Florence, Via Calzaioli

Rob Krier rubricized the possible arrangements of nearly everything urban in his Urban Space (New York: Rizzoli, 1979). He analyzed the possible shapes of squares and the manner in which streets were brought into them. Anyone who might ever lay out a square should have a copy of this book. The analysis is a bit obsessive, but still definitely worth thinking about.

One of the favored arrangements is sometimes known as a turbine, one part of which is shown here. Streets come in at the corners and "inject" foot traffic into a clockwise flow around the square. This is thought to make the square more lively. This square has that arrangement, at least for the one street that is visible.

It is evident from the amount of wheeled traffic on the street that this square serves as an important circulation space. Notice, however, that no curbs have been installed. This can play out in either of two ways - pedestrians feel that the whole space is theirs, and vehicles have to be careful, or the vehicles feel that the whole space is theirs and the pedestrians had better watch out. Here it looks as if the pedestrians may have won, but such victories can be temporary!

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Text ©2001-2002 J.Crawford