There’s a whole ‘school’ of writing – Buzzfeed-like blogs – devoted to lists. Listicles, they call them. And when it comes to the urban environment, lists are irresistible.
But here’s one – 10 urban qualities central to every city – bySeattleite Chuck Wolfe in Crosscut that’s slightly offbeat, while still addressing the question of what makes for good urban design. I took a couple of examples as illustration:
Water features that emulate nature, in context:
While not always allowable for health and safety reasons, water features in the public domain evoke the spontaneous puddles, pools and streams of urban times gone by. Just as sidewalk tables and benches give this street in Melbourne, Australia a human scale, the central water feature complements the greenery and surprises passersby with the unexpected. There are lessons to be learned from these kinds of small-scale improvements. Not only does this coupling mimic a natural ecosystem, it also fulfills a dual aesthetic and drainage function.
Young children in open squares:
Every urban open space should be a place where children can safely wander and explore at more than arm’s length from their parents or family. The most simple human experience, seeing your shadow, becomes touching theater to nearby observers. This scene in a Barcelona square is a challenge and a test: Can children safely chase their shadows where you live?