StreetSpace Studio: Architecture learns

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The StreetSpace project was devised to encourage architecture students to have a better understanding of the value of mixed streets. The project has evolved into an interdisciplinary and international venture that explores mixed streets and involves academics, students, practitioners and civil servants. The StreetSpace studio acts as a catalyst and testing ground for new approaches to the analysis of mixed streets. Local mixed streets are complex, valuable and dynamic places. They were conceived gradually, and are lived and perceived in a great variety of ways by a broad variety of people. They have a mix of uses, activities, building types and sizes, and a series of shared identities and memories. Even though this complexity has been addressed by scholars in geography, planning and urban design ((Hubbard 2017, Carmona 2015, Vaughan 2015, Griffiths et al. 2008, Gehl 2008, Appleyard 1977) the overlap between anthropology and architecture of mixed streets has been largely neglected. Therefore this project explores ways of understanding these streets through drawing to reveal their mundane and everyday qualities.
It may be no surprise to anthropologists that most architects’ understanding of a sense of place is rather limited compared to other disciplines who study the built environment. Architects tend to naturally focus on the physical characteristics of a place and there are many methods and techniques that are well tested and used in schools of architecture in something called ‘site analysis’. This normally includes scale drawings in plan and section of immediately adjacent areas to an assigned site, and in better cases includes studies of sunlight, climate, materials, wider built environment and historic structures. This limited approach tends to avoid any discussion of the complexity of the types of people that inhabit an existing space or a new one to be designed. Moreover, it avoids any economic, social or political discussion of what defines a place. This limited approach leads to generic design proposals, with briefs that do not fully respond to the needs of a place and its people. These shortcomings in architectural education have been explored by Salama (2007), Till (2009), Teymur (2007), Salingaros (2008) and Glendinning (2010) among others, and they all agree that something needs to be done in architectural education to overcome such approaches. However, despite the limited nature of generic architectural site analysis, architects’ ability to represent ideas and spaces into two dimensional surfaces is very developed and rather unique. This opens up the possibility of new interdisciplinary approaches to the analysis of a place by architects and architecture students.
Original languageEnglish
JournalIrish Journal of Anthropology
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jan 2020


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