Walkable Cities: Prioritzing Design, Dealing With Suburban Awfulness

formby

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In Britain zoning has been a disaster. 20th c. planners thought they knew better than the centuries of accumulated knowledge, this combined with the venality of property developers and the cluelessness of local councils.

There does seem something of a revival though, especially in Manchester and Liverpool (the cities closest to moi) where many of the old city centre Victorian warehouses (many historic and dating from the industrial revolution) have been turned into flats, making for a vibrant city centre after hours.

 
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doghouse

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In Britain zoning has been a disaster. 20th c. planners thought they knew better than the centuries of accumulated knowledge, this combined with the venality of property developers and the cluelessness of local councils.

There does seem something of a revival though, especially in Manchester and Liverpool (the cities closest to moi) where many of the old city centre Victorian warehouses (many historic and dating from the industrial revolution) have been turned into flats, making for a vibrant city centre after hours.

In my opinion it really bottomed out post war when you had the zoning zealots and utopians get together.

I do like some modernist architecture, but the planning aspect was an unnatural abomination.
 

Pimpernel Smith

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The concept of ''the suburbs'' is a large delta ranging from the North Paris ones, Rio ones, the multi-multi millionaire ones of Wassenaar here in The Netherlands, the uniformed sprawl of the USA to the tree lined utopia of a stately home estate for the working class in the UK. People have been writing off the suburbs for quite sometime, they're not going away yet!

The authors betray their elitist pretensions as living in the city as ultimate in green living credentials. Really?

What about those city dwellers who drive out of the city to do their grocery shop at much larger hyper-markets with car parking which they don't have in the city?

Those that don't work in the city?

Or people like me who have several trees in their garden? Do I have to move to an apartment in the city to be green?

Why did people move from the cities in the first place, if the suburbs were so impoverished and crap?

Would I want to live in a heritage zone in Amsterdam where there is no sound proofing and cannot be between me and my neighbours?

Would I want to live in what became of the Barratt suburban housing estates of the 1970s in the UK?

The issue with the UK, along with poor and brutal urban planning was corruption - in the cities that is. Colin MacInnes was writing about this in 1959. Hence everyone who could moved out....into the suburbs. With some exceptions of course.

The revival of the Victorian warehouses is not only in Liverpool....over the river, Birkenhead and in Ellesmere Port the Telford built ones.

It all boils down to how much quality you can afford to live and where, in the suburbs or urban environment.
 

formby

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In my opinion it really bottomed out post war when you had the zoning zealots and utopians get together.

I do like some modernist architecture, but the planning aspect was an unnatural abomination.
Well, greedy property developers, egotistical architects and corrupt, incompetent council officials have done more damage to British town/city scapes than the Luftwaffe ever did.

Good architecture must be in context. It should respect its surroundings. That doesn't mean it shoud slavishly copy it, but it should, acknowledge and respect it. You have to wonder at the mindset that places a brutalist monstrosity in the vicinity of a Medieval Cathedral, or near a Georgian Terrace. Its vandalism, albeit of the high-minded (handed?) sort.

Britain has some beautiful architecture, its 26 Medieval Cathedrals for example, it also has some of the worst, too often within shouting distance.
 
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formby

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The concept of ''the suburbs'' is a large delta ranging from the North Paris ones, Rio ones, the multi-multi millionaire ones of Wassenaar here in The Netherlands, the uniformed sprawl of the USA to the tree lined utopia of a stately home estate for the working class in the UK. People have been writing off the suburbs for quite sometime, they're not going away yet!

The authors betray their elitist pretensions as living in the city as ultimate in green living credentials. Really?

What about those city dwellers who drive out of the city to do their grocery shop at much larger hyper-markets with car parking which they don't have in the city?

Those that don't work in the city?

Or people like me who have several trees in their garden? Do I have to move to an apartment in the city to be green?

Why did people move from the cities in the first place, if the suburbs were so impoverished and crap?

Would I want to live in a heritage zone in Amsterdam where there is no sound proofing and cannot be between me and my neighbours?

Would I want to live in what became of the Barratt suburban housing estates of the 1970s in the UK?

The issue with the UK, along with poor and brutal urban planning was corruption - in the cities that is. Colin MacInnes was writing about this in 1959. Hence everyone who could moved out....into the suburbs. With some exceptions of course.

The revival of the Victorian warehouses is not only in Liverpool....over the river, Birkenhead and in Ellesmere Port the Telford built ones.

It all boils down to how much quality you can afford to live and where, in the suburbs or urban environment.
Well, the late Ian Nairn used to rant (Outrage!) about the homogeneity of British suburbs endlessly in the Architectural Review back in the day, or was it from the cockpit of his Gloster Meteor? Anyway, he coined the term Subtopia to describe what he considered was a loss of sense of place. A context argument in effect.
 

sirloin

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One thing is having a place to walk, we can all agree that's the goal for a livable city, it should also feel safe to do so.
I have a few colleagues whom are urban architects. They have recently started talking about, how wanting to wanting to stay/play/walk is not so much having about if it is safe from crime, but if it feels safe. And if it feels safe, is something that is measurable to if it feels safe for a woman to walk there. No fun walking a long way from the bus, on a dimly lit path - so ppl might be more inclined to stay inside, take the car etc.
I guess Jan Gehl is famous for investigating and consulting in large cities around the world, into how the space between the buildings, is a place that invites towards walking, biking and help overall improving quality of life.
 

Untermensch

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We cannot have a sensible conversation on the subject unless we define "vibrant".

Because where I live, "vibrant" = hordes of noisy, smelly, violent, pot-smoking, drug-dealing ethnic savages (and their white clients)
 

formby

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The architect who 'modified' the 1st building is Daniel Libeskind who is the child of Holocaust survivors.

The archtect involved in the 2nd is the late Zaha Hadid.
 

InstaHate

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We cannot have a sensible conversation on the subject unless we define "vibrant".

Because where I live, "vibrant" = hordes of noisy, smelly, violent, pot-smoking, drug-dealing ethnic savages (and their white clients)
Jazz cabbage is wonderful. Much better than alcohol, though it comes in behind coffee. Shame on you for implying otherwise. Embrace the herb, mon
 

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Is that Libeskind sticking things into existing structures? This is what he did to the museum that I've been a member of for 10 plus years. Incidentally, the top of the crystal had a restaurant that has since shuttered and is only an event space. The original entrance is behind the tree and you walked into an impressive foyer. The new entrance is sterile like going into an amusement centre with a massive gift shop. After years of popular outcry they decided to reopen the old entrance and now you can enter from both sides.
 

formby

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One of Dante's rings of Hell...? Nein (said in the sternest Prussian Junker style) the Burj Al Babas housing development in Turkey.



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Journeyman

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One thing is having a place to walk, we can all agree that's the goal for a livable city, it should also feel safe to do so.
I'm fortunate enough to live within walking distance of both my children's schools, a bus stop, two train stations, a large shopping centre and plenty of shops and cafes in an older, established area with plenty of greenery. I can walk out of my front door and be at my workplace in the city centre in twenty minutes. It's a great place to live. It's also very expensive, particularly if you want to live in a house, as opposed to a small flat/apartment.

There are some newer housing developments on the city fringes that are being constructed with shopping, recreation and other needs in mind - one has an artificial lake, a large shopping centre with cinemas and a restaurant plaza, and an outdoor pool/aquatic play area surrounded by a sizeable park with groves of established trees and a creek running through it, plus a new train station. Unfortunately, though, that's far from the norm with most housing developments - they tend to be in the middle of nowhere, have little in the way of amenities, and no public transport. So everyone ends up having to drive everywhere and no-one walks at all.
 

Pimpernel Smith

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I'm fortunate enough to live within walking distance of both my children's schools, a bus stop, two train stations, a large shopping centre and plenty of shops and cafes in an older, established area with plenty of greenery. I can walk out of my front door and be at my workplace in the city centre in twenty minutes. It's a great place to live. It's also very expensive, particularly if you want to live in a house, as opposed to a small flat/apartment.

There are some newer housing developments on the city fringes that are being constructed with shopping, recreation and other needs in mind - one has an artificial lake, a large shopping centre with cinemas and a restaurant plaza, and an outdoor pool/aquatic play area surrounded by a sizeable park with groves of established trees and a creek running through it, plus a new train station. Unfortunately, though, that's far from the norm with most housing developments - they tend to be in the middle of nowhere, have little in the way of amenities, and no public transport. So everyone ends up having to drive everywhere and no-one walks at all.
The Dutch have done more than most, if any country, to make bike lines the ideal. But not really in cities, outside you see they have created literally thousands of bicycle lanes and also lots of managed woodlands and nature reserves with lakes. Like everywhere lots of movements out of the city into suburbs. Some of the new developments are really impressive works of creating liveable and aesthetically pleasing environments, some less so. The so called Phoenix estates built in the 1990s feel pretty cramped and what we call in the UK ''Estatey''.
 

Pimpernel Smith

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There's actually a net gain of family and middle classes to the cities in the Netherlands right now. Sorry.
Not quite true. Whilst it is true several cities are only getting to the population levels there were 40 or 50 years ago, same as in London which is just now getting to pre-war levels, much of the growth is not from the middle class (in the English and European sense of the word i.e. not the working class) and middle class families. They are leaving the cities with the exception of Utrecht, which is such a nightmare to commute to on the ring road, you might as well live there to avoid the commute. But the growth is in suburban developments on the outskirts of the city. There's also interesting stats on where the richest and wealthy locate themselves in The Netherlands and isn't in Amsterdam or Den Haag.
 

Pimpernel Smith

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Hard to figure out what's up and down, without having concrete numbers. Link to statistics from cbs.nl?
No one takes the cbs stats seriously. I have to fill in cost details every Q and then if there's what they deem an irredeemable fluctuation against their model contracts it is challenged with a justification and no doubt that spurious data is removed. When I took them seriously I was told by Dutch lawyers and accountants it was an organisation not to take seriously and don't worry about it.

Lots of official stats have contradicted themselves within weeks of appearing. I've posted examples previously.

But the classic one, over the North Sea, a different country, is that in the London of 2060 the native cockneys will finally be in a minority.....that was in the mid 1990s.

The truth is a mixture of all sorts, but the growth in the big cities in the Netherlands is not being primary delivered by the middle class and middle class families. Either living there or flocking back from the provinces and god forbid, the dreaded suburbs.
 

doghouse

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No one takes the cbs stats seriously. I have to fill in cost details every Q and then if there's what they deem an irredeemable fluctuation against their model contracts it is challenged with a justification and no doubt that spurious data is removed. When I took them seriously I was told by Dutch lawyers and accountants it was an organisation not to take seriously and don't worry about it.

Lots of official stats have contradicted themselves within weeks of appearing. I've posted examples previously.

But the classic one, over the North Sea, a different country, is that in the London of 2060 the native cockneys will finally be in a minority.....that was in the mid 1990s.

The truth is a mixture of all sorts, but the growth in the big cities in the Netherlands is not being primary delivered by the middle class and middle class families. Either living there or flocking back from the provinces and god forbid, the dreaded suburbs.
Lol.

Yeah, stats don't tell what you want to hear, so just make up what your emotions feel is right.
 

Pimpernel Smith

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Lol.

Yeah, stats don't tell what you want to hear, so just make up what your emotions feel is right.
I live here and I don't need to pretend that some of these suburbs 45 minutes ++ in the rush hour traffic from the CBD are actually in the city and not part of the hated suburbs that you so eloquently distain against. The stats here are manipulated like elsewhere with obvious criteria avoided for PC reasons.
 
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