Monday, March 23, 2015

20 Year of Urban Design in Maine 17

We must move from object-oriented thinking to public space-oriented thinking.

Continuing discussion of my generic good walkable urban design article I wrote in September 2008 just as the world was about to collapse: 

In my last post I talked about creating town buildings that formed great urban space and each building may be used in any number of ways. And that specific function buildings like libraries and gyms could be used by many ages and at all hours so we didn’t waste money and space on having a different one of each for each age group. I posted the article as well. 

For instance we might have a post office booth in a town building so there was a post office in each town without having to build a separate building. Essentially that focusing on walkable neighborhoods that contained life’s spaces made for a better quality of life.

Traditionally when we look to build a new public building we find a place for a building by searching for empty lots near the existing facility or greenfield sites near popular roads easily driven to. We create objects that are given a little extra care architecturally if they are important. This I call object-oriented city/town planning thinking. 

This sort of planning leads to facilities scattered about, each dressed up according to importance and not necessarily linked in any way. They are like objects placed randomly on a table. Some of those objects may be beautifully designed but as each one is built there is no greater space or experience formed by them; no link between adding and a overall experience.

When you are in Venice walking down a path along a canal and into a piazza or over a bridge, you don't care what is behind one door or another. If one door had a school and one a post office and one a facilities maintenance bureau offices that's fine. It's the urban space formed by the buildings that makes for a great experience. 

If you are making great spaces with your plan then every time a new building goes up a more wonderful public space is created. And each piece adds to the whole. With a good plan every time someone builds people of the area are happier as the public space becomes better and better; their place becomes better.

My mantra is, "Each piece adds to the greater whole."

We must break from object-oriented public buildings thinking and move to urban space-oriented public spaces thinking.

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