Tuesday, February 5, 2013

City Fundamentals From a Human Perspective

We believe:

1.People. A city exists, not as an objet d’art, but as a habitat for people, and this principle must guide city planning and design.  The sole measure of a city’s success is its functionality and the pleasure it gives to its inhabitants.

2.Human Scale.  The need for human scale is universal.  The places within a city need to be scaled to the people who will use them.  Spatial enclosure is an important tool for achieving human scale.

3.Mobility.  Movement of people and goods is inherent and cities must accommodate and facilitate mobility.  Good cities provide convenience and choice.

4.Wholeness/Integration/Harmony.  The pieces of a city relate to each other and must be integrated together in harmony.  Cities and people exist and thrive within nature (the collective whole), not separate and apart from it.  Nature is not urban or non-urban.  A tree is not inherently better or worse than a person.  Less is not inherently better or worse than more.  The issue is not the thing, whether person or tree, it is integration and harmony with overall life.

5.Timelessness/Adaptivity.  A city has a beginning, but not necessarily an end.  Over time, cities must adapt to new conditions.  The longer the planning horizon the better.  Cities that adapt prosper and thrive.  Those that don’t, wither and die.

We ask of every design:

1.Is it focused on the functioning and pleasure of people?

2.Does it create good, human scaled places?

3.Does it accommodate and facilitate mobility and provide convenience and choice?

4.Is it internally and externally integrated in harmony?

5.Is it adaptable over time to new conditions?

Additional Fundamentals

1.People live in the spaces between buildings.  A building standing alone in space may be an interesting object, but it doesn’t create a Place.  But put a few buildings close together and you begin to shape open space into a Place and this is the beginning of a town.  

2.Legibility/Physical Clarity.  One aspect of city functionality and human pleasure islegibility.  Can an ordinary inhabitant comprehend the form of the city, his location within it, and the route to other locations?  Legibility should be communicated primarily by city form and only secondarily by directional signage.

3.Differentiation/Order.  The pieces of a city differ from each other and are perceived separately but also as parts of an ordered whole.  A compact center, for example, is perceived as differing from adjacent less compact areas, and also as differing from other compact centers, but all of them are perceived as part of an ordered whole (the larger city).

4.Authenticity/Meaning/Identity.  The form of a good city authentically reflects the history, culture and meaning of its people and gives it a memorable identity.

5.Privacy/Sociability Continuum.  People have needs for both privacy and sociability and city form should respect these needs and provide adequate choices.  One aspect of this continuum is the need for proper transition between privatized places and adjacent public places in order to make both comfortable.  In urbanized areas this transition should be made with urban, not suburban, design tools.

6.Egalité.  A good city welcomes all ages, cultures and incomes.  

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