Tag Archives: Streets

FROM THE VAULT | Archetypes of Urbanism | Thomas Thiis-Evensen

thiis_evensen_thomas_archetypes_of_urbanismFROM THE VAULT |  Archetypes of Urbanism: a method for the esthetic design of cities by Thomas Thiis-Evensen
by Mark David Major, The Outlaw Urbanist contributor

Thomas Thiis-Evensen’s Archetypes of Urbanism: a method for the esthetic design of cities (1996) describes general principles for the design of streets and squares. These principles are derived by developing a typology based on the composition of facade and pavement surfaces in traditional – mainly European – cities. In taking this approach, the book has much in common with Kevin Lynch’s The Image of the City (1960) and Rob Krier’s Urban Space (1979), both of which are frequently referenced. Interestingly, a less explicit attempt is made to incorporate the phenomenological concerns of theorists such as Christian Norberg-Schulz about ‘the sense of place’ in discussing the usefulness of ‘types’ to designers. At its best, the book sketches out examples of how the composition of facades, detailing of pavements, and varying street widths can be deployed to either accentuate or retard the ‘directionality’ of movement in street spaces. In discussing the design of urban squares, the argument is less convincing and the author merely repeats the call for ‘good enclosure’. It seems likely the author is aware of this as only one chapter is devoted to the design of squares whereas the rest of the book focuses on the urban space of street networks, about which the author’s ideas seem to be more developed. Sadly, Thiis-Evensen’s argument is often undermined by diagrams appearing six or seven pages after they have been referred to in the text; the blame for which clearly resides with the publishers. Archetypes of Urbanism: a method for the esthetic design of cities is most valuable to students in helping them to develop their own ideas about the design of our cities.

thiis_evensen_thomas_archetypes_of_urbanismArchetypes of Urbanism: a method for the esthetic design of cities
by Thomas Thiis-Evensen
228 pages
Oslo, Norway: Universitetsforlaget

You can purchase Archetypes of Urbanism: a method for the esthetic design of cities from Amazon here.

From the Vault is a new series from the Outlaw Urbanist in which we review architectural and urban design texts, with an emphasis on the obscure and forgotten, found in the second-hand bookstore.

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Havana, Cuba | Photographic Essay | Part 2

Part 2 of a brief photographic essay of architecture and urban space in Havana, Cuba courtesy of Concrete Blonde. Again, the urban vocabulary of Havana is remarkably consistent: the street life of urban balconies, the use of balcony gardens in softening the urban streetscape, rooftop terraces, abundant use of urban sidewalk arcades, and the use of color.

IMG_8782Looking over a Havana neighborhood through an open window with the harbor in the distance.

IMG_8535Havana street life above and below, courtesy of a ground-level retail shop and second floor balconies.

IMG_8495A narrow shopping street in Havana, Cuba.

IMG_8004A lavishly-vegetated garden in the courtyard of a public building in Havana, Cuba.

IMG_7900Vegetation hanging from a second floor balcony soften the hard edges of the urban streetscape in Havana, Cuba.

IMG_7870Upper level balconies introduce additional street constitution and casual surveillance of the street in the urban environment of Havana, Cuba.

IMG_9136Balconies and sidewalk arcades defining the street vocabulary of Havana, Cuba.

IMG_9227A street space well-used by pedestrians in Havana, Cuba.

IMG_9231A narrow street width in Havana, Cuba.

IMG_8884Finally, a light well made of empty bottles at a local restaurant in Havana, Cuba; included here only because it’s so ingeniously cool.

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Havana, Cuba | Photographic Essay | Part 1

Havana, Cuba | Photographic Essay

Part 1 of a brief photographic essay of architecture and urban space in Havana, Cuba courtesy of Concrete Blonde. In terms of urbanism, the most interesting aspects of these photographs are: the street life of urban balconies, the use of balcony gardens in softening the urban streetscape, rooftop terraces, abundant use of urban sidewalk arcades, and the use of color. In terms of political ideology, it seems symbolic that many of the cars (most likely of origin in Eastern Europe) and best architecture (at least, in terms of design if not actual age) predates the Communist Revolution lead by Fidel Castro in 1959; make of that what you will. However, the result is an urban treasure trove awaiting re-discovery and historic rehabilitation.

IMG_8760View over a neighborhood in Havana, Cuba to the Caribbean Sea.

IMG_9143Havana streetscape showing sidewalk arcades and second-level balconies.

IMG_8765Rooftop terraces in Havana, Cuba.

IMG_7874Heavily-vegetated balconies in Havana, Cuba.

IMG_9168From this perspective, notice how the line of sight sneaks pass the corner of buildings to continue along the space of the street. Architects and planners ignore such nuances of the urban pattern at their peril.

IMG_8026Fantastic mural incorporated into the design of an otherwise mundane Modern building.

IMG_9071Contemporary pedestrian plaza, probably a conversion of an old tram/rail line running down the middle of the street. Though beautifully done, notice how empty the plaza appears during the middle of the day due to the generous street width, especially in comparison to the following photo of a heavily-populated street in Havana with a narrower street width.

IMG_8515Typical street scene in Havana, Cuba.

IMG_8575Church yard plaza in Havana, Cuba.

IMG_9218Urban balconies defining the facade of an early twentieth century (1930s?) building in Havana, Cuba.

IMG_8579Sidewalk arcades, balconies, and rooftop terraces on another street in Havana, Cuba.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of the Havana, Cuba Photographic Essay coming soon on The Outlaw Urbanist!

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