follow the yellow brick road |city planning and sustainable walkways

rotterdam walkway 2

rotterdam walkway 1

“Happiness is a path, not a destination”

A road is an instrument, that allows us to go from one place to another and reach our destinations. Or is it? Two interesting projects point out that a road or path can be destinations in themselves: the High Line (New York City) and the Luchtsingel (Rotterdam).

The transportation networks that streets create dictate the mobility in cities and influence the behaviour of residents and visitors. Flyovers prevent people from exploring little side streets and large automobile roads can prevent people from wandering around in the city.

The Luchtsingel (‘air boulevard’) is a project designed by the award winning architecture team of Z.U.S – Zones Urbaines Sensibles (the acronym of which means ‘sister’ in dutch). Simply it is a yellow road that is designed to facilitate easy pedestrian movement from the central station to the Hofbogen district (which houses schools and a community centre). Parts of the road consist of a yellow painted on the streets (like in the pictures) and a flyover section allows for safe passage over a busy automobile road and over the trains and train tracks. The irony is that both the automobile road and the trains were designed to facilitate mobility, but for the children who want to go to their schools, they prevent a safe and direct way they can go to their school.

The High Line in NYC is a 2km park designed on an unused freight train overpass. Piet Oudolf saw beauty in the decayed urban structure and designed the park to be dynamic year round using different plants. It is another example of where the path has been elevated to become a destination. Furthermore, a transportation network that had become an obstacle, functions once more as a way to facilitate movement from one section of the city to another.

high line birds eye view

images: author’s own & from here

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