Spatial Layout as Critical Infrastructure
Stub…notes for an upcoming conference talk
Key issue to be addressed:
– Urban-Rural development
– Urban Regeneration
– Smart Cities.
When a network of streets is laid out, planners and designers build in an enormous amount of “embedded potential”:
- the pattern of movement
- land use potential
- land value
- social interaction
- public health
- carbon emissions.
The design of the street network has a fundamental and measurable influence on each of the above.
Later changes – to land use pattern or to the local design of streets (eg road widening or narrowing, adding cycle lanes or public transport) – can enhance or even diminish these potentials, but such later changes always occur around a benchmark that is set by spatial configuration decisions.
Buildings come and go – are built and demolished – but the spatial network, once laid out, is harder to adjust.
Exceptional new connections – such as bridges – can be built to connect disconnected networks but grids are resilient to change. Therefore, putting the wrong grid into an urban development can be a pathological move, setting the socio-economic potential of places for generations to come.
How do we know this?
The evidence-base: post-war housing estates; UK New Towns. Places that go wrong within a generation, if that – sometimes within a few years. Car-dominant transport planning. Land use zoning.
Risk of failed UK models.
In finding a balance between the tension of urban and rural development, Chinese towns and cities should learn from China first:
– mixed use planning: marginal separation by linear integration.
– mixed mode planning: roads, streets, lanes, canals: Jiading.
– mixed character planning.
What are the Spatial Layout requirements?
The historic Chinese grid: rectilinear hierarchy.
To be developed…