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DESIGNING THE URBAN SPACE

The American Heritage Dictionary defines space (from the Latin spatium) as a set of elements or points satisfying specified geometric conditions in a three dimensional field of everyday experience; the distance between two points or the area of volume between specified boundaries. As urban living becomes more popular the eventuation of conurbation becomes a greater reality along the East Australian Seaboard and many parts of the world. The spaces we develop, use and live in are becoming equally important in terms of economic, social and environmental value. As designers we find ourselves dealing with these issues in every part of the design solution process, from the individual, through to community or holistically as a nation. Many theories exist about the perception of what is space and how it should be best used in design, a leading example is the gestalt theory. Separating space into two areas; space and anti-space. Steven Peterson attempted to define, through numerous examples, the physical properties that differentiate space and anti-space. Space can be measured; it has definite and perceivable boundaries; it is discontinuous in principle, closed, static yet serial in composition. (The Piazza del Campo, Siena, is space.) Anti-space, on the other hand, is shapeless, continuous, lacking of perceivable edges or form. (The Strip in Las Vegas is anti-space.)

The first true example of space and anti-space was from mapping taken of Rome in 1748 by G. Nolli. He used that information to understand the issues inherent with spatial design and formulated a collection of three theories that he believed, form the basis of successful urban design. 1. 2. 3. Figure Ground Theory. Linkage Theory. Place Theory.

Figure Ground Theory- Giambattista Nollis map of Rome 1748 is the best illustration of this. The building coverage is denser than the exterior space, thereby giving shape to the public openings- in other words, creating positive voids, or space as object. Space is the medium of the urban experience, providing the sequence between public, semi-public, and private domains. For these sequences to work, circulation barriers and gaps in continuity must be minimised or eliminated. Spatial orientation is defined by the configuration of urban blocks that collectively form districts and neighbourhoods. It is the articulation and differentiation of solids and voids that make up the fabric of the city and establish the physical sequences and visual orientation between places. Figure ground analyses are especially useful in revealing such relationships.

Further more, analysis of the components reveals in depth detail entailing what it is that makes these particular places and their relationships work so well. A review of precedents reveals 3 important components of successful hard urban space: 1.) The 3 dimensional frame; 2.) The 2 dimensional pattern; and 3.) The placement of objects in space. 1.) Three-dimensional frame; defines the edges of space, the degree of enclosure, and the characteristics of the spatial wall. Transparency, opacity, openings, and surface ornament have significant impact on the character of space, as does the vertical mass to horizontal space. The scale and the way this frame meets the ground plane are also major factors. 2.) The two-dimensional pattern; refers to the treatment and articulation of the ground plane- its materials, texture, and composition. 3.) Objects in space; are those elements such as sculpture, water features, and trees that provide accents or focal points and make the space memorable. Objects can be used to anchor the centre and to give vitality to spaces. The most vital elements of all are the human actors who use the space, giving it life.

The most successful urban spaces comprise a rich mixture of these three concepts.

PUBLIC SPACES
Public spaces are to give symbolic content and meaning to the city by providing gathering places, paths, transitions between public and private domains, and areas for discourse and interaction. As Susana Torre writes: urban voids are at once the vessel and symbol of human gathering, and represent the tension between the individual and the collective. In a milestone book written in 1889, Camillo Sittes wrote about the lack of artistic quality in exterior space and about the importance of urban spaces as enclosed entities. Some historic precedents in the successful hard urban design of SQUARES are listed below; Piazza del Campo, Siena Piazza San Marco, Venice Piazza San Pietro, Rome When analysing these examples it is easy to see the importance of the design of space and the rules that govern it. Within those rules it shows clearly that every building needs to be subordinate to the overall blueprint- that is, its scale and architectural vocabulary must harmonise with the existing system of public space.

Equally important to urban spatial design is the streetscape. The spatial elements of the street were established as early as Pompeii with curbs, gutters and crosswalks all evident in their design. The main resolution of street design is in movement, movement is the essence of streets. Streets provide us with the essential freedom of movement on which city life depends. They make and reveal the city. Effective street space can take on a variety of forms, below are listed two historic precedents of STREETS. There are two main types of street space: inflected (curved) and uninflected (straight). A good example of an uninflected street is the Rossi Prospekt in Leningrad, where the width equals the height at 22 metres, and the length is exactly ten times it, at 220 metres. Visby, Sweden, Main Street is inflected with varying buildings, facades and heights, but gradually unfolds due to its curvature.

Referencias: R. Trancik. (1986) Finding Lost Space- theories of urban design. Van Nostrand Reinhold- New York. R.K. Untermann. (1984) Accommodating The Pedestrian. Van Nostrand Reinhold- New York. Y. Ashihara, translated by L. E. Riggs. (1983) The Aesthetic Townscape. The MIT Press- Cambridge, USA.

Pgina sacada de: http://hds.canberra.edu.au/design/cubic/groups/21/SPACE-history.html