Blog /for more charm, just add people

March 08, 2005 05:43 +0000  |  Society & Culture Why I'm Here 4

i read a fascinating article in the toronto star this weekend about a new (or not so new, depending on your point of view) way of building cities. the idea is to concentrate lots of people into one area without building towering condos. instead you build smaller 2 and 3 stories homes, each with a backyard... and you get rid of the streets, replacing them with narrow "pedways". cars are regulated to small, one-way driveways that don't run through the community, so pedestrian traffic, and greenspace are maintained. john stillich, the guy behind this whole thing, calls it "newburg":

Newburg achieves its greater density by eliminating front yards, driveways - and streets. Instead, all homes have a small space in front for private landscaping and look onto broad pedestrian walkways that Stillich calls "pedways."

At about 5 metres, these pedways are just wide enough for an emergency vehicle but are reserved for people to stroll, cycle and roller blade. Cars and detached single garages are confined to wide back lanes that open onto commercial main streets where shops, restaurants and offices are topped by apartments and condos. Between the houses and the garage are the backyards.

if you have access to the actual paper version of the star (i do) there's a nice big layout graphic showing you exactly what he's talking about. it's really a very good idea, so i've sent the guy an email and asked him if he needs any help.

edit: both chris and margaret have asked me to post a scanned copy of the layout graphic i mentioned, so here you go:

an artist's conception of newburg

Comments

chirs
8 Mar 2005, 6:54 p.m.  | 

could you scan and email me a copy of what that would look like... i am in civil engineering and would like to see it...

daniel
9 Mar 2005, 2:28 a.m.  | 

i thought you'd like this. alright. it's posted.

chris
10 Mar 2005, 11:50 p.m.  | 

dude it kinda looks like a huge townhouse complex... like something you'll see in langley or surrey

daniel
11 Mar 2005, 3:08 a.m.  | 

you think so? take another look at the fullsize layout:

first of all, there's no roads in this design, so the maze of little roads with "slow children playing" just doesn't exist. they've been replaced with pedestrian-only pedways.

second, each house has its own backyard, but nearly every one of them face onto a larger park -- that certainly doesn't exist anywhere i've seen in Canada. remember that the focus here is pedestrians and not cars. there's no cul-de-sacs, just trees, grass and walk ways, so you can sit in your rooftop garden and watch your kids play soccer in the central park.

third, this layout was designed to concentrate not only living spaces, but workspaces as well. many of the units in this diagram double as a commercial space as well as residential. go downstairs from your langley townhouse and you only have your car and everyone else's car. in this layout, you go out your front door and 3doors down to your left you have a bakery, to your right, a cafe.

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