Pedestrian Malls Walkways and Experiential Trails

Links, as part of urban design projects, can take many forms depending on the mode of transport being used. At one level of speed of movement it involves the use of vehicles. At another, walkways, stairways and arcades have been designed to enhance the experience of pedestrians. Sometimes the purpose is simply to provide shelter and comfort, but at other times it is to enhance the sequential experiencing of cities as one walks their streets.

One of the prejudices of many design professionals is that cars are bad and need to be kept out of the way. What needs to be recognized is that automobile usage is very much part of many lives and the generator of activity. Often cars and pedestrians really need to be segregated. The standard manner is to provide streets with pavements/sidewalks. Pedestrianizing streets and forming superblocks is another way. Yet another way of separating pedestrian and vehicular traffic has been vertically. Skywalks and subterranean passageways have been designed to ease the flow of people. However, their designs have not been considered to be the purview of landscape architects.

In many cities around the world, key streets have been closed to vehicular traffic and converted into pedestrian malls. Some, such as the Strogret in the narrow winding streets of Copenhagen are internationally famous (see Figure 5.5). Such conversions continue to be built (e.g. Nanjing Road, Shanghai, 1999). The goal

Famous Urban Designers
Figure 5.5 Str0get, Copenhagen.

has been to make life more pleasant for pedestrians and so to enhance their shopping experience and thus boost the economic status of the shops. In some places, usually where the street is narrow and there are clear destinations at both ends, these conversions have been highly successful. At other times they have failed and many have been converted back to use by vehicular traffic. In these cases, they have been accused, sometimes unfairly, of having speeded up the process of retail decay.

Experiential trails highlight places and link them together based on some theme. These themes are usually historical but could be based on odours and touches for the blind or some set of activities or simply a set of aesthetic experiences. One of the goals of these trails has been to enhance the image of areas and/or the self-image of subgroups of people by bringing attention to socio-historic places whose importance might otherwise not be recognized. Places along the routes have had their images enhanced primarily through landscape design and building renovation. Some of the trails simply link places where events took place without much additional detail (e.g. the Haymarket Massacre trail in Chicago), while others have plaques and photographs and have received considerable recent landscape architectural attention to raise their ambient qualities. This step may include special paving and street furniture (lamp poles, seating and rubbish bins), murals and planting.

There are many such trails. Almost every large city and many smaller cities have them. Many cities have architectural trails showcasing their architectural histories. To many people the design of these trails is urban design work; to others it is landscape architecture or even social planning. Much depends on the extent to which the trail integrates buildings and the space between them, and to what extent it is simply a path through a city's streets. Boston's Freedom Trail has had much attention to its design over the years; Ahmedabad's almost none.

Major references

Brambilla, Roberto and Gianni Longo (1977). For Pedestrians Only: Planning and

Management of Traffic-Free Zones. New York: Whitney Library of Design. Hayden, Dolores (1995). The Power of Place: Urban Landscapes as Public History. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Rubenstein, Harvey M. (1992). Pedestrian Malls, Streetscapes, and Urban Spaces. New York: John Wiley.

Homeowners Guide To Landscaping

Homeowners Guide To Landscaping

How would you like to save a ton of money and increase the value of your home by as much as thirty percent! If your homes landscape is designed properly it will be a source of enjoyment for your entire family, it will enhance your community and add to the resale value of your property. Landscape design involves much more than placing trees, shrubs and other plants on the property. It is an art which deals with conscious arrangement or organization of outdoor space for human satisfaction and enjoyment.

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