An article written by Mattijs van ‘t Hoff, urbanist at STIPO. As places of interaction, cities need two features: infrastructure connections and meeting or gathering places. Historically, many cities were established on natural or manmade crossings such as rivers and roads, or grew from harbours. At these crossings, trading places with markets and inns developed into villages and later into cities. Streets and squares in these cities still bear names reminiscent of this past of trade and markets. Our cities today are still places of interaction in the global marketplace. Connecting and meeting face-to-face remains an important aspect of business development, innovation and social contact: firms need local buzz as well as global pipelines. Growing mobility demand however has changed many cities in nodes of infrastructure, forgetting the human scale and meeting places. By using the infrastructure constructions for the plinths of the city, we can provide new urban spaces and opportunities to interact and gather.
“We can use infrastructure to develop commercial, leisure, and cultural places and activities for the city, and use spaces underneath infrastructure as places for people to meet and to expand public space and public life. Even when the infrastructure becomes derelict (e.g. old train viaducts), they still can provide valuable space underneath and on top.”