Home > The City > Planning the Township > City Study Circle > Report - Dec 14, 2001

City Study Circle

Forum for town planning

December 14, 2001

On the 14th of December '01 the session at the SAWCHU building was attended by 15 people.

At our previous meeting we decided to make 'the street' and 'spaces between buildings' the theme of this week's session. Some different papers in this regard were presented from city planning literature relating to the following questions from various angles:

1) Simultaneous Movement systems (all kinds of movement within a city) are based on:

a) relationship between mass and space
b) continuity of experience
c) simultaneous continuities.

The first step is to respond to space as a basic element in itself. Space and movement are interconnected. Movement through space creates a continuity of experience derived from the spaces through which the movement occurs. The movement system is a dominant organising force in architectural design.

2) 'Closure' of sections of a street is effected by some irregularity and asymmetry of layout whereby the source and goal of the path is not automatically revealed to the eye as one moves through the city. The street in this sense is a series of recognisable visual statements, each one effectively and sometimes surprisingly linked to the other. This brings about a progressive unfolding of the city in both an anticipating and unpredictable manner. And as the progression unfolds towards the main center it draws nearer to a climax of the experience.

3) The Modern movement in the 1920s introduced a separation of the mass of structure from the land. Buildings were designed independent of each other and extended in a rigid geometrical pattern over the landscape. This led to a concentration on the buildings as separated from the land and total design principles. In this context the street and the value of the spaces between buildings as active and living areas ceased to be relevant. All emphasis was focused on individual architectural qualities independent of the environment.
For more than half a century urban planning has suffered the consequences of this approach. It has resulted in monotonous 'new towns' and suburbs, and since the very idea was to plan for the use of individual motor vehicles it necessitated an explosive increase of traffic.

4) Our perception and understanding of the composition of built mass and open spaces depend on our comprehension of them as not being opposite elements. Together they form an inseparable reality. For that one needs to regard space as an equal figure to mass in the urban fabric.

5) Pedestrian areas in 'spaces between buildings' depend for their vitality on the near vicinity of diverse uses (residences, work, services, social and cultural activities). But without effective public transport to prevent congestion of traffic and parking places in the neighborhood the pedestrian areas somehow defeat their own purpose.

At the end of the session slides were shown from Venice and Weimar, illustrating different street scenarios.

for the Study Circle team

Home > The City > Planning the Township > City Study Circle > Report - Dec 14, 2001