(The title picture is from http://firstuniversalist.org/serve/equality-education-safety/ )
The course Principles and Practice of Urban Design during this term has presented a lot of theories and various ‘urbansim’. And the lecture of Participation and Neighborhood Design has impressed me deeply. Actually, I have read some books about sociology in my undergraduate period and most of them were related to the neighborhood relationship of urban community. Therefore, in this blog, I want to talk about the change of neighborhood relationship and design brought by different stage of urban development, and try to explore the new design method and development mode of today`s neighborhood public space.
Neighborhood Unit and Community Liberation
Initially, the concept of ‘neighborhood’ is accompanied by the birth of the ‘Neighborhood Unit’ thought. And the design idea of Neighborhood Unit was expounded systematically by Perry Regional, an American sociologist, in 1929. The core principles of Perry’s Neighborhood Unit were organized around several physical design ideals: 1.Center the school in the neighborhood, 2.Place arterial streets along the perimeter, 3.Design internal streets, 4.Restrict local shopping areas to the perimeter, 5.Dedicate at least 10 percent of the neighborhood land area to parks and open space. Since then, the ‘Neighborhood Unit’ theory has played an important role in practice and has been further deepened and developed. Especially the new city called Radburn in New Jersey of American was most well-known. ‘Radburn Idea’ put forward the concept of “Superblock” which was aimed at the increasing number of car ownership and the number of traffic accidents in the 1920s. It regarded the main transport arteries of city as the barriers to delineate the scope of living area, so that to form a living environment where is safe, orderly, spacious and has more garden land. This concept has laid a valuable foundation for the neighborhood space design of urban community. However, since the Neighborhood Unit was too focused on functionalism to ignore the relationship between space scale and human cognitive ability. Hence after 1960s, it was replaced gradually by the community model theory in the west counties.
A diagram of Clarence Perry’s neighbourhood unit, illustrating the spatiality of the core principles of the concept (from the New York Regional Survey, Vol 7. 1929)
Radburn map (from http://afinab.tripod.com/radburn/radburn-o/map.htm)
Radburn, NJ is a National Historic Landmark Site, which was planned in the late 1920’s by Clarence Stein and Henry Wright as a model city (from http://afinab.tripod.com/radburn/radburn-o/map.htm)
Later, Gans proposed his thought in 1977, that is, many people living in big cities still retain the activities in their own small circle. And in this circle, they always keep close and mutual trust relationship between person to person. While the stranger outside of their circle seemed to have nothing with them and have little influence for their life, behavior and interpersonal relationship as well as the mental psychology. Meanwhile, Fiseher, Wellman and Leighton thought that, for the people who go out early and come back at dusk, if we only consider the neighborhood relationship, then our study will ignore the social relationships outside of the residential area of this part of people. Thus, Wellman and Leighton proposed to break the emphasis on neighborhood relationship and to rethink the concept of community, which is the theory of “community liberation”.
People-oriented and Return to Natural
Some ideal neighborhood spaces (from http://www.betterinstitutions.com/blog/2013/05/seattle-city-council-falls-short-on; http://www.7×7.com/tech/first-look-san-franciscos-transbay-district#/0; http://www.fredst.com/urban-mixed-used.html; http://morristowngreen.com/2011/04/01/affordable-housing-streetscapes-dominate-morristown-speedwell-hearing/ respectively)
Clarence Perry, Regional planning of New York and Its Environs
Kristin Larsen, Research in progress: the Radburn idea as an emergent concept: Henry Wright’s regional city. Planning Perspectives Volume 23, Issue 3, 2008, P.381-395
Gans, H. J, 1977, Urbanism and Sub urbanism as Ways of Life: A Re-evaluation of Definitions, in Callow, A. B.Jr. ( ed), American Urban History, 2nd ed., London: Oxford University Press, P.507-521
Fischer, C. S, 1976, The Urban Experience, New York: Harcourt. community involvement in conservation deep fried planning and design
Jan Gehl, 1971, Life Between Buildings: Using Public Space
Douglas Kelbaugh, 1997, Common Place: toward Neighborhood and Regional Design
The Radburn Citizens Association official site：http://radburncitizens.org/
A video from TED which is about neighborhood design：
How to Revive a Neighborhood：With Imagination，Beauty and Art