RRY 03 - 21 - 2010

Our travels to the last few cities have been amazing. We have seen so many cool things and such spectacular design, but there is one thing I have noticed which is specific to the last three cities, and that is the pedestrian street. A pedestrian street is just that, a street for strictly pedestrians, there are no vehicles allowed. Other places we have visited indeed have pedestrian streets but none rival those of Budapest, Salzburg, and Munich. These three places had such rich pedestrian streets which were heavily populated, allowing for a very pleasant and amazing experience. A pedestrian street looks like a simple concept with little planning involved, but there are numerous design techniques employed which make these streets so successful. The biggest issue with other pedestrian streets was the issue of space. All three streets we visited had a tremendous amount of space in which three distinct zones were formed. There was a large open central plaza, a main arterial movement zone, and smaller side corridors. The first zone was the large open space. This space was monumental in size and had many ways to access the space, whether it is from the actual street, the subway, or a side street. This space was defined by larger buildings and the size and lack of planned activities made it the key point of all activity. This space housed large crowds watching very entertaining street performs and just allowed a place for people to gather. The space lacked an excessive amount of detail an all elements had no purpose allowing many activities to happen. From the main plaza space there was a transition into the heart or arterial path of the pedestrian street. The transition from the plaza was seamless and very nicely designed. The buildings heights were reduced and trees were added in an effort to bring the space down to the human scale. The paving pattern which was large and non-descript in the plaza changed and now used smaller pavers which were arranged in a detailed pattern which helped direct people through the space. This corridor, even though a single space, was in fact divided into three subspaces. There was a central fast moving transition zone, two smaller side seating areas, all flanked by slower window shopping zones next to the buildings. These three subzones worked well in conjunction as they allow people to choose which zone they wanted to use and kept people flowing efficiently. Each zone had an implied barrier which was achieved through the use of another change in paving, a street tree, benches, or a row of street vendors. The final element of the whole is the small streets leading to the main corridor. These side streets directed people to the main corridor, and aided the corridor as some elements spilled into the sub-streets. We visited the pedestrian streets on very busy days and these side streets allowed people to get out of the hustle and bustle of the main corridor and relax. These side streets were also home to larger street vendors which catered towards the main corridor. All elements of the street while appearing to be unplanned were indeed thoroughly planned. The concept of the three zones worked well to ensure a variety of spaces which made for a very active and entertaining lively pedestrian street.

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