Tag Archives: pedestrians

Basel, Gundeldinger Feld

Today, I’ll take you to Basel, at Dornacherstrasse 192,where an old factory has been transformed into a neighborhood center, Gundeldinger Feld.

The history of this place could be the same as many other places around the world: a 19th century factory in the inner city suddenly moving to the suburbs in order to look for more space, an urban void opening up in the neighborhood, maybe some developer buying the buildings in order to turn them into  expensive lofts… But here the story takes a different path. The architectural firm INSITU, composed mainly of people living in the area, develops a project willing to promote local, indipendent business and improve the cultural offer of the neighborhood. They submit their proposal to the factory’s administrators: a Limited Company, composed of the architects themself will buy the buildings, renew and rent them to the different businesses.

Most of the architects from INSITU have previously worked in Africa, and thus they apply here most of the principles developped in their African experiences:

  • reuse of buildings in a way that minimizes the changes in the structure;
  • use of massive materials (concreetes, bricks, wood), easy to repare and with a long lifespan;
  • possibility, for a large and diverse population, to come and enjoy the area.

Today, Gundeldinger Feld includes a mixture of activities and business, including:

The central alley. The restaurant Eo Ipso on the left, offices on the right.

Details of the central alley. Here, all the works have been a new pavement for the alley, some flower pots and some bike racks. Thanks to laws in Basel encouraging car-free projects, no parking space is provided within the area.

Flower pots are not fixed. Customers can move pots as they like, and give their own touch to the alley.

Blinde Kuh restaurant, and its Braille-labeled bottles. In this restaurant, all waiters are blind, and people eat in complete darkness. Definitely worth trying!

A hall waiting to be renewed.

Another hall, turned into a public library. Lots of the factory equipement (cranes) are still on place.

The Rock-climbing training hall. Here too, cranes and other industrial equipements are still visible.

What lessons could be learnt from this project? Here are mine:

  • sustainable development won’t be made of futuristic materials (for example, we can compare Gundeldinger Feld with this project still in Basel) or over-determined, Le Corbusier-style projects, but of simple, reproducibile solutions. (more readings on this subject are on the website “emergent urbanism“)
  • In order to be accepted from the main audience, sustainable development has to be fun: somebody will adopt it because of their environmental committment, some others just because it’s fun or convenient. And all together, all these people will make the business thrive.
  • Small business need small rents, but not too small rents. Too expensive rents will make the area accessible only to the most luxurious brands, while too cheap rents will let small business survive without caring too much of their customers. And projects like this need business who take care of their customers!

Did you like this place? Vote for it on Cooltownplaces.com!

The future of automobile infrastructure: Antonio Segni Bridge, Rome

Usually, a highway is a mono-functional road, designed to carry cars from one place to another at a maximum speed.  But, sometimes highways don’t carry so many cars as expected,  and other uses start to appear.

An example of the re-use of highways was the Antonio Segni Bridge in Northern Rome, the east-west road in the photo here below.

vigne-nuove

(image: microsoft virtual earth)

Designed to be part of the Milan-Naples highway, the Antonio Segni Bridge has survived as an isolated stretch when the motorway was re-routed on a more external path. Closed to traffic for almost ten years, it has become the favorite place for pedestrians and cyclists’ sunday strolls. When it was opened to motorized traffic, few cars passed on the Bridge, and pedestrian and cyclists still continued to use its sidewalks as a shortcut to reach otherwise far neighborhoods.

Some improvement could be made in order to make the bridge a more interesting place:

  • wider sidewalks and zebra crossings.
  • more pedestrian connections to nearby neighborhood.
  • a landscaped median.

Here is a similar example, from Minneapolis:

video: streetsblog.org

Shared Space

Two kind of space exist: The highway, regulated by signs, and the public realm, regulated by social rules. But lots of public realms are designed as highways.

source: shared space

Google maps now gives walking directions!

Look at the google map above here. Don’t you see something different? Yes, it’s true: something has changed. The “walk until …” direction has turned into something more precise and more similar to the driving instructions.  More things are still to be implemented, but, just like Walkscore some days ago, this is the sign of a big change.

Learning from Copenhagen

In the 60’s, Copenhagen started an ambitious plan to improve cycling and walking. When the inhabitants were asked about the plan, they were skeptical…”we’re not Italians, we don’t have walking culture”. 50 years later, Italy is overwhelmed by car culture and Copenhagen has become a model for biking and walking…

(source: streetsblog)

Downtown review: Morges

With its 15.000 inhabitants, Morges is growing up as a major downtown in Lausanne metropolitan area. Its position, next to Lausanne and Lausanne University, and the developping opportunities, make the town an interesting place in which to relocate and to invest.

ENVIRONMENT

Morges lies on the shores of Lake Geneva, and offers lots of different possibilities for excursions, both on the lakeside and on the mountains. A good pedestrian and bicycle network provides lots of different paths for walks and hikes.

TRANSPORTS

Morges has a major railway station, with trains to Geneva (4 trains/hour), Lausanne (5 trains/hour), Vevey-Montreux (3 trains/hour) and Yverdon-les-bains, Neuchatêl and Bienne (1 train/hour). Buses linkthe city center with its suburbs and the university.

A good and cheap car rental service is provided by Mobility.

CITY CENTER

Morges has a very nice and lively city center, with a pedestrian street, a waterfront parallel to it, and a serie of boulevard all around.

The pedestrian street:

The waterfront, with a view of Lausanne:

and the boulevard which runs all around the center:

HOUSING (first places)

In the city center, lots of houses are being renovated, offering lots of modern houses in a vibrant and well connected area.

WORKPLACES (second places)

Four areas are designated to host enterprises and workplaces. Of these four area, one is just in the city center and hosts the headquarters of Logitech, while two of the others are connected by train (1 train/hour) to the city center and to Lausanne.

SHOPS, BARS, CAFES, EVENTS, NIGHTLIFE (third places)

The center is full of shops, museums, restaurants and shopping centers (Manor, Migros), and hosts lots of events, like:

-la grande table (at the end of may)

-Morges-sous-rire (end of may, beginning of june)

-guided tours, provided by ASM (every Friday at 2:30 PM, every Tuesday, at 10:00 AM, departure from the Tourist Office)

Nightlife in Morges is not so much developped, but Lausanne is just 10 mins away. Trains between Lausanne and Morges run from 5.30 to 1.00 (Morges to Lausanne) and from 4.30 to 0.20 (Lausanne to Morges).  On friday and Saturday night, more trains (at 0.48 and 1.14 from lausanne to Morges, at 1.52 and at 2.00 from Morges to Lausanne) and buses (at 2.00 and 3.45 from Lausanne to Morges) are provided. Plans and timetables of nightbus and night trains are here and here.

(sources: Morges.ch, RestoRang, Morges-sous-rire, 24Heures, Probatima, TL, MBC, Manor, Migros, ASM, promocote, Region du Léman, suissemobile, tillate.ch)

Free hugs campaign: the best example of the Flash Mob test

This video shows a classic of flash mobs, the Free Hugs Campaign, and shows us how the flash mob test reveals the different visions of public space carried by different actors: police officers viewed it just as a circulation space, while users viewed it as a place to meet and as an informal stage. It’s interesting to see how people were likely to defend  meeting space status when it was questioned by police officers.

(source: free hugs campaign)

Events on a pedestrian street: the flash mob test

A well designed pedestrian street can host lots of different events. There can be official events, sponsored by the city hall, and improvised events, organized by street users. An example of unofficial event is the flash mob:

(video: thierryweber.com)

A Flash mob is a good test to check the status of a space. If the space allows flash mobs, it can be considered a truly public space.

(video: improv everywhere)

Sunday street

If your town is still not able to match the criteria for a successful pedestrian street, another option is the Sunday street.

1) Choose a street long enough to be covered by bike in about 45 mins. (3 to 6 km)

2) Close the street for a day (Sunday)

3) Advertise the event in order to catch the maximum of people

4) Provide events all along the road

…and it’s done!

here’s an example from Portland (source: bikeportland.org):

and here an example from Lausanne: