Genoa, Porta del Vacca

This tall, stately gate frames an intimate view up the street, which appears to be just five or six meters wide. The buildings are four or five stories tall, but some of the floors are high, leading to building that are much taller than the street is wide.

Notice that the street curves away, but not immediately. The relationships between the length of straight street, the width of the street, and the degree of curvature all combine to show us the facades of several buildings, albeit at quite an acute angle. The form of the enclosed area is highly satisfactory and very comfortable, in my opinion.

Some people find these proportions claustrophobic, but they are common in the older parts of many cities. My own feeling is that this is about the limit of the desirable ratio between street width and building height. Even higher ratios are shown for the very narrowest streets in the Buildings chapter of Carfree Cities, but I personally would prefer to live on a somewhat wider street. I think I would feel quite at home on a street as narrow as the one pictured here, although I suspect that the interior gardens are smaller than I would like. This area is, in fact, probably a good deal denser than what is proposed in the Reference Design for carfree cities.

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Text ©2001-2002 J.Crawford