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19

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$12 display until october

streets

onsite 19: street, streets and lanes, the straight and narrow, wide and busy streets in Prince Albert, Athens, Rome, Toronto; Yellowknife, Dublin, LA, NYC streets scribbling across the land, streets written upon streets we want, streets we need, streets we fight, and streets we fight for

contents

on site review 19: street spring/summer 2008 Brian Dyson Alana Young Efrosini Charalambous, Anna Papachristoforou Rita Brooks Eric Deis Joseph Heathcott Ivan Hernandez Quintela Paul Whelan Jennifer McVeigh Antoin Doyle Chris Roach Lia Maston Drew Sinclair Matthew Neville Zahra Ebrahim Nathalie Hereux Lola Sheppard, Mason White Ella Chmielewska Sarah Zollinger Wayne Guy Gordon Stratford Danielle Wiley Havva Alkan Bala, Hassina Nafa Alfredo Landaeta Robert Billard Tim Atherton

streets

cover

Rome, from a fast-moving camera

proximities: telling comparisons between Mexico City and Toronto working in the interstices of Athens’ urban fabric taking care of our streets, slowly and with great concentration scorn Roosevelt Avenue traverses Queens, dropping off passengers on its way exhausted city people waiting, waiting for the bus, for shade, for hours curious Toronto: three jostling doorways fit the space of one modern entrance oh Calgary, in ruins and empty lots. Artists flee the wreckers yet again thin lines of bollards drawing out the city public streets turn private: turning them public again in the San Francisco night shading green acres of surface parking in the city of angels intensely local guerilla zoning on a lot-by-lot basis thinking of mat-building in Halifax: a site is ready and waiting ad hoc cities that come and go with the seasons, the weather and the time of day supremely logical street furnishings that promote civic love slips; slipping across the street the neonisation of Warsaw in the modern soviet era — beautiful, beautiful the permanence of the impermanent northern light and land of snow: a park in Yellowknife’s pocket three streets, three authenticities Porta Portuense: powerful impermanence Anatolian streets made private: just build a gate, add a room, make a cul-de-sac thinking ahead to future streets ignoring reality in Nunavut poor old Prince Albert back pages

eddi e w u

pat ri c i a s arr azi n -s u l l i van

Andrew King, Angela Silver

2 4 8 12 14 16 18 20 22 24 27 34 38 42 44 47 50 54 58 60 62 64 68 72 74 76 78

above: street party in Montréal, 2007 right: roundabout in Dubai, 2004

Canada Council Grant for Literary and Arts Magazines The University of Edinburgh Schools of Architecture, Cultural Studies and Scottish Studies Government of Canada Canadian Heritage program for Postal Assistance to Publications

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HOK Canada, Toronto WASA [Waterloo Architecture Student Association] and SWAG [Society of Waterloo Architecture Graduates] Manasc Isaac Architects, Edmonton

onsite 19: street, streets and lanes, the straight and narrow, wide and busy

photography | streets by brian dyson

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street life

onsite 19: street, streets and lanes, the straight and narrow, wide and busy

attention complexity

Portobello Road, London 1967 | Anti-war march, Calgary 2003 Lonsdale, North Vancouver 1970 | West Edmonton Mall 2004

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onsite 19: street, streets and lanes, the straight and narrow, wide and busy

infrastructure | framing urban space by alana young

property ownership control intention engagement

street lingo – looking for people

the public realm of daily life

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onsite 19: street, streets and lanes, the straight and narrow, wide and busy

...urban space is a representational medium through which everyone’s social life is lived, where its values are continuously being both read and written, often in creative and unexpected ways. Playful acts show people’s continued capacity for the invention, discovery, appropriation, contestation, reappropriation and expansion of the meanings that urban spaces can convey.

—Quentin Stevens

below: weekend street market in El Zocalo, the historic city centre opposite top: tent cities emerged overnight as protesters blocked streets and government buildings during the 2006 presidential elections bottom: even weekend markets were appropriated as platforms for political outcry

al an a y ou n g

if one wants to understand a city, one must first look to the street. It is here in the inherently public realm that the story of daily life unfolds, a place where every occurrence has the possibility of becoming property of the public domain. The most seemingly simplistic of public spaces, the street is often the most revealing in its reading of a city. Not only is it a form of civic infrastructure the street constitutes the shared space of the collective body. Nowhere was this made clearer to me than during my time spent living in Mexico City. There, the street formed a physical manifestation of the city and its people, constantly re-asserting itself under the immense pressures of everyday life. In a state of constant flux and apparent chaos, the street was ceaselessly transformed by its inhabitants into a multitude of unanticipated forms and uses. Not only a place for transit, the street provided a haven for vendors of all types to sell their wares, for performers to create spectacles of the most death defying acts, and for self-proclaimed artists to exhibit and sell their latest works. At other times the street was converted into an unofficial stage for soccer fans relishing their victories in the World Cup, an outdoor gallery for various art and photography installations, and even as a temporary home for thousands of protesters during election disputes. Being able to attract and support such a great number of nonconventional uses, it immediately became clear to me that the street, as a valuable public space, was very much alive and thriving. The continuous adaptations and transformations the street would undergo and the equally continuous number of active participants was truly fascinating. The rhythm of activity exposed countless human behaviours and social trends, ultimately instilling an identity of place. Many contemporary theorists, architects, and urban planners have also recognized the street as an extremely valuable public space, acknowledging its key relationship to both the micro-scale functioning of everyday life and the larger macro-scale elements that create the image and identity of the city. Frequently considered an essential outlet for both collective and individual expression, the street must be re-envisioned as a vital public space of encounter and happenstance–a place of possibility that facilitates and stimulates engagement in the public realm. These ideas are studied extensively by Sophie Watson in ‘City Publics: The (Dis)Enchantments of City Encounters’, who acknowledges the challenges modern ideals acquire in contemporary society. In a time when design promotes uniform, standardised space she chooses to analyse a series of marginal sites where differences such as ethnicity, age, race and gender are not only recognised, but also celebrated. She argues for a civic realm which, ‘will go some way to destabilize dominant, sometimes simplistic, universalized accounts of public space and help us re-imagine urban public space as a site of potentiality, difference and delightful encounters’. (Watson 2006: 19). Constructing ‘normative’ public spaces, she warns, will ultimately lead to failure in their inability to recognise and incorporate change.

alana young alan a y o un g

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onsite 19: street, streets and lanes, the straight and narrow, wide and busy

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onsite 19: street, streets and lanes, the straight and narrow, wide and busy

al ana yo ung

da v i d t a k a c s

In Ludic City Quentin Stevens also shares a concern for standardising the everyday by examining the patterns and significance of play and diversion that often occur in the street. He suggests one should more carefully analyse the informal, undefined qualities of quotidian routine believing that, ‘play reveals the potentials that public spaces offer’. (Stevens 2007: 1). Play, in Stevens’ opinion, provides a critical reading of underlying social transformations and previously neglected conditions helping to inform more responsive designs. The San Diego-based architect Teddy Cruz also advocates the power of marginal spaces and unplanned circumstances, allowing them to form an integral role in creating responsive environments. In a time when an architecture of homogeneity is commonly used to ‘reduce cultural difference and intensity into projects of beautification’, Cruz believes in developing architecture and public spaces that are more adaptive and humanising. He argues that it is not the grand architectural gestures that generate engaging places but rather the ‘negotiation between planned and unplanned, official and unofficial is really what shapes urbanism’ (Cruz 2006). Throughout Toronto one can find a variety of curious interstitial spaces and in-between places. Each site represents a part of Toronto’s social, cultural, political and economic conditions. One particular place of interest is the intersection of Jane Street and Finch Avenue in North York, a neighbourhood often referred to as the most dangerous in Toronto. In reality the crossing at Jane and Finch, a community that is home to immigrants from more than 120 nations, merely lacks a unique identity. The site is similar to many other disenfranchised public spaces, where street and parking lot merge into one massive, relentless field of asphalt, full of chaotic signage and towering apartment buildings. Instead of responding to the needs of the community the site is barren and uninspired, a tactic meant to mask difference and discourage non-conforming activity. Visits to the site uncovered various informal happenings. While some events that take place, such as the traveling carnival and the Sunday market are sanctioned and supported by the surrounding retailers, many other unofficial and often less than ideal events have become customary. Heavily used by cars and pedestrians, the intersection is a common destination and transfer point for many TTC bus patrons. Due to its high exposure, some community members find it is an ideal location for acts of self expression and protest, while others use it as a meeting point before heading onto their final destinations or for the conducting of ‘business’ transactions. Taking advantage of the abundant space, some even momentarily park to make a phone call or jot down notes in their car before departing, and several large delivery trucks meet daily for their lunch break. While the parking lot adjusts to suit the users needs, there are countless ways to make it a more responsive and engaging public space. In a community of more than 55 000 inhabitants there is latent potential to harvest the abundance of fresh voices, which could generate a dynamic model for similar diverse communities, much in the spirit of Watson’s explorations.  The answers are right in front of us; it is a matter of recognising the rich insights that experts like Sophie Watson, Quentin Stevens and Teddy Cruz have to offer. Rather than designing a place of uniform indifference, we should build spaces that celebrate the unrealised qualities of a site and its people. If the city is a place of unlimited possibilities, then the street must reflect it. p

above top: truck drivers congregate in the parking lot for lunch bottom: a lone concrete bench sits waiting opposite top: a woman shouts and waves flyers at passersby bottom: a view of the desolate parking lot pedestrians must cross to reach the intersection Cruz, Teddy. ‘Teddy Cruz and The Urban Phenomena of Trans-Border Conditions’, American Institute of Architects, San Francisco Chapter, Architecture Radio Lecture Series, 26/02/2006. Stevens, Quentin. Ludic City: Exploring the Potential of Public Spaces. London & New York: Routledge, 2007. Watson, Sophie. ‘City Publics: The (Dis)Enchantments of Urban Encounters’ Questioning Cities. London, New York: Routledge, 2006.

david takacs al an a yo u ng

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onsite 19: street, streets and lanes, the straight and narrow, wide and busy

street-scapes | monastiraki by efrosini charalambous anna papachristoforou

force fields athens hybridity microscales complexity

sites of complexity in the urban field

spaces in-between describing the street in terms of field, we inevitably move from the one towards the many: from individuals to collectives. The complicated infrastructures that emerge from the interaction of different situations of design, processes of self-organisation and expectations, transform the city into an agglomeration of autonomous structures. The dynamics of a crowd, of subjects wandering in the city motivated by complex desires and interacting in unexpected ways – as one more field of vectors in the streetscape – intensifies different experiences in particular moments of time, sustaining the generic form of the city. A city’s coherence and generic form is produced through the coexistence and interface of different conditions at a local level. Through a new reading that incorporates the complex behaviours of user-citizens and new dynamic actions, a city could be described as a collection of activities, as a field of forces. ‘City’ is a living organism that continually reorganises and readjusts itself as a complex system, where small local structures cooperate with global flows. Such a consideration requires an approach to the city from the inside, from its interior, tracing the ways the field develops, evolves and transforms and not to observe it from the outside as a distinct object, a material structure that remains the same, changes or disappears. The flow of action and rhythm of the streetscape, which is continuously equipped by arbitrary and ephemeral interventions, converts the space into a field of forces, where all seem to be in play. An excellent example of such a field is the area of Monastiraki in Athens. Monastiraki is an area in-between the noise of the commercial triangle of modern Athens and the tranquillity of the ruins in the ancient Agora. Monastiraki can be described as non-pure, because even though it is a space interwoven with the concept of the market, the real scenario that unfolds in its interior reveals a space composed by the coexistence of various elements. Different functions, some even incompatible with each other, agglomerate in the same place, intermix and thus blur the notion of any clean or pure image. A mixture of scenarios and activities that overlap, diverse activities that many times appear functioning complementarily can compose places whose identities cannot be determined with clarity. The boundaries of private activities are extended into and disrupt the street while the interior of the building validates an expansion of this same street. The continuous succession of private and public accelerates and lends the space a hybrid character. Thus an intermediate space is articulated, one that unifies diverse elements while respecting the identity of each, allowing their simultaneous presence and expanding the field of action. A space that embraces alternation and is capable of combining and blending, stimulates the progress and the succession of events, amplifying the articulation of relations and relationships in the street. It is of great interest how the urban landscape of Monastiraki receives any new structure. Instead of occupying or totally replacing an existing building, the ‘new’ structure collaborates and adapts, incorporating elements of the existing structure. A ‘game’ between the past and the present, an intermediate situation, characterises the everyday experience in Athens. The augmentative evolvement is supported by mechanisms capable of articulating different movements and events according to internal orders and external requirements. It is not a single geometric structure that is being imposed or that predominates – ‘the overall form is an elaboration of conditions established locally’. The conditions, the mixture and incorporation, detected in the microscale, in the internal, are arranged by parasitic relations between the structural elements and the activities as well.

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onsite 19: street, streets and lanes, the straight and narrow, wide and busy

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onsite 19: street, streets and lanes, the straight and narrow, wide and busy

Monastiraki ceases to be a homogeneous Cartesian place and constitutes the field that allows to desires of the subject to emerge — a field generated by conflicts, clashes and inter-crossing that eventually produce a large diversity of combinations, densities and intensities of experience at specific moments in the extended field of the cityscape. The complex and flexible system that modulates space and articulates relations and events, extends the field of action, inviting the unanticipated, the spontaneous, the intimate, the erotic. Space transformed through such actions enables self-determination through continuous negotiations between individual expectations, desires and fantasies. Such space is an inter-media where each person can be defined and at the same time define his environment according to his desires. The changeable, unstable, precarious streetscape of Monastiraki is in fact a relational space, not only for taking a stroll in, but also for personal and/or shared stimulus. Here the interest of architecture is no longer in generating form; its value arises from the adoption of relations in space, dynamic actions and spatial situations that introduce a particular environment. The subject of our research is a flexible framework that embraces transformation and where the user himself activates his environment. Through an experimental redefinition, architecture can turn to site. Working with the field, new qualities may emerge with the acceptance of complexity: design activates both visible and latent spatial dynamics leading to an architecture that responds to our desire to interact, to be activated, to interrelate. With this project of a digital art workshop, we are experimenting at Monastiraki, exploring a space of in-between which disputes the structural context. We do not encounter the ‘building’ as an entity, a self-referential object, but as a process of actions in the urban field; a transmitter of activities that feeds and feeds back the flows of the street. At the inbetween space of building and city we are suggesting a broadened ‘street’ that interweaves with the building system. The folding of the ground detects new spaces of relation and action: joint with a vertical ground, a scaffolding, a superposition, a support of action. Between them, intermediate spaces emerge; new, strange spaces, spaces for the formation of new spatialities. This is an architectural project whose identity is almost ephemeral, an unfinished project in continual evolution. p

Tutor: Dimitris Papalexopoulos Thesis title: ‘New Media Art: cause for the formation of spatiality in the action field’ Tutor: Tasis Papaioannou National Technical University of Athens, 2005 references: Arjen Mulder and Joke Brouwer. TransUrbanism. NAI Publishers, 200 p.7 ‘Private life spills into the street and its sidewalks, partially occupying them, appropriating them, transforming them, destroying them, becoming public life; public life expands into the buildings, exploring them, peeking into their interiors, revealing private life’. — Giannis Aisopos. ‘Identity Mutation’ Metapolis 2001- The contemporary (Greek) city, 2001.p200 Stan Allen. ‘From object to field’ Architecture After Geometry, AD, 1997. p25

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onsite 19: street, streets and lanes, the straight and narrow, wide and busy

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onsite 19: street, streets and lanes, the straight and narrow, wide and busy

urbanism | health, safety, beauty by ken and rita brooks

speed traffic safety engineering friends

living streets

Streets shape the way that we think of our cities. They constitute most of our public realm, dwarfing the amount of space we devote to formal parks. They have enormous power to define the relative quality of our daily lives, yet for the most part all we seem to ask of streets is that they get our cars from one part of the city to another as quickly as possible.

T h e Op e n P l a n n i n g P ro j e c t h t t p ://t o pp.o pe n pl an s.o rg/ 1 Asking little It is difficult to design a space that will not attract people. What is remarkable is how often this has been accomplished. —William Whyte1

when we say ‘street’ we think river of asphalt. Turning 50% of our urban area to the passage and storage of cars has become normal. Lousy streetscapes don’t just happen, it takes hard work, a lot of money and the commitment of an astonishing array of enablers to suck the life out of streets. Our streetscapes are unloved not because they are neglected; love is irrelevant. Take another look at the image above, again. In a 20th century functional exercise, our streetscapes are in the hands of traffic engineers who distill streets to a single purpose – to maximise the unimpeded flow of traffic. Our streets are designed as traffic sewers. If we thought of our streetscapes more as living rooms and less as corridors, we would find ourselves a lot closer to fully utilising our streets as real public assets. We need to stop engineering traffic corridors and start designing living streets. Living streets are — 1. multipurpose public spaces that embrace walking, cycling, sitting, shopping, dining, transit and usually but not always, cars. 2. active social spaces for meeting, playing, entertaining and one of our favorite pastimes, people watching. 3. alive with vegetation, including trees and gardens just like the linear parks they should be. 4. beautiful, have clear spatial definition, express the character of individual streets and contain elements of surprise and delight. These characteristics of living streets have two interesting and interrelated consequences: they slow down traffic and they create inviting places for people to be. These may seem at first to be nice but underwhelming attributes but they have a lever effect on creating some pretty remarkable side benefits.

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onsite 19: street, streets and lanes, the straight and narrow, wide and busy

Safety I remember an old ad campaign with a simple tag line: Speed Kills. Blunt and to the point, it captures a truism of safety: ‘a variety of factors may contribute to a collision, but the outcome depends on the speed the car is travelling’.2 A British government study found that when vehicle speeds were reduced from 60 kph to 30 kph, pedestrian deaths dropped from 85% to 5%.3 There are several ways in which living streets contribute to a reduction in the speed of traffic. Reducing lane widths to accommodate a multifunctional streetscape is one very simple and effective way. The city of Longmont, Colorado examined 20,000 collisions over an eight year period. They found that ‘as street width widens, collisions per kilometre increase exponentially’. Treelined streets also contribute to reducing traffic speed. Research has shown that drivers go up to 20 kph slower on a street with trees than they do on one without.4 However one of the best ways to slow cars down is to have lots of people out on the street – socialising, entertaining, just watching their children having fun. David Engwicht, a traffic calming activist from Australia, refers to the effect that a spontaneous, vibrant, social street life has on traffic, as mental speed bumps.5 Another interesting and perhaps surprising benefit of reducing lane width to slow cars down is that this helps to maximise the efficiency of the carrying capacity of roadways. The fact is that no matter how fast traffic moves, the number of cars a lane can carry stays roughly constant. You can’t move more cars by speeding them up, because the increased amount of space required between cars outweighs whatever gain you think you might make. A car lane reaches its peak capacity when cars are travelling roughly 40 kph (25 mph); that is, at a nice safe speed.6

TOPP (The Open Planning Project) builds technology to enhance the role of the citizen in democratic society. One of their projects is the New York City Streets Renaissance Campaign, the source of these images of an urban street and its transformation into a living street. They claim that ‘the time is long overdue for our great city to strike a better balance between traffic and the needs of pedestrians. The NYC Streets Renaissance Campaign aims to educate New Yorkers about potential transportation policy changes that will improve quality of life across New York City, promote a rebalancing of this public space away from private vehicles and toward community needs, demonstrate the widespread public support for reform on these issues and tap the potential of New Yorkers to re-imagine their own streets’.

T h e Op e n P l a n n i n g P ro j e c t h t t p://t o pp.o pe n pl an s.o rg/ 2 Asking more

Good business Often unappreciated is the fact that living streets make great business sense. Jan Gehl, an urban design consultant, when discussing pedestrian zones in Copenhagen said ‘shopkeepers protested vehemently that it would kill their businesses’.7 They quickly discovered that these fears were unfounded. Pedestrian traffic has more than tripled over the past 40 years and the pedestrian district is now the thriving heart of a reinvigorated city. When West Palm Beach, Florida converted several wide thoroughfares into narrow two-way streets, traffic slowed and people immediately felt safer walking. This increase in pedestrian traffic attracted new shops and apartment buildings, and property values along one of the town’s main streets have more than doubled. It is perhaps one of those things that is so obvious that it passes notice, but the most successful public spaces are the ones that attract people. Unless you have a drive-in store, pedestrians are the main ingredient of any business. By providing beautiful, distinctive places to be, sheltered by trees, safe and easily reached by a variety of means, you’ve essentially created a pedestrian magnet. And there is a symbiotic relationship between business and the creation of great public space. Each enhances the opportunities for the other.

Health McGill’s Avi Friedman notes ‘Where you live, however upscale your community, could be killing you’. This is largely due to how we engineer streets to cater to car travel; ‘We have engineered out physical activity’.8 The decline of safe, walkable streetscapes in North American towns is considered a major factor in our obesity epidemic and consequently our susceptibility to heart conditions and strokes. Living streets reverse this trend, providing seductive incentives to get out of our cars, making physical activity a pleasure and a part of daily life rather than a chore to be sweated out at the gym.

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onsite 19: street, streets and lanes, the straight and narrow, wide and busy

Trees on streets provide obvious health advantages. Lung-damaging particles and pollution are filtered from the air and replaced with oxygen. They also foster a healthy environment by moderating severe heat – providing up to 9°C difference between shaded and exposed streets, reducing noise pollution and conserving water. And it is not just physical well being that is at risk where we foster single purpose roadways over living streets, there are also psychological repercussions. Consider this sad statistic: ‘People in very high traffic areas have an average of 0.9 friends. This means that some of these people have no friends at all!’9

Moving forward If we switch our approach from engineering single purpose streetscapes – traffic corridors, to designing streetscapes as multi-functional ecosystems – living streets, we will foster a reincarnation of our streetscapes as inclusive, healthy, friendly, safe, environmentally thoughtful and economically sensible public space, not only useful for moving through and locating ourselves within the city but also delightful. p If we can develop and design streets so that they are wonderful, fulfilling places to be – community-building places, attractive for all people – then we will have successfully designed about one-third of the city directly and will have had an immense impact on the rest. —Allan Jacobs10 1 Whyte, William. City. New York: Doubleday, 1988. p109 2 New Zealand Land Transport. Crown Entity, Governmnent of New

Zealand, Minister of Transport. http://www.ltsa.govt.nz/index.html 3 Walljasper, Jay. The Great Neighborhood Book: A D.I.Y Guide to Placemaking. Gabriola Island: New Society Publishers, 2007. p56 4 Ibid. p120-1 5 Mental Speed Bumps. http://www.mentalspeedbumps.com/ 6 Kulash, Walter. ‘The Third Motor Age’ Places, Vol 10, No 2 7 Walljasper, Jay. ‘Our Place in the World’ Ode Magazine, June 2005 8 Barber, John. ‘Reliance on Cars puts Commuters on Road to Fat City’ The Globe and Mail, Tuesday, April 24, 2001 9 ‘An Epidemic of Boldness’ Project for Public Spaces. http://www.pps.org/ 10 http://www.pps.org/training/info/transportation_training_course

Eric Deis, Scorn, May 14, 2008 http://ericdeis.com

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onsite 19: street, streets and lanes, the straight and narrow, wide and busy

Scorn (detail)

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onsite 19: street, streets and lanes, the straight and narrow, wide and busy

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onsite 19: street, streets and lanes, the straight and narrow, wide and busy

infrastructure | transnational space by joseph heathcott

ringing the changes of immigration

diversity transitions opportunity flexibility urbanism

the World on Roosevelt Avenue the borough of Queens in New York City is the most diverse county in the United States, and Roosevelt Avenue its most diverse street. It transects some of New York’s most ethnically diverse zip codes, and exemplifies the immigrant city within its narrow corridor. Roosevelt Avenue provides a physical space wherein people from a staggering variety of backgrounds work out the daily rituals and routines of social interaction. It is a great cosmopolitan street and an important site for examining how the design of the public realm frames interactions across boundaries of culture, language and nativity. Roosevelt Avenue presents a superlative framework for the conduct of daily life. With its canopy of train tracks and steel girders, this street is a five mile-long room for strolling, shopping, gathering, gawking, hawking and talking. It channels a staggering variety of people beneath the 7 train, focusing their needs, desires, moods and idiosyncrasies and organising the clamour into a daily routine. More than anything, Roosevelt Avenue is a commercial corridor. The largest clusters of shops pop up beneath the stations of the 7 train such as Woodside, 74th/Broadway, 82nd/Jackson Heights, Junction Boulevard, Flushing – 12 of the train’s 21 stations connect passengers to Roosevelt Avenue. Thousands of small businesses line either side of the street and spill over at the intersections. There are unique storefronts, like the quilting shop, or the Tagalog-language tax office, or the headquarters of the Catholic Veterans of Foreign Wars. And there are hundreds of variations on themes, from tacquerias and dry cleaners to discount household shops, furniture stores, diners, florists, grocers, electronics and music stores, clothiers and restaurants serving varied national cuisines. The street begins its life at the triple intersection of Queens Boulevard, Greenpoint Avenue and 49th Street in Sunnyside, a leafy neighbourhood of recent immigrants from Russia, Eastern Europe, Turkey and the Balkan states. The street then passes through Woodside with its tall apartment buildings and densely packed rows of shops triangulated around Roosevelt and Woodside Avenues and 64th Street. Passing beneath the 69th Street Station and crossing over the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway viaduct, Roosevelt Avenue enters Jackson Heights and Elmhurst, two of the most dense and diverse neighbourhoods of Queens, with tens of thousands of cooperative apartments and densely packed row houses. Along this stretch of Roosevelt businesses, service agencies, street pamphleteers and vendors cater to people from India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal, Tibet, Philippines, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Taiwan, Ecuador, Columbia, El Salvador, Panama, Peru, Argentina and Mexico. The intersection of Roosevelt and 74th Street is the epicentre for a virtual collision of cultures. Stretching north from Roosevelt on 73rd through 75th streets, immigrant families from India, Nepal, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh have opened scores of restaurants, sweet shops, jewellery stores, cloth and clothing shops, groceries, music-video emporia and a Bollywood theatre.

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onsite 19: street, streets and lanes, the straight and narrow, wide and busy

Intersecting these South Asian commercial streets, Roosevelt Avenue supports a variety of businesses operated by Mexicans, Ecuadorans, Hondurans, El Salvadorans and Columbians. These worlds overlap at the intersections, and blend along the blocks: Latino families frequent the Indian clothing and jewellery shops; South Asian parties pack tables at Mexican restaurants. English here is a lingua franca – a trade language that knits together intersecting street and commercial cultures. Transitioning from Jackson Heights to Corona, the commercial scene grows predominantly Mexican with the attendant street life, car-modification culture – bakeries, tacquerias, fruit vendors and shops blaring Bachata from tinny loudspeakers to entice customers. Finally, passing alongside Shea Stadium and crossing over Flushing Creek, Roosevelt Avenue enters Flushing, Queens, a neighbourhood that boasts one of the largest populations of Taiwanese and Koreans in the United States. As Roosevelt enters Flushing, it climbs a steep grade up to College Point Boulevard and simultaneously separates from the 7 train, which descends into a subterranean tunnel. Roosevelt persists for ten more blocks until it terminates at Northern Boulevard on the border of Flushing and Murray Hill. The phenomenal ethnic diversity of this corridor is an unintended consequence of the haphazard urbanism of middle Queens. Rapidly built up from the 1920s through the 1980s amid the expansion of American car culture, the borough presents a confusing jumble of grid systems, block shapes, housing styles, land uses and street forms. Moreover, what Queens lacks in grand public spaces it more than makes up in the cheap, flexible architecture of commercial opportunity. Low-rise commercial blocks, strip malls, small shops and gas stations dominate the borough, providing infinitely fungible space for the establishment of ever-changing storefronts. Matching this variation, residential options come bundled in a full gamut of types – from small tightly packed single family and duplex homes to large apartment buildings, garden city co-ops, new condos and tracts of cape cod and ranch houses. It is precisely this relatively affordable commercial and residential variety that has attracted large waves of new immigrants to Queens since 1965. And Roosevelt Avenue, while not designed with them in mind, provides a landscape flexible enough to absorb thousands of families from around the world with each passing year. Within this make-do framework of Roosevelt Avenue, daily users have fashioned a robust, cosmopolitan design laboratory. The multitude of quotidian actions along this street unfolds within a densely packed world of working and middle class families of diverse ethnicities, national origins and faiths. Despite their differences, the people that live in the neighbourhoods use Roosevelt Avenue as a supply chain for their households, as a public site of leisure and promenading, and as a conduit to the wider urban setting. Indeed, there is much to learn from the universe of interlaced yet subtle choices, selections and social relationships that unfold in the context of everyday urbanism on a bustling city street. p

infrastructure | props public support by ivan hernandez quintela

can public façades become truly public?

public support i do not know if it is Luis Barragan’s fault, but Mexican walls facing the street tend to be huge blank surfaces. I have nothing against this aesthetic, but I do think that a blank public wall is not very inviting or inhabitable, and I am all for architecture that is inhabitable. As a response, I wanted to develop a project I call Public Support, an intervention that would make public façades into spaces of habitation. I took notes on how people lean against walls, whether is to rest, to wait for public transportation, or actually to find a place to sleep, and out of these notes I have shaped a series of bumps that could be stuck to facades where no urban furniture exists. The shape and height of where the bumps are placed insinuate possible positions for the body to take while waiting for the bus or a friend. As a result, what used to be a blank façade transforms into a comfortable surface to lean on. Public Support becomes a way to gain back the street, to make of that membrane that tends to separate the private from the public, the exterior from the interior, the house from the street, a more porous surface – an inhabitable surface. p

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onsite 19: street, streets and lanes, the straight and narrow, wide and busy

props habitation waiting leaning help

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onsite 19: street, streets and lanes, the straight and narrow, wide and busy

planning | property alignments, toronto by paul whelan

crossing the grid

pau l wh e lan

dundas Street meanders across Toronto’s orthogonal street grid leaving odd-shape lots and angles. Throughout its length the built response to its diagonal cut has created a variety of compromises as buildings twist to face the street while remaining aligned with the side property lines. This particular example is in the Junction area of Toronto, a prosperous industrial town from the late 1880’s through to its absorption into the City of Toronto in 1909. The earliest surveys of the Junction show the strain of builders trying to decide which property line should establish a building’s orientation. Over time the Dundas Street alignment has become dominant, but 2867 Dundas retains a vestigial memory of this alignment conundrum. The resulting convoluted shop entry optimises this site geometry to provide street frontage for three entries – apartment, bar and basement office. The incredibly demur bar occupies the most recessed and street-distant portion of this pocket of space. The decorative floor treatment, wood framed doors, glass displays and the brass and iron handrail are a necessary embellishment to entice passersby. The resulting space has become a semi-public extension of the sidewalk snaking into the heart of the building. p

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conflict concessions collisions consequences grace under pressure

above: Keele and Dundas in 1892, and today. right: plan of 2867 Dundas’s various entries. In The confusion created by Dundas Street for settlement and lot division is still evident.  On the south side of Dundas properties align with the main Toronto grid except for this remaining building at 2867.  The north side properties align with the idiosyncratic Dundas Street, connecting the physicality of the street-level world to the abstract world of surveying and city-making. 

p aul w he l an

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creative destruction | the new gallery, calgary alberta by jennifer mcveigh and tomas jonsson

artist-run galleries in disarray

artist-run galleries development protest identity

on the road again...

j en n i fe r mcv e i gh

in Calgary today, whole buildings are demolished overnight, leaving only rubble that will soon be cleared for the next development. Apartment buildings are emptied of their tenants and turned into upmarket condominiums.  Homelessness and near-homelessness are at an all time high. Even small businesses and non-profit organisations are displaced as prices continue to increase. How do we absorb and adapt to this recurring cycle of displacement, erasure and transformation? How do we rebuild our homes, identities and communities when our physical environment is in constant flux? In Hollow City, Rebecca Solnit notes that ‘to have your city dismantled too rapidly around you is to have the relationship between mind and place thrown into disarray’. This dichotomy has been especially challenging for members of Calgary’s art community. Each of the city’s artist-run centres has a nomadic history, constantly recreating themselves in more affordable locations with the city’s boom and bust cycle. The New Gallery in particular, has taken temporary refuge in a storefront at Eau Claire Market shopping centre (itself slated for demolition) while its former quarters were razed to make room for a new office tower. On the eve of the building’s destruction, former Gallery director Heather Allen proposed an opportunity for artists to respond to the situation. The result was On the Road Again – a collaborative performance art project conceived by Tomas Jonsson, realised with the support of several community groups, and which took place from September 10 -23, 2007. During a public workshop at Eau Claire Market, wheels from bicycles, strollers and roller blades were installed on furniture purchased through the Calgary Dollars local currency community, along with found and donated pieces. The following weekend, a hardy group of artists and activists gathered with their hybrid vehicles at the top of Centre Street hill, the starting point for an endurance-length procession to commemorate sites of transition throughout the downtown core.

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The first site was the former location of the Brick furniture warehouse. After the store’s closure, the building was turned into a temporary winter homeless shelter, then  demolished  to make way for an additional driving lane for the trans-Canada highway. Next was Eau Claire, an area on the Bow river. In the 1980s, this older neighbourhood was replaced with a large shop-ping and entertainment complex. Never a commercial success, the complex is now slated for redevelopment as condominium towers. On 9th Avenue SW, the group stopped to examine what remained of the former New Gallery building. Halfway torn down on the day of the procession, the gallery’s rooms were sliced down the middle and exposed. Strangely, a single wooden chair was still perched in the space. Finally, a stop was made at the latest artist-run centres to be affected by the boom. The building that houses Quickdraw Animation Society and Emmedia Gallery and Production Society was recently sold to developers, and its tenants given notice to vacate. The following day, On the Road Again was taken to the launch of Homeless Awareness Week Calgary in Riley Park. The furniture created a social space for conversation facilitated by activists from the Calgary Housing Action Initiative. Citizens recounted their memories of the city and its transformations, as well as ideas for creating stronger, more welcoming communities. After a week-long exhibition in the centre court of Eau Claire Market, On the Road Again was disassembled and its components donated to city furniture banks. Though temporary, the project was a human-scaled intervention in face of the astounding rate of transformation happening in the city. p

infrastructure | markings by antoin doyle

the fine lines of the public realm

territory control division appropriation boundaries

an tó i n do y l e

[bollard]

Significant literary work can only come into being in a strict alternation between action and writing; it must nurture the inconspicuous forms that better fit its influence in active communities then does the pretentious, universal gesture of the book - in leaflets, brochures, articles, and placards. Only this prompt language shows itself actively equal to the moment. —Walter Benjamin, One Way Street

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bush-hammered granite, bergamo, italy

the bollard is a prompt piece of building that relates the jurisdiction of control and bounding of site to the human body. It takes its function from other bounding elements – railings, fences and walls – yet its force lies in the space inbetween. A bollard connected by chains becomes a barrier, a vehicle for exclusion; its potential is capped and controlled. When left unfettered, it can be inhabited, its function is more fluid, its response more prompt and active. These bollards direct and channel through their combined collection, they control through cooperation.

polished marble, bergamo, italy

It is the inconspicuous gap between bollards that shows itself actively equal to the moment of the street. Within this regular rhythm and order, there is the opportunity to support an attachment to the city and a compatibility with the street. Unlike chain, fence and railing which represent an over-determination in the city to support a regime of control, restricting desire, habit and pattern, the gap between bollards presents a porosity of territory to the city’s occupants and allows an opportunity for action and innovation in the interval. The drama of the instant can exist in the intermission.

polished marble, bergamo, italy

reinforced concrete, dublin, ireland

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The diameter of modern steel bollards allows little opportunity for contribution on the street. A broader bollard, more column than baton, has the potential to expand to the moment, allowing for multiplicity of use. By increasing its weight on the street, it is better able to respond to the demands placed on it by individual and collective action. Its particular height, girth, strength and materiality allows people to sit, stand, lean, rest and act. Its initial function is invaded by other uses, responding to the spontaneity and instant of the street. In this way, the identity of the bollard is subverted from a tool of territory and exclusion to one of occupation and contribution. The structural redundancy and strength required in a bollard for safety and security, mean that even when compromised it can still function as a light, a seat, a stage, a podium.

an t 贸 in do yl e

This bollard inhabits the commonplace yet illustrates a collision of functions and level of collaboration that is an indication of the level of substance and support that needs to be supplied to the street by architecture, building and design. p

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street codes | san francisco by christopher roach

sociopolitical architecture of the public realm

urban guerillas

On the east end of 24th Street in San Francisco, stretching from Valencia Street to Potrero Avenue, is a world that is neither exclusively Latin American, nor definitively North American, but is particular to San Francisco and, more specifically, the Mission District. I can get fresh masa to make tortillas at La Palma Mexicatessen, sip the best cappuccinos at Café Venice, buy fresh produce from several sidewalk groceries, feast on tacos al pastor for a few bucks at Taqueria Vallarta or have a malted milkshake at the St. Francis Soda Fountain. Tree-lined, two-way, crowded with slow-moving traffic on a busy Saturday afternoon, I can still call out to a friend across the street and jaywalk safely to shake his hand. Both sides of the street are lined with small storefronts, catering largely, though not exclusively, to the resident Latino community. There are relics of a more distant past, such as the St. Francis, when Mission was a working-class neighbourhood of Irish, Italian and Scandinavian immigrants. There is also a creeping, eminent gentrification: several stylish cafés and boutique stores have cropped up to serve the growing white professional class that is moving into the affordable Mission neighbourhoods. At the other end of 24th Street, heading over the hill at Dolores Street and down into Noe Valley, is a different though not altogether alien world, where French bistros replace taquerias, and tandem strollers almost outnumber cars. At this end of the street I’m more likely to find artisan cheese and an expensive bottle of wine, or perhaps a nice pair of shoes, but I can still grab a greasy slice of pizza and watch a soccer game at the local pub. Punctuating the continuous row of small three and four-storey buildings is a small parking lot that becomes an upscale farmer’s market on Saturdays; further down, the local CalaFoods supermarket is set back behind its parking lot. Nonetheless, this end of 24th continues familiar, smallscale retail with a few storeys of housing above. The sidewalks are clean and most buildings have a fresh coat of paint, but there’s a noticeably more homogeneous and sanitised feeling on this end of the street. There are no murals, less graffiti, fewer street vendors, and I rarely hear a foreign language spoken here. These two ends of 24th street represent a kind of urban dialectic of use and culture representative of larger forces at work in the evolution of a city such as San Francisco. There are certainly streets that are more grand, and others more important in the city’s history and culture – Market Street, Mission Street or Columbus Avenue – but in these 24 city blocks one can still read an entire dissertation on the particularity of a place and time in the life of the city. A hermeneutical reading of streets reveals a fragment of the underlying code of our entire society. By parsing the language of the social, political, and economic structures embodied in our streets, they can tell us volumes about ourselves and the world we have made; both the delights and the dangers that we face. For if we turn the page to read another street, we may find that the tale it tells is not one of urbane diversity and harmonious civility, but one of dislocation, disenfranchisement and decay.

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c hr is ro ac h

I [one]

gentrification protest counter-culture POPOS guerilla urbanism

3 [three]

Our streets, as much as our buildings, are a physical manifestation of our social and cultural values, especially those relating to the context of human settlement. Streets are, in their boundless ubiquity and variety of form, expressions of our attitudes toward communication, commerce, transportation, privacy, security, hygiene, dwelling, public speech, beauty, nature, geography, history and culture. As these attitudes shift and evolve over space and time, so do our streets, like a slowly evolving living organism. Streets are, even more than buildings, the most pervasive and essential physical embodiment of the public realm.1 They are not just vessels and nodes in the circulatory system of the city, but are the fountainhead of civil society, and therefore one of our most precious physical and cultural resources. Streets are the public stage for our everyday lives as well as the singular events that mark the passage of a common history: battles and parades, protests and celebrations, markets and marathons, carnivals and funerals. On this stage we have played out the grand drama of our most celebrated and infamous social conflicts, from the barricades of preHaussmann Paris to the Civil Rights marches and anti-war protests of 1960s America. But streets are also the theatre for the public performance of daily life, where we engage in the activities of civic Being, whether through commerce, recreation, spectacle, or speech. As Alan Jacobs notes in his seminal book Great Streets, ‘sociability is a large part of why cities exist and streets are a major if not the only public place for that sociability to develop’.2 Streets are where the personal and the political flow together, and for many, streets are the only place where sociability, or even identity, can form freely. Particularly in modern societies that are dominated by a homogeneous popular culture, streets have been the locus for the formation and dissemination of counterculture. In fact, contemporary North American counterculture is largely synonymous with street culture, whether in the form of punk, hip-hop, skateboarding, bikers or street gangs and their associated forms of music, dress, language, art and identity politics. Most importantly, streets have historically been the locus for resistance, whether cultural or political, and resistance is a form of participation critical to the formation and existence of civil society. In our hermeneutical reading of streets, we find that resistance is still relevant, and necessary, because the physical and cultural space of our streets is threatened by the same encroachments of privatisation, surveillance, commercialisation and negligence that face civil society itself. Just as we witness the sale of our public institutions and infrastructure to private enterprise, so too can we find in our streets a creeping erosion of the public sphere.

Functionalism’s reign as the dominant paradigm of mid-century architecture and urban planning gave rise to a general philosophy of segregation of uses within the public right-of-way.3 This, combined with the ascendancy of the automobile, left a decades-long legacy of robust traffic engineering and weak urbanism. Ironically, the functional separation of uses that was supposed to promote health, safety, and revitalisation of the modern city mostly resulted in less safety, more congestion, and bleak stretches of empty asphalt cutting through entire neighbourhoods. Despite the eventual outcry by Jane Jacobs and the reformations of the Preservationist movement (and later, the New Urbanists), our streets remain bloated by increasing volumes of automobile traffic, and marked by the remaining artifacts of elevated highways, vast intersections, narrower sidewalks and stranded islands of nervous pedestrians. Moreover, functionalist zoning regulations and redevelopment failed to prevent, and may have even enabled, the flight of the urban middle class to the suburbs, resulting not only in the physical decline of urban centres, but also in the decline of the remaining residents’ political power. Road building, once one of the great public works of the state, has now largely been turned over to private enterprise; our streets are increasingly entitled, funded, designed, built, maintained, policed and even owned by private or public-private entities. State and local governments stripped of funding and maxed out on their bonding capacity, can often no longer afford to build and maintain infrastructure and must turn to large developers to carry out the construction and administration of streets, public spaces and entire neighbourhoods. While these projects must go through the environmental review process and are usually handed over to the city or state upon completion, the profit motive inherently reduces the input citizens have on the form of their cities and communities. In the cases where these private entities retain ownership or administration of the streets and public spaces they construct, even basic freedoms we expect to be self-evident in public spaces are called into question. As suburban flight has abated and as people and businesses have begun to return to downtown, political power over the planning process has once again shifted, but not into the hands of the longtime residents or cultural pioneers who created value where there once was none. Business and real estate interests have come to wield inordinate political influence over the urban planning process in cities that are experiencing an explosion of growth in the urban core. This is especially true in downtown shopping areas, where retailers’ perceived need to compete with the convenience of suburban malls drives them to lobby for policies that favour commerce

c h ri s roac h

2 [two]

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opposite: 24th St at Mission Skate, a friendly, well-used sidewalk in the Mission district. Market Street near Union Square this page, top: POPOS at 560 Mission and POPOS security warning signs. bottom: REBAR and guests perform a Balinese Kecak at a POPOS

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c h r i s ro a c h so u th er n e x po su re /REB A R

over public amenity: increased capacity for automobile access and more parking versus wider sidewalks, traffic calming and green space.4 This erosion of public space is furthered by the intrusion of advertising into every aspect of the streetscape. The cacophony of signage, billboards and advertisements on bus shelters, benches, kiosks, newsstands and sandwich boards has become so familiar as to be virtually invisible, and is accepted by many as the cost of having a robust and free market. Retail businesses rely on pedestrian traffic for their sales and are particularly interested in creating an environment of safety and stability, leading to the propagation of security cameras and private security guards and fostering a culture of surveillance and control on the street that has a chilling effect on free speech and expression. This has a subtle and insidious influence on what is deemed to be an acceptable use of the street, or even what is viewed as appropriate public behaviour. Public actors in the theatre of downtown streets are encouraged, provided they generally abide by the script of the marketplace. As long as they’re shining shoes, selling jewellery, hawking a sale or entertaining for a coin they are accepted, or at least tolerated. But as soon as they try to speak out, stage a spontaneous protest or performance or just do something ridiculous, they’re harassed, asked for their permit or just whisked away. Many of these downtown neighbourhoods were once predominantly populated by a particular ethnic group or co-opted by specific fringe cultures. As they are being gentrified, the very rituals, customs and events that marked the outward expression of these groups and gave these areas their unique identities are coming under attack. The new residents and businesses that have become their neighbours pressure the city to crack down on parades and street fairs, either banning them outright, imposing prohibitive security and permit fees or moving them to other non-threatening sites.5 These lively street events, once the inheritors of the spontaneous expression of humanity’s inner chaos called carnival, are now so scripted, controlled, surveilled and commercialised that they are either disappearing altogether, or becoming mere symbols of themselves. The only events that seem to survive are able to do so through corporate sponsorship, or are themselves merely commercial events masquerading as festivals or parades.6 Even our remaining public open spaces may not be as public as they seem. Another disturbing artifact of the privatisation of the public sphere is the creation of pseudo-public spaces that appear to be public streets or plazas, but are in fact owned or administered by private entities. In San Francisco, a number of ‘privately-owned public open spaces’ associated with downtown highrise developments have proliferated as a result of a zoning ordinance that grants developers more building area in exchange for providing a plaza, roof deck, or atrium space accessible to the general public.7 POPOS8 may resemble a public space, but look closely, and you’ll see the security cameras, guards, and subtle markers noting that your right to pass is by permission of the owners. These and other pseudo-public spaces are becoming a common practice nationally and worldwide, the result of a Neo-liberal reconsideration, or outright questioning, of the public sphere.9

How are we, as architects, to engage in this discourse of multifaceted and often competing interests claiming ownership of our streets? How can we act to restore balance to the architecture of the public realm? Architects may think themselves powerless in this battle, that the content and form of the streets outside the envelopes of their buildings are best left to landscape architects and urban planners who can operate more effectively at the scale of the neighbourhood or city. Architects relinquish to urban planners the messy business of working with the political power granted to them to leverage the resources of both the government and private investment to map out and achieve long-term planning goals. However, the power of the urban planner has been weakened by a lack of capital resources, called into question by opponents of government authority and challenged by his own disenfranchised constituents. This situation calls for all actors in the urban environment, including architects, to reconsider their roles. Sociologist Peter Arlt calls for us to consider the role of the tactician in urban planning. In his excellent essay ‘Urban Planning and Interim Use’, Arlt draws on military theory to contrast the strategist who has the power and the money to overcome any external conditions blocking the way, with the tactician who must engage circumstances and adversaries to achieve the goal.10 Arlt argues that because urban planners have the political authority to act as strategists, but no longer the resources, they must now act more as tacticians, or ally themselves with tacticians to achieve the same ends. This means working with actors in the urban arena who propose, and impose, interim uses for urban spaces that are seen as opportunities for action, commentary and change. The classical interim user is the squatter, but whereas the squatters appropriate underused space as an essentially antisocial act, there is a new breed of cultural interloper who seeks to temporarily appropriate a public space as a site for art, performance or political commentary. These urban guerillas are the prototypical tacticians; they operate locally in territory that is familiar, with support from locals and popularity in the media, and most importantly, are highly motivated not by money, but by putting ideas into action. ‘Enthusiasm’, says Arlt, ‘is the capital of interim users, and urban planners should recognize this and use it tactically’. Architect Ursula Hofbauer and artist/filmmaker Friedmann Derschmidt have been having breakfast with friends and strangers in Vienna’s public spaces for over ten years. They begin by setting up a table in a plaza, street or other public space, and offering coffee and sundry breakfast items to any passers-by who care to join in. The only requirement for participation is that their guests organise another similar public breakfast the next day and invite others to join in turn. In theory, this follows the logic of a chain letter, so what may begin with four people grows to sixteen the next day, then sixty-four on the third, and on the tenth day over a million people having breakfast in public. In fact Permanent Breakfast, which began as a game, public art performance and urban critique in 1996, has since grown to take root in many European cities, as well as New York and Taiwan. The point of Permanent Breakfast is not only to surprise and delight those who appropriate public space for their own means, but to directly engage in a discourse with the limitations, both perceived and actual, to public space. As Hofbauer and Derschmidt claim,

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above: newspaper kiosks occupy a substantial amount of any sidewalk, better if it was grass as in this PARK(ing) installation on Brannan Street. opposite: meters, trees and pedestrians on Hawthorne street, traditional shoeshine appropriation of the sidewalk, REBAR’s inaugural PARK(ing) space on Mission Street.

‘it is possible to precisely gauge the understanding of just how public a location is by observing the reactions of other users and ‘protectors’ of the public space. Permanent Breakfast thus becomes a sort of litmus test for the accessibility of public space. In carrying out such breakfasts, it is possible to reveal the superficial look of invisible spatial situations, such as private, formerly public spaces or publicly disguised private spaces’.11 In November 2005, a group of landscape architects, artists, and others calling themselves REBAR ‘rented’ a metered parking space in downtown San Francisco and transformed it into a tiny public park, complete with grass, a bench for seating, and a tree for shade. The park lasted only for a matter of hours, and was met with a mixture of ‘surprise, approval, joy, and indignation’, but, surprisingly, no one was arrested or fined.12 In the two years since this intial act of guerilla urbanism, the idea has exploded into something of an international phenomenon. On PARK(ing) Day in September of 2006, REBAR installed five more PARKs, and were joined by other groups who installed 16 more in San Francisco, 13 in Berkeley, as well as PARKs in New York City, London, and Rio De Janeiro. In 2007, PARK(ing) Day grew to 180 PARKs in 47 cities worldwide.13 According to REBAR, the purpose of PARK(ing) Day is to broaden the discourse on public space in urban contexts by creating a ‘temporally distributed network of public open space’ and by testing reactions to these interventions in a variety of socioeconomic situations.

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REBAR has also collaborated with the performance group Snap Out of It on a project called COMMONspace to systematically evaluate and critique San Francisco’s privately-owned public open spaces. In this project, REBAR have mapped the 14 official POPOS in downtown San Francisco and run reconnaissance missions in order to probe the explicit and implicit rules that govern these quasi-public spaces. In conjunction with Snap Out of It, they have returned to these spaces to participate in various paraformances, or Situationist-inspired performances which begin with individual plausibly-deniable actions and scale up to full-sized occupations that engage the public as audiences and participants.14 Similar to Permanent Breakfast, these performances limn the boundary of where the public and the private both meet and conflict. Permanent Breakfast, PARK(ing) Day, and COMMONspace represent successful examples of tactical urban planning which, in conjunction with more strategic projects, can have a long-term effect on providing public open space in our streets. As Peter Arlt states, ‘Interim use is always seen as a provisional measure rather than as a permanent solution, although it can also be a way of demonstrating a concept’s success in order to convince an investor that the chosen use could also provide a permanent solution’.15 Thus, there is a symbiotic relationship between the strategic and the tactical. The tactical act relies on action and immediacy to influence its audience, and this instantaneous public outreach can lay the groundwork for broader support for more long-term changes. Strategic methods, on the other hand, leverage this political will with capital investments to implement change on a larger scale, legitimsing the tactician’s goals, and drawing a new front for further tactical action. On PARK(ing) Day in 2007, REBAR collaborated with Public Architecture, a San Francisco nonprofit dedicated to pro-bono work, to install four PARKs on Folsom Street. These included a dogwalk plaza, a beauty plaza sponsored by an adjacent cosmetology school, and a sidewalk plaza in front of Brainwash Café featuring a sixteen foot long table where participants and spectators were invited to sit and enjoy a temporary spot to relax, sip a coffee or chat. These PARKs were not strictly intended to be temporary, but rather were fullscale mock-ups of a series of permanent sidewalk plazas that Public Architecture has proposed to provide public open space along Folsom Street. As a result of this engaging community outreach, and their work with several municipal departments, Public Architecture has been awarded a grant from the city to construct a permanent sidewalk plaza in front of Brainwash Café, whose owner will provide ongoing maintenance and the remainder of the construction funds.

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This and future sidewalk plazas are part of an overall vision that Public Architecture has proposed to the city for transforming Folsom, Howard and other streets in the South of Market neighbourhood to provide traffic calming, robust public transportation and much-needed open space. Their vision has many more obstacles to overcome before it’s fully implemented, but it has already gained traction with the city’s Planning Department to the extent that it directly influenced their inclusion of similar ideas in the adjacent Rincon Hill neighbourhood plan.16 Public Architecture’s collaboration with REBAR clearly illustrates how an interim use of space can directly inform the planning process to influence its eventual permanent use. Thus, through the implementation of tactical means architecture itself can act on its immediate context as well as at the urban scale to bring about strategic ends. These guerilla actions are currently taking place at the margins of architecture and urban planning, but we must co-opt them into common practice if we are to counteract the erosion of civic space in our streets. Alan Jacobs has said that ‘the best streets encourage participation’.17 In the context of the current assault on the public realm, it may be better said that the best streets demand participation. p

1

Jacobs, Alan. Great Streets. ‘In the U.S., from 25 to 35 % of a city’s developed land is likely to be in public rights-of-way, mostly in streets’. p6 2 Ibid. p4 3 Le Corbusier, for one, perceived an ever-stricter segregation of traffic as an essential affirmation of social order — a desirable and ultimately inevitable expression of modernity. To this end, proposals were advanced to build vertical streets where road vehicles, pedestrians and trains would each occupy their own levels. Such an arrangement, it was said, would allow for even denser development in the future. These plans were never implemented comprehensively, a fact which today’s urban theorists regard as fortunate for vitality and diversity. Rather, vertical segregation is applied on a piecemeal basis, as in sewers, utility poles, depressed highways, elevated railways, common utility ducts, the extensive complex of underground malls surrounding Tokyo Station and the O-temachi subway station, the elevated pedestrian skyway networks of Minneapolis and Calgary, the underground cities of Atlanta and Montreal, and the multilevel streets in Chicago. Wikipedia <Street>. 4 For example, San Francisco’s Proposition H of 2007, which was largley funded by downtown developers and backed by the Gap’s Don Fischer. 5 Some of San Francisco’s most popular outdoor events such as the Haight-Ashbury and How Weird street fairs, Gay Pride, Halloween and the North Beach Festival have recently been threatened by organised neighbour complaints and exorbitant fees from city departments. See Witherell, Amanda. ‘The Death of Fun’ San Francisco Bay Guardian, May 23, 2006

6

For the past two years, Larry Ellison’s Oracle Open World conference has erected a tent over Howard Street from 3rd to 4th Street for an entire week, complete with massive LED screens at each end. On November 22, 2004, the band U2 took over the streets of New York to shoot a video for ‘All Because of You’, the second single off their new How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb. 7 Section 138 of the City of San Francisco Zoning Ordinance. 8 The term POPOS was coined by REBAR 9 Hofbauer, Ursula. ‘Horror Vacui’ 10 Arlt, Peter. ‘Urban Planning and Interim Use” in Temporary Urban Spaces by Haydn, Florian, Robert Temel, eds. Birkhäuser, 2006. See also de Certeau, Michel. The Practice of Everyday Life, trans. Steven Rendall. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984. 11 Hofbauer, Ursula, & Friedmann Derschmidt ‘Horror Vacui’ in Temporary Urban Spaces by Haydn, Florian, Robert Temel, eds. Birkhäuser, 2006 12 REBAR estimated they provided an additional ‘24,000 square-foot-minutes’ of public open space. 13 All information taken from REBAR and their website www.rebargroup.org 14 Ibid. REBAR 15 Arlt, Peter. ‘Urban Planning and Interim Use’ p 39 16 Meanwhile, REBAR has also aadopted more strategic methods, handing PARK(ing) Day off to the Trust for Public Land, and advising the San Francisco mayor’s office on the city’s Better Streets program. 17 Jacobs, Alan. Great Streets. p9

below: Critical Mass, a ‘guerilla’ action flyer particularly interesting for the explication of how much thought has to go into even strategic acts. opposite, top: PARK(ing) bottom: Plausibly deniable behaviour: REBAR and collaborators Snap Out of It, and explore the conditions of the planter box POPOS located near 200 California Street.

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e r ic o be rt hal e r/R EB AR

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thesis | école d’architecture, université laval infrastructure | los angeles by lia maston

a nature scene for parking lots in Los Angeles

Paradise

the 20th Century left an enormous asphalt footprint on the earth’s surface. Cities sprawled horizontally. Impermeable, bituminous seas surrounded malls, commercial centres and industrial parks. Rising from the asphalt sea, a cloud of smog produced beautiful pink and gold sunsets. Too soon the hot, mineral city began to asphyxiate itself. Could the architecture of the 21st Century actively reverse the effects of 100 years of asphalt? What would it take? Inspired by the mythology of building with nature, Paradise is a hybrid architecture: part living, verdant air filter; part concrete and steel. An undulating, floating network of greenery rests on tall stalks which are implanted in parking lots in Los Angeles (one parking space per stalk), evoking the hanging gardens of Babylon. The plant life support system consists of suspended hydroponic hypertextiles that are breathable and flexible; a construction inspired by the traditional wire mesh garden topiary. Living suites and gardens are nested in the shaded folds of these hydroponic drapes. People and mechanical services travel via the concrete stalks from the parking level to the garden level. The gardens, terraces and social spaces of the dwelling (kitchen, living room and dining room) are located on this level – open to the sky. The intimate spaces of the residences are suspended below, completely immersed in the verdant sheets. As a result, the views from bedroom windows are always across screens of leaves. Far from the tame nature that holds up Laugier’s hut, the plant life in Paradise is assumed to be an independent force with its own needs, capable of growing, dying and being reborn. It recalls the idea of living in a state of negotiation with nature, as the giant vaults of a gothic cathedral built in the image of the medieval forest, or the beanstalk in the fairy tale Jack and the Beanstalk, which embodies a fantastic will beyond the control of Jack or the villagers. In Paradise, to reinforce this wild quality of nature, giant topiary rabbits jump freely through the scene.

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parks parking lots pollution reconstitution fantasy

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A playful and figurative representation of nature, Paradise is destined for a popular landscape. The most ordinary, ubiquitous urban situations hide incredible potential. Not only could lost real estate above surface parking lots be recycled, the parking lot itself could benefit from the microclimate introduced by a fantastic new parasol. The ecological movement’s living air filters, green roofs and walls (as much symbolically evocative as effective), could be liberated from their building envelopes. They could take on greater proportions, becoming breathing parks, floating above other surfaces generally intended to prohibit plant growth. I thought of this project after looking at Ed Ruscha’s paintings and photographs of freeways, advertisements, strip malls and parking lots in Los Angeles. Ruscha captures a streetscape of rapid production and consumption, built to be experienced from a vehicle traveling at a high speed. Absurd, instantly appealing, and charged with a Hollywood romanticism, Los Angeles is urban sprawl at its most enhanced. Consider such sprawl in all of its mania and fun, and rethink the composition of our cities where asphalt is often the largest land user. p

Lia Maston: M. Arch Thesis, École d’architecture, Université Laval Advisors: Myriam Blais and Georges Teyssot Help from friends: Philip Beesley, David Brassard, Pierre Côté, Olivier Jacques, Élise Lapierre, Sara Maston, Mike Maston, Viet An Nguyen Appearing in renderings: Laura Barrett, Jenny McNamee, Ajay Mehra

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de-zoning | toronto ontario by drew sinclair

or why property matters in the contemporary city

ownership urbanism property development agency

the secret life of property of the quantity of land or air owned by any given individual or corporation, a certain portion is given over to the state or municipality in the form of setbacks, height limitations, and code requirements. The quantity of private land held in trust by the state varies according to property location, zoning by-laws (although many cities are eliminating zoning altogether) and adjacent utility infrastructure. There was a time when an individual’s ability to profit from or occupy the full extent of their land holding was limited only by their wealth and ambition. The will of the smallholder or lot owner – their interest in subdivision, building enterprise, or agglomeration – was the catalyst for an evolving urban form. Over the past one-hundred and fifty years, the ability of the individual ‘real’ property owner to affect the form and direction of urban growth in the contemporary western city has diminished. This article will propose to return the individual owner to his former status as the principal agent of urban transformation. In Architecture of The City, Aldo Rossi proposes that the first subdivision of the agricultural plot into a feudal estate, predecessor to the urban enclave, has an enduring effect on contemporary urban form. Taking late nineteenth century Toronto as an example, the subdivision of neighbouring pastoral plots along Bathurst Street north of Eglinton Avenue created a patchwork of disparate surface roads, aligned perpendicular to Bathurst Street but not connected north and south. As the city evolved, connecting these primitive subdivision grids required the removal of houses and the introduction of utility corridors that stitched neighbouring plots into a contiguous urban fabric. For better or for worse, the aesthetic agency of the original estate owners (Do I make curved or straight roads?) is still legible in the contemporary city. This scenario describes pioneer developments on pristine, preurban terrain at the edge of the city. A similar process is seen in eighteenth century Amsterdam and nineteenth century Manchester where a locus of economic, industrial and mercantile activity led to massive densification in the inner city. Every metre of available ground surface was appropriated and built to its fullest extent with either transportation infrastructure or architectural development. Epidemics of the nineteenth century became the motivation for the administered depopulation of urban cores in Europe and North America throughout the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Municipal codes, first in Germany, and then England, major European centres, San Francisco and eventually New York, cemented the will of the hygienists – those that believed the density of the urban core was a primary cause of the spread of pathogens and social ills. By the mid-twentieth century, both the beneficial qualities of municipal codes and their social paranoias were firmly entrenched within the operational faculties of municipal administrations worldwide. Code had replaced architecture and landscape as primary authors of urban form.

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onsite 19: street, streets and lanes, the straight and narrow, wide and busy

In Toronto the effect of a continuing program of by-law zoning has led to a stagnant, dispersed urbanism that all but eliminates the potential of individuals, or small-holders, to affect the future evolution of urban form. The costs of this affront to the agency of real property owners are dispersed throughout the entire urban population, wealthy and poor, and apply to every site developed under the regulatory control of a code-enforcing organisation, a municipal or state government. Division and control of ‘real property’ is the single most important discursive subject in preparation for the future city. ‘Real property’, and the rights offered to its holders by the state, gives form to everything. For economist Hernando De Soto, the success of the entire Western world’s capitalist project relies on the secret life of properties. If the advantage of ‘real property’ owners from the collateral benefits of their holdings is constrained, so to is the potential growth of a city of property owners. It should be, and could be, the project of our cities to elicit the greatest value and benefit from the extent of its properties – both public and private. A solution: The two elements the traveller first captures in the big city are extra-human architecture and furious rhythm. geometry and anguish. —Federico Garcia Lorca Toronto, where zoning and bylaws are the primary governors of urban form: imagine Toronto characterised by a finite set of ‘interior limits’, a set of legible internal divisions known as lot lines or ‘real properties’. We know that land property, or ‘real property’, has a set of behaviours defined by law, code, municipal planning, zoning and a demand-oriented market, and we are, most frequently, led to believe that property boundaries and distinctions are an immoveable, permanent designation. Lost properties, setbacks and voids are held in place by a legal framework that restricts severance and architectural development. Now imagine the possibility for this city to expand within itself, appropriating lost and unused properties to invent new systems of address. Imagine this new ‘found’ material. Idiosyncrasies and frictions visible in the current property mat become newly codified in local rules at the scale of block and intersection, encouraging the severance of lots and the development of new sites. Imagine that within this city, all restrictions on the expansion, division, or contraction of property are removed. Everything becomes saleable, every surface a potential site for speculation and development. The rights of possession and exchange are applied to every tessellation and every metre of air. How do we begin to imagine the future of this city as it emerges from the present legal distinctions and distributions of property? Where can the urban core mine new sites and evolve new syntactic forms? Can we re-assert the individual agent into the future form of the city?

Impossible Properties is a theoretical project that describes a method for replacing all building regulations in the city of Toronto with local codes specifying potential trajectories for property severance. The basic tenets of the project are as follows: 1. There is no public. Everything is saleable, there are no limits on the number of internal or vertical parcels that could result out of the subdivision of a single lot; 2. There are no pristine conditions, every element of the contemporary city â&#x20AC;&#x201C; the disparate growths of architectural form and urban infrastructure â&#x20AC;&#x201C; will affect how the future city will emerge; 3. The actors (owners) of the contemporary city are the actors and owners of the future city; 4. The idiosyncrasies of the existing property matte will be codified at the scale of block and intersection to influence, and adapt with, the agglomeration of new urban forms. Impossible Properties plays out at 11 intersections and blocks located along Bathurst Street, a four-lane road traversing the spectrum of demographic, architectural/morphological, tenurial and topographical conditions in Toronto. The street itself is one of the oldest in the city, a north-south concession that has connected Toronto to Lake Simcoe since the early 1800s. The project begins with a survey of ownership types, lot-line shapes and potential moments of illegibility - the moments at which overlap or the creep of architectural development have rendered the ownership regime unclear. The next sequence of operations includes the quantification of idiosyncrasies in the existing property matte â&#x20AC;&#x201C; the most common are those related to topography, adjacency, architecture, utility infrastructure and transportation infrastructure. Moments of illegibility, and property idiosyncrasies are recorded in the local code. The code is an inventory of deviations, an evolving guidebook for future development at a specific locale.

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The insertion of architecture into this scenario may proceed as follows: 1. Read the evolving Local Code: Understand that these are the constraints that will influence future severance on the site under review. Working on behalf of your client, the severance of air or land property you propose will be your interpretation of the Local Rules; what you foresee as the inevitable urban form that will result from the application of the rules with initial conditions outlined in the contextual data and in the site information. The rules are a product of isolated deviations visible in the provided contextual data. 2. Review provided Contextual Data: This information explains the contemporary, and historical characteristics of the site under review and its relationship to the larger project of the adjacent urban topography and neighborhood. The layers of historic information, the palimpsest, will provide cues as to how your development will abut future adjacent developments. In other words, there is likely to be more of the same where anything is plentiful. You are encouraged to vary as long as your deviation results in new code. 3. Insert the needs of the Client here: even property severance is an architectural project and it will be drawn in plan and section. There is not longer a need for perspective drawing. Environmental engineering will be your biggest task as the property units must provide back to the grid at least what they take out. 4. Ensure that the owners of all the surfaces that your properties touch are informed of your development. Amend the local code, or provide an original code, if necessary. If providing an original code, ensure that the owners of all affected surfaces have committed to its application. 5. Contact the municipality and the judiciary to inform them of your plan to sever or develop any given parcel of ground or air. p

cmyk

a general theory of urban relativity 1. connectivity must be regained. The city is a semilattice 2. the Manhattan block is the evolutionary objective of the dispersed urban plot, the field, (the pre-condition of the city) 3. in every city but Manhattan, building the extruded block is a process of agglomeration; the inevitability of enclosure should be ensured 4. architecture is always relative, read against conditions 5. the envelope is absolute and can be regulated by code and by-laws. the absolute envelope is a local condition and will be governed locally 6. voids exist on four terrains: rooftops, between buildings, under overpasses, landscape scars (railway beds) 7. three lessons we should all learn: the evolved form of the classical city (maximum densities), the contradictory possibilities in Hilbersheimer (ideal densities), and the density of the favelas (organic densities) 8. adjacent forms, if not formally similar will always reflect upon one-another 9. a responsive local code is necessary, if not a system for relative and responsive design 10. the preservation of urban conditions: proximity, community, density, cultural acuity, formal variation, sobriety, furious rhythm, geometry and anguish 11. transgression is necessary to suture the ‘global objects’ on the urban plane. The mutual intelligibility of ‘relativity’ is necessary due to the transgressive nature of the urban proposal – incursions into private property, the ‘furnishing of new territories,’ the parasite structures. 12. relativity must be codified

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planning | halifax by matthew neville

rebuilding the mat in the contemporary urban landscape

a [mat]ter of density density is a contentious issue in Halifax. A region characterised by a slow growth conservatism, the city appears divided, even paralysed, between heritage preservation and new urban real estate development. Misrepresenting density as purely height, coupled with excessively rigid and paradoxically vague municipal building regulations, Halifax shows a great disconnect between social and spatial perceptions of the liveable city. One process, called mat-building, defines density as both physical and of social characteristics at the ground plane, and is measured by levels of intensity and mixitié; mat-building is density at the scale of habitat. As a strategy to increase density in low-density North American cities, mat-building can enrich the presently hostile [sub]urban pedestrian environment, offering an alternative to the relatively unchallenged New Urbanism model. With a fine-grained historic fabric and many vacant sites ripe for redevelopment, Halifax is an ideal testing ground for mat-building. It would give the city valuable insight into the tribulations and contradictions of its rich history, culture and its unique sense of place. Introduced by Alison Smithson in 1974, mat-building provides individual freedom of movement through the city by weaving close-knit patterns of association between objects, supported by a dense internal language of circulation. Mat-building emerged from Smithson’s fascination with the traditional Arabic casbah – its rich texture, ‘full of starts and stops and shadow…with a high degree of connectedness to allow for change of mind and the in-roads of time’. As connective tissue in various phases of construction, destruction or decay, mats are never finished: they encapsulate the continuous evolution of urban form. Mat-building is a process: it structures high density patterns of living. Mat-building requires delicate interplay between variations and repetitions of form; it is governed by connections and thresholds rather than by geometric boundaries. In contrast, a grid is indifferent to and detached from topography; no where is this more evident than in the 1749 British plan for Halifax where a flat military grid was laid upon a steep hillside. The ultimate objective of mat-building is total integration of building, tissue and landscape. From building to city block, mat-building intensifies the relationship of landscape to culture by emphasising process and organisation over objects. Mats are close-knit, fine-grain fabrics with a dense internal language where choice of movement for the user is maximised; they allow for easy appropriation of space; they welcome organic, incremental growth and various states of construction, destruction and decay. They are produced under the influence of culture, landscape and time. Remnants of mats are visible in Halifax as one navigates from the top of the glacial drumlin where a 19th century citadel remains, through the historical residue scattered over the slope, down to the harbour and the edge of the ocean. As the grid pattern aligns the short side of the blocks with the water, it increases the east-west porosity –the number of choices– of the fabric. Personal space unfolds; each part of the route is governed by time and a series of sequential, changing thresholds.

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mat-building urbanism place integration process

Although the Citadel and harbour seem to present a stable bi-polar system while peripheral areas fill a dynamic role to meet changing urban needs, recent history tells us this is not the case. Such monuments act as divisive objects that fragment the tissue as well as the city. At a smaller scale, there are numerous vacant sites scattered throughout the fabric that act in similar ways by creating barriers, dead zones and areas of exclusion that further degrade quality of place. The site of the former Halifax Infirmary (including two adjacent parking lots) is the most significant vacant site on the peninsula. With no shortage of ideas for its redevelopment as residents, business leaders, politicians and developers express their desires through many recent visioning exercises held by the city, the debate over the future of this site is only just beginning. Many proposed uses are institutional (a library and courthouse) while others focus on more residential and commercial space in the area. The site is a strategic location, next to the Dalhousie’s schools of engineering, architecture and planning, and between Citadel Hill, a national historic, Spring Garden Road, a main shopping area and Barrington Street, a proposed heritage district. Rather than highlighting these differences by engaging in acts of monument building, the city is in desperate need of a strategy to build associations and social and spatial interdependence in this area. As a site where distinct urban areas collide, it has the potential to act as a threshold between the primarily residential south end of the city, commercial areas to the east and north, and the hospital and university areas in the west. Instead of creating an exception in the tissue, the city requires a reciprocity that weaves together old and new physical elements, and social patterns of use and behaviour, creating a dense fabric that remains active throughout the busy summers and often long winters.

Vacant sites of various sizes are scattered throughout Halifax’s downtown core. The site of the former Halifax Infirmary is of particular importance due to its size and proximity to many of the city’s major assets. Structured around a stable centre of public institutions and supporting spatial and social infrastructure, a new urban mat weaves together diverse fabrics, effectively extending the reach of each element or system of elements while maintaining original boundaries. Infinitely scalable, mats are capable of building interdependence and association between people and places through a structuring process that involves the overlapping of urban elements through time.

Imagining a new centre of stability in the city – anchored by strong existing public institutions – the elements that fill the site must take on an unconventional, anti-monumental shape. Through an organic understanding of the in-between – a sort of interstitial urbanism – these elements can not only form the physical construct of the site, but can create habitat and allow for unexpected patterns of human behaviour. Such a process requires one to step away from buildings and plans viewed from above and to explore the hidden potential on the ground, in the city, on the street and in the landscape. Aldo Van Eyck predicted an end to architecture’s fascination with form, to be replaced by a ‘culture of determined relations’ where ‘the relation between things and within things are of greater

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significance than the things themselves’. Mat-building continues this push for a shift in architectural design from static imagery to organisation, temporality and transition. It places architecture closer to the humanities and in a position better able to deal with the dynamics of contemporary cosmopolitan forms of urbanity. Mat-building is place-making in a phenomenological sense – using the experiences of people as the foundation of design. The mat is a discussion of density, city life (in buildings and in the street) and cultural differences in the use and meaning of space. In this sense, the mat may be the most appropriate ’ground cover’ for culturally diverse cities as it embraces the overlapping and complex structuring of social and spatial elements of urban life. p

urbanism | informal settlement by zahra ebrahim

innovation without architects

invention impermanence ephemerality shelter

zah ra e br ahi m

zahra ebrahim

an impermanent vernacular

some of the world’s greatest and most innovative architecture occurs on the streets of global cities on a daily basis, without the assistance of architects. Fly over Mumbai during monsoon season and you will see the rains bring a flood of blue tarpaulin: temporary shelters for the homeless seeping towards central skyscrapers. Take an elevated walkway over the streets of Hong Kong early in the morning, and watch the calm of shuttered storefronts give way to the people, the bustle and the newly erected awnings, stands and sidewalk-stalls. Drive through the Lower East Side of Manhattan and look to the streets to see the innovation, the creativity and the resilience of the homeless population whom have constructed

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homes from wood platforms, crates and plastic that have the aesthetic of an eyesore but upon closer inspection, the essence of home. It is in these places, in our very neighbourhoods, on our very streets that architecture is affecting people yet it is often unrecognised for it is architecture without an architect. Temporary architecture, ephemeral architecture, is one of the world’s oldest models of the built form. It is reflective, like vernacular architecture of the local area, the local needs and of local human interest. The ephemeral architecture of today provides shelter, safety and comfort while simultaneously evolving with local changes in climate, political conditions, gentrification and social change. It remains because of cultural tradition, displacement or transience – an architecture of the dispossessed. This temporary architecture, created anonymously, does not occur in rural, invisible areas but rather in urban centres, most often in urban slums. It has moved over the past hundred year from the unplanned, unlegislated rural to the strictly zoned, planned urban. In 2003, the United Nations reported that one billion people – approximately one third of the world’s urban dwellers and a sixth of all humanity – live in slums. Architecture is occurring without architects in the same places where it is occurring with architects. This provides an interesting point of comparison at the success of these spaces as they are juxtaposed against each other. Although primitive, these shelters and this architecture, juxtaposed in the urban environment is acting with the same intention as much of the post-modern canon. Temporary architecture is actively responding to the form, function and environment on a daily basis. Visit Mumbai, India, in the months of July to September, and experience the ultimate act of architect-free architecture. Mumbai is home to one of the world’s poorest urban populations as well as housing one of the world’s largest urban slums. In an effort to manage the spread of these slums, they are periodically razed by the government, leaving the dwellers forced to reinvent and reconstruct their homes, adapting them to current climate and political conditions. From July to September, monsoon season dictates the aesthetic of the architecture and the box and board constructed shanty towns are covered in a blue mass of tarpaulins, literally highlighting the polar class divisions in the city. Both in Mumbai and Hong Kong, cultures have long been defined by a history of displacement. Colonialism in both countries affected the movement of indigenous populations, forcing them to constantly adapt to new surroundings. In Hong Kong the urban fabric has long been defined by informal and impermanent architecture. It is not only on the corners of the urban areas where this occurs, but on the main streets, where a big-box retail location is neighboured by a storefront selling fresh grilled squid and various forms of dried sea creatures – this storefront is obsolete by nightfall. Similarly, rounding a corner into a street market, by day a thriving and bustling metropolis of colour, smells and sounds; by night almost unrecognisable except for the odd abandoned piece of fruit or cardboard bearing the price of the day’s catch. Night markets (specifically in Asian regions) also bear this character. By day, abandoned, often dilapidated alleyways; by night, thriving, loud, exciting urban spaces that leave little to be desired.

zahr a e brah i m

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In North America, due to highly regulated zoning rules, the most common form of architect-free architecture is the architecture of the dispossessed, the architecture of the homeless population. Whether in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver or the Lower East Side of Manhattan, these forms often are a combination of boxes, crates, parts of old machinery found on the street, and various remnants discarded by urban dwellers that are creatively integrated and purposefully used in housing for this demographic. In 1993, New York Times writer Patricia Leigh Brown interviewed Pepe Otero, a Manhattan homeless man who had constructed a makeshift structure out of discarded objects in an effort to carve out the closest thing to a home that he could manifest on the streets of Manhattan. Instead of being ashamed of his current living situation, he seemed proud, almost boastful about it. ‘You know something? It took character to build that. A lot of feeling went into it. Building it shaped my attitude. You realize you can do things for yourself. People who build for themselves have an interest in themselves. As long as you don’t forget, you’re not forgotten’. What is most paradoxical about urban ephemeral shelters is that they are often looked upon as primitive by the majority of the urban population. As necessity is the mother of invention, and innovation is essentially born out of need, it is these impermanent

spaces that make use of materials indigenous to urban centres, consistently adaptable to all conditions, and often amongst the most sustainable as they can be constructed and demolished with little or no damage to the environment (40% of emissions are caused by building construction and demolition) and are constructed from re-used – and therefore sustainable – materials. Bernard Rudofsky wrote (in 1964) that it is simple, even primitive dwelling types that we escape to when we need any form of relaxation (to get away from our technological mania), and it is in primitive surroundings that our chances of finding relaxation hinge upon. These anonymous builders around the world are providing an untapped source of architectural innovation.

1 Patricia Leigh Brown. ‘The Architecture of Those Called Homeless’,

3 Patricia Leigh Brown. ‘The Architecture of Those Called Homeless’,

The New York Times, March 28, 1993. 2 Simon Whelan. ‘One Third of the World’s Urban Population Lives in a Slum’, International Committee of the Fourth International, <http://www.wsws. org/articles/2004/feb2004/slum-f17.shtml>, February 17, 2004.

The New York Times, March 28, 1993. 4 Bernard Rudofsky. Architecture Without Architects: An Introduction to NonPedigreed Architecture. New York: Doubleday and Company, 1964. p6

zah ra ebrah i m

So how does one recognise architect-free architecture? By its very nature it is defined by unpredictable streetscapes, streetscapes whose aesthetic changes on a daily basis. It is a return to vernacular that addresses local necessity by using local resources – an evolving architecture that speaks to its ephemeral contexts. Temporary shelter comes as a result of years of experimentation rather than years of architectural education. This vernacular, an impermanent vernacular, is creating not only creating architect-free architecture on the street level, but an architecture of empowerment that forces the boundaries of innovation. p

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street stuff | charrette interuniversitaire cote-des-neiges, montreal by nathalie héroux, olivier boucher and gabrielle nadeau

infrastructure furniture roadworks engagement urbanity

Investments|Investissements le chemin de la Côte-des-Neiges se présente comme un axe exemplaire de cohabitation harmonieuse de populations diverses typique à Montréal. L’axe est littéralement desservi et utilisé par une population variée, de tous âges, de tous statuts sociaux, de toutes origines. Les différentes empreintes culturelles se dessinent subtilement par l’activité commerciale où les forces locales s’expriment par des installations de petite envergure implantées densément le long de la rue. L’utilisation de la voie n’en demeure pas moins balisée, contrôlée et règlementée, ségrégant l’activité commerciale, de celle du trottoir, et de celle de l’axe routier. À l’inverse, l’investissement chaotique de la rue dans divers pays, notamment asiatiques, floue ces limites en laissant libre cours aux forces sociales d’imprégner toutes les zones libres. De ce point de vue, l’attitude nordaméricaine de la rue s’oppose littéralement à celle-ci, favorisant l’aménagement d’un environnement contrôlé s’opposant à la libre organisation des citoyens. Les zones de travaux actuels de la voirie dispersées le long du chemin de la Côte-des-Neiges modifient la façon d’appréhender la rue, transformant le cheminement banal en véritable parcours à obstacles, perturbant temporairement l’ordre établi. Ces zones d’interdictions envahissent la rue de façon aléatoire et impromptue: ils constituent un alibi idéal pour la construction d’un aménagement social ludique. La supercherie des travaux de voirie autorise toute pratique spontanée, marginale ou importée dans les espaces délimités par les aménagements insolites en utilisant un code de dérangement accepté et assimilé par tous.

0-3∕4” aggregate mound Monticule du granulat 0-3/4”

Through its maximum space requirement and being ‘on wheels’, this synthetic mound of aggregate will impose its unifying ambiguity wherever the action is. - Proximity-inciting configuration - Adaptable for any type of use - Anti-shock, hose-washable - Flammable if hot topics are discussed

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Par son encombrement maximal et son concept “sur roulettes”, ce monticule de gravier synthétique pourra imposer son ambiguïté rassembleuse partout où l’action se déroule. - Configuration incitant à la proximité - Adaptable pour tout mode d’utilisation - Anti-choc, lavable au boyau - Inflammable si des sujets chauds y sont abordés

onsite 19: street, streets and lanes, the straight and narrow, wide and busy

Investments|Investissements côte-des-Neiges presents itself as an exemplary axis, representative of Montreal’s harmonious cohabitation of diverse populations. The axis is literally serviced and used by a heterogeneous population, of all ages, all social statuses and of all origins. Here, the different cultural impressions draw themselves subtly by commercial activities where the local forces express themselves by densely setting up small establishments on the street. The path’s usage does not become less bounded, controlled and regulated, segregating commercial activity from that of the sidewalk and that of street. Inversely, in many countries, particularly in Asia, the chaotic investment of the street blurs these limits and leaves the way clear for the social forces to saturate all available zones. This standpoint is in complete opposition to the North American attitude concerning the street, which favours the establishment of a controlled environment, and that opposes citizens’ freedom of organisation. The work sites that are currently dispersed along Côte-des-Neiges road challenge the way that we apprehend the street, transforming the normally banal progression into a true obstacle course, temporarily disturbing the established order. These forbidden zones invade the street in a random and unexpected fashion; they form an ideal alibi for the construction of ludic social installations. Our proposition of using road works as deceptions allows for spontaneous, marginal or foreign practices by using a disruptive code accepted and assimilated by all.

Excavation

Dedicate yourselves to your trivial conversations while children wade and play with their new pals in this authentic reproduction of aqueduct excavation. - Pretext to fortuitous encounters - Icebreaker element with intriguing visitors - Anti-skid and anti-drowning design

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Consacrez-vous à vos conversations légères pendant que les enfants pataugent et jouent avec leurs nouveaux camarades dans cette authentique reproduction d’excavation d’aqueduc. - Prétexte à des rencontres fortuites - Élément brise-glace avec les visiteurs intrigants - Conception antidérapante et anti-noyade

onsite 19: street, streets and lanes, the straight and narrow, wide and busy

Latrine chimique portative

Portable chemical latrine

This subterfugal chemical latrine will allow assiduous practicing persons to engage in religious rituals ‘on the run’ without undergoing the cold gaze of convinced atheists. - Multiconfessional - Genuine shell of polyethylene - Indispensable on every street corner in today’s tumultuous lifestyle

Ce subterfuge de latrine chimique permettra au pratiquant assidu de s’adonner à ses rituels religieux “sur le pouce” sans subir le regard froid des athées convaincus. - Multiconfessionnel - Authentique coque de polyéthylène - Indispensable à chaque coin de rue dans la vie tumultueuse d’aujourd’hui

Cône signalétique modèle classique Classic signal cone

Ce cône permanent en fonte émaillé est l’élément idéal pour votre aménagement commercial extérieur. Ne faites aucun compromis pour une stratégie de vente éprouvée dans le monde entier! Allez-y, la rue est à vous! - Pour aménagement personnalisé d’apparence légale - Excellente protection contres les cascades automobiles Hollywoodiennes attirées par les étalages de fruits - Faites un don à l’espace public, achetez un cône!

Container

Conteneur

Any frustrated motorist looking for a parking lot will forget about it at the sight of a few fans sipping their favourite drink watching a Senegal-Romania match in a 6.5 m wide spot. - Serviced building installed on permanent foundations - Variable capacity according to sidewalk’s congestion - Fast and safe closing when supporters get too excited

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This permanent enameled cast iron cone is the ideal feature for your exterior commercial area. No compromise for a sales strategy proven world-wide ! Go ahead, the road is yours! - For custom development of legal appearance - Excellent protection against Hollywood-style automobile cascades attracted by fruit stalls - Make a donation to public space, buy a cone!

Ce conteneur fera oublier à tout automobiliste frustré en mal de stationnement que quelques amateurs sirotent leur cocktail préféré devant un match Sénégal-Roumanie sur une place de 6.5 m de large. - Bâtiment desservi sur assises permanentes - Capacité variable selon saturation du trottoir - Fermeture rapide et sûre en cas d’échauffement des partisans

onsite 19: street, streets and lanes, the straight and narrow, wide and busy

roadways | crosswalks and parks by mason white + lola sheppard, lateral architecture

hybridity transition community retrofitting connecting

cliffside slips

The urban street traditionally united three physical roles: that of circulation, that of public space and that of built frontage and address.

â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Stephen Marshall1

typological studies of traditional streets have tended to focus on the dimensional and qualitative characteristics of good streetmaking: the width of vehicular lanes and sidewalks, the presence of trees, benches, lighting and so forth. In such studies, the temporal and programmatic aspect of the street is typically overlooked. With the advent of the modern city, the street was reconceived as infrastructure in service of efficient mobility, effectively liberating road form from city block form and divorcing the street from its role as a programmatically charged, public realm. This phenomenon has reached its greatest impact in the sprawling margins of cities. Cliffside Slips is a project that attempts to re-integrate mobility and the public realm through a reprogramming of streetscape infrastructure. The project centres on the crosswalk as a space capable of re-appropriation and new occupation. Like the sidewalk, the crosswalk has the potential to serve as an extension of the public realm. Akin to connective tissue, it invites a continuous urbanism across connecting thoroughfares.

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onsite 19: street, streets and lanes, the straight and narrow, wide and busy

Cliffside Slips is a proposal that will reconnect a neighbourhood and stimulate a retail zone bisected by Kingston Road, a six-lane arterial. The proposal uses a range of connections to stitch together a community that is divided physically, socially and economically. The retail and urban conditions of the road are asymmetrical; the buildings on the north side establish a recognizable main street form, while on the south side buildings are set back from the street in a strip mall typology. The six-lane main street presents more than a physical separation, it reinforces a psychological barrier between the north and south neighbourhoods reducing connectivity and discouraging urban vitality.

Urban Marina The Kingston Road proposal takes cues from the fleeting informal urbanism occurring at the nearby marina beyond the Cliffside Village bluff. Cliffside Slips produces a new infrastructure / urbanism hybrid. The intention is to create a main street that translates the idea of docking, bridging, anchoring, and temporary occupation to incrementally convert the suburban strip in Cliffside into an urban marina of roving activity and vitality. Cliffside Slips uses an inventory of existing urban infrastructure elements that includes pocket parks, crosswalks, medians and temporary parking lot occupations to connect both sides of the street into a dense public space.

Pocket Parks Pocket parks, places to rest or play, act as attractors along the street. The pocket parks, which could be rented or purchased by the City or the Business Improvement Area, take advantage of open lots or derelict properties in the area, adding value to the adjacent properties and the rest of the street. The program for the parks would relate to the adjacent businesses and arrangements for shared public-private space could promote activities such as outdoor cafes, playgrounds and other activities. Pocket parks are often extensions of the crossing slips and act as an urban attractor.

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onsite 19: street, streets and lanes, the straight and narrow, wide and busy

Crossing Slips & Medians

Incremental Urbanism

The crossing slips and medians act as the connective tissue of the village. Slips merge crosswalks and pocket parks, and are inserted along Kingston Road at intermittent locations. The use of slips slows traffic, encourages pedestrian fluidity between the two sides and makes a series of places each with a distinct identity. Depending on local conditions, these slips project differently; some connect to pocket parks while others connect across parking lots to the strip malls on the south side.. The crossing slips act as progenitors for anchoring temporary events within the large parking lots in underused times.

Cliffside Slips is an incremental project not a master plan. The project recognises that it is economically and logistically more feasible, in the short-term, to transform the public space of the street, particularly through program and temporal interventions, than it is to change the physical configuration of the built fabric. The crossings, slips, parks and occupations can be produced over time as the economy and culture of the neighbourhood changes and develops.

The existing median, currently an inaccessible island in a sea of infrastructure, is expanded to become a resting point and to serve as a linear green buffer, providing a more intimate scale of street, both on the north and south side. The median also accommodates the proposed streetcar along Kingston in the future, incorporating transit shelters and rest points.

Dockings Dockings are temporary urban infrastructures that bring street life to the parking lots of the strip malls on the south side of the street when they are not being used. These urban insertions allow for larger, temporal programs such as markets, outdoor cinemas and festivals. These would serve as early catalysts for the project, attracting people and extending the retail life of the surrounding shops.

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onsite 19: street, streets and lanes, the straight and narrow, wide and busy

Public space is defined not solely by built form, but equally by program, event and infrastructure. Appropriating existing street infrastructure such as the cross-walk, the median and the parking lot, allows a shift away from the purely pragmatic function of movement control to suggest new ways of occupying the public realm. p

1 Stephen Marshall. Streets and Patterns: The Structure of Urban Geometry. Abingdon, New York: Spon, 2005. Project Team: Mason White & Lola Sheppard (Lateral Architecture) Chris Hardwicke (&co), Fung Lee (PMA Landscape Architects) Hon Lu (TEDCO)

AN ORPHAN SPACE PRIMER The City of Toronto’s Clean and Beautiful City initiative was adopted by City Council in 2004 with the goal of raising the bar on urban design and architecture in the City of Toronto. The initiative identified “orphan spaces” across the city as sore spots in need of attention. An orphan space can be characterised as an urban space – typically a street – that is underperforming significantly in its potential. What started off as a specific response to one site became a set of protocols for interventions in orphan spaces across Toronto. 1. Eye Level Designing in orphan spaces demands detective work, or a way of looking at the city from eye level in search of sites. 2. Design ≠ Brand An orphan space is not a tabula rasa. Orphan spaces seek to amplify an identity that is latent, rather than the imposition of a transplanted or branded identity. 3. Design = Strategy Design for orphan spaces is more a matter of clarifying design strategy, rather than imposing an image or totalizing system. Community and identity do not necessarily beg the image of traditional main-street. 4. Incremental Orphan spaces could benefit from an anti-masterplan, where ideas for demarking public space allow for the incremental accretion of urban life. In orphan spaces, a toolkit of devices is more likely to produce a coherent site-specific urban space over time. 5. Design = Phasing Phasing is an essential design tool to initiate the transitional development of an orphan space. The pause between phases is a design act that requires considered choreography.

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6. Typology In Orphan Spaces, traditional urban typologies don’t compute. Orphan spaces are an opportunity for developing new typologies of public space and the street. 7. Ambiguity Public space typically lacks an overlap of informal and formal use, programmed and unprogrammed events. Ambiguity is an asset. Public space should adapt to temporal shifts rather than impose a rigid figure. 8. Infrastructural Landscape Orphan spaces suggest a vision of urban design in which infrastructure is the hero, and landscape its accomplice. 9. Soft Catalyst Landscape can be more than urban parsley. It can be the catalyst for program. 10. Saturation Programming an orphan space should reject the tendency to arrange filler urban elements, such as a bench, a tree, a lightpost, like a buffet. Instead, orphan spaces could saturate a space with a single element – grass mounds, or picnic surfaces, or game graphics – in order to script new uses for these spaces. 11. Hybrid Successful public space frequently requires a hybrid or symbiotic relationship between public and private entities, in which ownership and use remain somewhat ambiguous to the visitor. 12. Negotiation Adopting an orphan space necessitates parenting through negotiation.

night lights | the neonisation of warsaw by ella chmielewska

sites of display

neon signage soviet bloc inscription graphics

el l a c he mi el e w sk a

cold war neon

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e ll a c h emi e le w sk a

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onsite 19: street, streets and lanes, the straight and narrow, wide and busy

e l la c h em ie l ew sk a

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onsite 19: street, streets and lanes, the straight and narrow, wide and busy

in the common imaginary of the West, gray was the colour of the communist city; the drab and uniform tone was only punctuated by the red of the flags. This ideological urban myth could be unsettled by the remaining artefacts of the communist era in Warsaw, though they have been disappearing fast from the surface of the city. Displaced by garish noise of printed advertising and cheap signs of hyper-capitalism, the evidence of the little know urban phenomenon of neonization of the communist cities in the 1960s has been crumbling, leaving only street photographs to attest to the spectacular aspects of socialist modernity. After the death of Stalin and the political changes of 1956, Warsaw was released from its Socialist Realist shackles, and allowed to become modern. Mies-inspired buildings appeared in the city centre, and elaborate neon signs sprouted everywhere on rooftops and building facades. Architectural and design journals called for surrounding the citizen with beauty, light, and clarity of form and discussed modern uses and the compositional-aesthetic sense of light in architecture. References to the fantasy and ‘magic of city lights and advertising’ and ‘illuminated composition’ illustrated the metropolitan ambitions and highlighted the role of graphic space in urban design. The new metropolitan street was posited as an evidence of aesthetic taste, sophistication, and ‘European elegance’.1 The celebration of light and colour, however, was not to be spontaneous nor chaotic as chaos was seen as characteristic of capitalist cities and their ‘obscene spatial compositions’.2 In a socially progressive city, technology, industry, art and urban detail was to meet in the careful choreography of neon signs that constructed the proper image of the socialist metropolis. Not ‘the nonsensical fashion for neons’ not synchronised with architecture, but the careful design of the street interior, was called for; order, harmony, and centrally coordinated urban composition. 3 At first, the term neonization meant a critical reference to the visual noise on the urban surface.4 Later, the term came to mean the comprehensive programme developed and implemented in the1960s and carried through the 1970s, the programme coordinating harmonious design of ‘night architecture’ and the city’s daytime image carried out by the special office of the Chief Designer of the City.5 The office functioned from 1972 to 1991 alongside the position of the Chief Architect of the City of Warsaw and was responsible for the aesthetics of public space, urban signage and advertising and all issues related to information and decoration in the city, including engaging artists in consultations regarding the colours for building façades, design of neons and illuminated signs, shop windows and public displays. The Neonization Programme established an elaborate design and approval process requiring careful consideration of site, building scale and detail, the context of other signs, relevant views, colour sequences, as well as the signs’ graphic form, typography, and even the wording. Technical aspects of signs, their sequence of switching, specifications for the materials and mechanisms, were also part of the stringent approval process. Most importantly, the neon signs were not treated in isolation, and the approval process was not a mere regulatory formality. The design of urban signage, advertising and occassional decorations became an important source of revenue for the local graphic artists and architects, and the approval documents provide an astonishing testament to the quality expected and the attention to detail demanded of the projects. The neons were not simply positioned in available spaces. They were designed into the buildings’ exteriors: forming hypersurfaces, as it were, enveloping the buildings, outlining them, respectful of their form and detail, highlighting their silhouette. They retreated during the daylight, with only a delicate line of writing visible against the sky, or the building surface. The neons, like the posters visible on the streets of Warsaw, were designed by graphic artists and were used in the rhetoric of modernity and the Polish contribution to European (Western) culture.6 p

1 Jerzy Hryniewiecki. ‘Ksztalt przyszlosci’ (The shape of the future), Projekt, no.1, (1956). pp 5-9; Stanislaw Jankowski, ‘Urbanistyczne wnioski z Festiwalu’ (Post-festival urban reflections) Miasto (The City), 61 no 11 (1955) pp 26-29. 2 Henryk Sufryd. ‘Zagadnienia sztucznego oswie tlenia architektury’ (Problems of the artificial light in architecture) Miasto, 55 no 9 (1959) pp.12-15. 3 Ibid. 4 Olgierd Budrewicz, Stolica (The Capitol), March 1958, p. 9. 5 Stanislaw Soszynski, Chief Designer of the City of Warsaw 1972-1991 (interviews, May 2003). See also: Archives of the City of Warsaw, Neonizacja, 1969-1972, document AB.UA-647-71. 6 Ella Chmielewska ‘Sites of Display: The iconosphere of Warsaw, 1955 to the present day.’ Peter Martyn (ed), City in Art. Warsaw: Institute of Art, 2008, pp.127-143, fig.1-51.

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surfaces | graffiti as naming by sarah zollinger

graffiti identity writing possession anonymity

inscription Every time a name gets written, a story gets told. Simon Powers

top: Aper, Halifax and JP, Montreal above: Noise, and Gone, New York City

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marking our place on architecture Architecture is not an art, but a story telling medium. Daniel Libeskind

when we become lost in the cities we live in, we rediscover our place by responding to the stories that architects tell with our own marks — words and images that tell stories in the cities we inhabit. Writing one's name on a building claims space and makes place: it makes that building surface ours. Design cannot be spontaneous, but graffiti needs to be. Architecture may be hard and solid and slow, but writers move quickly. Writing names and identities onto the city is how we engage the slowness of architecture and put ourselves into the stories of the places we live. Aldo Rossi's city is a collection of the architecture that makes it up: a human-built object, an assembly of artefacts; often a collection of the ‘nameless architecture of large cities, streets and residential blocks’1 — LA, Houston or Toronto—but when we look more closely a counter-definition starts to emerge. Lives lived within these architectures add layers to the palimpsest of a city. With architectures as repositories, cities are ‘the production and distribution of discourse, writing, including the bodily traces of a building's occupants, and its divisions of space, time and movement'.2 This ‘visual litter’ both private and commercial, is part of our dialogue with the city. Competing images and texts might seem entirely chaotic but ‘neither cities nor places in them are unordered, unplanned; the question is only whose order, whose planning, for what purpose, in whose interest’.3 When the modern city disregards the individual in an attempt to plan for the universal, graffiti, stickers and stencils are some of the ways that urban dwellers physically and visually make their individual presence known. This urban art is part of a long tradition of marking the places we live. It is the trace of people we know and things we can identify. Because of the

marks made by others like us the city becomes ‘a place that we can identify ourselves within’. 4 Each mark is the trace of another person ‘…every graffito can … be seen and/or read as a miniature autobiography of a member of a society in the sense that the graffitist reveals a part of himself and his society in all that s/he writes’.5 This idea of autobiography is at the heart of graffiti and what makes it unique. Graffiti is about naming: writing ones name in the city allows ‘an announcement of one’s identity [as] a kind of testimonial to one’s existence in a world of anonymity’.6 Whether it be to sign a contract, or write yourself a name tag, or tag a wall, ‘when one makes a mark, one leaves something of one's self behind’, claiming both identity and belonging.7 For urban youth in a culture of nameless-ness and identity-less-ness, graffiti is a route to belonging, not only in a group but also in a large and anonymous city.8 Naming and re-naming implies the creation, or re-creation, of self and serves as a means of empowerment.9 The subsequent marking of one's name on a public surface adds to this the physical claiming of space and the delineation of boundaries within the city. There is a sense of pride in seeing your name or the names of friends impacting the city. One belongs by marking one's presence. In this, buildings, the collection of stories told by architects, become the backdrop. The anonymous walls of anonymous buildings become canvases where the average person comes in contact with the city and meets the moment when our lives can inscribe the rigid world that we live in. This is where the people that walk the streets make architecture human: flexible, changeable and where we urban dwellers, who live our lives in the shadows of buildings, push back at an unyielding architecture. p

1

Rossi, Aldo. The Architecture of the City. Cambridge: The MIT Press, 1982. p19-21. 2 Grosz, Elizabeth. ‘Women, Chora, Dwelling’ in Watson, Sophie and Katherine Gibson, ed. Postmodern Cities and Spaces. Cambridge: Blackwell, 1995. p53. 3 Erickson, Paul A. Graffiti: Halifax Style. Lancelot Press, Hantsport, NS, 1986. p44. 4 Marcuse, Peter. ‘Not Chaos, but Walls: Postmodernism and the Partitioned City’ in Watson, Sophie and Katherine Gibson, ed. Postmodern Cities and Spaces. Cambridge: Blackwell, 1995. p244. 5 Ibid. p243. 6 Abel, Ernest L and Barbara E Buckley. The Handwriting on the Wall: Toward a Sociology and Psychology of Graffiti. Westport: Greenwood Press, 1977. p.14. 7 Ibid. p16. 8 Kohl, Herbert. Golden Boy as Anthony Cool: A Photo Essay on Naming and Graffiti. New York: The Dial Press, 1972, p56. 9 Silver Tony and Henry Chalfant. Style Wars, 1983, 22mins. above: Alley, Montréal

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landscape | yellowknife public spaces by r wayne guy

Jiewa Park

land of shadows

north community parks placemaking light

above: the broad markings made my the passing sun — March 20, 2008: 7:40am, 8:39, 9:00, 10:13 and 5:22pm, 7:10 below: mapping cast images and patterns — March 20, 2008: 8:39am, 10:13am and 5:20pm, 7:10pm

walking through the downtowns of most North-American cities can be characterised by tall buildings coming directly to the sidewalk creating hostile thoroughfares with little reprieve for the pedestrian to loiter, relax or enjoy. Yellowknife is much the same in this regard having adopted the worst aspects of urbanism though on a diminutive scale. The Wall, a project completed by Guy Architects, seeks to arrest, nurture and invite citizens to loiter, sit down and take it all in. This runs counter to the culture that predominates in the City of Yellowknife in which loitering is seen undesirable, bad for business and practiced only by less fortunate souls in the community. It is indeed the predominant hostility of the urban environment that typically provides only parking lots and back alleys to meet and share, that characterises the predominate failure of the city. As such areas are marginalised, they require additional policing and monitoring as they become prone to vandalism. It is the premise of this project that if you create comfortable places for people to spend some time with good exposure to sun and view, it promotes congregation. With more people from a wider cross section of society, the group is self-policing and in this urban living room individuals get to know both their community and each other a little better. The new park is a triangular niche on the north-west side of Franklin Avenue, Yellowknife’s main street. It faces directly south with a north wall serving as a wind break and a climbable screen to the adjacent basketball courts.

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onsite 19: street, streets and lanes, the straight and narrow, wide and busy

Benches sit around a one-foot by one-foot concrete tile mosaic chessboard, part of a games area. The wall’s staggered, geometric lattice pattern has an immediate and beneficial effect: the sculpted forms play with light during the course of the day, marking the passage time and conveying images and pattern which have myriad meanings for those in the park. The wall reminds some of crosses, others, a line of Inukshuks. These wide cultural interpretations marks it as an effective piece of urban art, a sculptural piece which provides an animated backdrop for thinking, for participating in community life, for loitering. Since The Wall and the adjacent plaza have been opened, street people have begun to use the park, as have a growing number from the community at large. In this new milieu pluralism, tolerance and understanding is nurtured as citizens of all ilks can now share a common experience. It is a sanctuary of inclusiveness, a gesture of generosity in a predominantly selfish environment where the private thoroughfares of malls dominate public streets. At the end of the day, for most days of the year, it is collective public experiences which mark the success of an urban environment. The more of these we have, the greater the city. The Wall has been Yellowknife’s first baby step to claim the street back from the strictly utilitarian movement of vehicles to a place which contributes to the identity and image of a city. p

above left: the triangular niche as counterpoint to the throughfare to the road above: the staggering of the blocks on their moulded concrete base left: the wall sculpted by light at different times of the day

client: Yasemin Heyck, Yellowknife School District No1 design architect: R Wayne Guy FRAIC, NWTAAP, Guy Architects project architect: Constantina Tsetsos, Guy Architects captions: Renee Kuehnle, Guy Architects contractor: Camco Construction

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memory | good streets by gordon stratford

A great street is the built equivalent of a strong healthy pulse in a well cared for human body. It is a sure sign of commercial and social vitality, and provides insight into the character and eccentricities of its community.

a tale of three streets

city of oakville

over the years I have had the good fortune to experience first-hand an eclectic variety of thoroughfares – Unter der Linden in Berlin and its elegant boulevard park setting, Dubai’s Sheikh Zayed Road with its frenetic array of look-at-me towers, Savannah’s Barnard Street and the genteel southern squares along its path, and Shinjuku District streets in Tokyo, amazing on a rainy night after watching Blade Runner with Japanese subtitles in a local cinema. I once thought that the only streets worth paying attention to were the classics, like stately Unter der Linden, but energetic upstarts like Sheikh Zayed Road and Shinjuku District have given me pause to consider what makes a street really work. It would be worthwhile to set aside the worldly destinations, and take a closer look at some less exotic locales such as Oakville, Phoenix and Edmonton.

Lakeshore Road Oakville, Ontario

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My family spent several years looking outside Toronto for the right place to call home. One of our key goals was a community whose heart was not a shopping mall: it had to have a healthy downtown. In the suburbs this is not easy to find, and then we found Oakville. Lakeshore Road in downtown Oakville has the feeling of a classic Main Street that has grown, changed over time and actually thrived. It has just the right width, the right bordering building height and mix of uses. It has a choice of shady and sunny sides and promenading is alive and well. There is a nice bit of traffic complexity with curbside parking, trucks stopping in the middle of Lakeshore to make deliveries and slow speeds to take in the sidewalk life. A transcending civic moment, thanks to a well-designed pedestrian square midway along the street, provides a fine outdoor living room for cultural events and midnight-madness shopping. All seems well but I feel uneasy. Lakeshore feels like an incomplete portrait of the community, lacking that vital grit that balances gentrification. If you want the true main street heart of Oakville, you need to mix well behaved Lakeshore with nearby Kerr Street and its rough-edged alter ego.

onsite 19: street, streets and lanes, the straight and narrow, wide and busy

d a h o rc h n e r /de si gn w o r k sh o p

Kierland Commons Phoenix, Arizona

I was told that the only place worth visiting in Phoenix was the main street in Kierland Commons –everything else is just suburban. Kierland Commons is touted as a prime example of the newest wave of development in North America, the mixed use urban village concept. Having decimated the traditional downtown with malls and big box shopping centres, developers are now recreating the essence of what had been destroyed. But do they succeed? Kierland Commons is an odd thing, a taste of live/work/shop/entertain urbanity surrounded by the low density sprawl that represents most of Phoenix. Its main street has all the right ingredients, borrowing heavily from the genetics of streets such as Oakville’s Lakeshore. The proportion of street width to building height is comfortable, it is attractively landscaped and shaded sidewalks promote pedestrian activity – in itself is remarkable given Phoenix’s usually hostile pedestrian environment. There is street parking and traffic is nice and slow. A small square borders this main street, for daily use and special events. According to reports Kierland Commons is a great success, probably because it possesses what people long for and the rest of Phoenix seriously lacks. It’s convincing but undone by an essential missing ingredient, authenticity. Along the street there are too many of the same stores that you would find in a shopping mall, servicing is too neatly hidden away from view, the main street ends unexpectedly and the transition to the real world of Phoenix is abrupt. The street never transcends its feeling of a manufactured stage set with not enough there there. Perhaps time, more local shops and expansion to a critical mass of urban streets, blocks and civic spaces will make the difference.

j oy l y n t es ke y

Whyte Avenue Edmonton, Alberta

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onsite 19: street, streets and lanes, the straight and narrow, wide and busy

When I started visiting Edmonton on a regular basis, I asked a local where to stay in the city. I was told Whyte Avenue is the place to be. Since then I have experienced this street in all seasons, during festivals, through NHL hockey finals and on regular days. Whyte is a bit like an awkward teenager, almost an adult but oddly put together and with a good dose of attitude. The street is wide, making it feel like the car is king. The buildings seem too short and the sidewalks too narrow to adequately frame the space. Oversized auto dealerships with enormous neon signs fight for attention with a multitude of small shops. The closest thing to a square is the Tim Hortons parking lot, with its revving motorbikes and smell of exhaust. The design part of my brain tells me that this is all wrong, but the rest of my brain differs – Whyte works! A big factor is the number of small, local, eccentric stores with comparatively few big chain outlets. There is a full mix of people making street life active, rich and sometimes unusual –such as the nose flute player, and sometimes dangerous – Whyte is a street that can party: once a perfectly inebriated stranger grabbed me on a sidewalk packed with thousands of fans after the Oilers won a quarter-final series. This one street captures the pulse of its community, where nothing is done in small measure. I am slowly learning that conscious design is not always the mantra for saving the world and making it a better place. Successful streets are proving, to me, that adhoc authenticity and inconsistent conditions win over choreographed strategies. p

Friday morning 7am, June 7, 2007

the evolution of a Roman street market

identity | street markets by danielle wiley

Porta Portese

rome trans-nationality markets peri-urbanism informal urbanism

d ani el l e wi l e y

Sunday evening 10pm, June 10, 2007

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danielle wiley

...(T)he spectacle of the city is not simply to be registered in the monstrous objectification of the capitalist public life, but in the volatility of the crowd ... which devours, consumes, and entertains itself like a great animal, sensual and musical, relentless, excitable, threatening. — A. Blum, The Imaginary Structure of the City, 2003

each Sunday morning, the Porta Portese market overwhelms the Portuense neighbourhood of Rome, spreading through streets, sidewalks and squares. Although its architecture consists of lightweight bancarelle, the market is one of Rome’s densest spaces. There are 1000 official vendors, but the Comune di Roma estimates the actual number to exceed 30 000. While the surrounding neighbourhood gives shape to the market, the market reciprocates by actively shaping its milieu. Over the past six decades, bus and tram lines have been deflected, segments of streets have been widened into piazzas, and the municipality’s ambitions to redevelop the neighbourhood have been stymied. The city and market are mutually constitutive, on a very tangible physical level as well as on a cultural one. Porta Portese is Rome’s largest Sunday-morning market and also one of its youngest. When in 1943 the main avenues into Rome were bombed and blockaded, a spontaneous group of black market carrieri materialised, running private cars with contraband food and goods into the city. By 1965 the demography of vendors at the market had shifted. The new majority were Neopolitans who would spend six days trolling the Campagna region for wares, sifting through local beaches and farmhouses abandoned during the war. They would then arrive in Rome at midnight on Saturday to secure the best spots along Viale Portuense. Today, most clothing stalls along Viale Portuense are managed by recent immigrants from North Africa and India. Along Via Ippolito Nievo, established vendors of predominantly eastern European origin sell furniture, while contraband peddlers compete for space on the sidewalk, laying out CDs on sheets of cardboard. A recent wave of Chinese vendors selling home electronics and digital novelties reflects Italy’s new political relations with China. The shifting demographics, activities, wares and territorial boundaries in the Porta Portese market describe a facet of the city’s evolving identity. The Porta Portese market is a loose space – relatively self-organising and highly adaptive. The market might serve as a vernacular precedent for the kind of event space that is de rigeur in contemporary architectural theory and practice. More deft than a formal piazza, the market responds to changes in the city’s cultural, political and economic conditions. This responsiveness may stem from the market’s paradoxical status as a marginal space within the city’s centre. The market negotiates many boundaries: the ancient Aurelian wall and its seventeenth century portal, an industrial riverbank of the Tevere, an edge of the mediaeval city and tracts of modernist post-WWII palazzi. Many contemporary urban scholars, including the Romebased Osservatorio Nomade, argue that the peripheral zones of historic European cities have the greatest capacity to generate new urban forms, experiences and identities. The Porta Portese Market, although embedded in the city centre, has the qualities of an urban edge. The market’s generative capacity becomes apparent through its weekly transformations. Each Sunday morning produces a new iteration as the stall keepers negotiate their territory and adjust their wares according to season and fashion. The idea of a street, square or market as an archetypal public space becomes contentious in view of transnational and cross-cultural dynamics in places like the Porta Portese market. Even the most basic precepts of public space come into question: what it is, where it is, who is it for, what it should do. Since the late 1990s, the diaspora of people between and within Italy, the EU, Africa and Asia have caused rapid shifts in the make-up of local districts in Rome, particularly in Esquilino and Portuense. This intense movement of peoples, at a global and a city scale, is paralleled by transnational flows of commodities, information, images and ideas — in Rome, which once maintained a mono-cultural image in the face of all contrary evidence, nowhere is this transnational mobility as evident as in Porta Portese market.

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danielle wiley

Those who participate in street life now carry with them a much greater diversity of historical models and different, possibly conflicting, symbolic expectations of public space. Some fear that the public sphere might become too fragmented to sustain a dynamic yet cohesive street life. Over and above the pressures of absorbing so many multiple interests into urban public space are the challenges that an expanding digital public realm presents to the street as a primary scene of encounter. The permeation of the city by communications technologies – which, in fact, make this mobility between the global and local possible - transforms our sense of place. Contemporary urban theorists suggest that the new role of public space is to reassert a sense of place by expressing local identities in relation to a globalised public domain. What does this prescription for public space mean for architects, who take the front line in making public spaces? Vernacular precedents are valuable models for architects to study how these broad concerns play out in ways that are in fact very material and case-specific. The Porta Portese market, for example, demonstrates how layers of permanent and temporary structures, everyday practices, regulatory policies, and changing economic and cultural conditions can create a vibrant and resilient public space – one that is, in the end, very particular to Rome. Porta Portese also raises questions for how such sites are observed, mapped and, finally, interpreted in an architectural design. Architects might consider what investigative and representational strategies would be appropriate to a public space that, like the Porta Portese market, is best understood as an encounter between a place and its inhabitations – one that is extended through time and embedded in a specific cultural milieu. p Consiglio, Alberto. Magia di Porta Portese. Roma:Canesi. 1965. Franck, Karen A. and Quentin Stevens, eds. Loose Space: Possibility and Diversity in Urban Life. New York: Routledge, 2001. Refer, for example, to: Bernard Tschumi, Event Cities 3: Concept vs Context vs Content (2005). Stalker. ‘Osservatorio Nomade/Stalker’. Rome, 2004. www.osservatorionomade.net. April 7 2007. Appadurai, Arjun 1996. Modernity at Large, Cultural Dimensions of Globalization. Minneapolis, London: University of Minnesota Press. 1996. Crang, Mike. ‘Urban Morphology and Shaping of the Transmissable City’ City 4.1 (2000): 303-315. Refer, for example, to: Fredric Jameson, ‘Postmodernism, or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism’ (2003); Manuel Castells, The Information Age: Economy, Society, and Culture (2000).

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dan ie l l e w i le y

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onsite 19: street, streets and lanes, the straight and narrow, wide and busy

private streets, public spaces

vernacular | anatolia by havva alkan bala and hassina nafa

streets passages ownership territory control

le cul-de-sac

The curving, narrow streets which give you the feeling of an old town may sometimes lead to somewhere or may not. A dead end road is not a cul-de-sac, neither is it a dead-and-street. It certainly isn’t the second one. It is obvious that a culture like this has not experienced such a dead end road. A young child who sits looking out of a window on to a dead end road will never get bored. This is the sitting room of the neighbourhood. Even though it may seem like the houses in the street are leaning against each other, once you walk through the garden gates you can feel the independence. Some are gardens, some are just backyards. Whichever type it is, it is just a sitting room with four tall walls around it but doesn’t have a ceiling. —Balamir 1994 cities are composed of buildings, open spaces between buildings and the streets that connect them. These elements are arranged in a way that reflects their culture. Cul-de-sacs in traditional Anatolian cities represent Ottoman as well as Islamic city culture. Although mediaeval European cities have similar dead-end streets, the usage and the approach to cul-de-sac phenomenon have been completely different. In the traditional urban texture of Anatolian cities the cul-de-sac is a semi-public street safe for children and a semi-private social space for adults: it is well known that crime is less predominant in such urban layouts: cul-de-sac in the Islamic/Ottoman context is to do with segregation, privacy through space, hierarchy and control. In modern cities, cul-de-sacs are not much appreciated in streets designed for motor vehicles. Although the cul-de-sac has a function as a transitional space between public and private space, they are disappearing in modern cities.

2

logique Traditional Anatolian cities were organic, free, rhythmic, not geometric (Aru 1998). The pattern of traditional residential areas was 1-3 floors, having a courtyard belonging to house and a cul-desac, curved, narrow and full of bends (Aktüre 1978). The cul-de-sac pattern gives to users a sense of belonging, a territory where they feel safe and protected. The public, semi-public, semi-private and the private overlap (Stewing 1966) (Figure 2).

3

1

concept Cul-de-sac is defined in architecture and urban design literature as ‘the street pattern open only in one side and connected to other larger streets’. (Keles ¸ 1999), (Sözen ve Tanyeli 1992) (Figure 1). In Western logic cul-de-sac triggers something not positive: deadend street, blind alley, blind path are used alongside cul-de-sac, namely dead, numb, dead, lazy, sluggish, lethargic, shiftless, indolent ways (Keles¸ 1999). Cul-de-sac is either a semi-private or semi-public road for residential groupings with only one-way access.

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The growth of these cities occurred in two ways (Figure 3). The first way was the filling the gaps (graveyards and un-constructed areas) in the city pattern. The second way appeared as an expansion of urban settlement areas out at the edges (Raymond 1995). Under Ottoman rule, people and animals that carry loads used the Anatolian city (Schwarz 1959) — cabriolets were either limited or used on the main road (Yerasimos 1996), hence the roads are generally narrow and change direction frequently (Schwarz 1959). Narrow and broad streets follow each haphazardly, their dead ends have short or long branches and widely varying widths. Dead ends, divided from each other by gates according to their value and ethnicity, are a civic transportation system organised through closed districts. Ethnic or denominational differences hold

bala + nafa Urfa

4 the potential for social conflict. Such mixed districts are divided from each other by doors and walls that construct a cul-de-sac (Lapidus 1967), (Stewing 1966) (Figure 4). As well, neighbourhood and family relations affect urban patterns, particularly when a son gets married an extension is added to the house of the family. These extensions make a cul-de-sac by attaching two separate houses (Figure 5) — not legal but it in line with constitution and traditions (Yerasimos 1996). Dead ends seen in Mediaeval cities (Mumford 1989), (Morris 1979), (Moughtin 1992) do not share the same peculiarities with the cul-de-sac of Anatolian Ottoman and Islamic cities. According to Stewing (1996), Islam attaches more importance to private property rights than public property as long as such rights do not directly harm other people, and it is Islamic city culture that defined the spatial and physical structure of the cul-de-sac. Islamic cities are not spaces one can bypass from one point to another, one quarter to another as one wishes. There is a soft, gradual and

5

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hierarchic transition from the most public spaces such as the mosque or bazaar, the square or large street through the garden gate to the most private spaces of garden and house. Oleg Graber defines Islamic cities as ‘human-faced’ where cold laws disguise humanistic warmth in streets (Armagan ˘ 1996). Although urban and rural areas are unplanned and uncontrolled due to absolute individualistic interests at the forefront in housing, and positioning according to parcel of land (Cerası 1999), this too is a reflection of Islam. Stefan Yerasimos (1996) in this context clarifies this warmth in a legal dimension. The status of dead end is a wonderful example in terms of the priority of the rights of natural person. The partnership of property in dead end is not monotype; every resident is the partner of the property, which starts from the entrance of dead end and ends in the threshold of his house. Therefore he cannot enlarge his threshold towards the dead end without the approval of the other owners of the property. The area of the dead end, which is getting more private towards the inner area, becomes the private property of the owner located at the end. Social status of the street residents follows a decreasing order towards the open end (Yerasimos 1996). In Islamic cities private property is more important than public property and the border concept is shaped through this understanding. The concept of boundary separating private and public property in Islamic cities is called fina, and is used in place of border, which means the progressive transfer from one unit to another. The phenomenon of cul-de-sac, turns the public area into private area in accordance with the fina enabling the transfer from one property to another in Islamic law (Yerasimos 1996). It is a kind of privatisation process of public usage based on the agreement of property owners of buildings that have a surface facing towards the cul-de-sac. (Stewing 1966, Yerasimos 1996). The owner of private property can occupy the street in front of his private property; moreover he can have the right to use this area permanently. Therefore, this street becomes his fina. Two neighbours facing one another may break off the road and divide it into two dead ends with the permission of the street residents. These two dead ends become the property of the residents. Thus, people in this area could privatise a public area.

bala + nafa

Administrative, legal and economic alterations were observed in Anatolian countries under the rule of Ottomans after the 1839 proclamation of ‘Tanzimat’ which was a series of Westerninfluenced regulations (Denel, 1982). These alterations comprise the transforming of the traditional Ottoman city pattern into a grid by deteriorating traditional city patterns. The social logic which creates cul-de-sac has become ‘the other’, starting from the Tanzimat period. When new spatial hierarchies were taken into consideration, the modern city lost the cul-de-sacs as interface.

mots dernieres Modern movements in architecture and city planning have contributed to the neglect of the street and its architecture. Le Corbusier was one of the main offenders claiming that streets no longer worked and we have to create something that will replace them. One of the significant problems of today’s cities is the sharpedged transition between private and public space. The cul-de-sac has offered a traditional solution to this sharp-edged transitional problem, with particular buildings between public and private spaces, which provide soft, gradual and hierarchic transition. p

Aktüre, S. Yüzyıl Sonunda Anadolu Kenti Mekansal Yapı Çözümlemesi (The Analysis of Structural Anatolian City Space in the last 19th Century). Ankara: Middle East Technical University Press, 1978. p19 · · Press, ¸ Asla Unutmaz (The City Never Forgets). Istanbul Armagan, :Iz ˘ M. Sehir 1996. ¸ (The Settlement and Aru, K.A. Tarihten Günümüze Anadolu’da Konut ve Yerlesme Resident in Anatolian Region From the History to Today) ·Istanbul: Tarih Vakfı, 1998.

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bala + nafa Antakya cul de sacs, open, covered, and one ended by two houses belonging to one family. Balamir, A. ‘Kent Mekanları Sonatı’ (‘The Sonato Of Urban Spaces’) Kent Planlama, Politika, Sanat, editor: Tekeli, I. Ankara: Middle East Technical University Press, 1994. pp105-113 Berktay, A. Modernlesme ¸ Sürecinde Osmanlı Kentleri (Ottoman Cities in the · Contemporary Period), editors Dumant, P. and Georgeon F. , Istanbul: Tarih Vakfı Yurt Press, 1996. Cerası, M. Osmanlı Kenti (The Ottoman City) translated by Ataöv A., Istanbul: Yapı Kredi Press, 1999. · ¸ Sürecinde Istanbul’da Denel, S. Batılasma Tasarım ve Dıs Mekanda Degisim ˘¸ ve Nedenleri (Western Design and Changes in Istanbul and The Reasons for the Changes) Ankara: Middle East Technical University Press, 1982. Jacobs, J. The Death and Life of Great American Cities. [New York: Random House, 1961], Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1965. Keles, ¸ R. Kent Bilim Terimleri Sözlügü ˘ (Dictionary Of Urban Terminology). Ankara: Imge Press, 1999. Lapidus, I. M. Muslim Cities in The Later Middle Ages. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1967. Moughtin, C. Urban Design —Street and Square. London: Butterworth Architecture, 1992 Morris, A. History of Urban Form Before the Industrial Revolution, London: George Godwin Limited, 1979. Mumford, L. The City In History, New York: Harvest Books, 1989. Raymond, A. Osmanlı Döneminde Arap Kentleri (Arabic Cities In Ottoman Period). · translated Bektay A. Istanbul: Tarih Vakfı Yurt Press, 1995. Schwarz, G. Allegemein Siedlungsgeographiche, Berlin: Lehrbuch der Allegemeinen Geographie, Band: IV, 1959. Stewing, R. Istanbul’da Çıkmaz Sokaklar (Istanbul Cul-de-sac).trans Yazman, T. · and Yazman ¸S. Istanbul: Baha Press, 1966. Sözen, M., Tanyeli, U.Sanat Terimleri Sözlügü ˘ (Art Terminology Dictionary), Istanbul: Remzi Press, 1992. ¸ Sürecinde Osmanlı Kentleri Paul Dumont and Yerasimos, S. Modernlesme Francois Georgeon, editors, çev Ali Berktay. Istanbul:Tarih Vakfı Yurt Yayınları, 1996.

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mechanical + social development

the streets we need

not so long ago, streets were very simple: no sidewalks, curbs, infrastructure or public transit, and without strict differentiation between pedestrians and other means of transportation. Ancient mesopotamian cities show narrow streets and cul-de-sacs that provided access to courtyards linking clusters of dwellings belonging to extended families or clans. Streets were not a continuous system connecting urban settlements but rather the minimum necessary space required to delineate distinct clusters. It is perhaps this concept of the street as the in-between that first tinted it with a social undertone, establishing such spaces as the meeting place, the political arena, the place of commerce. MediĂŚval streets show a similar simplicity: street networks evolved, becoming more complex, intertwined and hierarchical in nature and, in many instances, actively incorporating trees and landscape as part of their design. The street as a socially populated void with minimal technological attributions is still very much in use today. Informal settlements in developing countries, products of completely unregulated and unplanned development, usually generate dramatic streets and alleys, uncannily proportioned to the human scale, uncaring of accessibility codes or infrastructural logic. These spaces arise purely from the tension between the pressure of occupation and the need to circulate. There is an organic quality in these spaces that is clearly lacking in the formal city. *

In many contemporary cities, streets have become flow: their value is not for what they host, but for how good they flush; the simplicity of the original void has been filled as an inevitable consequence of modern life, with a long list of stuff: parking, public transport lines (at times in exclusive rights-of-way), mail boxes, lamp posts, power lines, storm water channels â&#x20AC;&#x201C; and all that just above the surface. Below grade is almost as crowded with water pipes, telephone lines, electrical cables, gas and sewage lines, fibre optics, metro lines, district cooling and heating, even grey water lines for landscape irrigation. In fact, streets are the de facto location for most of our everincreasing infrastructure needs. To design a street these days is to necessarily accommodate, combine and reconcile all of these different requirements. This mechanistic conception of the street as a device for the mobility of people, vehicles and services leaves little room for the street as a true public space. Good streets not only function as conduits for all types of transportation and services, they also must perform as social ground, negotiating transitions between zones and loaded with historical and cultural content. The value of the street is based in the complex ballet of movements and carefully timed rhythms and sequences that it hosts (compellingly amplified and portrayed by fast-motion movies such as the 1983 Koyaanisqatsi) than in its spatial qualities. This exhilarating tapestry of movement and activity is the very definition of modernity; it is what draws rivers of people to urban centres and what simultaneously repels and attracts us.

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function priorities usage traffic people

a l f re d o l a n d a e t a

infrastructure | programmatic complexity by alfredo landaeta

an underdeveloped Venezuelan street in terms of engineering, but a highly sophisticated street as the site of social exchange

Let us look at a typical mid-density neighbourhood street servicing a mixture of residential and commercial uses. Depending on the culture, context and climate we will find that the street, conceived as a technological device, is designed, calibrated and built with the intention of maximising the performance of non-human elements â&#x20AC;&#x201D; the social component is often negated entirely. Differentiated strips for pedestrians, trees, vehicles and public transit facilitate the uninterrupted flow of traffic, justified by arguing that this clear separation is for the safety and congeniality of otherwise incompatible uses and activities. As such, the contemporary street is inevitably hierarchical and specialised, predestined at the design stage to fulfill a specific role within the urban continuum. What happens if the initial assumptions established at the planning stage no longer hold true, or if significant technological changes begin to affect the behavioural patterns of people? What if political and cultural changes cut deep enough to affect the nature of its use, or if the basic assumptions related to the cost of mobility are challenged? Our paradigms for developing and designing our cities, and by extension our streets, are currently under revision. Growing environmental awareness is placing great pressure on a way of life that is increasingly wasteful and responsible for our current state of environmental deterioration. As this awareness permeates the core of our values, changes will begin to accelerate. Streets will require as radical a redefinition as will our production-consumption-disposal cycle.

a l f re d o l a n d a e t a al fre do lan daet a

over-developed streets in Toronto: we must take care when street uses change and when even more uses are added

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Wishful thinking? No. This transformation is of similar proportions to the one experienced when the industrialised world transformed itself into the car-oriented society of today. Car manufacturers in conjunction with the oil industry successfully lobbied for an aggressive highway system that put suburban development on steroids, making it not only a possibility but the preferred alternative to traditional urban life. This transformation was unstoppable; there have been very few other historical moments with such a concurrence of interests: the cultural perception of a better way of living complemented quite neatly by the interests of big corporations, swiftly backed up by politicians with the necessary regulatory backup. Climatic change and emerging environmental awareness are creating a new alignment of interests based not on a perception of how we might live better, but on the assumption that such a transformation will ensure that life itself will continue. As research and scientific evidence amasses, the future looks bleak indeed. As pressure on leaders and political institutions to deal with global warming and environmental degradation increases, cities are likely to become the preferred ground for a fair number of initiatives â&#x20AC;&#x201D; escalating oil prices and pollution levels demand measures that reduce car dependency, favour public transit and increase densities. The potential for the most change exists in personal and public transportation â&#x20AC;&#x201C; more bicycles on the road, more designated bike lanes. Bicycles and pedestrians will share the public realm with alternative mobility options such as Segways and electrical bikes, replacing some or most cars (even if alternative technologies reduce the nasty side effects of internal combustion engines, personal cars still require significant and unconscionable space to circulate and park while consuming massive amounts of resources for production and maintenance). Public transit can be diversified: high capacity buses with reserved lanes, people-movers along pedestrian corridors and personal rapid transit systems (PRTS), where small automated vehicles in dedicated lanes transport people directly to their destination. Streets, therefore, will be forced to accommodate different overlapping systems of mobility at the expense of driving lanes. As with most human inventions, accumulation of knowledge results in better and more elegant solutions. It is impossible to know how streets and cities will evolve and change as society shifts paradigms; technology, education and social aspirations seasoned with ample doses of chance will play equally important roles in defining the emerging dominant trends. No matter how they develop, streets as design artifacts will have an obligation to be responsive to climate and location and, most of all, to be tailored to reflect local values and cultural standards. Streets should be the sites where people act in concert, as Hannah Arendt defined politics in its broadest sense. Maybe then, by understanding the streets as spaces of true social interaction, they will echo a new and better urban ideal. p

commentary | building practice by robert billard

rejecting an architecture of fear

nunavut

planning departments and elected officials of small Canadian communities constantly struggle with what form growth should take: is it the preservation of history or the need to foster a vision consistent with the needs of today’s society? Is it a struggle to find any sort of coherent vision out of a history of seemingly haphazard development? This last one is Nunavut. From decades of federal government initiatives to maintain sovereignty in the north, communities were built on the sites of seasonal hunting or fishing destinations. Within a general commitment to all Canadians, the government invested in infrastructure for these new settlements. To say that the same care was taken with northern communities as with those in the south would be a gross error. These new settlements were approached in the same manner as setting up a military or mining camp — in many cases those that worked on the architecture and planning were those that supplied services for the military or industry. Expediency and cost, overriding factors that shaped the architecture of the north, continue to direct built form, fostering a vision that could be described as an architecture of fear – that plagues community governments and inhabitants. City councils should not be the ones to set guidelines for form and function, although councils have a role in speaking out on people’s behalf. Responsibility lies with the architect, developer, contractor, owner and general public, whether local or visiting, to understand the land and culture they are about to impact. There is no excuse for subsistence architecture where expediency and cost are the only mitigating factors. Striving only to meet these criteria is bound to fail on a far more meaningful level. Submitting to fear, whichever form it takes, stunts the positive growth of a community. While design should pay attention to cost and the entrenched views of local populations, these fears should not steer architecture.

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the north environment design culture expedience

Fear of the Environment Fear of weather created a knee-jerk architecture that stuffed a yawning hole we had created in the first place. The hulks of Inuksuk and Nakasuk schools are a testament to this: fibreglas mounds with bullet-hole windows designed to keep out the environment at the expense of sunlight, fresh air and consequently students’ health. Houses were made small and culturally useless with materials that are alien to the landscape. Despite this, it was perceived by southern populations and those that knew nothing different in the north, that developers and distant governments were doing the best thing – providing a humanitarian service: housing and schooling. In the absence of anything else and the publicity nightmare of northern homelessness and English illiteracy, any solution southern architects and contractors could offer was accepted. Fear of the cost of building in the north fostered a use of substandard materials and an inappropriate use of others, and a complete abandonment of the idea of actually making buildings look and feel good. While the south had long abandoned the frontier mentality, the Arctic was built seemingly in just that way. Things have begun to change, in part due to the development of better building materials, and, to a lesser degree, the fact that Nunavummiut began to ask for more. Local people began to travel south and saw what they were missing in the way of architecture and sustainable, healthy communities and people from the south began to move north expecting to have what they had before. Thus was born the second phase of the architecture of fear: the fear of simply being here.

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Fear of Place

Fear of Change

Northern houses often copy nondescript subdivisions south of 60° or, even more distressing, resemble First Nations’ reserves of the 1970s. Northern contractors and prospective homeowners plagiarise plan magazines, adapting them to suit steel-piled foundations, no basements and tanked domestic water and sewage. Rarely does much thought go into how any kind of house might sit on its site apart from a possible view of the bay. Few engage the landscape or create a dialogue with their surroundings; there is more regard for set backs than wind, plants or daylight. It is as if southerners do not want to acknowledg the north; they retreat from the world around them and leave the Arctic behind. Social housing has atrophied from a complete lack of understanding of local culture and environment. To combat this, local jurisdictions and social housing organisations have solicited the help of southern architects and planners to develop prototype housing for all of Nunavut. This will only perpetuate the problem by forcing yet another stifling blanket of homogeneity coloured by a limited understanding of the culture and landscape. When buildings do not engage the landscape, there is little attention to the streetscape, to exterior place-making, or to the human experience of the building. Communities are full of buildings that most of us will never enter but nonetheless experience everyday. This relationship has to be recognised. Many Arctic communities suffer from a complete lack of a sense of architectural place. Expediency and fiscal restraint, repeated designs and a cookie-cutter mentality peppers the north with identical air terminals, health centres, schools and arenas. If it weren’t for the differences in landscape, it would be difficult to tell which community you were actually in. From this fear blossoms yet another: the fear of trying anything different.

Anything not a box, or with an angle other than 45 or 90 degrees, or that uses a different material than commonly accepted is perceived to immediately add 25% to the building cost. To compound this problem, the trades, when forced to abide by the will of the designer or owner, can be ill-equipped to handle deviations from the norm. Piles go in wrong locations, designs change over night without consent from designer or owner and corners are cut. Recently things have started to change. Recognising they must compete with southern contractors now moving into the northern market, there are some builders who are willing to try different things, developing an appreciation of challenges to the norm. Local governments have begun to expect more from their designers and are demanding innovative solutions to their projects. Federal projects, required to meet LEED™ Silver sustainability levels, have raised the bar on architectural problem-solving. The aesthetics of a project are more in the forefront and quality of space is actually being discussed. The Nunavut Legislature and Government of Canada buildings in Iqaluit, the Kugaaruk High School in Kugaaruk, the Killiniq High School in Cambridge Bay and some more challenging house designs by Full Circle Architecture and others have spurred an appreciation for design and are developing local form: a Nunavut architecture that fights its fears. p

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photographs | prince albert by tim atherton

Prince Albert, Saskatchewan

prairie streets

after being established in 1866 Prince Albert experienced early success and prosperity, but this turned out to be a fleeting and often temporary experience. The Canadian Pacific Railway chose a more southerly route that sidelined the city. When the important institutions were shared out, Prince Albert lost the university to Saskatoon and got the penitentiary instead. Since then, the city’s fortunes may rise and fall – but never quite far enough to be disastrous or truly prosperous. So, downtown Prince Albert and its Central Avenue didn’t undergo all the periodic changes that other prairie cities went through. And now the central core can either appear mildly depressed – following the closure of the Weyerhaeuser pulp mill – or, a year later, now optimistic with the potential of a diamond mine from DeBeers, the mood judged by the opening of the new cappuccino bar. Walking Central Avenue you find yourself going from the brand new hopeful and contemporary Forestry Centre to pre-First World War stone faced bank buildings to false-fronted early twentieth century shop-fronts to the flourishes of tinwork frontages and Prairie Historicism all within a couple of blocks.

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1866, prairie, boris karloff north saskatchewan river diefenbaker, diamonds louis riel, 1904, grey owl pulp & paper, de beers lucy maude montgomery federal penitentiary st louis ghost train

Big wall-sized mid-twentieth century advertisements still remain painted on brick-sided buildings for O-Pee-Chee chewing gum and Old Chum Tobacco, faded almost to transparency. Elaborate cornices and touches of Romanesque are noticed if you take the time to look around. Along with this, the post-modern migration – even in such a small city – from centre to edge continues unabated. The first generation of malls, dying and almost empty, are now being replaced by new parking-lot surrounded mega-stores – the home building/lifestyle supplies stores, the super-Walmarts, competing supermarkets and the drug store chains that now sell everything from cough syrup to milk to summer garden supplies. John Szarkowski, Director of Photography, Museum of Modern Art said, ‘these pictures have a kind of fragile, tentative beauty that I associate with such northern places (including my own home town) where the idea of civilisation itself seems an experiment, on probationary status’. In Prince Albert the grain elevator just hangs on and civilisation here does indeed often seem to be on probationary status, still an experiment. p

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what are you drawing?

and reading?

Psychogeography Words by Will Self Pictures by Ralph Steadman Published 2007 by Bloomsbury. ISBN 978-0-7475-9033-0

Cognitive Map, Rosedale Neighborhood, Evansville, Indiana, c. 1978 One of the first exercises that I have students undertake is to draw a cognitive map of their childhood neighborhood with key landmarks--in under ten minutes. This exercise introduces the relationship between memory, place, and time. The image above is my own drawing from the exercise depicting Rosedale, where I lived from age two to twelve. Rosedale was a shabby little corner of a rustbelt city in the grip of postindustrial decline, a neighborhood of bullies, cracked sidewalks, train tracks, and taverns. Joseph Heathcott New York

‘Psychogeography’ sounds promising. Mind meets earth and writing, the way Iain Sinclair’s London Orbital penetrates concrete to reach the primordial footprints. Our university library catalogue has one book under ‘psychogeography’. From a 1970s psychology conference, it’s an inyour-face Freudian approach to landscape analysis. (The Piazza San Marco has a lot to offer to that particular stream of consciousness). Not my lost river of soul, I fear. Some say French radical Guy DeBord invented psychogeography. I did a driveby skimming of his Society of the Spectacle, observed his anger and alienation, and chose to project upon them a mourning for the disconnection between human and environment. Oh, the ennui, the futility, etc. DeBord was a product of his time, but that is a subject for another day. Ralph Steadman gets how to combine earth / mind / graphics. Wilf Self, I’m not so sure. The vocabulary is thrilling, the personal reflections and autobiographical musings very interesting and engaging, but forgive me, I did not find the ‘geo’ in what are essentially personal essays that change location from time to time.

r alp h st ea dm a n

Jill Browne Calgary

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call for articles:

on site issue 20 (fall/winter 2008) archives and museums This is a call for everyone who knows about a really great museum: architecturally wonderful, politically important, magnificent collections, key urban sites. If you know of a museum, once seen, but not enough to write about it, contact the architects and ask them to describe it, the process, the content. If you have a museum that lives on in your mind from the past, or your travels, tell us about it and why it is significant. We would also like a discussion of why archives, galleries and museums are important -- or are they? Will the vast collections on the web make the buildings obsolete soon? Is the museum still the cabinet of curiosities, or is it the cultural equivalent of the seed bank? This isn’t about art galleries and contemporary art, although I can think of many contemporary artists, such as Christian Boltanski whose work is specifically drawn from archival material. Which is his most-used museum or archive? Eduardo Paolozzi raided the British Ethnography Museum in the early 1980s, taking things from the collection and adding his own work — a critique of the objectification of cultures. And for different reasons, Picasso haunted the Trocadero Museum of Ethnography. How about the Iceland Heritage Museum in Gimli, Manitoba, or the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg, or a serious look at Canada’s War Museum and the structural strictures of tall canted concrete walls? Or the landscape in which the War Museum sits? Or the delicate Costume Museum just east of Winnipeg, or lighthouse museums, or the conjunction of slavery and sugar at the Liverpool Tate? Or the lovely, tiny, vertical textile museum in Toronto. Or the Tyrell Museum at Drumheller, not that great but it doesn’t get in the way of an amazing collection. Is this part of it? You all have many ties to many countries, provinces, cities and people. Present us with museums that will provoke, excite and drive us to think about the past, the present and how these things are housed. send ideas by July 1, 2008 to editor@onsitereview.ca finished articles are due August 15 2008 800-1000 words maximum, you provide the images, and don’t take any images off the web. Make sure have copyright clearance for any images not produced by yourself.

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on site review 19: street spring/summer 2008 On Site review is published twice annually (Spring and Fall) by the Association for Non-Profit Architectural Fieldwork [Alberta]. This association promotes field work in matters architectural, cultural and spatial. On Site invites theme-based submissions — reviews, commentary, photo-documentation, project descriptions, critical essays. www.onsitereview.ca/ callforarticles for any and all inquiries, please contact: editor@onsitereview.ca 403 266 5827 Canada Post Agreement 40042630 ISSN 1481-8280 PAP 11017 copyright: On Site review and ANAPAF[A] All rights reserved. The use of any part of this publication reproduced, transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopied, recorded or otherwise stored in a retrieval system without the prior consent of the publisher is an infringement of Copyright Law Chapter C-30, RSC1988.

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editor/publisher: Stephanie White design: Black Dog Running printer: Emerson Clarke Printing Corporation, Calgary, Alberta distribution: Magazines Canada 416 504 0274 Ubiquity Distributors, NY 718 875 5491

contributors Tim Atherton now lives in Edmonton after 16 years in the north. Many websites: www.kairosphoto.com www.timatherton.com www.ImmersiveLandscapes.com Robert G. Billard, maibc, aaa, mnwtaa, leed ap, senior architect with KMBR Architects + Planners in Vancouver, BC. Prior to Vancouver he lived and worked in Iqaluit, Nunavut for six years. rbillard@kmbr.com www.kmbr.com Rita Brooks is a past co-chair of the Toronto Pedestrian Committee and Ken Brooks is a Design Leader at HOK Architects. They live a happily car-less life with their two daughters in Toronto. ritabrooks_9@sympatico.ca Efrosini Charalambous: Cyprus; studied architecture at the National Technical University of Athens; worked as an architect in Athens; M. Advanced Architecture, Institut de Architectura Avanzada de Catalunya (IaaC). She currently works at the office aiRearquitectura in Barcelona. frossocharalambous@gmail.com

acknowledgements: On Site gratefully acknowledges the ongoing support of our volunteers, and the assistance of the Canada Council for the Arts Publishing Grants to Arts and Literary Magazines and the Government of Canada through the Publications Assistance Program, Department of Heritage which subsidises a portion of the mailing costs of this magazine.

Ella Chemielewska is a Polish-Canadian urbanist, designer and photographer who teaches cultural and visual studies at The University of Edinburgh. She is currently working on an exhibition, Fiat Lux! Cold War neons, modernity and the metropolis.

sponsors: Manasc Isaac Architects, Edmonton and HOK Canada, Toronto recently sponsored On Site 18: Talking On Culture in Edmonton, providing invaluable help in developing On Site’s constituency of readers, contributors and subscribers.

R Wayne Guy (fraic, nwtaa/pp, moaq, ra arizona), practices in Yellowknife and Arizona. He was assisted on Jiewa Park by his lovely partner Constantina Tsetsos, b arch.

this issue: Special support for the printing of this issue has come from the University of Edinburgh Schools of Culture, Architecture and Scottish Studies, the Student Association and Graduates of the School of Architecture, University of Waterloo, HOK Canada and contributors to this issue.

Eric Deis is a photographer from Vancouver, British Columbia. His images of architecture and urban spaces illustrate the intertwined dynamics of nature, history, and economics. www.ericdeis.ca Antóin Doyle is an architect working in Dublin, Ireland. Research interests lie in analysis, context and documentation. antoindoyle@yahoo.com Brian Dyson is a media artist and photographer and founder of Syntax Arts Society. Zahra Ebrahim: founder and CEO of archiTEXT, an interdisciplinary architectural think tank combining architecture, innovation, art and the environment. zahra@architextinc. com

Joseph Heathcott is an Associate Professor of Urban Studies at The New School.  He realises a good percentage of his weekly caloric intake on Roosevelt Avenue. Ivan Hernandez Quintela practices in Mexico City, where he takes his cues from local informal manifestations in order to generate his critical ‘Tools for Everyday Living’. Alfredo Landaeta is a Venezuelan architect with a Master in Urban Design. He works in the Toronto-based HOK Planning Group as Vice President and Urban Design Director in projects in Canada, the Middle East and South America. Lia Maston grew up in Toronto and studied architecture at Laval University in Quebec City. She works at Levitt Goodman Architects, and is a walker and explorer. liamaston.1@ulaval.ca Jennifer McVeigh is a writer, artist and former Community Engagement Facilitator for the Calgary Housing Action Initiative. Matthew Neville (m. human settlements, ku leuven, belgium): collaborated on two books addressing rapid urbanisation in India and Vietnam; lives in Halifax; currently working on transformation of a Diefenbunker from nuclear fallout shelter to bastion for the 21st century. Anna Papachristoforou, postgraduate studies at Design Research Laboratory, Architectural Association. She is an architect in Athens and her undergraduate thesis project at National Technical University of Athens is presented on p8. annapapachristoforou@yahoo.gr Christopher Roach (b arch ut austin 1996) is a registered architect in California, and an associate at Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects in San Francisco.  His interest in urbanism is inspired by his travels and 10 years as a student of the City by the Bay.

cover: Images drawn from over 1300 digital cinema ‘notations’ made by Andrew King and Angela Silver in Rome while King was the 03-04 Prix de Rome recipient. The films were all made while moving across the city at various speeds, tracing particular historic, critical and conceptual itineraries mapped over contemporary Rome. They are abstractions of movement through the city, its gates and terminals.

Lola Sheppard and Mason White founded Lateral Architecture in 2003 after graduating from Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. Lola is assistant professor at the University of Waterloo and Mason is director of the Master of Architecture Program at University of Toronto. www.lateralarch.com Drew Sinclair (m arch toronto, ba geography mcgill) Canada Council Prix de Rome for Emerging Practitioners 2008, with superkül since 2006, sessional at Uof T Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design. drew@superkul.ca Gordon Stratford is HOK’s Canadian Director of Design and Chair of the City of Toronto’s Design Review Panel. Paul Whelan is an architect and a graduate of Waterloo.  He lives in Toronto and works for HOK.

k i ng /si lv e r

Danielle Wiley (m arch waterloo, 2002) is a PhD candidate at Carleton.  She has taught and practiced professionally in Toronto, Yellowknife, Rome and Vancouver.

A

Alana Young, a Master’s student at the University of Waterloo School of Architecture, is currently developing her thesis through an examination of the social and spatial boundaries of public and private space. Sarah Zollinger is completing her Master of Architecture at Dalhousie. She practices an architecture that exists in the spaces between here and home.

onsite 19: street, streets and lanes, the straight and narrow, wide and busy

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streets

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On Site 19: streets