First English edition, 2013

The first edition focused mostly on plinths and on cases in West Europe and North America (whereas the second edition has cases from all continents and focuses on the entire experience of the street user, including placemaking).

The plinths of the city are the ground floors that negotiate between the inside and the outside, between the public and the private: this is the city at eye level. Plinths are extremely important for the urban experience, which in turn is an important driver for the urban economy. The plinths might cover only 10% of the building, but determine 90% of the experience. While walking, you consciously and subconsciously examine the immediate eye-level surroundings and absorb any details.

Our book shows you how a good plinth “works” for a better street at eye level. It contains concrete and inspiring examples of strategies for design, land use/programme, the relation to the street, passenger flows and the collaboration of partners. The book is a collection of stories from over 25 experts all over the world: a collective product with lessons from planners, owners, managers and designers. In addition to many international examples and case studies, the book contains several interviews and research articles. It concludes with practical lessons for the reader to put into practice in their own cities.

Below you can find the download option for the book.

For the entire book (8MB): The City at Eye Level (the book)

For specific chapters:

Preface & Introduction

The Planned & the Organic City

Case Studies 1 Area Development

Public Realm & the User

Property & Development

Case Studies 2 City Streets

Ownership & Management

Revitalizing & Renewal

Case Studies 3 Regeneration

Conclusions & Lessons

Appendix

The history of this book begins in Rotterdam.


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History

The history of this book lies in Rotterdam. After the bombing in World War II, Rotterdam has been busy reinventing the city ever since. The focus has been on rebuilding the inner city. High-quality and successful buildings, plinths and public spaces can be found sideby-side to places and buildings with little quality and little success. The building production was sometimes more important than the quality of the buildings and streets. From the mid-90s, the emphasis in Rotterdam shifted from quantity to quality. The expertise of international experts like John Worthington inspired civil servants and market forces. Driven professionals such as Jan van Teeffelen embraced the inspiration, and made the lessons applicable.

In 2011, the inner city planning department of Rotterdam asked Stipo to help invent a plinth approach. We started with three pilots, and ended up developing a plinth strategy for the whole inner city. The great plinth team we created made it all possible: Renate Veerkamp, Gábor Everraert and Emiel Arends still play an important role in implementing and further developing the strategy. We were privileged to have support from the Economic Development Board Rotterdam, who stressed the urgency of good plinths.

The development of Rotterdam’s plinth strategy led to a mild form of professional deformation. Suddenly we saw bad plinths everywhere, and complex and simple ways to improve them. At the same time, by looking around, we discovered many inspiring examples of good plinths from around the world. This was good enough reason for us to compile this book, as an inspiration for all those people working on good plinths and for those who would like to.

We are extremely grateful for the dozens professionals from around the world who selflessly contributed to the book, by writing an article, partaking in an interview, or developing content. We are indebted to the multitalented designer and architect Paola Faora who helped us with the beautiful design of this book. We are most of all grateful to Meredith Glaser and Mattijs van ‘t Hoff, for all their work in both the interviewing of people, editing texts, their ideas of the product, and their positive energy and approach.

Finally, we are grateful to those organisations, willing to help us with the last step, the production and promotion of the book: AIR, the EDBR, the municipality of Rotterdam, the Delta Metropolis Association, the EFL Stichting, and Locatus.

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