Hammerson Development Public Realm Critique
A critique of the existing masterplan for Leeds, UK, this project creates a framework from which City administrators began to rethink their urban regeneration plans. Constructing a database of urban typologies based on famous pieces of cities from around the world, BAM+MSI’s analytical process offered city administrators an immediately understandable point of comparison. These visual comparisons facilitated the City to redirect their growth towards a higher quality urban environment.
By cross-checking their current masterplan with historical preferences several points surfaced as potential shortcomings of the current Leeds plan. These shortcomings included the lack of differentiation, failure to emphasize topographical change, missing civic assembly areas, and general lack of integrated landscape.
A common problem with today’s consistently rigorous zoning laws, Leed’s standing plan created a system of regular streets in the areas of regeneration of monotonous width. As the historical examples show, cities with differentiated street widths create more stimulating variety of scales for ground floor retail and office settings. This variegated mix of floorplate sizes stimulates the intermixing of casual programs with more formal, expensive floor areas and creates a far more diverse and sustainable economic zone. Historical examples range from the typical Manhattan street grid, Piazza del Popolo, to the off-width lanes of Venice.
Modern construction techniques and the economy of scale in today’s urban developments encourage large-scale design strategies. In an effort to minimize detail conditions which topographic variation demands over a large site, modern planning tends to rationalize topography over large areas of site tying into adjacent areas at key points. This modern framework for development, although easier to design, creates urban developments that are susceptible to failure conditions at these points of connection and topographic integration. Furthermore, the rationalized topography creates large flat streets and further increases the feeling of a generic urbanism. By pushing the designers to become more actively involved with the existing topographic change over the course of the site, the City could produce a more active pedestrian environment with real estate benefitting from more nuances and subtlety than the modern rationalizing method. Urban areas like San Francisco, Rome and Monaco, are small examples of how embracing topographic nuances can enhance a city’s identity.
Although Leed’s standing masterplan accounted for a civic assembly space within the downtown area, this space was designed within the regularity of its building footprints and therefore was indistinguishable from say, a vacant lot. There were no great collection mechanisms or circulation support systems feeding the urban plaza, which is another common flaw with contemporary masterplans. This lack of identifiable urban space deems whatever investment the city makes into hardscape or public art doomed to mediocrity. Although Leeds could create a nice plaza, the cross-referencing with historical types showed that the design would never stand out to create urban identity. Therefore in order to maximize their inverstment the city was faced with the option of reconsidering this primary space in positive new light.
The final shortcoming of the masterplan which surfaced through the cross-referencing was the general lack of a comprehensive landscape strategy. Generic urban street sections and spottily planted plazas are a hallmark of contemporary masterplans. Green elements can be a key unifying element in creating a cohesive strategy for an overall masterplan. Conceptual landscape design in urban areas consisting of noteworthy street trees and park elements can be found in great cities across the world, from Paris to New York City.
A design was created as a corrective framework for the existing Leeds masterplan resulting from the analyzed shortcomings. This design integrated a differentiated street condition by shifting the front and back facades from two unconstructed rows of buildings. The plan was split from one floorplate zone into four allowing for more topographic differentiation and diverse connectivity to the existing urban material. A jewel like civic space was created that actually allowed for more building area than previously proposed. This area was accented by a cohesive building height zoning rule which focused on the civic plaza. Finally, unique urban street trees were proposed throughout the streets feeding into the civic plaza with increasing density. (This project was completed by BAM in the office of Martha Schwartz, Inc.)
Project Facts Client: City of Leeds Architectural: Farrell
工程有关方面： 客户：利兹市(City of Leeds) 建筑设计：法雷尔公司(Farrell)