TransForm Places

Why triangular spaces are deeply cool

November 5, 2012adminOpinion

No, this isn’t some sort of Euclidian homage, nor is it a hat tip to Pythagoras.

What this is is a recognition of the extreme usefulness of the triangle in the urban environment. Oh yes.

If you want to make a public space, forget the square, side-line the circle, and for goodness sake don’t mention the dodecahedron; triangles are where its at. A triangular space enables you see all the edges of the space at the same time and from anywhere within the space, which is great for feelings of safety, but also if you want to line the space with shops and others things than benefit from being seen.

It also allows you to run a route down one side, leaving the rest for other uses but never having any awkward junctions. If you are clever, you can introduce some parking here, making a shared surface to go along with your through-route, and this eliminates some of the conflicts between amenity and functionality.

But they don’t have to be hard, urban spaces – the Great British Villiage has been making great use of the triangle of greens and ponds for ages now. Why haven’t we noticed how good these are?

Let’s have a quick look at some spaces and see how they work, starting in Towcester town centre:

As you can see, this space is busy. I’ve been there; it really is busy and works well, in spite of all the conflicts going on. The traffic is slowed to a more civilised speed, as you never know who will be emerging from the space, be it a car or pedestrian. It serves as a great centre parking area, but can also be used for markets etc. Neat, eh?

Next up, here is a small space from Woodstock. This is for parking, removing the need for dedicated and often inconvenient car parks. It is a pleasant space that does much the same job of that in Towcester, but on a smaller scale. Could work well for residential…just saying.

Woodstock streetview

Finally, here is a green space in Adderbury, again from Oxfordshire. This serves as a public open space, but differs from many new green spaces as it has streets running along all sides. This is a good idea as it means you can still get frontage access to properties whilst increasing surveillance across the green. What is especially nice is that this configuration allows a street hierarchy which lets you gain the benefits of low-grade routes whilst keeping houses ‘shallow’ to the main movement network.

This sort of space endures, adds amenity value, helps with movement and access, and is also very land-efficient. It looks beautiful too. The lesson here is that the triangular configuration can work to do all kinds of jobs, is simple to use. So use them.

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