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Old October 4th, 2011, 05:27 PM   #361
Penn's Woods
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Originally Posted by Rebasepoiss View Post
I've thought about it too. Just a random example:

Las Vegas: http://g.co/maps/wrxn5 - pavement width: 10,8 metres / 35 ft
Paris metropolitan area: http://g.co/maps/mykur - pavement width: 4,8 metres / 15,5 ft
The big difference between Paris and Las Vegas being, of course, that Las Vegas has grown up almost entirely since World War II and is in a desert. Land was dirt cheap there - still is around the edges, I imagine - and there's nothing (established farming communities, for example) to block sprawl.
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Old October 4th, 2011, 05:30 PM   #362
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Yes but to be honest it does have some sense behind it. Cars can park on both sides of the street and still have room in the middle for passing through. Many times this doesn't get utilized as much because people park in the garage or driveway but it does get used on my street for example.
I wonder if providing a safer environment for children to play was a factor too - since earlier generations of children would have played, say, ball games in the streets in the crowded city neighborhoods they lived in....
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Old October 4th, 2011, 05:39 PM   #363
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Many residential streets in US also appear large because their houses have large setbacks. But I like setbacks: they create healthy open space and increased privacy without resorting to the claustrophobibaction of streets with massive vegetation, walls etc.
I agree with you, for once. :-)

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A large setback seems like waste of space to me. There's nothing you can really do there.
It may not be clear...we're not talking about a gap between the sidewalk and the front of the house that's owned by the public, but a "front yard" (they'd say "front garden" in England) that's part of the lot the house is built on. It doesn't have the privacy of the back yard, but on the other hand, people grow trees and shrubs and flowers or whatever, you can chat with the neighbors (if you both happen to be outside at the same time)... it's hardly a wasteland; besides just being a bit of greenery, perhaps ornamented, in front of the house, it can serve as a social space where you don't risk being run down because you're not on the pavement. I see nothing wrong with this sort of thing. Provided it's understood that not everyone likes that sort of environment.
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Old October 4th, 2011, 06:38 PM   #364
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Penn's Woods, you're right and not.

In zoning, a "setback" is how far from the lot line you're allowed to build. This enforces front yards. Sidewalks, by contrast, are in public land.

I agree that deep front yards--especially on quiet streets--are very, well, dull. (I grew up in the suburbs, remember.) I favor loosening or eliminating entirely front setbacks in favor of bigger, deeper back yards in most instances.
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Yes but to be honest it does have some sense behind it. Cars can park on both sides of the street and still have room in the middle for passing through. Many times this doesn't get utilized as much because people park in the garage or driveway but it does get used on my street for example.
Eh, a 30-ft carriageway on a one-way street (40-ft for two ways) is fine for the purpose. Any wider and you're too wide. A 40-ft carriage on a one-way street is definitely too wide*. Furthermore, if the subdivision in question has regulation (deed restriction, ordinance, etc.) in place prohibiting on-street parking--as is increasingly common, especially in gated communities--the streets should be narrower: only as wide as the through lane(s) need be (usually 10 feet a lane).

*30-ft carriageway means 1 through lane and 2 parking lanes. 40-ft carriageway means 2 through lanes and 2 parking lanes. Carriageway refers to just the part of the street where cars are allowed to go (as compared with street, which covers everything between the lot lines).

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Old October 4th, 2011, 07:05 PM   #365
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Dutch residential carriageways usually have 1 through lane and 1 parking lane, complemented with dedicated streetside parking lots on the other side not suited for driving through.
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Old October 4th, 2011, 11:56 PM   #366
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Penn's Woods, you're right and not.

In zoning, a "setback" is how far from the lot line you're allowed to build. This enforces front yards. Sidewalks, by contrast, are in public land.

I agree that deep front yards--especially on quiet streets--are very, well, dull. (I grew up in the suburbs, remember.) I favor loosening or eliminating entirely front setbacks in favor of bigger, deeper back yards in most instances.
Well, that's personal opinion entirely. A lot of people like making the front of their house look nice through planting etc, and this makes the neighbourhood look attractive in my opinion. Also, because there is less privacy at the front than at the back, it encourages more interaction with neighbours.
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Old October 5th, 2011, 01:17 AM   #367
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This is getting OT but does anyone know the reason why in Europe practically all private houses are surrounded by a fence (or a hedge) while in the US it's very rare?
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Old October 5th, 2011, 11:03 AM   #368
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Originally Posted by Rebasepoiss View Post
This is getting OT but does anyone know the reason why in Europe practically all private houses are surrounded by a fence (or a hedge) while in the US it's very rare?
In England they have open front lawns in suburbs, but I think UK is the only real case of sprawled suburbs as a lot of Europe has apartments...
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Old October 5th, 2011, 11:11 AM   #369
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Only a few countries have more than 50% of their population living in flats. (The Netherlands and the United Kingdom are very similar).
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Old October 5th, 2011, 03:15 PM   #370
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Does the category "Semi-detatched house" also include terraced/row housing? I'd imaging that category would be too large to be "Other"...
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Old October 5th, 2011, 03:19 PM   #371
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Yep, I suppose it's the same as terraced / row housing. The UK and the Netherlands both have large quantities of such housing.
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Old October 5th, 2011, 03:23 PM   #372
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Yep, I suppose it's the same as terraced / row housing. The UK and the Netherlands both have large quantities of such housing.
In the UK at least, "semi-detached" refers exclusively to a type of duplex house, where the two dwellings are side by side and (usually) have layouts that are mirror images of each other.
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Old October 5th, 2011, 05:05 PM   #373
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That's what I always assumed it meant. There seems to have been a period when that sort of thing was in vogue here. I guess - and it's just a guess - the rationale for building houses in twos is that it's cheaper than making them free-standing, but everyone still gets their own access from the street to the back.
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Old October 13th, 2011, 01:51 AM   #374
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Does the category "Semi-detatched house" also include terraced/row housing? I'd imaging that category would be too large to be "Other"...
I think semi-detached only refers to houses that are built in pairs ie two houses joined together. I don't think a terraced house is counted as semi-detached even if it is at the end of the row and only attached on the one side and therefore technically semi-detached.

As for open front gardens I think it is a cultural thing to a great extent. In South Africa it was traditionally very common in 20th century houses, but has decreased a lot in the last 15-20 years because of security concerns. It's more common in small towns now and, I get the impression, that the Aglos are more likely to wall themselves up for privacy than Afrikaans people.

Here's a nice small-town example at Riviersonderend.
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Old October 13th, 2011, 06:16 PM   #375
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Well, that's personal opinion entirely.
There are as many different opinions as there are different people, and a balanced market would be able to provide optimized solutions for every set of opinions. However, when the planning/zoning regimen mandates very deep setbacks, the market hierarchies are short-circuited, which foists suboptimal solutions on subsets of people. In other words, choice is curtailed. And with that, freedom.
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A lot of people like making the front of their house look nice through planting etc, and this makes the neighbourhood look attractive in my opinion.
This is true with any scale of setback (even none), and tends to be a mark of affluence.
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Also, because there is less privacy at the front than at the back, it encourages more interaction with neighbours.
Um, the front entrance is the public entrance, so there is no correlation whatsoever between setback depth and interaction in the manner you describe. In fact, some research done and claims put forward by New Urbanists (see, e.g., Suburban Nation and The Geography of Nowhere) suggest that there is a negative correlation between setback depth and public interaction, and that once setbacks get too deep, neighborly interaction dies altogether. The result is the observed phenomenon of suburban anomie*, as well as a manor-like detachment of the built form (example).
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Old October 18th, 2011, 02:19 AM   #376
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I just drove Lake Shore Drive in Chicago end to end (from north to south) and it's stunning. Seriously. One of my all-time favorite city drives. And it's lined with parks, museums, at least three marinas.... The road doesn't seem to be preventing the city from making better use than most do of its shoreline.
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Old October 18th, 2011, 02:52 AM   #377
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I can't speak for Europe, but in Latin America, having a fence or a stone/concrete wall fronting the street is the rule. Also, it is rare to have both a "front yard" and a "back yard" (garden). Typically the house is built right up to the street, or else it is all the way at the rear of the property. Either way there is a single contiguous yard on the rest of the property, rather than two divided by a house in the middle.

Even in rural areas the house is typically built right up to the road, unless there is a state right of way that requires a setback.

Another nice custom in Latin America is that buildings at street corners typically have a diagonal wall with a door right at the corner, so that you have a sort of "octagon" at the four corners of the street.

Personally, I don't care for the modern American custom of having a very large front yard. It's nothing more than a buffer from the street, a pretense that one lives on a plantation rather than in the city, that could just be replaced by a wall. It's very wasteful of precious urban land in my opinion.

In the USA, many neighborhood associations actually prohibit fences or walls in front of houses.
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Old October 18th, 2011, 01:25 PM   #378
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[QUOTE=hammersklavier]

This is true with any scale of setback (even none), and tends to be a mark of affluence.[quote/]

It's only true to some extent. Of course, affluence tends to increase care for the front of the house and its garden. But, in my experience if you compare two equally-valued houses, one say semi-detached with a reasonable sized front garden and the other terraced with essentially no front garden, the former is much more likely to be well cared for.



Quote:
Um, the front entrance is the public entrance, so there is no correlation whatsoever between setback depth and interaction in the manner you describe.
This is not my experience at all. I'm not thinking of really huge houses with huge front gardens, long drives etc because only a few people can normally afford them.

My experience growing up in suburban South Africa was that there tended to be a lot of interaction between neighbours. If you saw your neighbour in the front garden you would say hello etc. If there is no front garden, there is really no reason to be in front of the house except if you're coming or going.
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Old October 19th, 2011, 06:05 AM   #379
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http://discoveringurbanism.blogspot....ay-safety.html

This article quite clearly shows the problem with American traffic engineering (spoken of before). It's a review and analysis of a JAPA article.


Mean traffic speed compared with traffic conflicts
Quote:
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It's only true to some extent. Of course, affluence tends to increase care for the front of the house and its garden. But, in my experience if you compare two equally-valued houses, one say semi-detached with a reasonable sized front garden and the other terraced with essentially no front garden, the former is much more likely to be well cared for.
More of it seems to have to do with where it is than anywhere else. In affluent parts of the urban core, there is no correlation between setback presence and care, insofar as I can tell. Care itself is a mark of affluence, and presence of homeowner care is a strong first clue of gentrification.
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This is not my experience at all. I'm not thinking of really huge houses with huge front gardens, long drives etc because only a few people can normally afford them.

My experience growing up in suburban South Africa was that there tended to be a lot of interaction between neighbours. If you saw your neighbour in the front garden you would say hello etc. If there is no front garden, there is really no reason to be in front of the house except if you're coming or going.
This is growing thornier. I remember there was a study showing that Levittown had just as rich a social life as an urban place. But at the same time--by exurban standards--Levittown was actually a fairly dense place, setbacks and all. The example I showed, with its gargantuan setbacks from what was once a rural highway, would be not at all conducive to a social life...Part of the question is what is a suburb when outside of the American context--for example, what is called "suburbia" in much of Europe is quite a lot denser than most American places--and to an American, no different than "urban" places. A variant of same is in play in e.g. Brazil or Japan.

What I suppose I'm trying to say is that without a useful yardstick for measuring the built form (housing density, street connectivity, housing type, degree of autocentrism, etc.) it's impossible to actually evaluate why your South African suburb works different than e.g. an American-style country club gated community (as a sine qua non example of exurban decadence).
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Old November 6th, 2011, 06:46 AM   #380
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Nice graph! Lots of truth in it!
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