Walkability in Public Space: an Alley-oriented Study Towards Pedestrian-friendly

As a by-product of speedy urbanization and economic distribution, the nature of public life is changing with the process of privatization. “Public spirit” is losing somehow and there are less necessities for us walkers to use the public space.

Not just carrying vehicles and sidewalks but also the main part of public space, the streets, serves as the borders as well as the vital organs. However the priority access to vehicles has diminishing this function with the possibility as “public spaces” for multiple human activities.

Compared to macro-spaces, the conventional character of micro-spaces have given a much vital and flexible experience to walkable distance. An efficient city which is friendly to people provides interconnected networks that creates different scale of public spaces, accordingly meet different levels of human needs.

Alleys and narrow lanes used to dominate the urban spaces before the cars do. They’ve proved the circumstance that they serves more vibrant and livable spaces that offer social and economic benefits, including walkability and connectivity, and better living experience.

With these considerations, this paper will give the thinking about walkable neighborhood based on the theory of friendly city. Meanwhile, as the most represented developing city, Beijing is facing the serious problem of declining on-street activities and automobiles vs. walking conflict.

So the question is: how to rebuild an area that carries heavy traffic under the framework of Friendly city, with a special focus on walkability in the context of Beijing? In other words is, how to create a pedestrian-friendly city that also facing towards to the future. The aim of this paper is to seek a walkable solution to reclaim back the vital life to Beijing, with an ultimate expectation towards friendly city.

Since this is a scientific paper deals with walkability, a scientific method will be must. Triangulation of theory review, a particular case study, and site observation will together contribute to the structure of methodology. The theory review covers an elaboration on social life in public spaces, a study of friendly theory from two different literature under the framework of New Urbanism.

After that a case study on recent sustainable project–Nordhavn in Copenhagen–will be made to complement the whole theory system. An observation and comparison of the site will followed up in order to get better understanding from the dimension of walkability and prepare for next step work.

In design part, a complex proposal and solution in applying walkable strategies to a car-dominated place will try to answer the question which came up at the beginning. In the end the author will give a neutral evaluation towards design outcome incorporate with the conclusion of the walkability in social, ecological, economic and healthy aspects.
Source: Blekinge Institute of Technology
Author: Huang, Jing

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