Nearly 50 generous selections include seminal contributions from Howard, Le Corbusier, Lynch, and Jacobs to more recent writings by Waldheim, Koolhaas, and Sorkin. Following the widespread success of the first edition of The Urban Design Reader, this updated edition continues to provide the most important historical material of the urban design field, but also introduces new topics and selections that address the myriad challenges facing designers today. The six part structure of the second edition guides the reader through the history, theory and practice of urban design. The reader is initially introduced to those classic writings that provide the historical precedents for city-making into the twentieth century. Part Two introduces the voices and ideas that were instrumental in establishing the foundations of the urban design field from the late s up to the mids. These authors present a critical reading of the design professions and offer an alternative urban design agenda focused on vital and lively places.
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Andrea Gibbons 8 Comments This is a wonderful description of the components that make cities and towns work, from a point of view that celebrates urban life rather than fears it. It makes you realise just how much written about the city is a literature of fear. But Cullen seems to get the point, I think: A city is more than the sum of its inhabitants. It has the power to generate a surplus of amenity, which is one reason why people like to live in communities rather than in isolation.
Now turn to the visual impact which a city has on those who live in it or visit it. I wish to show that an argument parallel to the one put forward above holds good for buildings: bring people together and they create a collective surplus of enjoyment; bring buildings together and collectively they can give visual pleasure which none can give separately.
Gordon Cullen describes three primary ways in which our environment produces an emotional reaction key to the planner or architect: I. I love how he cinematically pieces the city together as we move through it, he writes: Suppose, however, that we take over this linking as a branch of the art of relationship; then we are finding a tool with which human imagination can begin to mould the city into a coherent drama. Place — how we find and feel ourselves within the environment: it is an instinctive and continuous habit of the body to relate itself to the environment, this sense of position cannot be ignored; it becomes a factor in the design of the environment… it is easy to see how the whole city becomes a plastic experience, a journey through pressures and vacuums, a sequence of exposures and enclosures, of constraint and relief.
The result will be a three-dimensional diagram in which people are asked to live. In trying to colonize such a wasteland, to translate it from an environment for walking stomachs into a home for human beings, the difficulty lay in finding the point of application, in finding the gateway into the castle. We discovered three gateways, that of motion, that of position and that of content.
By the exercise of vision it became apparent that motion was not one simple, measurable progression useful in planning, it was in fact two things, the Existing and the Revealed view. We discovered that the human being is constantly aware of his position in the environment, that he feels the need for a sense of place and that this sense of identity is coupled with an awareness of elsewhere. Conformity killed, whereas the agreement to differ gave life.
In this way teh void of statistics, of the diagram city, has been split into two parts, whether they be those of Serial Vision, Here and There or This and That. All that remains is to join them together into a new pattern created by the warmth and power and vitality of human imagination so that we build the home of man. Optics is brilliantly cinematic, trying to capture movement. Wonderful photographic montages show how a pedestrian moves through space, the changing views of the city, the changing feel of space, the momentary mysteries, the vistas, the partial and full closures, the gateways or walls that can frame infinity.
But the other two evoke a kind of poetry, a word invoking an idea, with pictures and text. My favourite words from the section on Place: Possession: and here he is talking about possession from a positive standpoint, a Lefebvrian standpoint where people creatively occupy space and make it their own through their daily lives … Occupied territory, advantage, enclosure, focal point, indoor landscape, and so on, are all form of possession… 21 here and there: The first category of relationships pinpointing, change of level, vistas, narrows, closure, etc.
The second category will be concerned with a known here and an unknown there… 35 Again this connects to narrative, to safety or excitement, to movement and adventure on the one hand, or a place that holds you, allows you to reflect or be at peace… silhouette… By now we are all pretty conversant with the slab block building with its uncompromising roof line…whereas the tracery, the filigree, the openwork ridge capping all serve to net the sky, so that as the building soars up into the blue vault it also captures it and brings it down to the building.
He continues with categories handsome gesture, projection and recession, incident fluctuation: … The typical town is not a pattern of streets but a sequence of spaces created by buildings. I love how he values mystery. This is the unknown which utter blackness creates.
And then there is Content — he talks about a great levelling, changes in the city after WWII This explosion resembles nothing so much as a disturbed ant-hill with brightly enamelled ants moving rapidly in all directions, toot-toot, pip-pip, hooray.
But the quality of intricacy absorbs the eye. It is an extra dimension… 65 I had to stop reading there and have a bit of a moment.
Giggling down from the sky. My heart fluttered. This is the space that belongs to all of us as residents of the city, in my own words it is all truly public space. So it needs paying attention to, especially the ways that cars and increasing traffic have transformed it and severely restricted the right of free assembly. To congregate, to be able to stop and chat, to feel free out of doors may not seem very important compared to the pressing needs of transport, but it is one of the reasons people live in town and not by themselves — to enjoy the pleasure of being sociable.
Whereas the distinction between in and out doors should be one of degree and kind, it has now become the difference between sanctuary and exposure. From the visual standpoint the greatest single loss suffered is neutralization of the floor, the space between buildings, which has changed from a connecting surface to a dividing surface. This includes a devastating, rather hilarious critique of what he calls prairie towns. Recent post-war installations in Great Britain are based on the principle of silhouette vision or surface brightness of the road.
To imitate daylight — whereby the road surface and objects on it are seen three-dimensionally and in colour — being economically impossible the alternative is to use a lower intensity of light, to reflect light off the road surface evenly so that any object on it is seen as a silhouette which the eye can interpret as man, dog, car, hazard, etc. There were some awesomely creative ideas for living more outdoors despite the English climate, domes, personal and otherwise.
Doors that slide. Clear roofs and ways to enjoy being outside even in winter, I loved it. And two potential field trips to what he considers town planning that worked — Well Hall Estate in Eltham built in and Redgrave Road, Basildon built in I rather want to visit both. And his final message: Even if you lived in the prettiest of towns the message is still just as necessary: there is an art of environment. This is the central fact of TOWNSCAPE but it has got lost on the way…On the one hand it has devolved into cobbles and conservation, and on the other it has hived off into outrage and visual pollution.
The only possibly base is to set down the ways in which the human being warms to his surroundings. To set down his affirmations. Not the grandiose views on Art or God or the Computer, but the normal affirmations about our own lives. It may help to observe human response to living itself.
Gordon Cullen’s Concise Townscape
Learn how and when to remove this template message Cullen was born in Calverley , Pudsey, near Leeds , Yorkshire, England. Between and he worked in the planning office of the Development and Welfare Department in Barbados , as his poor eyesight meant that he was unfit to serve in the British armed forces. He later returned to London and joined the Architectural Review journal, first as a draughtsman and then as a writer on planning policies. There he produced a large number of influential editorials and case studies on the theory of planning and the design of towns. Many improvements in the urban and rural environment in Britain during the s and s. He was also involved in the Festival of Britain in
Andrea Gibbons 8 Comments This is a wonderful description of the components that make cities and towns work, from a point of view that celebrates urban life rather than fears it. It makes you realise just how much written about the city is a literature of fear. But Cullen seems to get the point, I think: A city is more than the sum of its inhabitants. It has the power to generate a surplus of amenity, which is one reason why people like to live in communities rather than in isolation. Now turn to the visual impact which a city has on those who live in it or visit it. I wish to show that an argument parallel to the one put forward above holds good for buildings: bring people together and they create a collective surplus of enjoyment; bring buildings together and collectively they can give visual pleasure which none can give separately. Gordon Cullen describes three primary ways in which our environment produces an emotional reaction key to the planner or architect: I.