Skip to main content

KEY FEATURES OF NEIGHBORHOODS THAT ARE VIBRANT AND ALIVE

By Christopher Alexander. Original article here.

Published at P2P-Foundation on 9th December 2014.


CORE

There are so many different kinds of neighborhoods. A neighborhood may be small or large. It may be dense and urban, it may be village-like, it may be on the prairie or the tundra. It may be rural in spirit, or based on heavy manufacturing; it may be more oriented toward old people, or it may be filled with children; it may be a cultural enclave, or it may be rich in the variety of people and cultures who live there. So there is immense variety among neighborhoods in different parts of the world.

However, at the same time, there are central structural features which appear to greater or lesser degree in any lively and coherent, living neighborhood. In spite of the variation, there is a core which remains constant.

SPECIFIC GEOMETRIC CHARACTER OF BUILDINGS AND LAYOUT
  • The core of the neighborhood is a beautiful place which has been chosen for its inspiring character when you stand there. 
  • The heart of the neighborhood and 2/3 of its land surface, is a pedestrian world. 
  • Traffic interacts and comes in, only to the degree absolutely necessary: cars are not much in evidence. 
  • Density is sometimes as high as can be reached by high-rise apartments, but all buildings are two and three stories high. 
  • There are gardens everywhere — the space of the neighborhood is made of positively shaped gardens, public and private. 
  • Buildings are rather simple, but always personal, with aspects that identify them by the people who made them. 
  • Work is intermixed with living quarters: this applies both to small workshops and to larger offices or studio space. 
  • Roads for cars are narrow and discourage speed. 
  • Towards the outside of the neighborhood, there may be roads which carry faster traffic around town. 
  • Windows are beautiful and large. 
  • Houses are long and narrow, so that every room has good light. 
  • All entrances to apartments come direct to the ground, never to shared corridors. 
  • Some outdoor areas are furnished — seats, low walls, tables — and partly enclosed. There are cafes, shops and other amenities nearby.

A HUMAN STRUCTURAL QUALITY WHICH IS GENERATED BY UNFOLDING FROM REALITY, NOT PLANNED ON PAPER

Above all, the neighborhood is understood as a human and living system, where people feel like human beings. The mechanical quality of 20th-century housing developments is altogether replaced by a more friendly and biological character, where each thing has its place, and is shaped by human impulses, not by corporate decisions.

The neighborhood has a profound feeling of organic growth over time.
  • Its resulting form is complex, efficient and interesting, and does not follow a rigid “master-planned” logic.
  • It is designed to be continually adaptive, and therefore it can be enduring and “sustainable”.
The neighborhood has a profound sense of freedom.
  • It offers multiple pathways and multiple points of connection to people’s daily needs, and to each other. 
  • It is not just a branching hierarchy. 
The neighborhood feels like a beautiful part of nature. It builds on the underlying environmental structure, protects it, and connects people to it.

The neighborhood puts pedestrians first. The outdoor space is shaped for the primary goal of the experience of human beings, their interaction and exchange. Cars and other transport systems fit into this primary structure, and do not damage it. Buildings primarily shape and support this realm and enhance it, and object buildings and expressions are secondary.

All of the details of the neighborhood, to the finest scales, support and reinforce the human experience. The materials and details are carefully selected and shaped, combining local adaptation with efficient technology.

The basic structure of the city is the neighborhood. The neighborhood is a physical system that provides for the daily needs of its residents – providing markets, gathering places, parks and gardens, sacred places, raingutters for children to play in.

It is a place which brings the desire to live and to taste life, out in each person who lives there. This is not a casual comment, but a fundamental yardstick which is to be used, throughout, to measure the way each decision is made, each garden laid out, each doorway shaped with loving care by the people who live there. We mean it seriously, and we hope that you will mean it seriously, too, and will take the steps to make it happen.

This brilliant illustration shows how much public space we’ve surrendered to cars. To minimize the influence of cars is a key factor for a successful neighborhood.

Image: Karl Jilg/Swedish Road Administration.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Kapping av hulkillist

Hadde nesten ferdig et hjørne med hulkillister i dag, men så fikk jeg somlet meg til å kappe 2 mm for mye. Da var dagen over og rett hjem og helga ødelagt! Men får tro jeg får en ny dag i mårå? Har funnet litt på nett, så går på med fornyet optimisme over helga. Får trøste meg med at skal man bli god i noe må man minst holde på 10.000 timer.




En god artikkel:
5 snarveier når du skal legge lister
En kommentar: Kort sagt må man tenke motsatt når man lister med hulkil. Se for deg at du legger lista feil vei (den som peker mot/tar i taket) legger du jevnt med underlaget på sagen. Den delen som skal på veggen legger du på anlegget/landet på sagen.  Skjær den første vinkelen du trenger. Så maler du deg ut ifra den, setter merke på den delen som ligger på anlegget/landet på sagen, vrir saga til den vinkelen du skal ha... skjærer forsiktig litt og litt av til du treffer streken...

Så bare til å montere :)

Lite tips er å kappe hulkil lister 1-2 mm for kort, slik at du har litt plass å bevege lis…

Paddehoa og plassen min

Kjære plassen min, kvalt du vart, lik ei paddehoe alle paddehannane kasta seg over i dammen om våren.
Dei ville alle bu ved dine grøne enger, då dei tykte det her var so vent og fredeleg. Men dei vørde deg ikkje, og no er du kvalt til daude.
Herr Fossemøllens augnestein stend utan låven sin, her gjeng ikkje lenger dyr og beitar i dine grøne enger. Berre grasklipparar beitar her no.
Dei elska deg til daude, og med deg i grava di tok du den rike
grendearven din.
No stend vi ribba attende.

Minus låven

Det er de som hevder at etterkrigstida har vært fremskrittets tid. Knut Hamsun ville vært sterkt uenig i et slikt syn. Fordi som han formulerte det: "Fremskritt, det er menneskets trivsel." En forutsetning for trivsel er den menneskelige skala, som aller best kan illustreres med totenarden til tippoldefaren min. Pumpehuset ved Grythengen er helt ute av den menneskelig skala, hvor man pumper vann fra Mjøsas dyp opp til toppen av grenda som var himmelporten til Totenåsen. Brønnen som lå her før var i den menneskelige skala, en teknologi så liten at man kunne holde den i hånda. På samme vis som sæterstien mellom Holmstadsveen og Hongsætra var i den menneskelige skala, nå er den i maskinskala, eller nærmere bestemt tråkkemaskinskala.
Tvert imot kan vi slå fast at fremskrittet har forduftet, da trivselen ble borte med at stoltheten forsvant. Fordi uten den menneskelige skala finnes ingen stolthet, da det kun er maskinen som kan spille denne skalaen. Ikke kulturbæreren eller hist…