People would crowdsource piazzas if they had the chance…

If given the opportunity to crowdsource a vision for their downtown, what would a triple-bottom-line (economically, socially, environmentally) oriented crowd come up with? Given the emerging generations‘ preferences for pedestrian-only places, local and independent businesses, human-scaled architecture, smaller more attainably-priced downtown residences, and both spontaneous and formal outdoor social gathering places, from outside dining scenes to plaza-based movies, concerts and public markets…

…expect to see more pedestrian streets and plazas, like the one pictured above, which can be described as an authentic piazza, a pedestrian-only square fronted on four sides by buildings. Where is this? It doesn’t exist, but it was created as a 3D model to help provide a tangible example of the kind of place that people want, yet have nothing to point to as that example. The closest as far as already built is The Piazza in Philadelphia, albeit perhaps lacking in human-scaled buildings and warmth. The closest as far as in the works is the piazza in Bristol, CT, whose vision was crowdsourced by the community.

If you would like to be introduced to the team that can produce such scenes for your community, and affordably as well via, email [email protected] The piazza above measures 120 x 150 feet at a more intimate size, while the piazza below is designed at 190 x 140 feet, large enough for a concert stage.

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  • You write “Given the emerging generations” preferences for pedestrian-only places, local and independent businesses, human-scaled architecture, smaller more attainably-priced downtown residences, and both spontaneous and formal outdoor social gathering places, from outside dining scenes to plaza-based movies, concerts and public markets”

    Have you got any data for this preference? Because I only see ever-dominant chain stores (have you checked out share of the UK grocery market held by Tesco, or the combined major supermarkets?), empty city-centre flats built during the 2000s construction boom, high street retailers struggling against online retailing and traffic levels that despite sky high fuel prices are showing no sign of abating.

    Conversely I see major resistance from volume housebuilders against high density planning policies and towards freeing up greenfield sites to build low density ex-urbs. I see street markets enduring simply because they are cheaper than shops that have to pay rent and rates.

    Outdoor dining is popular only because of the smoking ban. Although I may want to sit outside when eating or drinking, I can’t because I’m now surrounded by smokers. I’m sure everyone else inside the restaurant/cafe/bar feels exactly the same.

    The only evidence I’ve seen that backs up any of your claims is around increased audiences at live music – but that’s coupled with decreasing sales of recorded music. If you push this to its extremes this may mean rapidly increasing ticket prices as major labels and greedy artists struggle to compensate for lost revenue, but ultimately fewer major names and albums as music becomes more localised. Possibly.

  • Daniel, it at least seems based on your blog that you’re not against these ideas, just skeptical that these are real trends. Check out some of the indications here: http://www.cooltownstudios.com/top20 and some transportation trends here: http://www.cooltownstudios.com/category/mobility/

  • Soreen Billbas

    Hi Neil, Im a final year architecture student from the U.K and Ive been following crowdsource placemaking to which it has inspired me to base my dissertation on the topic. You have a presentation on vimeo that explains the Bristol, Connecticut proposal. I would really appreciate it if you can forward me the charts based on the Bristol survey as I cant seem to find them. For some odd reason I cant access your Envision Roanoke site, I was able to before but not anymore, perhaps because Im in the UK and its denying access? My email is [email protected]. Best Regards, Soreen