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Reverse Zone, weblog on urban planning, sustainability, and technology.

Martin Laplante

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Fri, 19 Jan 2007

Close Encounters with Buildings

Urban Design International is available for free until Feb 14. So are all the Palgrave Macmillan journals.

Here is a great article in the current issue, entitled Close Encounters with Buildings. It details the interactions between the scale of buildings, which get bigger all the time and the scale of people, who don't.

A lot of what is recommended is the same as the Christopher Alexander's classic "A Pattern Language" which I am re-reading right now. But the methodology here is quite striking: a building and streetscape must interact with people from different distances. It is possible to make the interaction work at different distances, which can be complex but very pleasing.

The good news is that most urban facades in North America are so dysfunctional that they are broken on every single scale so improving them is easy. Just about anything you do is better.

The only thing missing is the child-scale interaction. Children have a different perspective, both trigonomically and psychologically. Don't forget the child-sized features that they and only they can safely explore.


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