Article by Kurt Longland – We take a look at 5 awesome projects for streetscape design inspiration, covering some of the world’s most unique and interesting landscape architecture projects. So it’s the time of year when one project has been completed and another is under way, and as such you learn that your new task is to design a streetscape … whatever that means. Once you realize that it is as simple as the name implies, it suddenly dawns on you why this area of design has its own name. But how can one design a street? Whether starting from a green field or from an existing main road, how can we design an inspiring, interesting, and intelligent intervention into these challenging areas? While you might already have an answer — and we would like to hear about it in the comments below — here are five projects that we have found that show what is possible in one of the most restrictive and complicated spaces a designer can work with.
Streetscape Design Inspiration
1. Shade Without Trees
You have a walkway. It is narrow and surrounded on both sides by two- to three-story buildings. The area gets a lot of pedestrian movement and is sealed in stone. But there is no shade — so that is your task: adding shade to the street. Now, while we might think trees and awnings could be our solution, take a look at the video from the work completed in Portugal. They have used umbrellas — and the results are inspiring, unique, and simple, all at the same time. WATCH >>> Umbrella canopy in the Streets of Agueda Portugal
2. Rewriting the Walls Our first project dealt with the void above the street. But what about the walls? The walls could be storefronts or blank facades. There are many ways we can tackle the design of a wall. Here is one from the alleyway along Perikleous Street in Athens, Greece. Instead of trying to cover up the wall, the design firm Atenistas, with the help of the community, was able to rewrite the alleyway by changing the wall. They used a simple plant pallette and made the air conditioning units an actual part of the design. They have been able to create a pleasant streetscape out of what was once a neglected alleyway.3. Raising the Floor Now that we have addressed the walls and the void, what about the ground? What can we achieve when given a flat surface? We might think of adding murals or creating walls to bring a border to the area, but what would happen if we introduced a new ground height, such as OFL Architecture did with the Zighizaghi? This installation makes the area more welcoming to the public and was inspired by biology. The designers used hexagons – the preferred geometry of bees — turning the once simple ground plain into a new and exciting experience. The project not only provides a visually welcoming entrance, it also creates a space that allows users to engage physically. Yet in essence, all the project did was rewrite the floor. 4. Designing in the Rain This time you are tasked with designing a garden bed along a main street. While it might be possible to plan a sequence of seasonal colors in a traditional style, this project takes a different approach by introducing a rain garden. The rain garden captures water runoff from the imperious surfaces surrounding it. This not only decreases the amount of runoff that is wasted in stormwater pipes, but also gives us a chance to re-enact waterways and lakes – right in the middle of a street. Take the article written by fellow writer Farah Afza on the 21st street roadway as a fine example of what a rain garden can do.
5. Patience and Reward
Patience and reward to a grand reveal is an interesting and difficult element to introduce into a landscape. In a world of instant gratification, it is still important to understand that some elements require time. In some landscapes, it takes one or two visits to uncover most of the secrets of the design. Rain works by Waka Waka Studios, as seen in the short clip below, helps us to understand the importance of patience. The designers have created murals and imagery that can only be revealed when splashed with water. This new form of revealing the landscape with a hidden design is inspiring. It has the potential of turning any surface that is exposed to the weather into an artistic canvas. WATCH >>> Rainworks – Rain-Activated Art
Back to the Line Work
While there are other streetscape projects out there to explore and even more designs still in the making, it is time to get back to your own street project. While sketching the area or trying to understand the true boundaries of the site, remember to ask yourself this: What element can you play with? Time, rain, floors, walls, shade? Because even if you only have one of these elements, the possibilities to create an inspiring project are endless. Good luck and may your contours never falter.
- Becoming an Urban Planner: A Guide to Careers in Planning and Urban Design by Michael Bayer
- Sustainable Urbanism: Urban Design With Nature by Douglas Farrs
- eBooks by Landscape Architects Network
Article by Kurt Longland Featured image: By Turismoenportugal – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0.Published in