The Degree of Control

Last but not least we come to the basic issue in urban design. It is one of longstanding. It concerns the rights of individuals to do what maximizes their own interests in competition with the rights of other individuals and the community as a whole. How much should governments intervene in the way the market shapes cities and their precincts? During the years covered by this book, the answer has varied. It has differed considerably from society to society and within the same society over time. It would seem that the public interest concerns rise to the forefront when cities appear to be in trouble or when opportunities for making cities better places are missed as the result of private greed or political indecision.

The design of buildings, the way they meet the street, their configuration and even some details were heavily constrained in some of the examples described here. The goal was to achieve precincts with a unified character through a unity in architecture and landscape. This goal is clear in all the total urban designs schemes mentioned. They, from Brasilia to the Avenue of the Victory of Socialism to Kresge College, were seen to be and, in a sense, are single architectural designs. In city and large precinct design is this a good idea?

A sense of unity with some diversity has been achieved in all-of-a-piece schemes such as Seaside, Battery Park City, Pariser Platz and Paternoster Square. Many have foreground and background buildings by decree (e.g. La Défense, Canary Wharf and Battery Park City). At La Défense with a lengthy history of development behind it, the individual buildings reflect the design ideas/fashions prevalent in the decade in which the buildings were built with the whole project being held together by its landscape. The level of design control fluctuated and some architectural diversity has been achieved. Much, however, is sterile. Canary Wharf, on the other hand, has seen a heavier set of controls in place and as a result has ended up with a more unified set of buildings despite their individual nature. Yet it is less sterile than La Défense. Unity is, apparently, now not something sought in the World Trade Center development. The landscape will be crucial in holding that scheme together if it is to be perceived as a single project.

The debate of when to seek unity (or diversity, or chaos) in an urban design will continue. How controlled the design process should be, will continue to be argued. Few people are opposed to the use of zoning and building codes to ensure the meeting of public health and safety needs - the fundamental human needs identified in Figure 1.6. Will developers and their architects design sustainable environments, for instance, without being forced to be do so by design controls? Will they give a hoot about the context, geographical or cultural, of their proposals without having to work within design guidelines? A sense of place is also a basic human need. The degree to which the qualities of the built environment contribute to meeting it is unknown, but it is not insignificant. Should the design of the environment be left to multi-national companies whose idea of a sense of place is one that promotes themselves? At present, the answers emerge as a result of how the design process is conducted. It is a by-product of other decisions and not one addressed head on.

What is clear from the case studies is that the precision with which design objectives are stated, the guidelines are operationally defined and the review process is transparent, the greater the likelihood that the implemented design will meet the goals set for it (see Table 8.2). The goals that are set will always be political; the knowledge we have from the case studies and on ongoing personenvironment research enable us to design the means to achieve ends with some confidence.

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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