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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey all,

I'm currently doing research on urban circulation, focusing on funicular railways.
I'm interested in tightening up the relation of architecture and infrastructure as a possibility to connect neighbourhoods/districts that are disconnected because of topography - and simultaneously creating additional public space.

I am currently looking for potential research sites in Europe.
So, in case you know/live in an interesting city where topography has led to a lack of connections and public spaces, I would appreciate your hints!

Thanks in advance!
 

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I'm struggling to find in Lisbon any "disconnected" place, simply because there isn't any - the urban density (residential-economical activity) is continuous.

Only avenues, freeways and railways separate some urban areas but they travel between them so we cannot talk about "disconnected places".

Even if we think about the main runway corridor of the city's airport, that potentially could disconnect the city east-west side, it goes over some neighbourhoods.

Proper hills are in the south side, and they are in way or the other too close from each other. Urban density there is therefore very heavy, so neighbourhoods are all street connected, in a continuous way. Trams and the elevator only help people to achieve height difference faster, but there isn't any "disconnection because of topography" i can think of. Even if we think about some "separated" neighborhoods in Monsanto, they are just in the border of the urban area, not like many km's apart.

The city in the late 1800's was like that and then was a good example - there were many disconnected places between rural areas. Not anymore.
 

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There have certainly been difficulties posed to public transport in Lisbon because of geography, and those trams climbing very steep hills are one of the most iconic solutions ever given to this problem. It's not exactly funiculars, which the OP is researching, but it's very close.

To rephrase: those trams that have made disconnected (in the past) areas be better connected (now) in terms of easy access are exactly what the OP seems interested in studying.
 

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The op talked about "disconnected places".

The urban density in Lisbon started in between hills and they were all connected by streets, since ever. Topography never disconnected populations in Lisbon - actually they couldn't since topography actually merged people near the castle, a maze of human walls and natural walls (hills).

That's why Lisbon was inhabited very early. Defensively it was great, and it was near the source of food (the river). So people lived in the hills and connected them through time.
It's not like those areas only became connected with modern trams, and i think that's what the op is looking for.


alexandru.mircea, like i said before, hills in Lisbon never disconnected populations. Lisbon was first inhabited there, in the south side. We can see today a line of continuity since pre-roman times. Hills were great to defend populations, so they build the castle in one of them and then they create a line of walls and a maze of streets to protect themselves. We can see that even today. Hills in Lisbon were always connected. Modern trams there only help to overcome height faster.

Modern trams also connect different parts of the city today but that's because of other reasons, not topograhy.

Even so, i think the op should explain better what he's looking for.
 

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One of us is completely misunderstanding the OP. :lol: But he's specifically talking about transport, not about continuity of built-up urban space. Even when you live in a continuous urban space, if your area is very hilly then transport options might lack making your location disconnected in terms of movement.
 

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Yes, i understand that he's talking about transport. But he's also talking about "connect neighbourhoods/districts that are disconnected because of topography".

That's our main difference. Old Lisbon was always connected (by smaller or larger streets - people could walk or take carriages, or donkeys or whatever).

Then Lisbon "absorbed" many other places 100 years ago. So those were disconnected with the Old hilly Lisbon. So politicians create a mass transit transport in the Old Lisbon first, like trams, buses and the subway.

Then they connect those other areas, outside the old hilly Lisbon, with tram and bus lines too. Of course as Lisbon grew, old Lisbon lost the business importance to other areas.

Here's a fine example: the centre of Lisbon, where there's a connection between today's CBD and the historical centre of the city (the old hilly Lisbon), is where there are the largest number of transports available. So as you go to the limits of the city, the transports are less available (like the subway).

So topography in Lisbon, on the opposite, always was far better connected that some places that are mostly flat. Because 100 years ago, Lisbon's CBD and the old hilly town was the same thing. Even if it is not anymore, there's a continuity of many transports available.
 

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My sister lives in Thessaloniki (Greece) in a more recently built (I think) neighbourhood called Saranta Eklissies (40 churches). The place is quite high & separated from the rest of the city as can be seen from sattelite; the steepness of the hill can be sensed from Street View in two different directions (both showing the downtown and the port far away) from this intersection, where there's also the station where my sister ends her daily bus trip up.

My sister is not very athletic and walking up the hill is very tough for her, so the public transport option is vital. I would suspect this is the favoured solution in many other European cities: a mini-bus that can handle the slope. I don't know exactly the model of the bus but it's something like this:



It's the same kind of bus you see in Rome covering the utmost central part, where it comes handy on the very narrow old streets, or in Paris where it is used for low-usage neighbourhood lines.

There are two lines, 15 & 16:
- the latter is shorter and can be vizualized on the map here: http://oasth.gr/#en/routeinfo/list/80/39/-2/
- the former has a longer route in Saranta Eklissies, going up to the hill top: http://oasth.gr/#en/routeinfo/list/81/40/-2/
 

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That's our main difference. Old Lisbon was always connected (by smaller or larger streets - people could walk or take carriages, or donkeys or whatever).
Your definition of connected basically excludes almost any possible city. If by taking the cart or hitting the road by foot and keeping on for however long needed that means the two places are connected, just because there's a road between them, then there it will be hard to find two places in the same city that aren't connected. If walking or driving a cart on a road isn't feasible for reaching the destination because it's too far away, then the destination surely must be a different city already.

===

Another punctual example that I can think of is in Marseille, another hilly city. One of the main attractions is the church Notre-Dame de la Garde, up on the rocky hill that is the highest point in the old city. Access to the church comes via very narrow and tight serpentined roads, alongside which the neighbourhood has retained a very rural air, like can be seen in Street View here or here. I am surprised that back then in the late 19th century they didn't build a funicular, it would have been ideal. This route is served by bus line 60; I don't remember if this bus was particularly small, but looking at the width these streets it couldn't have been very large either. The bus starts from the other side of the old port, which it then services before climbing the rock. It is a line more tourist oriented than inhabitant-oriented I suspect, those living up there have cars or motorcycles I think. As proof, service ends at around 7PM when the church closes; this also means that if you want to see the city lights at dark, you're on your own.

Another one I remembered just now is the Barcelona cable car. It connects the port and the Montjuic mountain, which is an area of cultural institutions, sports facilities and villas. In consequence it's a touristic experience, but a brilliant one at that. Montjuic also has a funicular too, so you're probably familiar with this all already.

 

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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
thank you all for your very detailed responses!

I know that I haven't been very clear in my first post, but I'm still trying to narrow down my research area.

I am an architecture student and eventually my research should help me to develop the setup for my thesis project.
as already mentioned, I am interested in developing a structure that works on an urban level and re-thinks the relation of infrastructure and architecture.

some of you might know musee des con_fluences in lyon: it has a public circulation path running through the mid-section of the building. this idea of a public circulation path as the core of a building is key to my concept of an "urban staircase", meaning that I am thinking not only in terms of transport but also view connections into a building that would "wrap around" the circulation spine. (multiplied grounds on a tilted surface = additional public space; for instance)

the connection of two different districts (that don't have to be disconnected completely - maybe "disconnected" could also mean that access is difficult, as some of you have already discussed) should not only serve the mere purpose of connection but also create additional public space. maybe that could be interesting in a dense urban context, such as lisbon.

actually, the lisbon scheme could look similar to this project in medellin, colombia: www.theguardian.com/world/gallery/2013/jul/31/outdoor-escalator-medellin-colombia-pictures
the installation of public escalators reduced the time that it took people to go from one city level to another drastically. furthermore, (safe) public space was created in this dense informal settlement.

I also like this scheme: www.architonic.com/aisht/la-ronde-a-new-path-to-the-castello-di-rivoli-hubmann-vass/5101235
which relates more to complete disconnection. this is more the "castle hill" condition. like in budapest, where the funicular mainly serves the purpose of bringing tourists up the hill.

ideally, however, the two levels that I am connecting are not purely touristic. I would prefer a condition where people would use the system on their everyday journey to and from work/school...
I think in Lyon it is really integrated in the public transport system and less a tourist thing, right?

I am really interested in Lisbon, my only problem is that I am not familiar with the neighbourhoods/districts to find an appropriate site where my setup would make sense.

I am planning to visit the site this summer anyhow. it is just that I have to research in advance where an intervention would make sense.

thanks again for your help, I really appreciate it.
 

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Didn't know about the Confluences museum in Lyon and the way it "hugs" the street, will check that out. When I mentioned Lyon, I did it for its funicular, which is a textbook case for what you're interested. With two rivers and a tall cliff splitting the city into four distinct areas, there still are challenges for urban connectivity.
The funicular starts from Vieux Lyon, the old town, which lies on a tight slice of land that has the river Saône to the East and the Fourvière cliff to the West. The funicular station is "hidden" inside a complex of old heritage buildings, you could pass by it and not notice it. There are two funicular lines starting from the station, one (from 1900) that climbs up to the sightseeing platform with the church, and another older one (from 1878) which goes the other way and, at its end, it serves the Saint-Just neighbourhood which is a fairly inhabited area. And I forgot to say that the funicular station in the old town has a Line D metro station bellow it, so the people living in Saint-Just arrive there from anywhere in the city by metro, then change to F1 to bring them home. It's a very inhabitant-oriented public service. Even when using the other funicular line (F2, to climb to the church), I was still surprised by the lack of a tourist sense of the experience, there were people going home too. I haven't used the F1 at rush hour, though, to see how practical it still is for commute. BTW the usage of the funiculars is completely integrated in terms of fares, ticketing etc. with the rest of the public transport system.

Some pics. F1 in the foreground and F2 in the background:


Rue Tramassac, Vieux Lyon
by Alexandru Mircea, on Flickr

A side entrance to the funicular station:


Rue Mourguet, Vieux Lyon
by Alexandru Mircea, on Flickr

The old steep road that would need climbing to get in Saint-Just if you wanted to avoid the funicular:


Vieux Lyon, Montée du Gourguillon
by Alexandru Mircea, on Flickr

All this area is very nice to explore on Street View btw.

Another big hill in Lyon is the Croix-Rousse, which starts its slopes from the city centre in the "peninsula" and changes its urban fabric towards a more rural feel up there. From the main square to the Croix-Rousse hilltop the transport connection is by trolleybus, which uses the only larger road that climbs the hill (Street View here). As I lived around there during my visit to Lyon, my feeling was that there room for improvement, as the trolleys seemed quite full even outside of rush hours, and the space required for a trolley to pass in each direction meant there wasn't much space left for boardwalks. However, reading from my guide, I was left with the impression that the locals might be quite fond of the "disconnected" feel of their neighbourhod there on the plateau and might instead want to keep it. Which is a question that applies in a lot of such cities in the developed world.

RE my previous Marseille example, "walking" around a bit on Street View on the sinuous streets that climb to the church, there are quite a few people seemingly walking the road up, which suggests that the connectivity could still be improved. I don't know what day the Google car came, but there should be one bus each 15 minutes according to the official plans.
 

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Porto, Portugal. There You will see áreas where only stairs, funicular and hig bridges minoriize the effect of verá hilly topography.
 

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thank you all for your very detailed responses!

I know that I haven't been very clear in my first post, but I'm still trying to narrow down my research area.

I am an architecture student and eventually my research should help me to develop the setup for my thesis project.
as already mentioned, I am interested in developing a structure that works on an urban level and re-thinks the relation of infrastructure and architecture.

some of you might know musee des con_fluences in lyon: it has a public circulation path running through the mid-section of the building. this idea of a public circulation path as the core of a building is key to my concept of an "urban staircase", meaning that I am thinking not only in terms of transport but also view connections into a building that would "wrap around" the circulation spine. (multiplied grounds on a tilted surface = additional public space; for instance)

the connection of two different districts (that don't have to be disconnected completely - maybe "disconnected" could also mean that access is difficult, as some of you have already discussed) should not only serve the mere purpose of connection but also create additional public space. maybe that could be interesting in a dense urban context, such as lisbon.

actually, the lisbon scheme could look similar to this project in medellin, colombia: www.theguardian.com/world/gallery/2013/jul/31/outdoor-escalator-medellin-colombia-pictures
the installation of public escalators reduced the time that it took people to go from one city level to another drastically. furthermore, (safe) public space was created in this dense informal settlement.

I also like this scheme: www.architonic.com/aisht/la-ronde-a-new-path-to-the-castello-di-rivoli-hubmann-vass/5101235
which relates more to complete disconnection. this is more the "castle hill" condition. like in budapest, where the funicular mainly serves the purpose of bringing tourists up the hill.

ideally, however, the two levels that I am connecting are not purely touristic. I would prefer a condition where people would use the system on their everyday journey to and from work/school...
I think in Lyon it is really integrated in the public transport system and less a tourist thing, right?

I am really interested in Lisbon, my only problem is that I am not familiar with the neighbourhoods/districts to find an appropriate site where my setup would make sense.

I am planning to visit the site this summer anyhow. it is just that I have to research in advance where an intervention would make sense.

thanks again for your help, I really appreciate it.
What do you need about Lisbon? :)

Now the most of the city is connected, but there are a lot of neighborhoods in the hills separated from others. There are a 7 historic hills that have escalatores/elevators and trams between them and the low squares:

http://www.sunnylisbon.com/city-of-the-seven-hills/
 

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Your definition of connected basically excludes almost any possible city. If by taking the cart or hitting the road by foot and keeping on for however long needed that means the two places are connected, just because there's a road between them, then there it will be hard to find two places in the same city that aren't connected. If walking or driving a cart on a road isn't feasible for reaching the destination because it's too far away, then the destination surely must be a different city already.

I think you misinterpret a little bit what i was saying.

At first i understood that the op was talking about completely disconnected places inside one city (meaning isolated), so it was necessary one special connection, like a cable car or a tram or one bus, from\to the urban area (and probably the only way to reach that particular destination).

Of course that near the urban area of the city there are more transports available, more and better roads available, avenues where there's a possibility of trams, buses, subway, taxis, etc., perpendicular streets that allows many paths to walk... but to\from that one isolated place there's like one rural road for a single connection or to a walk, but other options are less and worst, and travelling between both places is hard.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 · (Edited)
Thanks again for your input!

I've looked into Lyon and found some interesting spots in the urban fabric. The typical "traboules" as a secondary circulation system are an interesting aspect per se as well!

Still, it is hard for me to judge where additional connections and additional communal spaces would make sense. I am not sure whether this is a real issue there...

I have this nice reference project by urban-think tank in a favela in Sao Paulo http://www.designboom.com/architecture/urban-think-tank-grotao-fabrica-de-musica/
where you have a nice relation of terraced circulation and public building....

with regard to the european context that I'm supposed to be working in, I am wondering whether such an intervention might make more sense in an even denser situation than Lyon. I have heard of a certain urban decay in the centre of Lisbon where there are many empty flats being neglected due to a former rent policy - and suburbanization, I suppose...maybe an intervention like the community centre in sao paulo would make more sense there to rise the quality of life and revitalize the area...maybe I should study Porto as well...
 

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Yeah, I was trying to come here (unsuccessfully, due to server problems) to ask you: does it really need to be in Europe? All examples I can think of in Europe already have solutions set up. And I was thinking... A place currently developing, with transport a key issue and very hilly cities - Brazil! But I see you have it covered already, and your dissertation has been set for Europe for you.
 
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