“...balance between precise guides as Corbusier (1925) proposed, intangible elements as mainstream scholars proposed, and the unplanned as other scholars proposed needed to be further investigate, especially in relation to the design of urban form.”
Urban Vitality through Various Lenses: Systematically Illustrated
Urban Vitality Definition: The Need to Take a Position
In order to systematically investigate the definition of urban vitality through various lenses – from West to East, each idea from each scholar is illustrated using the same base (Figure 18, top-left): architecture, block, street, sidewalk, and open space. By doing this exercise, the ideas are ‘forced’ to be compared. Although this exercise has some limitations, some points can be derived from it:
As elaborated and illustrated, the various definitions of urban vitality from different scholars and context called for this graduation project to take a position in defining its own definition of urban vitality. Referring to Montgomery’s (1998) definition ‘...the extent to which a place feels alive or lively’, the keyword is in the term ‘lively’. This term is arguably related closely to the local culture in this case Hanoi and Ecopark. What will be lively for European or American society or even Indonesian society, might not be the same lively to people in Hanoi. Lively in Hanoi can means sidewalk eating with low seating, or the presence of market seller, or the market itself, or the presence of a lake (as Hanoi is known for its many lakes).
Corbusier (1925) has some very precise guides on how to promote his idea of urban vitality/urbanity with figures like ideal building coverage of 15% and pedestrian crossings every 1.2 km while other scholars do not propose such precise figures.
Mainstream scholars e.g., Montgomery (1998), Jacobs (1961), Lynch (1960), Cullen (1971), and Gehl (1996) ideas are not focusing on the urban form but more on the intangible elements i.e., activities, people, image, and uses (Figure 17, firstsecond row). However, Gehl (2013) proposed some observation principles in understanding public space and public life instead of precise guides.
On the other side, scholars like Crawford (1995), Kim (2012), and Yatmo (2008) focuses more on the everyday activities and the ‘unplanned’ urban form e.g., property right, sidewalk regimes, street vendor, and interaction in the parking lot (Figure 18, last row).
In summary, balance between precise guides as Corbusier (1925) proposed, intangible elements as mainstream scholars proposed, and the unplanned as other scholars proposed needed to be further investigate, especially in relation to the design of urban form.
Urban vitality and the liveliness can also be related to the real estate issue which partly contribute to the phenomena of ghost town where the form of the place itself might not be the main problem but more about for example the tenancy, property right, land and real estate speculation, or event related to the condition of local and country-wide economy at that time. Hence, investigating this definition closely from the local perspective from its stakeholders i.e., users, developer, consultants – with still learning from others, will be the key to proof the hypothesis especially in relation to the diversity as the key to promote urban vitality.
Figure 18. Ecopark masterplan evoluton in relation to urban vitality and urban design process
AR3U100 G r a d u a t i o n L A B: Ci t i e s f o r P e o p le - of Tomor row