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Old November 28th, 2011, 06:52 PM   #961
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Another thing is that density =/= urbanity. This notion that to be more urban you only have to be more dense isn't necessarily true. Density is obviously 1 big element of what makes a place more or less urban, but it isn't the end of the story.
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Old November 28th, 2011, 07:07 PM   #962
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No, but 2-3 storey buildings are hardly a good thing even if we forget urbanity argument. Low houses house less people than high ones (obvious really) and as such you need more of them which means sprawl and land is finite resource.

As for greenery - its overrated if you want trees go live in a forest.
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Old November 28th, 2011, 07:20 PM   #963
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In many ways London is more like tree infested version of Los angeles than a european city and thats what I love about the place. Its just so original in its urban fabric compared to pretty much every other city in Europe.
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Old November 28th, 2011, 07:28 PM   #964
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Quote:
Originally Posted by El_Greco View Post
No, but 2-3 storey buildings are hardly a good thing even if we forget urbanity argument. Low houses house less people than high ones (obvious really) and as such you need more of them which means sprawl and land is finite resource.

As for greenery - its overrated if you want trees go live in a forest.
Or... live in London, instead of the other unforgiving and over-dense major cities in Europe. I've got a private back garden, that directly improves my quality of life.. How many people living in Barcelona or Paris can say that? I agree that London could, and even should, be denser overall. However lets not throw the baby out with the bathwater.. Extra green space is one thing that I and many other Londoners enjoy about the city, vs Euro cities. I have to say though there are many useless and unused semi-private green spaces all over the city, particularly around 20th century estates..these are largely a total waste of time, and never get used. There needs to be a clean up to convert some of these useless areas into something beneficial.

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Old November 28th, 2011, 07:32 PM   #965
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People in Paris and Barcelona usually have, large courtyards, balconies and roof terraces.
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Old November 28th, 2011, 07:43 PM   #966
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Theres a huge difference between a Parisian shared courtyard (hard landscape, usually sunken 8 stories deep and built round on all sides, whose only function is to let light in) and a private garden belonging to a Victorian terrace house in London. I'm not as familiar with Barcelona, but I know how their urbanism works, and in reality the vast majority of those courtyards have been overbuilt (just zoom in some of those square bocks and have a look on google earth).

I know we should be denser overall in London, but lets not throw out what is really a chief beauty of the city - the gardens. European cities are great, but they're not perfect, and I think our gardens are one thing we got right. Paris is, and I imagine Barcelona must be, unforgiving at times. Heres a game, try and find a tennis court in Paris (the city proper btw), or a children's playground.. You'll struggle to, and thats why so many people in those cities are forced to move out to the suburbs to raise a family - if anything this sucks some of the life out of the cities.

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Old November 28th, 2011, 07:47 PM   #967
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Originally Posted by Skrapadude View Post
In many ways London is more like tree infested version of Los angeles than a european city and thats what I love about the place. Its just so original in its urban fabric compared to pretty much every other city in Europe.
No it isn't, the sprawl in LA or any major US city completely dwarfs London or anywhere else in Europe whilst its transport backbone is urban motorways, not 500+ rail/tube stations like here. London is also clearly a radial city which feeds people into a compact centre where the overwhelming economic focus is, supported by a smaller network of locally focused centres varying in size and importance. This central area is at best 8x4 miles in size (although more like 6x3). LA by contrast is decentralised and polycentric with major hubs not just spread throughout the the City of LA but the entire metro area (the various cities like Malibu, for example), or even the Greater LA area (which is enormous at 90,000km2).
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Old November 28th, 2011, 08:14 PM   #968
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You'll struggle to
Not really, in Barcelona pretty much every other block has football/basketball/tennis courts and playgrounds. Its not all that different in Paris.
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Old November 28th, 2011, 08:23 PM   #969
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Not really, in Barcelona pretty much every other apartment block has football/basketball/tennis courts and playgrounds. Its not all that different in Paris.
Er that's not true at all, and I've lived in Paris for quite some time. Owning a private garden is more or less impossible in paris proper, and the only sports/play recreation are in certain large parks eg bois de boulogne etc which you'd have to reach by public transport or car unless you're lucky to live right next to it. I'm looking at Barcelona and Paris on google earth now and all I can see are streets and blocks. In the case of Barcelona most of the courtyards are infilled. In the case of Paris those courtyards are tiny and with no function other that lightwell as I said before. If you want to try and argue that there is enough amenity/recreation space in Paris etc then you're fighting a losing battle. Those cities are overdeveloped. European urbanism =/= automatically superior/perfect, although that seems to be your position quite frequently.

In my opinion one thing that kills Paris is a transient population. Noone has the stamina to live there for prolonged periods because in many cases, it's unliveable.. Few people want to spend their whole life in a cramped apartment with no private amenity space, especially when there is little or no access to equivalent public space nearby.

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Old November 28th, 2011, 08:25 PM   #970
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Then look closer (try Bing Maps it has birds eye view), especially at those huge urban blocks outside the historic old city - theres no shortage of all kinds of courts.
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Old November 28th, 2011, 10:39 PM   #971
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As much as its fascinating watching the usual armchair experts show us their profound insights and holidaysnap, via google earth ( hey who needs to go to an actual place when you can be an expert just by sitting at a screen) I hope its not to rude to actually post something relevant to a London projects thread

Its a large development at around 4m sq ft-Big tick
Its now got planning permission - Big tick
Its in London and it should start in the next couple of years- Big tick

http://www.theinternationalquarter.com/tiq.html
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Old November 29th, 2011, 12:34 AM   #972
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Quote:
Originally Posted by El_Greco View Post
Sorry but London is the least urban big city in the World
What a load of bullshit. LA is far bigger than any of the Continental cities you list, and far less dense than London.
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as these images show London is densest and therefore most urban in the thin strip of land following the north bank of the Thames + the West End, go to any direction - east, west, south and north and its not long before you hit suburban streets. In other European cities, the dense urban districts go on for miles in all directions.
Bullshit. Your overview doesn't cover nearly enough of West London. Hammersmith, Earl's Court, Shepherd's Bush, etc, are way out of frame, yet are very urban in character.

Central London is also the densest and most urban place in Europe. The West End is Europe's largest and densest concentration of shopping, nightlife, and entertainment, and the City has the highest building density.

Cities like Athens and Naples are also really unattractive. Why on earth are they presented as some kind of model? Your fascination with architectural and urban monotony is perverse. That's the very opposite of what we should be aiming for.
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Old November 29th, 2011, 01:28 AM   #973
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Least urban big city? Ever been to Chicago? Very dense in the Skyscraper core but switches to major low density pretty quickly.
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Old November 29th, 2011, 02:13 AM   #974
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Quote:
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Very dense in the Skyscraper core but switches to major low density pretty quickly.
Like London then.

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Your overview doesn't cover nearly enough lalala
It covers enough to show Londons density peters out pretty quick, go in any direction and its not long before you hit endless rows of low-lying terraces. Indeed London is often called The City of Villages. In the cities I posted this isnt the case - the dense areas consisting of tall urban housing go on for miles in all directions. This is pretty obvious from the images I posted.

Quote:
Cities like Athens and Naples are also really unattractive.
Naples city centre is UNESCO World Heritage Site and described as "of exceptional value", I also happen to like Athens' functionalist architecture.

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The West End
Is the most exciting place in London, which also happens to be the densest.

Quote:
Your fascination with architectural and urban monotony is perverse. That's the very opposite of what we should be aiming for.
None of the cities Ive mentioned are monotonous; the streets are lined with grand late 19th/early 20th century buildings, countless medieval survivors and beautiful churches, plus an odd monstrosity or a contempory icon. Of course few can compete with London in terms of energy, pull, opportunities etc, but we are talking about urbanity and urban planning and I think European model of consistent high density Gründerzeit/Haussmannian style buildings is better than the endless rows of terraces.
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Last edited by El_Greco; November 29th, 2011 at 03:01 AM.
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Old November 29th, 2011, 10:20 AM   #975
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As for greenery - its overrated if you want trees go live in a forest.
Greenery in urban areas is never a waste if time as long as it is properly planned and well integrated into the urban fabric.
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Old November 29th, 2011, 10:30 AM   #976
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I have to say I am glad I don't live in a city designed by El_Greco - no greenery and endless high rise for miles and miles. No thanks!
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Old November 29th, 2011, 10:47 AM   #977
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One of the better qualities of London is that you are never too far from a bit of space. You get all the trappings of a megacity without feeling like you are living like chickens in a battery farm.

A bit of urban and suburban all mixed in together is one of the special qualities of London. You can live in suburban style housing very close to the centre or live in a highly urban environment close to the edge. It caters for all sorts of tastes and is one of the reasons why despite the push to build exclusively high density flats in the core, central London hasnt been deserted by families and the older generations. Its all the better for it IMO.

I spend a lot of time in Prague which is a very dense city. A classic example of the continental style that is being discussed. Much as I love the place after a week I am always happy to move on. There is only so much dense urbanity that is tolerable for extended periods of time. Its not a feeling I experience in London.
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Old November 29th, 2011, 11:08 AM   #978
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exactly.. and although I agree with El_Greco that the west end is one of the most exciting parts of London, its somewhere you can't spend a lot of time.. I mean take Oxford street - it can be absolutely hellish sometimes.. Getting off it into one of the garden squares is a relief. That's something that I (and many others) favour in London - the ability to live somewhere very urban but mostly calm and spacious - and then be within the densest part of Europe within 20 minutes. The other thing is that these "suburban" areas that El_Greco is talking about are not suburban at all. They may not be ultra high density but they still possess the mix of uses, cultures, and activities that you would expect from a world city. This notion that a bit of greenery and a few gardens makes a place suburban is nonsense. Urbanity has as much to do with functions, people, culture, activity as density. And ultra high density is not a precondition of those things.
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Old November 29th, 2011, 12:58 PM   #979
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The other thing is that these "suburban" areas that El_Greco is talking about are not suburban at all. They may not be ultra high density but they still possess the mix of uses, cultures, and activities that you would expect from a world city. This notion that a bit of greenery and a few gardens makes a place suburban is nonsense.
Personally, I much prefer the American meaning of the term suburbs and suburban, the former is objective (referring to settlements and residential areas outside a city's boundary but linked to it) and the latter more limited, generally meaning low-density. The use of the term in Britain and the rest of Europe is a bit nonsensical, it's just a synonym for any area that is mostly residential in nature which is pretty stupid imo.

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Old November 29th, 2011, 02:06 PM   #980
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I dont understand this crazy need to turn city into a village ; you often hear about it - people opposing developments because these will destroy "village atmosphere" (the now famous Old Street Roundabout incident), you have people living near Heathrow complaining about all the planes and especially the expansion, yet everyone knows Heathrow must expand, you have people moving into Soho and Shoreditch and complaining about all the noise...etc etc. If you want peace and quiet go live in a village or better yet a forest! City is supposed to be dense and urban.
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