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“Europe’s Longest Shared Space”

CASE STUDY: Mariahilfer Strasse, Vienna, Austria

An interview with Mascha Onderwater, Landscape architect, Bureau B+B. In this case study Onderwater will tell you something about her project for the Mariahilfer Strasse, a fancy nineteenth century shopping boulevard in Vienna. The City of Vienna wanted to transform the street into an inviting, pedestrian friendly avenue. The 1,6 km long street has been redesigned as a continuous shared space, Europe’s longest shared space, divided into three zones.

Where pedestrians rule the inner zone of the street and the two outer zones designated as ‘shared spaces’. In the shared space principle, cars, bikes and pedestrians all use the same space. It took some time for the people of Vienna to get used to the idea of shared space, Viennese are fond of driving. Interventions likes information meetings, together with the designers, closing down for traffic one afternoon and a referendum about the new design showed that investing in local participation really shows off. In the end, 71% of the people were positive about the transformation of the Mariahilfer Strasse.

 “People now move together in a unified space. They stroll and linger. There are now more places for young people to meet up. (…) A new way of life is evolving.”

– Günther Meier, center-manager

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Before and after, Mariahilfer, Vienna 

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The comment table, Mariahilfer, Vienna
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“Live, Work and Play”

CASE STUDY: Het eilandje, Antwerp, Belgium

An interview with Filip Smits, program manager at the City of Antwerp Urban Planning Department. In this case study Smits will tell you something about ‘The little island’, or how the Belgiums call it: Het eilandje. Het eilandje dates back to the 16th century. It’s an island of 170-hectare and plays a role in Antwerp as one of its neighbourhoods. Smits will explain it’s course of time and their challenges, like the owners of the island: the harbour authority, which had a different vision for the area. In addition, the project area contained historical buildings in need of preservation, demanding more recent and modern adjustments. By explaining it’s solutions and secrets the reader gets insight in the improvement of Het eilandje through a course of time.

“The revival of this neighborhood is like wine, it’s getting better over the years.”

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Het Eilandje, Antwerp, Belgium ©Mathieu LePhun
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“Creating Livability”

CASE STUDY: Hafencity, Hamburg, Germany

An interview with Tanja Nagelsmeier, commercial utilization development and coordination of HafenCity Hamburg GmbH. In this case study Nagelsmeier will tell you something about the HafenCity Hamburg GmbH, a new neighbourhood in the centre of Hamburg. They had to concure selveral challenges because the city should be sustainable, designed well, and most importantly, fine-grained and alive on the ground level beyond regular business hours and the whole year long. By explaining it’s solutions and secrets the reader gets insight in the improvement of the harbor area through a course of time.

“We pay a lot of attention to our plinths in HafenCity. Soft strategies are the key to success, such as networking, information and communication with and between all parties involved. Fixed property regulations also play a major role for the whole development.”

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Hamburg: HafenCity, Dalmannkai

Both images: HafenCity, Hamburg by Tanja Nagelsmeier
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“Street Trade at Warwick Junction”

An article written by Richard Dobson and Tasmi Quazi, architect and consultant in Durban. They explain that the Warwick Junction is the main railway station and urban gateway of Durban, one of the biggest moteropolitan areas in South Africa.Located at the border of the city centre, during apartheid it was the sole entry to the city centre for the black population: a deliberate concentration of traffic flows from rural and semi-urban Durban into the ‘white city’. Roads, walkways and pedestrian bridges criss-cross the area, which is only 10 minutes form the city centre. Over 460,000 commuters pass through the transport node every day, making use of the main railway station, the five bus terminals and nineteen taxi stands. Additionally, the area attracts large numbers of street traders: between 6000 and 8000 street traders engage in a variety of activities ranging from traditional medicine, clothing, food, music, fresh produce, arts and crafts. These activities are present in 9 distinct markets and various peripheral locations within the public space.

“Due to years of apartheid planning that aimed to separate different ethnic groups, the Warwick Junction area was poorly designed. The ever-increasing number of traders caused congestion and crime was rife. When South Africa elected its first democratic government in 1994, transformation became the priority at all government levels.”

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Bovine Head Market at the Warwick Junction

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Herb Market at the Warwick Junction
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“Underneath Rails and Roads”

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.”

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Cover image: A8ernA Zaandam ©JeroenMusch
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“Keeping the Sleeping Beauty Awake”

A conversation with Robin von Weiler, a independent real estate investor. Von Weiler had has played an important and well-appreciated role in transforming a declining shopping street in Rotterdam into one of the hotspots in the city. The Meent now has the lowest vacancy rate in the city centre of Rotterdam. The effects of the street’s popularity have impacted surrounding areas. More high-quality shops have come, and the area is sought-after for housing, restaurants and public events. With the newly-opened Markthal and the revitalisation of the central canals, this part of Rotterdam attracts international attention.

 

“You have to force yourself to look at the street with fresh eyes. All the time. Other peoples’ opinions help, so always listen to what people think of the street.”

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De Meen by Robin von Weiler
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“City Improvement Districts in Johannesburg”

An article written by Cecilia Andersson (informed by Elisabeth Peyroux, senior researcher at the National Centre of Scientific Research Toulouse). Andersson works for UN-Habitat and developed prevention stategies for Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe.

Johannesburg in South Africa has undergone many changes over the past decades, from a mining centre and industrial city to a metropolitan centre given over to financial and business services. This city of more than 3 million inhabitants is the economic core of South Africa and a major economic hub in the region. While Johannesburg displays some key characteristics of a welldeveloped and attractive city, there has been little direct integration between formal and informal activities.

“Territorial strategies through branding and landscaping are intimately connected to the various practices of “place-making” and “place-promoting”. In the inner city, urban design activities include the transformation and upgrading of public space through capital improvement, landscape and pedestrianizing.”

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“Pedestrianisation of Mama Ngina Street”

An article written by Elijah Agevi, Cecilia Andersson and Laura Petrella, together working for UN-Habitat and working on projects in Africa (among others). Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya, with a population of about 3.36 million, is one of the most prominent cities in Africa, both politically and financially. Home to thousands of Kenyan businesses and over 100 major international companies and organisations, including the headquarters for two UN global agencies and several regional ones, Nairobi is an established hub for business and culture.

“With limited financial resources from city, the physical changes to the street have created a very vibrant street where the citizens of Nairobi can enjoy the central business district both day and night.”

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p125a 82-2_Mama Ngina Street Nairobi Kenya Elijah Agevi, Cecilia Andersson, Laura Petrella

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“Dublin After the Boom-and-Bust”

An article in the book written by Ciarán Cuffe is an architect and city councilor in Dublin. Dublin’s development has been like a rollercoaster ride over the last few decades. In the 1980s, the city centre’s urban fabric was damaged by old-fashioned thinking that promoted road schemes and the destruction of historic buildings. They feared that Dublin would become a doughnut city like cities in the United States. Then along came the ‘Celtic Tiger’.

Cuffe writes about the change in Dublin, gives inspiring examples and about the opportunities in the city.

“With a growing urban sensibility, it may be easier to argue for urban realm improvements. European initiatives to tackle urban noise, air pollution and carbon emissions allow civic leaders to argue the case for better pedestrians and cyclist infrastructure.”

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Tempory Granby Park on lands awaiting redevelopment in Dublin City Centre
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“The Ebb and Flow of Public Spaces”

Martin Knuijt tells the reader about the rythm of cities and public space as a landscape architect at OKRA. In the past sixty years, many cities chose to pedestrianise their city centres, reducing the variety of activities in their public spaces. Citizens in many city centres do use public space in a very flexible manner – cars, trams, people, all mix. In spite of this flowing movement of people, current public space often does nothing to take advantage of this. In general most parts of the city centre are too monotonous. A large part has to do with its poor public realm.

“We have to make interplay between ‘relax’, the most harmonious form of ‘place’, with ‘flux’, the most proper way of movement.  Embracing the normal ebb and flow of public spaces those of flux and relax.”

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Interplay between ‘relax’, the most harmonious form of ‘place’, with ‘flux’, the most proper way of movement – shared space 2.0, Inner city Plan Public Space, Basel, CH.