Streets first, buildings second

I’ve been invited to lecture to the Harvard GSD ‘Unterbau’ options studio this Thursday. They’ve been offered the concepts of the Continuous City (ie buildings aligned into street-fronting blocks) versus the Discontinuous City (ie modernist standalone architecture). This makes me think about a second pair of types: the Continuous Street Network (simple, linear, grid-like) and the Discontinuous Street Network (convoluted, labyrinth-like). 

These two categorisations can be combined, I think positively, as:

CC:CSN (the most traditional form of #urbanism, found for millennia)

DC:CSN (street-based but ‘gappy’)

or negatively as:

CC:DSN (trying to be like a city but overly convoluted in layout – I see a lot of this in contemporary urbanism)

DC:DSN (the worst of the worst – complex and incoherent).

In other words, what matters most is the geometry of the street network, then the continuity/discontinuity of the buildings. Streets first, buildings second. Sometimes/often/always hard for architects to accept.

I might weave this into my talk…

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