We are working through interesting times. What ever we did before, we now need to be quicker, more decisive, while continuing to provide quality for smaller fees. I have been arguing for some time that the process driven, step-by-step master planning process, we inherited from the CABE, The Urban Design Compendium and most of the urban design profession needs to change. It‘s far too clunky, slow to respond, short of ideas and cliché ridden. The gap between analysis and proposals are often huge and much analysis appears to be going through the motions without any clear idea of what is really needed. If we are not thinking from the start what is possible then we are wasting time and money both of which is in short supply. I call this analysis paralysis and it stops us cutting to the quick straight away. My mantra these days is, get it right first time.
Of course what you need is lots of the following:
- Talent and imagination.
- The ability to think in an open and intuitive way.
- Confidence in knowing that you will get it right and not being afraid to draw.
- Leadership to communicate clearly and promote and enthuse others.
If you have access to the above its quite possible to master plan a town extension in a day…here is an example.
This is the first drawing. It stats to explore relationships and the key place making tactics. Already there are shaping ideas such the relationship to the existing school, the location of new main Street designed to serve the new community and take through traffic off the local neigbouring streets. An existing tree cluster is retained as a possible feature in a likely new green open space. You can see the beginning of a street grid, which already shows a degree of hierarchy and direction. Also emerging are the development parcels drawn roughly and highlighted with a Pantone pen to bring them forward into the plan. This first stage is what the Aalto would have called “Universal Substance’ where you intuitively draw and explore.
This next drawing is drawn over the first. The school now appears to have a stronger relationship with two new commercial plots, which will support a local centre focused around a small square. The existing street from the west is extended into the plan to link the existing railway station into the new community. The existing tree cluster now shapes a major central green space surrounded by new homes. There are two other spaces proposed to the west and east. The new central street now becomes clearer and acts as an armature around which most of the plan can be shaped, the development parcels are more defined as is the street structure and hierarchy.
Drawn over the previous drawing the master plan now really begins to take shape. At this point more decisions can be made regarding shape and size of development parcels. The main central street is now fully defined as is an inner ring which encompassing the central green and the key south facing parcels. Two main streets now cross the central spine street linking neigbouring streets to the north and south. The green spaces are now more defined as is the shape and size of the new local centre. There is even time to sketch in corner two sculptures I am currently working on.
Drawing over the previous plan definite scales decisions are made regarding the size of the development parcels and main street widths. Road junctions with the surrounding streets are explored as are some of the key landscape elements.
Now we do our final trace over the plan. This completes the thinking and design process.
The drawing is now scanned and coloured in Photoshop and ready to be inserted into an existing aerial view or os map base. Drawn at 1:1000 the plan is ready to be measured and tested in terms of development capacity and viability.