THE PLANNING AND LAYING-OUT OF STREETS AND OPEN SPACES
Dr. J. Stübben ( Biographical note )
VIIth International Congress of Architects, "Summary of Proceedings," Journal of the Royal Institute of British Architects 13, 3rd Ser. (25 August 1906):liv-lv.The report in which this text appeared indicated that Stübben used forty latern slides to illustrate his lecture. These images were not reproduced in the report and thus cannot be included here.I. PLANNING OF STREETS.
The direction and width of streets depend on the claims of the traffic to be accommodated. Traffic must everywhere and in every direction find a clear view and an unimpeded path. In main thoroughfares the width desirable may be 50 metres or more; in by-streets, where the traffic is solely for the service of the residents, the width may be reduced to 8 metres. All intermediate widths depend on the circumstances of each case.
The gradients of streets should be as flat as possible. In level districts gradients of more than 1 in 70 should be avoided as far as may be, because they interfere with the asphalting of the road surface. In hilly districts gradients up to 1 in 20 are permissible in the case of main thoroughfares, and up to 1 in 10 in the case of side-streets. Where steeper inclines have to be dealt with stairs or footways should be provided. The latter should be employed more frequently than is at present the case on mountain slopes and for diagonal crossings of long blocks.
For hygienic reasons, streets running due east and west should, where possible, be avoided, because the houses on the south side during the greater part of the year do not receive direct sunshine. The width of a street should be at least equal to the height of the houses in it. Broad streets should be planted with rows of trees and garden plots. Forecourts in front of the houses favour the access of light and air, and often allow a reduction of the width of the roadway. Very wide and bare streets are to be avoided, owing to dust clouds and lack of shade. The same remark applies to long straight streets, especially when they lie parallel to the direction of prevailing winds.
On purely aesthetic grounds there is as much to be said for straight streets as for crooked ones, and for a regular as for an irregular building line. In hilly districts curved streets facilitate traffic and the laying-out of sites. In level districts the adoption of straight or crooked, regular or irregular lines depends both on practical considerations and also on the artistic intentions of the designer. Straight streets of great length should be avoided; the remedy is to curve or change the direction, also transposition of the direction or building lines. Transpositions are, however, only permissible in so far as they do not interfere with a clear view of the traffic. Convex changes of gradient are to be avoided in straight streets as far as possible. Concave levelling is to be preferred. Unavoidable stopping-points ought to be treated artistically as terminal points. Every street ought as far as practicable to be planned individually. A change of width in different parts of the same street may serve to add to its beauty. Self-contained street pictures are everywhere to be aimed at.
II. PLANNING OF OPEN SPACES.
Open spaces are required for dealing with streams of traffic at points where streets converge, at railway stations, bridges, city gates, &c. For practical reasons it is desirable that the various lines of traffic should not intersect one another at one point. Spaces devoted to traffic lack, as a rule, one quality of artistic importance-viz. the setting of a proper frame. They can, nevertheless, be made to present a pleasing appearance. The lack of a suitable frame may be to some extent compensated by so arranging the lines of the streets that the eye travels over the open space and rests on a boundary wall. Useless traffic areas resulting from the unnecessary meeting of streets are to be avoided.
Market-places should be near to some main thoroughfare, but their main area should not be open to vehicular traffic.
A considerable number of open spaces are desirable in the interests of fresh air. They should occupy at least one-tenth of the total area of a town. Spaces planted with trees and flowers, such as gardens and recreation grounds, are important to health, as are also public parks and promenades.
The chief artistic quality of open spaces lies in their being as far as possible enclosed in a proper setting. This applies to market-places and garden. but especially to spaces of a purely architectural character, i.e. spaces intended as sites for monumental buildings. The preferable position for these buildings is at the side of the open space rather than in the centre. In this latter position the necessity of a framing for the remaining portions of the space holds good. Porticoes and porches, which can be carried out into the street openings, help to close in the frame. Errors in scale, especially unduly large open areas, are to be avoided. Convexity of the open space is inadmissible. Concavity is preferable. Each open space should, as far as practicable, be laid out individually.
Combinations of spaces are subject to various requirements, according to the purpose for which each is intended, e.g. whether it be for purposes of traffic or as a site for monumental buildings. The grouping of several separate spaces can be made to produce fine effects from an artistic point of view.
III. PLANNING OF CITIES
It is instructive to pass in review--
The formal cities of ancient Greece.
The formal and informal cities of the Romans.
The irregular cities of the earlier Middle Ages.
The regularly laid out towns of the later Middle Ages, of the Renaissance, and of the Baroque period.
The systematically designed cities of America.
The improvements in towns carried out during the nineteenth century, for the most part geometrical in character; and finally,
Traffic, Hygiene, Beauty
Modern ideals are in the main based on the principles given above for the design of streets and spaces. We cannot simply imitate the cities of an earlier age, since the requirements of the traffic and of hygiene have altered. That the ground plan of a city should be clean and orderly is of importance. The task of the artist lies in a perfect adaptation to use, combined with beauty of form. In other words, the arrangement of the open. air space shall satisfy aesthetic demands, while at the same time it must provide, as completely as possible, for convenience of locomotion and health.
Economic and Social Requirements.
In addition to the claims of traffic, health, and beauty, economic and social considerations require attention. The streets and blocks of buildings must, in their character and dimensions, conform to the economic and architectural necessities of the inhabitants. Broad main thoroughfares must be provided for the bulk of the traffic, narrow side-streets of private houses serve to divide the area to be built on into separate blocks. The various parts of the city ought, even in the first rough plan, to be divided up in accordance with the purposes they are intended to serve--viz. into rows of houses or detached and semi-detached buildings; into tenements or private houses; dwellings for the upper, middle. or working classes; shops and retail or wholesale manufactories, &c. Attention should be paid to their relative position in regard to the centre of the town, the surrounding country, the railways, and the harbour.
As in the case of isolated thoroughfares and open spaces, so too in the case of whole quarters of the city individual character should be aimed at.
Care of Monuments.
Ancient monuments of all kinds, as well as fine existing streets and views, ought not only to be preserved, but should be taken advantage of in order to secure a characteristic development of the city on artistic lines....
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