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“Train Stations as Destinations”

CASE STUDY: St. Pancras Station, London, United Kingdom

An interview with Ben Ruse, director of HS1 (High Speed 1: high speed railway). In this case study Ruse will tell you something about St. Pancras International Station, the biggest train terminus in London. He will explain it’s course of time and their challenges, like the maintenance of the large railway station. Creating a commercial district within the building was nearly impossible but they managed to turn St. Pancras is a place for lingering, relaxing, and people watching. By explaining it’s solutions and secrets the reader gets insight in the improvement of the station through a course of time.

“We wanted people to fall back in love with this station. So we asked ourselves: If we make this station attractive enough, can we make it a destination in its own right? And the answer was: Yes.”

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p210a 87_IMG_5893_HQ St Pancras Station London UK Ben Ruse

Both images: St Pancras Station, London by Ben Ruse
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“Mixed-Use Makes Money in Office Parks”

An article written by Jeroen Jansen and Eri Mitsostergiou, both working for Savills. They explain that in 2010 their research team examined all four major office areas in the Netherlands. The results showed that the combined vacancy in mixed-use areas is considerably lower than in single-use office locations. They further analysed the submarkets and buildings in Amsterdam with the highest vacancy and identified four factors that relate most to vacancy rate. While distance to a major train station, distance to the city centre, and the perceived safety of the office areas were important, mixed-use turned out to be the number one deciding factor. Creating a lively public space by adding retail, restaurants, bars and other functions to the plinths of office buildings does seem to pay off.

“While combining different uses within an area does not pose challenges, per se, for developers and investors, bringing different functions together within one building does add elements of complexity and risk. Developers and investors perceive that mixing uses makes their job more difficult and leads to a decline in their investment.”

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A sunny summer lunchtime in Granary Square, King's Cross

Granary Square with the University of Arts in the historic building London UK © Kings Cross Central General Partner Limited via kingscross.co.uk
Cover picture: Arial picture of the development site London UK © Kings Cross Central General Partner Limited via kingscross.co.uk
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“Turning Buildings Inside-Out, Outside-In”

For this article John Worthington, architect and co-founder of DEGW, has been interviewed about this vision of semi-public spaces. He thinks of a ‘public realm’ as open 24-hours a day; space which is owned, governed and managed by the community. ‘Semi-public space,’ on the other hand, is generally located on the ground floor and available to the public at the owner’s discretion; the space is owned and managed by the landlord. You can think of a department store—an original semi-public space. You only go in if you’re interested to go in, but then you’re not really required to purchase anything. Effective semi-public spaces are permeable with multiple entrances to allow through routes, which allow users to navigate the footprints of these often very large buildings.

“We know we have to use space more effectively; we know we have to intensify our use of urban land. The conversation has started, there are enough exemplars to show how places can be enhanced—change is afoot!”

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p150 _Kingsplace London UK 2 - CREDIT David Rudlin via www.climaxcity.files.wordpress.com

King’s Place, London (architect: Dixon Jones) ©David Rudlin via Climax City
Cover picture: ©The Style Examiner

 

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“Street Performing: Low Cost, High Impact”

An article written by Vivian Doumpa, urban developer and geographer, and Nick Broad, advocate. Dumpa and Broad right about ‘buskers’ also known as “street performers”. Buskers  are a viable tool for rejuvenating public spaces. If done well, busking is a high-impact, low-cost option. No infrastructure is needed, no barriers, no ticket sales, no marketing, no strategy sessions; just an artist, who doesn’t need a salary, performing for tips. And they can start tomorrow. Buskers prompt social interaction on the street level, create intimacy and allow people feel comfortable and safe. They also provide one of the few forms of live entertainment that lowincome citizens can access and enjoy.

“In Singapore, because of the great amount of buskers wishing to perform, the City established an auditioning process, similar to a talent show. The National Arts Council and the local performers run the process together. In practice, though, many street performers do not bother with getting a license; as long as nobody complains, the police don’t bother them.”

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p115 35-2_MarkRothman_London - CREDIT The Busking Project.jpeg

Mark Rothman, Covent Garden, London ©The Busking Project
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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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p086 13_Basel-innenstadt_relax OKRA Switzerland.jpg

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.
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“Iconic Thinkers”

An article in our book written by Meredith Glaser and Mattijs van ‘t Hoff, both urbanist.

The idea of “The City at Eye Level” is not new: many iconic urban planning thinkers have been instrumental in influencing the development of a humanscale urban planning and design in our (inner) cities. In this article you can read more about the great iconic thinkers who are relevant to today’s planning.

“Another key feature of the street is retailing – stores, windows with displays, signs to attract your attention, doorways, people going in and out of them. Big new office buildings have been eliminating stores. What they have been replacing them with is a frontage of plate glass through which you can behold bank officers sitting at desks. One of these stretches is dull enough. Block after block of them creates overpowering dullness.” – William H. Whyte (1980)

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William H. Whyte, The Social Life of Small Urban Space
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“In the Meanwhile”

An article from our book by Emily Berwyn, director of London-based company Meanwhile Space. In 2009, the recession was beginning to hit hard in the UK; businesses were going under, developments stalled, high streets were declining and unemployment was soaring. We noticed that vacant property and lapsed developments were a missed opportunity in the ‘meanwhile’, and it was almost impossible to access these spaces. The abundance of empty properties compound the decline of high streets (also called main streets), yet local people who need space to develop new business ideas and innovative uses for high-street spaces are excluded by the archaic property industry. It seemed to us that there was a great opportunity here—if only we could get hold of the space!

“Our vision for an ideal ground floor is one where vacant space does not exist; that vacant periods are foreseen and ‘curated’ to give people a chance to test an idea, in a highly visible, low risk and affordable way, even for a few weeks or months. This requires a transparency of ownership, a flexible approach to bureaucracies, and a central point all the knowledge on an area so it is easily accessible.”

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p260a 71-4. Queens Parade, Willesden Green BEFORE London UK - CREDIT Mike Massaro

BEFORE: Queens Parade, Willesden Green London UK ©Mike Massaro
p260b 71-5. Queens Parade, Willesden Green AFTER London UK - CREDIT Mike Massaro
AFTEr: Queens Parade, Willesden Green London UK ©Mike Massaro
Cover picture: Cottrell House, Wembley London UK ©Dostofos