Reclaiming the Public Realm
REG 03 - 08 - 2010

A pattern of organization has emerged on multiple scales. From regional to city to, square, to street to housing cluster, the organization of space into three components: periphery, threshhold and core (for lack of better terms) has revealed a model of vitality and efficiency unrealized by contemporary suburban development. Looking at Krakow's city plan (bottom image): the Old Town remains whole and vital as the core of the city. The greenbelt that surrounds the old city wall becomes the threshhold containing the core. Finally the more recent development on the periphery of the old town allows for growth but still relates back to the old town via radial connectors between the inner ring and outer ring roads. Beyond this scale (regional) it would be possible to organize multiple clusters of developments that remain integrated and self-sufficient and yet connect to each other. However, we can look within the city plan to see the basic pattern printed in various scales. Market Square is a good example of the pattern on a smaller scale. The central plaza is the core, acting as an outdoor living room for the local residents. The low-velocity, multi-modal streets circumscribing the plaza connect pedestrians and commuters from the outer ring of the old town to the central plaza. The streets serve as a threshhold for local activity. The periphery is formed by mixed-use retail/residential units that form a continuous facade and source/destination of residents and visitors. Even smaller yet, the scale of the individual housing cluster relates the residents of a building or cluster of buildings to a core courtyard. In several cases a covered arcade or colonnade circumscribes the courtyard creating a loggia to view the daylighted core, connect buildings and provide peripheral circulation. The colonnade becomes the threshhold between the peripheral buildings and the core courtyard. The benefit is that residents have the private space that is their residence, a semi-private space that they share with their neighbors, and a direct connection with the public realm beyond the integral cluster. From the smallest to the largest scale, this Core-Threshhold-Periphery (CTP) model could serve as a model for sustainable smart growth and meaningful revitalization. Top image: details of the courtyard cluster showing the relationship of the peripheral buildings to the inner threshhold and core courtyard. Bottom image: Core-Threshhold-Periphery model shown on city, center and cluster scales. S

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