The purpose of this paper is to contribute to the coherent and purposeful design of dense urban districts, by presenting a unified model for the multifunctional nature of urban streets, and illustrating its application in urban design.
Urban technologies and design analyses developed in recent years make a radical combination of environmental and human functions possible in compact urban districts. With these tools in hand, it is possible to organize our understanding of the components of street design.
The kind of street that can be constructed today can be considered an ecosystem in two senses: first, in the conventional sense of a biophysical landscape which participates in rain, sun, and living things; second, in the sense of a resident human community that evolves as does an ecosystem, through interacting of beings with each other and with their environment. Both human and natural systems develop with the same dynamic attributes of openness, self‐regulation, storage, and diversity; from these come the systems’ self‐maintenance, resilience, and adaptation. This is a unified model that encompasses a street's multiple functions and their connections to transportation, land use, and global environmental processes.
Illustrations are given of design practice applying this type of model by articulating and integrating rain gardens, permeable pavements, trees, pedestrian behavior settings, vehicular movements, and land use connections, in integrated forms in the midst of dense urban structures.
In contrast with previously proposed models of street design, the present model is functionally specific and complete, and applicable to streets with diverse features and contexts. With it there need not be antagonism, as there has been in the past, between transportation and the local human community, nor between nature and human welfare.
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