ARR 01 - 13 - 2010

When travelling through Seville and Granada two beautiful Spanish cities the beauty of design was diverse. Plazas in Spain are much different than those in the US. We had the chance to see multiple plaza spaces. Each had many different functions, with various levels of interaction and activity, and various modes of transportation merging and moving through the space. How each style of the building interacts with the street and how the street interacts with the building. The amazing capacity of the street with horse drawn carriages, pedestrians, cars, scooters, buses, and trains is fantastic. There is no slow of traffic movement, it is simply a fluid motion. I believe part of that has to do with the design of the space. Careful attention to detail is given to the general layout in most plazas. Some of the plazas we visited had an element or center of activity like an open air flea market of sorts or a playground. Others simply had open space with a few bars and restaurants enclosing the space yet the plaza was full of activity. It seemed they were gathering for the simple reason of seating and socialization with family and friends. All but one plaza we encountered in Seville was full of life, and a few plazas in Granada due to some rain showers- but even then there were interactions occurring, had planned elements whether active or passive. Each was able to create a system to handle all modes and directions of transportation. Choosing a few plazas in Granada, I looked at orientation, transportation, and interaction to see what made these busy plazas successful. As you can see in the diagrams to the right providing space for various functions but also making it flexible space is ideal for a gathering/interactive space. Even the side streets created a sort of plaza that provided passage, gathering, and interaction with shops. A great plaza like the plaza off of Constitution Avenue in Granada and the Plaza de Espana, seen below, is that they create a variety of options with flexibility, yet create passageways of destination. The Plaza in Seville has been maintained since the 1929 World Exposition. It is a beautiful decorative flowing space that on the exterior is very unassuming. One would never guess the beauty that is inside. The plaza space itself connects with all of Spain. Each city has its own area that was specifically designed through hand-made ceramic tiles. In the summer months it is an open air library space with a fountain in the middle with mosaic paving patters that radiate around the space. A canal reflects the same form of the building to create a dynamic microclimate (in the summertime) and with tourists visiting as well as locales the space is very dynamic. The dynamics of plaza spaces can be wonderful opportunities to utilize space and draw people to an area to create life and character within a city. Spain understands these basic principle; it will be interesting how other cities create plaza space.

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