street, back road distance and the building body volume are limited in very strict rules which are also adjusted continuously. With particular emphasis on the coordination of new construction with the original style of building facades, the contour and height of the buildings on both sides of street are reasonably determined by urban street scale and visual requirements, which put great emphasis on the overall effect of the streetscape. Urban construction of Venice pays more attention on maintaining the medieval traditional free streets system and low red tile slope buildings to give prominence to the dominant position of churches and other public buildings in the city. Florence, Rome, Verona and many other historic cities use the same way to keep its historical character of traditional districts. It is an effective method to form and maintain the streets spatial characteristics of these cities.
Focus on the landscape effectiveness and vitality of the city streets.
European city attaches great importance to the street landscape design, and the transformation of the urban district is always trying to create a rich street view. Such as transformation of the Roman road, every road had the start and end with great significance. The main street connected the landmarks which formed a node there or connected a node where set up a landmark. In the main axis transformation of Paris, the Louvre Palace, the Place de la Concorde, the Arch de Triumph, la Defense and other important public spaces were organized consciously to form a series of scene to create a rich streetscape. Medieval winding streets focused more on architectural detail and combined with the sculptures, fountains, green, open-air cafes etc. to build a continuous and diversiform streetscape. It is worth to mention that the arrangement of the open-air dining facilities was controlled by urban planning, which not only changed the traditional single-function and image of the street space, and also formed a dynamic and user-friendly outdoor space.
2.3 high-quality public space in modern era
Modernism considered the city as a machine focusing on the form and concerning for the function. Social and psychological needs were generally eschewed by the modernists, and therefore the function of public space was never fully considered. "The imposition of a uniform aesthetic vision produced space that divorced its users from history and culture, and too often rendered urban public space as functionless while disrupting social relationships and creating suspicion of strangers within it." (Carmona 2008, 38-41) However, as time going by, increasing number of scholars tended to focus on social critiques for the failure of modernist public space. In recent years, urban design has moved away from object architecture, and started to focus on people's requirements of the space. Numerous authors accept and support the idea that public space has both connective and social functions.
In fact, not only in western but also eastern countries, urban public space is emerged to service people so human activities are particularly important in perceptions of public space. Jan Gehl, a Copenhagen architect, has characterized outdoor activities into three categories: necessary activities that we have to engage in, optional activities that we choose to do if the time and place is conducive and resultant (social) activities which are dependent on the presence of others in public space. Gehl has concluded that necessary activities are influenced only slightly by the physical quality of the environment because they are necessary for live to continue. Optional activities only take place when conditions are necessary so it is a direct assessment of the quality of public space. They also influence user's feeling of space because if people prefer to stay in spaces means the space itself seems more 'liveable'. Finally, social activities' quality and intensity will be affected by numbers of people in a space and the extent to which the quality of space encourages users to linger. (Gehl 2011, ??). Therefore, it is a mistake to think of better quality public space as purely a visual concern, of interest only to a minority of aesthetes.
A wide range of publications focuses on the design of public space, and try to set out key principles for designing new and enhancing existing public spaces. The Project for Public Space concludes that four key qualities are required for a high-quality environment:
Access and linkage - convenient to use, visible, easy to get to and move within;
Uses and activities - providing a reason to be there, vital and unique;
Comfort and image - safe, clean, green, full of character and attractive;
Sociability - fostering neighbourliness, friendship, interaction, diversity, pride.
3 Traditional Chinese street public space
3.1 shape and scale
The linear shape design of the street has a very important impact on the city space. Different linear shape will bring a completely different feel to people. Straight Avenue, normally used in city axis and major road, always makes people feel magnificent, grand and shows an immeasurable future. However, long straight line street easily cause people to feel monotone, boring and tired, so street in the city, especially for pedestrians, should use some lively tortuous road which not only has a fit scale to people but is also able to display different scenes while people walking. This kind of design method was used widely in traditional Chinese city which was also showing a great deal of flexibility. Subtle twists and turns on the plane brought a variational and diverse street space in three-dimension. In addition, the intersection of the street often became an important urban node which around by shops, teahouse and other city public facilities. Architecture and city culture were linked closely.
The traditional Chinese street space can be abstracted into a combination of "Dao" (line) and "Chang" (field). "Dao" is narrow and long which brings a feeling of continuous and ambulatory while "Chang" is wide and broad which produce a feeling of quiet and stay. These two different forms are able to meet the people's requirement of behavior: going and stop. Its essence is adding some stopping spaces along walking road, such as rest chairs, outside coffee/tea shop, arbor and so on.
Yoshinobu Ashihara discusses the relationship between ratio of street width to building height and spatial qualities in his work The Aesthetic Townscape.
"â€¦ using D for the distance between buildings on both sides of the street and H for the height of the adjacent buildings. My observations have shown that D/H = 1 may be taken as a kind of median from which spatial qualities vary depending on whether D/H is greater or less than 1. As D/H rises above 1, the space opens up, and as it passes 2, gradually becomes expansive or vast. When D/H falls below, space grows increasingly intimate, until eventually it is simply cramped. When D/H equals 1, a balance is achieved; for actual building purposes D/H ratios of about 1, 2 or 3 are the most feasible." (Ashihara, P46-47)
Buildings along both sides of traditional Chinese street are normally two stories and partly three stories which height is generally around 6m while the width of the street is 6-15m. The ratio of D/H is 1/1-2.5/1 that means a feasible scale to people.
Interface studied in this report is mainly the bottom interface (ground) and the side interface (facade of buildings along the street). There are generally continuous interfaces on both sides of the street enclosed by buildings along it. They combine with the district and pedestrian space to form an inseparable whole. There is also a top interface referring to sky here. Street and surrounding buildings are relatively fixed so they belong to hard interface while the sky is always changing so it is a flexible interface. For street space design, the bottom interface and the side interface are the focus of design.
The bottom interface has a direct and close touch with people. Its shape, scale, color and texture affect the atmosphere of the street space greatly. Space qualified elements of bottom interface have a strong inducing effect on the human activities. Therefore, inducing activities and sight through to extend space, contacts building space and street space continuously and smoothly, are able to be achieved by extending the bottom interface. On one hand it links the building and street, on the other hand it is the "second division" of the street space.
Up and down of part of bottom interface bring vertical design elements in a certain extent. These changes not only satisfy the needs of certain function, but also divide and define the space and create rich scenes. The shape and content of bottom interface in traditional China are quite abundant. The memories of the traditional urban life are always fixed in the winding streets and gray quartzite pavement.
People always pay attention firstly on the side interface of which form, scale and enclosed shape affect street space greatly. Buildings' facades are the main body of the street space interface and different form of building facades would have different spatial effects.
In the traditional concept of architecture, it is a taboo to enter in indoor space straight way. Ancient Chinese architects require a continuous space from outside to inside with a harmonious transition. There are many ways to separate and link inside and outside space. Beside roof, walls, windows and doors, there are also verandas and screen walls which have a fuzzy meaning of transition of architecture and urban space. Screen wall in front of the traditional Chinese architecture is a typical example. Screen wall set up in the opposite of the door of house which not only form a rich entrance space together but also integrate with street space. It is a part of street and also a part of the residential entrance space. People could pass by but also feel a clear sense of the field. In the south wet areas of China, the transition space between street and shops are always veranda and arcade which not only soften the changes between architecture inside space and street outside space, but also strengthen the transverse link along the street. Arcade links shops closely and afford a place of shade and shelter from the rain where people can buy and sell.
In addition, the color and texture of materials of the interface also constitute an important factor in the characteristics of street space. Materials are limited by the age and region greatly and different people have different choice in different culture. Materials are the part of regional culture which form unique characteristics of buildings and cities.
The greens in the city can help to mitigate the crowding of urban and lead people to nature environment. Nature landscape performing the function of flexible interface plays an important role in urban space design. The usage of green and flower beds can soften concrete borders and an age-old tree can become the center of an old town street or even the whole district.
Chinese classical gardens are natural gardens which try to use natural elements as much as possible to mimic the natural environment for people to get touch with the nature while western gardens emphasize artificial form which is much more appropriate to huge scale areas like landmark district and major trunk roads to show the beauty and great of modern cities. It is apparently that Chinese traditional landscaping techniques have more reference value as people require human scale and natural environment when they walking on the street.
In Chinese traditional urban design, people like using plants to beautify, separate and change the space. Different height of different plants are put together to cause an unpredictable change which made people feel separated but sometimes not. Blurred boundaries of space let the limited space becomes infinite so that expand the sense of space.
There is also an important element in the streetscape -- water. The culture of water is an important part of Chinese traditional culture and the water space occupied an important position in Chinese traditional urban space. Especially in south China, waterways are always accompanied with streets creating a very unique urban living space. In the waters-intensive areas, water is often the context of a town or a city. Chinese classical gardens also afford a variety of superb methods of water control which is different from western style.
About the concept of spirit of place, according to Christian Norberg-Schulz in Genius Loci: Towards a Phenomenology of Architecture, a place is in "the true sense of the wordâ€¦a space that has a distinct character." Ecological forces, operating over time, can provide distinctive character. The designer can concretize this character, concentrate meaning, and connect people to the place through design that intergrates with the forces that have created the place. Norberg-Schulz addresses the role of the designer of built form:
Since ancient times the genius loci, or "spirit of place" has been recognized as the concrete reality man has to face and come to terms with in his daily life. Architecture means to visualize the genius loci. And the task of the architect is to create meaningful placesâ€¦ [where] he can orient himself within and identify himself with an environment.
First of all, the spirit of place is a reaction to a specific culture. The culture characteristics represent the respect to the urban context and evocation of historical memories. Take Suzhou Tongfangxiang district reconstruction for an example, it shows the cultural characteristics responding to the overall urban environment in many different aspects. The design retains the main transport systems of the original district and continues the pattern of the street hundred years ago, which keep the continuation of the history. Courtyard and green space in the district absorb the features of the Suzhou gardens: decorated with stalagmites, ground pebble pavement, white walls and black tiles. People appreciate the Jiangnan garden style from the content, form and color.
Tradition can be not only controlled by the form and style, interpreted by the history and culture, but also understood from the height of ideology. From consciousness to form, there is a transition place. Place is a space covering natural environment and culture environment. The spirit of place is a respondence to answering the environment problem at this place and at this time.
4 Conclusions/Street public space design guidelines
It is obvious that Chinese traditional street public space has its own characters rooted in its long history culture, however, there are also many commonalities between eastern and western public space design. The guidelines are referred to some other guidelines of urban design and written loosely so that they may help simplify solutions rather than further complicate them. As the site of design in next stage is located in Chinatown in Liverpool, the guidelines build on a design ethic encouraging improvement suited to contemporary needs while also emphasizing local historic culture.
The following six parts are addressed in the guidelines (Crankshaw 2009, 168-198):
Public art, graphics, and signs
Every section starts with a general principles and following specific guidelines.
4.1 pedestrian paths
Pedestrians are always near moving cars, so designing for safety takes priority over other matters. An unobstructed view of sight triangles at intersections ensures pedestrians to be seen clearly. Bicycle zones are separated clearly from pedestrian zones. The safety of pedestrian should be valued more than vehicular speed and efficiency. Good pedestrian paths are also accessible, visually connected with building interiors, punctuated by landmarks of various scales, and provide buffers between pedestrians and auto lanes.
Audit all walks for pedestrian accessibility.
Drop the curbs at all intersections and crosswalks to make them accessible to wheelchairs.
Stripe or pave crosswalks with materials that allow them to be clearly seen by pedestrians and vehicle drivers. Traditional narrow stripes are not easily seen in all conditions.
Maintain clear zones so that a direct linear path unobstructed by street furniture or planting is available.
Low, visually nonobstructive plantings near the end of crosswalks to bring attention to pedestrian crossings.
Individual buildings and their signs provide the most visual variety along walks and should be expressive rather than standardized.
Parked cars in parking lanes, streetlamps, street trees, planters, and other furnishings all may help create a sense of refuge from vehicular travel lanes. A sidewalk should not be cluttered, but these elements can be placed strategically to enhance pedestrians' comfort.
Document the historic or locally traditional paving materials in a particular downtown before making paving choices. Use the historic paving material as a model for contemporary paving, if it consists of a material suitable to contemporary construction and accessibility standards.
Evaluate contemporary decorative paving materials for their compatibility in color and design with existing building.
Many advances have been made in porous paving options, so that infiltration occurs through the surface of the paving and runoff is minimized. Consider porous pavements on walks that are nor directly adjacent to building foundations, and in parking areas.
How parking arranged and designed determines the perception of availability and convenience. Parking areas should be sequenced and signed so that if one lot is full a driver can easily access the next area. Because short walking distances have become normalized by shopping centers, parking should be within 450 feet of the most trafficked and commercially viable areas.
Parking location directly affects the quality of pedestrians' experiences. Parking that is well located and organized will cover two aspects of downtown experience. First, it will be conveniently accessible for a person driving a car and finding a parking space. Second, it will be at one end of a convenient and comfortable walking in poorly maintained alleys, alongside trash containers, and in other undesirable situation.
Parking lots should be located to minimize their impact on the streetscape and pedestrian areas, and entrances should facilitate safe, easy access.
Whenever possible, parking lots should be designed to provide multiple functions.
On-street parking affords easy access to street-oriented establishments. The presence of parked cars also provides a physical barrier between traffic lanes and sidewalks, thereby lessening the impact of moving traffic on pedestrians.
The walking experience after leaving a car in a parking lot should be as convenient as the auto access to the parking. Avoid creating paths through undesirable or threatening areas. Design parking and paths so that destinations are visible early in the walk. Link paths and downtown park spaces, if possible, to create a lively pedestrian environment.
Dimension spaces between eight to nine feet wide by eighteen to twenty feet long. The travel aisles should be between twenty and twenty-two feet wide.
Where parking adjoins a street, develop plantings or structures between the parking area and the street to screen the parking area and to continue the street wall.
Lighting should facilitate safe pedestrian and vehicular access and circulation with a minimum level of illumination.Â Whenever possible, utilities should be below grade, and new and re-development projects should incorporate a comprehensive shared utility system for multiple buildings and properties.
If historic light fixtures specific to a downtown can be accurately documented and duplicated, use the historic fixture in a manner similar to its original purposes, locations, and quantities.
If no documentation is available, or if a historic fixture cannot be duplicated, then use a contemporary pedestrian lighting fixture.
When historic light fixtures or contemporary pedestrian lighting cannot provide adequate illumination for road surfaces, select unobtrusive contemporary fixtures to provide supplemental street surface lighting.
Ensure that light levels are greater at intersections where most pedestrian-vehicular accidents occur.
Create more even lighting and less glare by using a greater number of fixtures, spaced closer together and with lower-intensity light.
Use metal halide or other illumination types that produce natural color rendition.
LED lights provide natural color and are more energy efficient than the traditional outdoor area lighting technologies, but they are currently available for application only to low-height fixtures (generally less than ten feet).
Trees serve important functional and spatial roles in downtowns. Street trees planted in front of parking lots or other areas without street-edge building facades can help to maintain the traditional mass-space pattern along downtown streets.
Use trees primarily for environmental improvement - for example, to shade parking lots or to create spatial structure in downtown parks.
Plant trees in groups or islands of vegetation when possible. Trees thrive in the larger soil volumes provided for a group, and together they shade their own soil, keeping it cooler. Islands in suitable locations can support greater numbers of trees without the conflicts created by rhythmically spaced rows of street trees.
Consider carefully the width of walks and the scale of buildings when planning street trees. Dense rows of trees in front of commercial facades can obscure architectural features and sign.
Side streets with less articulated building facades may be more appropriate places to plant street trees for visual improvement and for shade, if adequate planning sites can be developed.
4.5 street furniture
Street furniture includes such elements as benches, trash containers, tree guards, bike racks, aboveground planters, and various historic elements. Street furniture serves direct functions, including providing a place to dispose of trash. Its placement also helps strengthen the refuge quality of sidewalk space and provides sculptural interest. Select and place street furniture so that it serves its purpose as effectively as possible.