Attractive streets


Griff Rhys Jones   President, Civic Voice says in STREETSCAPES:

What do we mean by the ‘public realm’? Well, it’s the bit we all share. It’s the open park, the sheltered street, the pedestrian square, the quiet enclave or tree-lined verge. These are the places that shape our feelings of wellbeing. This is our shared kingdom. Our collective realm.

Sir Terry Farrell CBE Chair, National Review of Architecture and the Built Environment says in STREETSCAPES:

Our Review is a rallying call to heighten awareness of what and can be done. There is a need for a cross-cutting commitment to make the ordinary better and to improve the everyday built environment. Essentially this includes streetscapes and the closer attention to how our ordinary streets are designed and managed.


“Consult the genius of the place,” the poet Alexander Pope urged his friend the Earl of Burlington in 1731. His advice holds true today: landscape design, or the making of a place, should always be adapted to the context in which it is located. This has led to the use of the term “Place” as shorthand for the unique character of a particular location that should be respected and, if possible, enhanced in any physical works that are intended to make somewhere more attractive.

Pope explained how to identify the first of the five objectives that we consider essential for a successful street: an attractive place. He went on to list the features to consider: the hills, woods, rivers, the sense of scale, and the resulting human emotions and responses.

We accept that a place can be inspiring, spacious and exhilarating, somewhere to go for recreation but a place can be forbidding, dark and dingy: somewhere to avoid. Or it can be welcoming, comfortable and reassuring, where we might like to live.

In addition to serving a clear purpose and having a practical convenience, there are many characteristics that can make a place attractive: the pleasant contrasts between a city centre and a rural village, pleasant memories triggered by old buildings. Some places have been specially designed to be attractive with prestigious buildings or purposely designed outdoor spaces and streetscapes.

But can ordinarystreets, including roads and lanes contribute to and enhance the distinct attractiveness of a city, a town, a suburb or the countryside?

Read more