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Elements of urban design
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Site responsive design



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A presentation on the philosophy of Site Responsive Design delivered to planners and members at Winchester City Council as part of their urban design training.

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Site responsive design

  1. 1. URBAN DESIGN TRAINING SITE RESPONSIVE DESIGN An approach to delivering contextual design. by Paul Bulkeley
  2. 2. Aims: 1. A better appreciation for the relationship between site analysis and design process – how a design strategy can be developed in response to its site. 2. An overview of site analysis techniques – how to interpret a context. 3. A live experience of site responsive design.
  4. 4. ‘The site of a building is more than a mere ingredient of its conception. It is its physical and metaphysical foundation. Building transcends physical and functional requirements by fusing with a place, by gathering the meaning of a situation. Architecture does not so much intrude on the landscape as it serves to explain it. Architecture and site should have an experiential connection, a metaphysical link, a poetic link.’ Steven Holl, Anchoring, 1988
  5. 5. Landscape
  6. 6. Local Materials, Local Forms
  7. 7. Materials
  8. 8. Topography
  9. 9. Opportunity
  10. 10. Constraints
  11. 11. Possibly the worlds most contextual building – transcending physical and functional requirements Great Mosque, Dejenne
  12. 12. The nostalgia of aesthetic consensus – an age passed
  13. 13. What generates great architecture?
  14. 14. 1. Patrons Occupants/users Client Future users Neighbours Citizens Context Architect
  16. 16. 3. Process Design is generated through: External principles and ideology. Form following function. The site.
  17. 17. a. External Principles Sacred Geometry The villa Rotunda by Palladio is an exercise in geometry with the size of man as the starting point. Villa Rotunda, Palladio
  18. 18. Thomas Jefferson’s sketch for a city plan
  19. 19. b. Form follows function It is the pervading law of all things organic and inorganic, Of all things physical and metaphysical, Of all things human and all things super-human, Of all true manifestations of the head, Of the heart, of the soul, That the life is recognizable in its expression, That form ever follows function. This is the law Louis Sullivan
  20. 20. Seattle Library, OMA
  21. 21. c. Design generated from the site ‘The true innermost being of architecture can be compared to natures seed, and something of the inevitability of nature’s principle of growth ought to be a fundamental concept in architecture. If we think of the seeds that turn into plants or trees, everything within the same genus would develop the same way if the growth potential were not so different and if each growth possessed within itself the ability to grow without compromise. On account of different conditions, similar seeds turn into widely differing organisms.’ Jorn Utzon, The Innermost Being of Architecture
  22. 22. How does a building grow naturally and uniquely out of the conditions of its site?
  23. 23. ‘Considerations of design and layout must be informed by the wider context, having regard not just to any immediate neighbouring buildings but the townscape and landscape of the wider locality. The local pattern of streets and spaces, building traditions, materials and ecology should all help to determine the character and identity of a development...’ (Department of the Environment 2000)
  24. 24. NPPF 7. Requiring good design 56. The Government attaches great importance to the design of the built environment. Good design is a key aspect of sustainable development, is indivisible from good planning, and should contribute positively to making places better for people. 59. Local planning authorities should consider using design codes where they could help deliver high quality outcomes. However, design policies should avoid unnecessary prescription or detail and should concentrate on guiding the overall scale, density, massing, height, landscape, layout, materials and access of new development in relation to neighbouring buildings and the local area more generally.
  25. 25. NPPF 60. Planning policies and decisions should not attempt to impose architectural styles or particular tastes and they should not stifle innovation, originality or initiative through unsubstantiated requirements to conform to certain development forms or styles. It is, however, proper to seek to promote or reinforce local distinctiveness. 61. Although visual appearance and the architecture of individual buildings are very important factors, securing high quality and inclusive design goes beyond aesthetic considerations. Therefore, planning policies and decisions should address the connections between people and places and the integration of new development into the natural, built and historic environment.
  26. 26. NPPF 63. In determining applications, great weight should be given to outstanding or innovative designs which help raise the standard of design more generally in the area. 64. Permission should be refused for development of poor design that fails to take the opportunities available for improving the character and quality of an area and the way it functions. 65. Local planning authorities should not refuse planning permission for buildings or infrastructure which promote high levels of sustainability because of concerns about incompatibility with an existing townscape, if those concerns have been mitigated by good design.
  27. 27. Context is the character and setting of the area within which a projected scheme will sit. It is its natural as well as human history; the forms of the settlements, buildings and spaces; its ecology and archaeology; its location, and the routes that pass through it. Context also includes people, the individuals living in or near an area and how communities are organised so that citizens become real participants in the projected development. A thorough appreciation of the overall site context is the starting point for designing a distinct place. Urban Design Compendium
  28. 28. Why use context in design? Strengthens local communities Creates places of distinction and identity Harnesses intrinsic site assets and resources Integrates a building with its surroundings Helps to ensures feasibility Provides an efficient and relevant basis for design decision making.
  29. 29. An approach to contextual design - The notion of RECOGNITION
  30. 30. Skylines are sensitive to being obscured by high buildings in front of existing buildings or having their silhouette spoiled by high buildings behind them. New buildings should respect their elders!
  31. 31. The scale, massing and height of proposed development should be considered in relation to that of adjoining buildings; the topography; The general pattern of heights in the area; and views, vistas and landmarks all influence the form of a development. House in Corrubedo Chipperfield
  32. 32. What is a valid response to context? Preserve Integrate/Respect/Compliment Re-use Enhance/Modify/Transform Repair/Revive/Restore Critique
  33. 33. The battle for Chelsea Barracks
  34. 34. Chelsea Barracks Housing, RRP
  35. 35. Chelsea Barracks Housing, Quinlan Terry
  36. 36. PRESERVE Paternoster Square, John Simpson Paternoster Square, Eric Parry and MJP
  37. 37. INTEGRATE Brouwersgracht and L.A. Riesthuis, Amsterdam, Pier Arts Centre, Orkney, Reiach and Hall Architects Mecanoo Architects
  38. 38. COMPLIMENT Eric Parry Holburne Museum
  39. 39. REUSE The Photographers Gallery, London O’Donnell and Toumey
  40. 40. ENHANCE/MODIFY/TRANSFORM Temple Bar, Dublin
  42. 42. REPAIR/REVIVE/RESTORE Princesshay, Exeter
  43. 43. CRITIQUE Rafael Moneo, Pilar Joan Miro Foundation, Mallorca
  44. 44. The Carbuncle Cup One New Change, Jean Nouvel
  45. 45. Recognise what isn’t contextualism Building in Context sets out the following broad approaches that lead to the erosion of local distinctiveness. Development will erode the context if it pursues either of two extreme philosophical positions: a) A desire to purely reflect the concerns of our own time and contrasting with the context. b) A desire to purely preserve the character by copying the existing. The worst results arise when two opinions are forced to compromise late in the design process. Beware of the following evidence:
  46. 46. Fitting in?
  47. 47. Building In Context The right approach is derived from a close examination of the context so that a new proposal can be well related to its context. This is set out as: 1. Relate well to geography and history of the place and the lie of the land 2. Sit happily in the pattern of development 3. Respect important views 4. Respect the scale of neighbouring buildings 5. Use materials and building methods which are as high a quality as the context 6. Create new views and juxtapositions that add to the variety and texture of the setting. 7. Show evidence of having being derived, in part, from an analysis of the place. 8. Repair and improves the place.
  48. 48. Contextual Design has: A physical fit - sitting comfortably within its setting. A visual fit – sitting beautifully within its setting. A poetic fit - making a meaningful addition to a places story. An emotional fit - ensuring occupants feel proud to call it home. An environmental fit - protecting ecology. A social fit – useful, welcoming and entertaining. A spatial fit – connected, flowing and accessible. An economic fit – deliverable. Ultimately contextual design has the potential to create a well mannered building or place that belongs here rather than somewhere else.
  49. 49. 2 SITE ANALYSIS
  50. 50. “Always design a thing by considering it in its next larger context –a chair in a room, a room in a house, a house in an environment, an environment in a city plan.” – Eliel Saarinen ‘The analysis of public space provides a rational point of departure for imagining its transformation’ – UDC
  51. 51. What are we looking for? 1. Constraints to resolve 2. Opportunities to realise 3. Weaknesses to repair 4. Strengths to reinforce 5. Character to preserve and enhance
  52. 52. How do we engage with a place? How a place: LOOKS FEELS WORKS
  53. 53. The theoretical context of contextual decisions: i. The picturesque - Late eighteenth century contextual theorists held that landscapes should be designed with a picturesque 'transition' from the works of man to the works of nature. LOOKS ii. Genius loci - An early eighteenth century theory, that buildings and planting should respond to the Genius of the Place, created a still-influential theory of context. FEELS iii. Modernism - Modernist architectural theory held that the appearance of structures should be a consequence of social function and abstract artistic principles, not physical contexts. WORKS
  54. 54. LOOKS - Townscape – a visual approach The fundamental theme of townscape as a means of providing excitement, drama and emotional response to the physical environment is most closely associated to the work of Gordon Cullen. His seminal work, The Concise Townscape consistently emphasizes that the starting point for design is the individual's experience of the environment. Ivor De Wolfe labels townscape as a visual art of town planning that is a contemporary extension of the English picturesque school of landscape design
  55. 55. FEELS – Genius Loci - an experiential approach Norberg-Shulz explored the character of places on the ground, genius loci is described as representing the sense people have of a place. ‘The planner’s first approach to his task is to sum up the personality of the city which has been put under his care.... The good plan is that which will fulfil the struggle of the place to be itself.’ (Sharp 1946)
  56. 56. WORKS - Responsive Environments – a functional approach.
  57. 57. WHAT MAKES A SUCCESSFUL PLACE? The seven qualities that successful streets, spaces, villages, towns and cities tend to have in common. Character Places with their own distinct and successful identity. Continuity and Enclosure Places where streets and public spaces are coherently and attractively defined. A Quality Public Realm Public spaces that are safe, comfortable, well maintained, welcoming and accessible for everyone. Ease of Movement Places that are easy to get to and move through. Legibility Places that have a clear image and are easy to understand. Adaptability Places that can evolve easily and flexibly Diversity Varied environments offering a range of uses, opportunities and experiences.
  58. 58. ASPECTS OF FORM The inter-related elements which work together to define COUNCILLOR’S GUIDE TO URBAN buildings, groups of buildings and spaces. DESIGN Urban Structure The essential diagram of a place. 8 ASPECTS OF FORM Urban Grain CABE 2003 The nature and extent of the subdivision of the area into smaller development parcels. Density and Mix The amount of development and the range of uses this influences. Height and Massing The scale of a building. Building Type Façade and Interface The relationship of the building to the street. Details and Materials The appearance of the building. Streetscape and Landscape The design of route and spaces, their microclimate, ecology and biodiversity
  60. 60. We look for both the practical and poetic to inform both the art and science of design decision making.
  62. 62. LAYERS Break the complex down into its constituent parts
  63. 63. Urban Environments can be conceived in terms of four interlocking components: i. Terrestrial Environment – the earth, its topography, microclimate and processes and manmade additions to it. ii. Animate Environment – the living organisms that occupy it. iii. Social Environment – the relations between people occurring in these places. iv. Cultural Environment – behavioural norms, cultural artefacts and perception. Carmona M, ‘Public Places, Urban Spaces’ Architectural Press. p37
  64. 64. PHYSICAL CONNECTIONS Appreciate the physical context: i. Understand the Macro, Meso and Micro Climate ii. Identify existing landscape features both natural and manmade, topography, trees, water courses etc iii. Understand the movement patterns. Access, connectivity, linkage and legibility. iv. Consider the way people use and engage with the place. v. Establish the physical constraints and opportunities above and below ground, inside and outside the red line. vi. Form, Scale, Building lines, Patterns within the streetscape. vii. Impact on adjoining owners and key views and vistas.
  65. 65. LAYERS
  66. 66. META-PHYSICAL CONNECTIONS Appreciate the meta-physical context: i. Peoples perceptions of the place ii. Memories iii. History iv. Myth and legend
  67. 67. Establish a places identity By the identity of a place, we refer to its “persistent sameness and unity which allows that place to be differentiated from others”. Relph describes this persistent identity in terms of three components: (1) the place’s physical setting; (2) its activities, situations, and events; and (3) the individual and group meanings created through people’s experiences and intentions in regard to that place. (Relph 1976, p. 45).
  68. 68. Public Engagement – gathering local knowledge can reveal what is not visible about a place. i.e a Restrictive Covenant
  69. 69. Site analysis is a method of gathering a better understanding about a place that must then be critically interpreted through an iterative design process and consultation with local people.
  70. 70. Worked Example
  71. 71. National Tyre and Autocare site, St Cross
  72. 72. 1895
  74. 74. “A proper building grows naturally, logically, and poetically out of all its conditions.” – Louis Sullivan
  75. 75. Prossibly the most contextual house we have ever designed
  76. 76. An entry from Snug’s blog When we design we must have our eyes and our hearts open. We must listen as well as look. We must smell, feel and remember. All of our senses must be alive if we are to create designs that bring ongoing life to the places in which we work. There is no status quo. Places, like the cells in our own body, are always being renewed. The challenge is to maintain our identity and character whilst striving towards maturity. For the buildings we design to succeed in this task we must develop a deep understanding and respect for site. The result will not however be a pastiche of past responses. It will be something new, something befitting our era and the needs of our age, something us and our clients can be proud of.
  77. 77. stealth HOUSE
  78. 78. Extension to KINGFISHER COTTAGE
  79. 79. 1 Castle Street, Dublin De Blacam & Meagher
  80. 80. i2
  81. 81. Access Parking
  82. 82. Thank you