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Public Space Squares, parks and other public areas in the city



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Old March 3rd, 2011, 06:11 PM   #1
HintEXP
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Public Space in Densely Populated Areas

Hey,

I'm an currently a 4th year architecture student and I'm starting a project on creating public space in densely populated areas. The specific site I'm looking at is in Rocinha, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. By public space, I'm considering gaps or plazas that are more flexible to the activity that can happen in them.

I came here because it seems like there is a lot of good discussion on urban issues like this and I'd like to just know some of your opions on creating public space in dense areas like Rocinha or anywhere else. What are some cities you all suggest I look at? Information I want to get out of this pre-project research is a public space to density ratio, so if anyone has any knowledge about this that they'd like to pass on it would be greatly appreciated.

The instructor already suggested the Greek islands, specifically Santorini.

Thanks for any help you can offer!
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Old March 4th, 2011, 01:58 AM   #2
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I suggest looking at European mediaeval city centres that have market places etc.
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Old March 5th, 2011, 10:03 PM   #3
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Thanks for your response! Doing research about Rocinha led me and a lot of my peers to see the most similar cities are the mediaeval ones, but I hadn't thought about looking there. Thanks again for the direction.
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Old March 7th, 2011, 12:40 PM   #4
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Rocinha is on a pretty steep hillside, isn't it? I'm not sure if I know of any Medieval square that's on a slope. Perhaps something like a Greek amphitheatre could work as inspiration?



http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theatre_of_ancient_Greece
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Old March 7th, 2011, 02:04 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HintEXP View Post
Hey,

I'm an currently a 4th year architecture student and I'm starting a project on creating public space in densely populated areas. The specific site I'm looking at is in Rocinha, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. By public space, I'm considering gaps or plazas that are more flexible to the activity that can happen in them.

I came here because it seems like there is a lot of good discussion on urban issues like this and I'd like to just know some of your opions on creating public space in dense areas like Rocinha or anywhere else. What are some cities you all suggest I look at? Information I want to get out of this pre-project research is a public space to density ratio, so if anyone has any knowledge about this that they'd like to pass on it would be greatly appreciated.

The instructor already suggested the Greek islands, specifically Santorini.

Thanks for any help you can offer!
Basically look at the Financial District in London, it's known as 'The City'. 350,000 workers cram into less than a square mile, that is simultaneously the oldest and the newest part of the metropolis. In effect you get new skyscrapers and offices that rub shoulders with 87 historic churches, numerous protected alleyways and buildings, alongside large 'viewing corridors' in the airspace that to the nearby UNESCO World Heritage Sites, such as the Tower of London and Tower Bridge, plus St Paul's Cathedral.

The public realm is protected by some influential city planners, numerous ancient alleyways, pocket parks, squares, courtyards and countless statues, memorials and new art sculptures.

Basically in the densest built up area, there are so many hidden breathing spaces




tiny pocket spaces:

image hosted on flickr




image hosted on flickr
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Old March 8th, 2011, 07:33 AM   #6
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I think Rocinha needs other types of solution.
Look some photos of Rocinha:





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Last edited by karpinha; March 8th, 2011 at 07:38 AM.
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Old March 9th, 2011, 12:49 AM   #7
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WOW a very nice setting for a city!
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Old March 11th, 2011, 08:03 AM   #8
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Here is my favorite small open space in downtown San Francisco: Yerba Buena Gardens. It is a bit deceptive because all the grass, flowers and trees is actually on top of the Moscone Convention Center which is below ground (what is labeled Moscone Center South is merely the entrance foyer).

Map

Source: http://www.yerbabuenagardens.com/maps.html

Aerial (This is oriented 180 degrees from the map so Mission St. is at the bottom of the shot)

Source: http://www.yerbabuenagardens.com/

The Esplanade


The Terrace


The Children's Garden


Carousel

Source above 4 photos: http://www.ybgf.org/Rentals/Esplanade.php

Music on The Espalanade


Another view of the Terrace and Matin Luther King Fountain

Source above 2 photos: http://www.yelp.com/biz/yerba-buena-...san-francisco]
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Old March 14th, 2011, 03:54 AM   #9
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Read:
William H. Whyte - City
Jan Gehl - Life Between Buildings: Using Public Space

and for references for public space as tool for urban gentrification, look into the reconversion of squares in Gracia, Barcelona

The point it - as far as I am concerned - the functioning of public space is primarely based on approprate contrast. A small square (think medeaval centre) works only if it contrasts to a context of great density (when space is a rare good, every centimeter of extra space becomes meaningful). Very important however is to understand that great density does not mean a void will automatically work - a breatrough-street of 40 meter in Amsterdam with sidewalks of 10 meters will attract less people than its 15 meters wide slightly overused counterpart. Congestion creates use, void creates void (William Whyte did great observational study on this point) - too much space will feel unused with the same number of users, and as a result its use will decrease (ironically). Unappropriately big spaces will become intuitive blind spots.

A street like the Champs Elysees functions because it is devided in 5 zones. Centre is a dense traffic street, lined with trees. Next to it on both sides is a 'green pedestrian street' with a calm natural congestion and lined with trees. Outside on both sides is a city pedestrian street lined on one side with trees and the other with active façades. Between the façade and the main traffic stream is a 'claimable zone' - a space that is used by shops and terraces. Every cm is in function of these street profiles.

Space for the sake of space does not work. If you want a square to work, make streams for traffic streams just a bit small. Create a justle. This goes both for cars and pedestian streams. Whatever people say in surveys, if observed: in urban context, people like congestion. Do not mindlessly ban cars, they can be nice. But force them to interact.

An example:
The street profile of the Ramblas in Barcelona is 35 meter, but on the side has a sidewalk of only 2 meter and less. That's small, very small. But it helps passersby to appreciate shops seprately and helps shop fronts to work as a peepshow, not a view-window. Therefore, ironically, being slightly small in this case might be the very core-quality.
Next to this is a 2m zone for temporary parking, bike parking and bicycle parking.
Then, there is one lane of traffic. No pre-sort zones for traffic that goes left or right, a junction is almost a corner of 90 degrees. The lanes are small, smaller than normal. People that drive there don't drive because it's the fastest or shortest road. They say they do, but they don't. They drive there because they prommenade. Waiters are moving from the pubs on the side to the terraces in the middle crossing the cars, a car that has to go right stops all other cars, it sounds annoying but is the very thing that makes it a great road to take. The above average number of above averagely priced cars shows this.
The middle zone is a tree lined pedestian street - a linear parc. It is as big as it can possible be. It takes the 1m that the sidewalks are smaller than safe, and it's better spent here.
The interesting this is: the exits of the metro are placed 10cm from the driving lane. Everything is tight.
Space is spent as the rare commodity it is in dense urbanity. Every element - car traffic, perdestrian traffic, commercial space - is thought to be something on top of being safely functional.

The clue is - I believe: good public space appreciates every cm. Also when you make a square of 10.000 m2. St. Peter Sqaure has not a cm too much space. It's dedicated space. Borders are articulated, dramatized. Designed.

Another dogma-breaker in this field is 'shared space' - the idea to suggest zones of traffic without making them strictly defined. It puts people out of their comfort zone and therefore both entertains them and makes them more cautious The roundabout around the Champs Elysees has no traffic lines, it organises itself, and it is safe because of this. Actually, one could take away the border between pedestrian and car zone, make all the square a sort of zebra-crossing, and it would still work. It would still move, it would be as safe, and it would magically create thousants of m2's of square. Mind you, this trick only works on very specific places (read Hans Monderman) - you cannot put a zebra crossing on a highway, it would not make any sense in the supply and demand of the space. But it can be the most logical thing to do on other places.

Things work the same in dense inner city as it is does in less dense sub-urban urbanism. A city-park has a fence not primarely to separate people, but to make a hard junction between two profiles. It frames the 'road passing a park' and the realm of the park in the most dramatic and compact way. It can be a little wall, even. It can be anything. I've seen fences that never were designed to be able to be closed. The only thing they do is the strenghten and funnel the moment of entrance. And amplify the divesion of two different realms.

You're talking Rio? You're talking fences. Brazil is the country of fences. They have a reason to be there. Don't ignore it, they fulfull a demand. A wicked one, perhaps, or perhaps it's the sollution of fences that is the demerrit good. Take the demand, dramatize it, solve it in a way that it carries something greater, outclever it.

Public space is the theatre of supply and demand.

Last edited by Concrete Stereo; March 14th, 2011 at 05:32 AM.
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Old March 14th, 2011, 04:32 AM   #10
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1-roofgardens would be an excellent adition for poor people living in rocinha.

2-micro garden build by a mix of pots from diferents sizes.

3-transforms some streets into pedestrian ones.

4-Hostels for backpacking tourist as a way to increase the economic level of rocinha.
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Old March 25th, 2011, 10:17 PM   #11
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Hyde Park/Kensington Gardens, London...

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Old March 26th, 2011, 07:47 AM   #12
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I suppose London's mini plazas around Covent Garden would be interesting enough.
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Old March 27th, 2011, 03:46 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CHILANGALIOSA View Post
1-roofgardens would be an excellent adition for poor people living in rocinha.

2-micro garden build by a mix of pots from diferents sizes.

3-transforms some streets into pedestrian ones.

4-Hostels for backpacking tourist as a way to increase the economic level of rocinha.


Streets are already kind of pedestrian, as cars, ambulances and bus barely can pass.
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Old March 29th, 2011, 03:02 AM   #14
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Old March 29th, 2011, 10:51 PM   #15
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The place I immediately thought of when reading your question is El Raval, Barcelona. This densely packed area was a no-go area for tourists, despite its central location off Las Ramblas. Through a policy of punctuating the urban grain by creating public space ("esponjamiento" or "loosening of the weave") this has now become part of the city's cosmopolitan dynamism, although some might regret the gentrification. This may have some relevance to your research on Rocinha. Good luck with your project.
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Old March 30th, 2011, 12:44 PM   #16
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Erzsébet tér (tér=square)


Szabadság tér


Roosevelt tér


Március 15 tér (it was recently redone, this is previous state)


(all from legifotok.hu)
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Old March 30th, 2011, 08:10 PM   #17
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Rocinha needs one thing: demolition and relocation of its inhabitants to housing projects that are heavily policed and are served with basic services like education, sewage and housing stock that is up to the codes.

So:

(1) remove the population
(2) blow up the whole place, demolish it altogether
(3) turn it into a park for the city, as that slum town is located on a steep slope near the ocean
(4) sell lower areas, suitable for construction, to be fitted with hotels and resorts

To sum it up: do not build anything because the place is a sinkhole of crime, drug trafficking and all sort of lawlessness, doomed beyond hope.
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