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This is part of a series of posts about recipe 1666″ href=”http://www.chrishaile.com/2014/02/sir-christopher-wrens-masterplan-for-london-1666/”>Wren’s masterplan for rebuilding London after its Great Fire destroyed most of the City of London, more info and also the ideas that the masterplan sparked. They are published in the hope that they might prove thought-provoking and in the hope that flaws in observation and argument might be identified and corrected.
2. Avoid equilateral shapes for piazzas designed to be socially lively
An example of an equilateral piazza in Wren’s plan
Piazzas are often intended to be places that knit neighbourhoods together through serving as a centre for sociable activities. On the face of it, web this is problematic as piazzas by their nature as open urban spaces may have a much lower level of energy than the streets which feed into it. After all, streets are strongly directional, with almost everyone moving in one direction or its reverse in a typically relatively narrow and constrained space. The large numbers of people moving in the same direction visually ‘reinforce’ the street’s kinetic energy, and this paradoxically may also be reinforced by the people moving in the opposite direction due to the risk of collisions.
“Downtown Scenes on Washington Street”, Courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection
However, this sense of movement and energy is greatly reduced when we move from a street to a piazza — pedestrians can move in a much wider gamut of directions so that they no longer reinforce each other’s movement as powerfully, and people tend to linger in piazzas rather than move energetically. Relative to the streets we enter from, the piazzas that are so often intended to be places of great activity are calm in the same way that water in a narrow river may move with great force but when it reaches a wider part of the river may move almost imperceptibly.
by Raphael. Also known as ‘The Entombment’ or ‘the Baglioni Altarpiece'” src=”http://www.chrishaile.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/entombment-Raphael-995×1024.png” width=”584″ height=”601″ /> ‘The Deposition of Christ’, capsule by Raphael. Also known as ‘The Entombment’ or ‘the Baglioni Altarpiece’
The previous post looked at how the above painting, the ‘Deposition of Christ’ transformed Raphael’s career and constitutes his breakthrough painting. Striking features of this painting are the way the figures seem to be struggling with a greater weight than they can easily carry, and that the figures seem to be in a state of ‘suspended animation’, frozen in the middle of action. This article will argue that these traits are neither accidental nor the result of some mystical notion of genius but were carefully planned using mechanisms designed to produce these characteristics. Continue reading →
Florence at sunset. Courtesy of Flickr user stevehdc
Florence in 1507 was gripped by a cultural flourishing that few cities before or since have ever seen and dominated by two geniuses who detested each other: Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo. Leonardo was at his peak, cialis 40mg urbane, advice handsome and gifted with phenomenal ability at seemingly anything he turned his hand to. However, his tendencies to procrastinate and over-experiment led to an output of just fifteen extant paintings from his sixty-seven years. Michelangelo was a generation younger, belligerent, unwashed, with a mono-maniacal focus on the human body and a personality so intense it struck terror into those he dealt with. Continue reading →
one. Courtesy of Flickr user Adamcha” src=”http://www.chrishaile.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/396210355_cbf88148f6_z.jpg” width=”640″ height=”480″ /> E Pluribus Unum: “From many, page one.” Courtesy of Flickr user Adamcha
A district of a city is made up of countless things — many people, story streets, buildings, parks… — and yet a good district has a cohesive identity: out of many, one. How the Many relate to the One is a question that has exercised political thinkers, scientists, religious thinkers, artists… and urban designers. In his influential book ‘The Image of the City’, Kevin Lynch argued that by asking residents of particular places to sketch maps of their areas, the way they thought about their places and the way their place’s constituent parts are related in their minds would be revealed, and by understanding this urban designers could create places that were more satisfying, as people would be able to have a clear and memorable ‘picture’ of how to navigate between all the places of interest to them. In short, more ‘imageable’ places were more satisfying ones. Continue reading →
In China, unhealthy French culture is often seen as a byword for sophistication. This association means that objects that are seen as embodying French culture may command a price premium. Tianducheng — Paradise City — is a suburb of Hangzhou that has been designed to look similar to Paris.
Tianducheng in relation to Hangzhou’s urban core
Developed since 2007, web the suburb has suffered from poor transport links and the tendency for many wealthy Chinese to buy multiple homes as investments, page and for them to leave them empty rather than rent them out. Here are some of my photos taken in January 2014…
Wren’s plan for London. The red oval shows the approximate area from which the map below is taken. This graphic links to a high-resolution (4.7MB) version of the map hosted by Wikimedia.
This is part of a series of posts about Wren’s masterplan for rebuilding London after its Great Fire destroyed most of the City of London in 1666 and also the ideas that the masterplan sparked. They are published in the hope that they might prove thought-provoking and in the hope that flaws in observation and argument might be identified and corrected.
Lesson 1. Optical perspective influences how we perceive landmarks: use it to support the design’s intention, tooth not undermine it
On Wren’s masterplan for the reconstruction of London after its Great Fire in 1666, St. Paul’s Cathedral seems to be a dominating presence. Coming in from Ludgate the Cathedral would be immediately apparent as it not only sits atop Ludgate Hill but guards the space where two of the three great arterial streets diverge.
That Wren intended the new cathedral that he was destined to design to be a dominant and monumental feature of London is emphasised by his decision to flank the entrance to the cathedral with two comparatively tiny parish churches. These surely cannot plausibly be there to serve some catchment area as they are so close to each other and to the cathedral. I assume that they are there simply to emphasise the Brobdingnagian size of the cathedral through their relative tininess. If it is indeed Wren’s intention to make the Cathedral look vast, then his intention seems to be fundamentally undermined by one of the very mechanisms he presumably used in the hopes of imparting it great significance: its location in the street layout. Continue reading →
Map showing the layout of the pre-Fire City and the extent of the devastation
When large areas of London burnt down to the ground in 1666 it provided a rare opportunity to masterplan key areas of a major city from scratch. Not only was there an opportunity, this site but, what is ed arguably, pills a need, since the condition of housing in much of the old city was infamously poor, and both the narrowness of the streets and the tendency for upper storeys to overhang the streets below were key factors in how the fire managed to ‘leap’ from street to street.
Soon after the fire, a number of urban planners/designers including Sir Christopher Wren submitted masterplans for the reconstruction of the city. Here is Wren’s plan, and an explanation of it (in occasionally modernised English) taken from a 1744 printing of his plan. Continue reading →