6THE SPACES AROUNDOur judgements of towns and cities tend to bebased much more upon the nature of spacesbetween buildings than upon the perceivedqualities of the buildings themselves. And justas there are accepted ways of form-making inthe arena of architectural design, so are thereaccepted ways of making external spaces. Theimpact of new building upon existing settle-ments can have profound consequences if anexisting urban â€˜grainâ€™ is not responded to sym-pathetically. Conversely, when establishingcomplexes of new buildings, it is important toestablish a hierarchy of spaces between build-ings which can be â€˜readâ€™ as clear ly as thatwithin build ings.CENTRIFUGAL AND CENTRIPETALSPACEWays of making spaces within buildings are,not surprisingly, equally applicable to estab-lishing external spaces and a sense of enclo-sure induced within them. Furthermore, whenconsidering the creation of external spacesbetween and around buildings, it is helpful toreturn to the notion of type in considering twodistinct spatial types; centrifugal space andcentripetal space (Ashihara).The distinction between the two spatial typesis best expressed by considering the role of thecolumn as a spatial generator. A single columnin space can deï¬ne a space around it, the sizeof which depends upon the height of the col-umn but the deï¬nition of which depends uponthe interaction of the column and the observer(Figure 6.1). Therefore, a column deï¬nes aspace around it in a radial fashion; this iscentrifugal space.But four columns positioned in some proxi-mity with each other to form a â€˜squareâ€™ willinteract and induce a space enclosure(Figure 6.2). A centripetal order is e stablishedto deï¬ne a space which even at this most basiclevel approximates to â€˜architecture without a
roofâ€™. This is centripetal space. If four walls areused to deï¬ne this centripetal space rather thanfour columns, then the sense of enclosure isenhanced (Figure 6.3), but the corners areless well deï¬ned and space tends to â€˜leakâ€™from the voids thus created.However if eight planes are used to enclosethe same space by clearly deï¬ning the corners,then the perceived sense of enclosure isstrengthened still further (Figure 6.4).This phenomenon is best demonstratedwhen town â€˜squaresâ€™ are established withinthe order of a town grid. If the square is formedmerely by the removal of a block or blocks fromthe grid, then corner voids will result with aconsequent loss of perceived space enclosure(Figure 6.5). But should the square be offsetfrom the grid, then the corners remain intact94 Architecture: Design NotebookFigure 6.1 Centrifugal space: single column.Figure 6.2 Centripetal space: four columns. Figure 6.3 Centripetal space: four walls.
thus heightening the sense of enclosure andgiving views from the centre of the squarealong principal access routes (Figure 6.6).As in building design, the study of precedentcan provide a vital starting point f or the designof spaces between b uildings; whilst manifestlydifferent in formal terms, Piazza San Marco,Venice, and Piazza del Campo, Siena havesome important similarities which provide aset of clues or points of departure in the designof external centripetal spaces. First, bothspaces are clearly deï¬ned as large-scalevoids carved from the intense continuousgrain of a cityâ€™s fabric, so that they appearlike public â€˜living roomsâ€™ without a roof,where a plethora of activities inducing socialintercourse can take place.The spaces around 95Figure 6.4 Centripetal space: four corners, eight planes.Figure 6.5 Town square â€˜on gridâ€™. Figure 6.6 Town square â€˜off gridâ€™.
Second, because there is no roof, the wallsof the buildings which enclose the space takeon great importance as primary elementswithin the design. Third, both spaces includea prominent vertical intervention, or campa-nile, as a pivotal element within the space.The Piazza San Marco, Venice, is really twospaces in one with the free-stand ing campanileforming a pivot between the trapezoidal mainpiazza and the piazzetta. St. Markâ€™s cathedralchurch addresses the tapering piazza whilst theDogeâ€™s palace and St. Markâ€™s library containthe piazzettaâ€™s ï¬‚anks, its connection with thelagoon beyond effected by the simple deviceof two columns forming a visual â€˜stopâ€™ to thepiazzetta (Figures 6.7, 6.8). The enclosingâ€˜wallsâ€™ of the main piazza are perceived as abland backdrop deï¬ning the squar e but alsoacting as a foil to the western front of the cathe-dral church (Figure 6.9). In such a context thedesign of the horizontal surface assumes greatvisual importance; this accounts for the large-scale simple geometrical paving pattern atPiazza San Marco (Figure 6.10).At Piazza del Campo, Siena, the su rroundingbuildings also form an innocuous backdrop tothe open space, but the plan is almost semi-circular with the campanile of the Palazzo delPublico at its focus. Like Venice, t he pavingpattern of the piazza is similarly bold withradial lines focusing on the campanile, thuslinking the ï¬‚oorscape of the piazza and itsthree-dimensional form (Figures 6.11,6.12).Even such cursory analyses will reveal theimportance of the enclosing walls as back-96 Architecture: Design NotebookFigure 6.7 Piazza San Marco, Venice, From BanisterFletcher, Architectural Press, p. 611.Figure 6.8 Piazzetta San Marco, Venice.
The spaces around 97Figure 6.9 Saint Markâ€™s Cathedral, Venice.Figure 6.10 Piazza San Marco, Venice. Paving pattern.Figure 6.11 Siena, Piazza del Campo.Figure 6.12 Siena, Piazza del Campo. Paving pattern.
ground urban architecture and how the patternof the horizontal surface should reï¬‚ect thescale of the space itself. But they also indicatethat the sense of enclosure within such urbanspaces is governed by the relationship betweenthe height (H) of the buildings which deï¬ne thespace and the distance (D) between them. If theratio D/H is between (1) and (4), then a satis-factory sense of enclosure will ensue; if D/Hexceeds (4), then there will be insufï¬cient inter-action between the wall determinants of thespace and the sense of enclosure will be lost;but should D/H be less than (1), then interac-tion is too great and the â€˜balanceâ€™ of enclosureis lost (Figure 6.13).This crude rule-of-thumb may be applied tosigniï¬cant twentieth-century developmentswhich have hinted at new urban forms by themanipulation of centripetal space. The high-density h ousing development a t Park Hill,Shefï¬eld, d esigned by city architect, LewisWomersley in 1960 encapsulated most of theideas on s ocial housing which had been for-mulated during the previous decade; that it isbeneï¬cial to the life of a city and to its commu-nity if a substantial provision of mixed high-density p ublic housing is located adjacent tothe city centre. This was achieved at Shefï¬eldby manipulating a multi-storey serpentine formon a steeply-sloping site to enclose a series ofpublic open spaces associated with the hous-ing blocks and their high-level deck-accessroutes (Figure 6.14). But a s the roof level forthe entire complex remained constant, build-98 Architecture: Design NotebookFigure 6.13 Centripetal space enclosure, D/H ratio.Figure 6.14 Lewis Womersley, Park Hill Housing,Shefï¬eld, 1961.
ing heights decreased as the serpentine formreached the highest points of the site (Figure6.15). This is reï¬‚ected in the diminishing sizeof open spaces as the site levels rise; the smal-ler areas on plan respond exactly to the dimin-ishing height of the enclosing building f orm, sothat satisfactory D/H ratios are maintainedthroughout the scheme.In 1995 Michael Hopkins used establishedâ€˜centripetalâ€™ techniques to order the InlandRevenue ofï¬ces in Nottingham. Here, thesquare an d the boulevard are reinterpreted toprovide public tree-lined linear spaces andenclosed private courtyards all achieved bysimple attenuated bu ilding forms (Figure6.16) which establish a satisfactory D/H ratioand suggest a model for extending the city. Theheart of the complex is an open public squarewith a jewel-like community building placedwithin it.In his 1945 plan for Saint DieÂ´,ineasternFrance, Le Corbusier produced a prototypefor city centre development which was to bereiterated throughout war-torn Europe.Firmly within the centrifugal category, aseries of self-conscious civic buildings forma carefully placed assembly on the backdropof an open piazza. An administrative towerblock forms the visual focus and deï¬nes anopen space around it.Smaller civic buildings such as a museumand public assembly hall, interact w ith eachother to determine the nature of the massiveopen public space. But essentially, the archi-tectural devices used to achieve such openspaces are the inverse of those used in pursuitof centripetal space; now, by way of contrast,The spaces around 99Figure 6.15 Lewis Womersley, Park Hill Housing,Shefï¬eld, 1961.Figure 6.16 Michael Hopkins and Partners, InlandRevenue Ofï¬ces, Nottingham, 1995. From ArchitecturalReview 5/95.
the neutral backdrop of the vertical wall isreplaced by the bland horizontal surfacewhich â€˜ displaysâ€™ a collection of architecturaltours de force.The Saint DieÂ´model was employed byGollins, Melvin and Ward, albeit in muchdiluted form, to extend the university campusat Shefï¬eld in their competition-winning entryof 1953 (Figure 6.17). However, whereas LeCorbusierâ€™s plan for Saint DieÂ´represented asymbolic rebirth of a town destroyed by war,Gollinsâ€™ arrangement of rectilinear slabs andtowers was extending the courtyard (centripe-tal) typology of a typical late Victorian Britishuniversity. But the same devices emerge; amassive tower addresses the major openspace and provides a visual focus for the entirecampus with lower slab blocks providing asecondary rectilinear order .The Economist Building, St. James Street,London, provides an equally potent applica-tion of centrifugal principles to urban space.Here, three towers of varying height and ofsimilarly exquisite detailing emerge from aplaza slightly raised above the level of St.James Street (Figures 6.18, 6.19). The build-ings, themselves raised on delicate pilotis,appear to hover over the paved plaza whichagain forms the backdrop to considerablearchitectural incident.100 Architecture: Design NotebookFigure 6.17 Gollins, Melvin, Ward and Partners,Shefï¬eld University, 1956 Master Plan. From Britainâ€™sChanging Towns,Nairn,I.,BBC,p.78.Figure 6.18 Alison and Peter Smithson, EconomistBuilding, London, 1965. From The New Brutalism,Banham,R., Architectural Press, p. 90.
URBAN SPACE TYPOLOGYJust as the notion of â€˜typeâ€™ may be applied tobuildings (and, indeed, to the elements w hichconstitute them, such as structure, services andcladding), so may it be applied to urbanspaces. The concepts of â€˜centrifugalâ€™ and â€˜cen-tripetalâ€™ space represent two fundamentalâ€˜typesâ€™ of urban space. As already d iscussed,spaces around a central monument or â€˜ï¬gureâ€™(centrifugal) assume the role of a backdrop orâ€˜groundâ€™, whereas spaces enclosed by build-ing facÂ¸ades (centripetal) are themselvesâ€˜ï¬guresâ€™ within a passive architectural back-drop, or â€˜groundâ€™ (Moughtin).Square â€“ enclosureWithin this framework of centrifugal and cen-tripetal, secondary â€˜typesâ€™ emerge, which, his-torically, have constituted familiar structuringelements of our towns and cities. Modernistâ€˜centripetalâ€™ typologies reversed the acceptedorthodoxy of the enclosed square, and, in theprocess, did not contribute signiï¬cantly to itsdevelopment. The traditional enclosed square(Figure 6.20) as a focus f or social and com-mercial activity, as well as being the symboliccore of the community, has rarely beensuccessfully reiterated where enclosure hasbeen subsumed by an ill-deï¬ned open spaceThe spaces around 101Figure 6.19 Alison and Peter Smithson, EconomistBuilding, London, 1965.Figure 6.20 Enclosed square.
accommodating a series of free-standingarchitectural â€˜monumentsâ€™ ( Figure 6.21).But an enclosed square also imparts a senseof order, a conscious attempt to set itself apartfrom the chaotic nature of its hinterland, aswell as being the symbolic core of the commu-nity and a focus for social and commercialactivity.As already discussed, the interactionbetween depth of square and height of thewall determinant creates a sense of enclosure,which is ampliï¬ed if the corners of the squareare clearly deï¬ned. Similar â€˜rules of thumbâ€™exist for the plan form of urban squares. Sitteguarded against squares w hose length wasmore than three times their width, A lbertichampioned the â€˜double squar eâ€™ where lengthwas twice the width, whereas Vitruviusfavoured a length to width ratio of 3:2.MonumentBut some squares, whilst adhering to suchaccepted canons, also accommodate, andare subservient to, a major civic architecturalâ€˜monumentâ€™. The urban theorist, Camillo Sitte,identiï¬ed two types of square: â€˜deepâ€™ andâ€˜wideâ€™. These clas siï¬cations were largelydependent upon how a major civic buildingaddressed the square. Within the â€˜deepâ€™square, the â€˜monumentâ€™ (traditionally achurch) addresses the shorter side of t hesquare and, for m aximum domination, its ele-vation forms the vertical determinant to oneside, the other three sides being a neutralbackdrop designed to accentuate the primacyof the â€˜monumentâ€™ ( Figure 6.22). By contrastthe â€˜wideâ€™ s quare accommodates, for exam-ple, the attenuated facÂ¸ade of a palace toform its longer side (Figure 6.23), therebydominating the other three â€˜neutralâ€™ elevationsto the square.Street â€“ enclosureWhilst the street can take on the role of thesquare, as a hub of social contact or com-merce, it is also a route, or path, leadingfrom one event to another. However, the latterrole, in coping with ever-increasing trafï¬c den-sities, has tended to obscure the streetâ€™s tradi-tional sense of â€˜placeâ€™, where generouspavements effectively extended buildingsâ€™social spaces into the public realm.102 Architecture: Design NotebookFigure 6.21 Non-enclosed open space.
The â€˜rules of thumbâ€™ applying to the design ofsquares can also be adapted to the street; asense of enclosure depends upon the samewidth to height criteria, for example. Butbecause of the streetâ€™s linear form, designershave invoked various devices, not only topunctuate its length, b ut also to provide a satis-factory visual termination, thereby signallingentry and exit from the street as â€˜placeâ€™.Beaux Arts planners positioned major build-ings as visual â€˜stopsâ€™ to streets or â€˜boulevardsâ€™(Figure 6.24), and designers with â€˜pictur-esqueâ€™ tendencies favoured â€˜setbacksâ€™ to thefacÂ¸ade, or variations in elevational treatmentand materials, as punctuations to avoidmonotony (Figure 6.25).FacÂ¸adeMuch of the characterisation of the street canbe attributed to its architecture. Architects suchas Robert Adam in Edinburghâ€™s New Town,The spaces around 103Figure 6.22 â€˜Shortâ€™ side monument.Figure 6.23 â€˜Longâ€™ side monument.
John Wood the elder and his son in Bath(Figure 6.26), or John Nash in London(Figure 6.27), favoured a monumental, clas-sical architecture with repetitive bays using onematerial, generally dressed stone or stuccoedbrick. Hence the street appeared formal andheroic in scale, characteristics quite at var-iance with the typically English medieval streetwith its informal, mean dering plan, and pictur-esque assembly of disparate architectur alforms and materials.104 Architecture: Design NotebookFigure 6.24 â€˜Visual stopâ€™ to street.Figure 6.25 â€˜Picturesqueâ€™ street.Figure 6.26 The Circus, Bath.
CornerJust as architects throughout history h ave cele-brated the corner of their buildings in a varietyof ways, so have urban designers recognisedthe importance of the corner formed by thejunction of two streets. Neo-classical stylophi-lists used the column to mark the corner, as didtheir modernist successors in their quest forstructural expression. By contrast, nineteenth-century designers (and to some extent, theirpost-modern successors) invoked picturesquedevices to intensify the corner as a visual event.Whilst there are two generic corner types(internal and external), it is the external cornerwhich punctuates the street and has generatedits own varied typology. Thus, the designer mayemploy, in pursuit of formality or the pictur-esque ideal, angular, faceted, curved, sub-tractive, additive and detached corners, alloffering different d egrees of visual complexity(Figures 6.28 and 6.29).Just as any exploration of building typologymay reveal a simultaneous mix of types, evenwithin the same building, to describe its plan,structure, or services, so too can urban spacetypology reveal itself as similarly pluralist.The spaces around 105Figure 6.27 Nashâ€™s London Plan.Figure 6.28 Corner types.
Centrifugal and centripetal space, formal andinformalsquaresandstreetsenclosedbybuildings of equally eclectic provenance,when employed collectively, inevitably serveto enrich the visual outcome of the widerurban domain.106 Architecture: Design NotebookFigure 6.29 Corner types.
7POSTSCRIPT: A WORKING METHODTRADITION v. THE VIRTUALBUILDINGOur primary concerns have been those aspectsof a design programme which most pr ofoundlyinï¬‚uence the â€˜form -makingâ€™ process i n theprosecution of a building design. But havingestablished a â€˜formâ€™ which meets the majordesign objectives and is capable of develop-ment, this process represents in time but a frac-tion of the entire protracted design period.Nevertheless, it represents by far the most cru-cial (and arguably, the most problematic)activity for the designer; ï¬‚awed decisions inform-making cannot be retrieved by subse-quent assiduous attention to detail but onlyappropriate formal responses at this stagecan form the basis of meaningful architecture.Moreover, they can be developed to enhancethe clarity of that initial concept.And which techniques are most appropriatefor prosecuting and developing the design atthis early conceptual stage? As we enter thetwenty-ï¬rst century, the enormous sophistica-tion of computer software for drafting andthree-dimensional modelling has fundamen-tally altered the traditional view that a soft pen-cil and tracing paper, supported by physicalmodels in cardboard or balsa wood, are thebest tools to facilitate our initial, tentative,form-making excursions.Design by drawingNevertheless, it is axiomatic that a facility fordrawing most emphatically assists the designprocess; â€˜design by drawingâ€™, then, representsby far the most accessible and efï¬cient methodfor early exploration in design. Moreover,overlays of tracing paper, because of theirtransparency, allow swift modiï¬cation of aninitial â€˜formâ€™ again and again without havingto repeat the whole process from scratch; theresults of this process can then be assessed bymeans of a physical model. Even at this stage,coloured pencils can be used, â€˜codingâ€™ draw-
ings to distinguish spatial hierarchies. Suchclarity will help not only the ongoing assess-ment of the emerging designâ€™s validity, butwill also assist in maintaining the clarity of thediagram as the design develops.Designs cannot be â€˜testedâ€™ until they aredrawn to scale. Only in this way can thedesigner â€˜feelâ€™ the size of building elements inrelation to each other and in relation to the siteand its physical context. A range of appropriatepreferred scales should be used which will varyaccordingtothesizeoftheprojectbutitisessential that as many aspects of the designas possible are developed concurrently.Having established a â€˜diagramâ€™ to scale,details of major junctions can be explored atlarger scale, so building up as early as possiblea comprehensive picture of design intent. It isuseful to retain evidence of these early sketchesas a design â€˜logâ€™ so that, if necessary, rejectedsolutions can be revisited and reassessed asthe design progresses; this may form a usefulreference, particularly if drawn on s heets ofstandard-size, numbered and dated.Atthesametimeitisimperativetobuildupafact-ï¬le for r eference on precedent studies ofcomparable building types, a ppropriate struc-tural systems, construction, materials andenvironmental performance.Architects conceive and design their build-ings from the outset as three-dimensional arte-facts and, as already indicated, a facility fordrawing greatly facilitates such conceptual-isation. In these early stages therefore, it isimperative to develop freehand axonometricand perspective drawing methods which canquickly explore the three-dimensional conse-quences of design decisions.The virtual buildingAlthough it is now unthinkable that ï¬‚edglingarchitects could enter their profession withoutsophisticated levels of computer literacy,nevertheless, there is still a perceptionamongst many that hand drawing and physicalmodels offer a more direct and ï¬‚exible designtool than computer-generated techniques. Butif the central role of the architect is to createspaces for h uman habitation, then it seemsaxiomatic that the virtual building, whichprovides an accurate three-dimensional repre-sentation of the designerâ€™s concept, will allowhim to understand the project more compre-hensively.Essentially, the virtual building is an accu-rately described d igital representation of anarchitectural design modelled three-dimen-sionally. As the project develops, the virtualbuilding allows the architect to accuratelyâ€˜testâ€™ the three-dimensional outcomes ofdesign decisions that affect the nature of exter-nal form, internal space, and junctions of com-ponents. Moreover, because it is representedby one model, then the need to co-ordinateseveral drawings is removed, and the margin108 Architecture: Design Notebook
for error, inherent in traditional methods, istherefore substantially reduced. Two-dimen-sional plans, sections and elevations mayalso be extracted for evaluation early in thedesign process, with any modiï¬cations subse-quently being fed back into the single virtualbuilding model.Whereas with â€˜design by drawingâ€™, earlydecisions regarding planning, structure, andconstruction, for example, will accelerate thedesign process, with the virtual building, suchdecisions must be logged into a database at anearly stage for the design to proceed at all. Inthe event, this not only represents good prac-tice, but also allows the three-dimensionalmodel to provide a complete visualisation ofthe project, which can then be communicated,electronically, to other members of the designteam.The virtual building, in effect, offers anew method of designing buildings byoffering instant evaluation of the project intwo and three-dimensional images at anystage of the design process, a process ofreï¬nement which, by comparison, traditionaldrawing renders unacceptably labour-intensive.The purpose of this book has been to estab-lish a sensible working method for getting themassively complex process of designing abuilding under way, for inevitably it is withinthese early decisions and tentative forays intoform-making that the seeds of true architectureare sown. And yet it represents a mere begin-ning, for design activity carries on until thebuilding is completed on site: reordering maywell ensue during a buildingâ€™s â€˜ï¬rst lifeâ€™ andbeyond should recycling of salvaged buildingcomponents be considered in the originaldesign. It is not within our scope here to chartthat entire process; more to suggest that itseffectiveness will inevitably depend upon thisinitial exploration of uncharted territory insearch of an appropriate â€˜formâ€™.But that exploration could a lso heed A lbertEinsteinâ€™s sage counsel; â€˜If you wish to learnfrom the t heoretical physicist anything aboutthe methods he uses … donâ€™t listen to hiswords, examine his achievements.â€™ The samecould well apply to architecture.Postscript: A working method 109
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FURTHER READINGAbel, C., Architecture and Identity; Towards aGlobal Eco-culture, Architectural Press,1997.Ashihara, Y., Exterior Design in Architecture,Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1970.Banham, R., The Age of the Masters; aPersonal View of Modern Architecture.Architectural Press, 1975.Banham, R., The Architecture of the Well-tempered Environment, Architectural Press,1969.Blanc, A., Stairs, Steps and Ramps,Architectural Press, 1996.Brawne, M., From Idea to Building,Architectural Press, 1992.Broadbent, G., DesigninArchitecture;JohnWiley and Sons, 1973.Chilton, J., Space Grid Structures,Architectural Press, 2000.Cook, P., Primer, Academy Editions, 1996.Curtis, W., Modern Architecture since 1900,Phaidon, 1982.Edwards, B., Sustainable Architecture,Architectural Press, 1996.Edwards, B., Rough Guide to Sustainability,RIBA Publications, 2002.Groak, S., The Idea of Building,E&FSpon,1992.Hawkes, D., The Environmental Tradition,E.andF.N.Spon,1996.Howes, J., Computers Count, RIBAPublications, 1990.Hunt, A., Tony Huntâ€™s Structures Notebook,Architectural Press, 1997.Jencks, C., Modern Movements inArchitecture, Penguin Books, 1973.Lawson, B., How Designers Think,Architectural Press, 1998.Lawson, B., Design in Mind,ArchitecturalPress, 1994.MacDonald, A., Structure and Architecture,Architectural Press, 1994.
Moughtin, C., Urban Design: Street andSquare, Architectural Press, 1992.Moughtin, C. et al., Urban Design; Methodand Techniques, Architectural Press, 1999.Porter, T., Goodman, S., Design DrawingTechniques for Architects, GraphicDesigners and Artists, Architectural Press,1992.Raskin, E., Architecturally Speaking,BlochPublishing Co., 1997.Sharp, D., A Visual History of Twentieth-century Architecture, Heinemann, 1972.Smith, P., Options for a Flexible Planet,Sustainable Building Network, Shefï¬eld,1996.Smith, P., Architecture in a Climate ofChange, Architectural Press, 2001.Sparke, P., Design in Context,GuildPublishing, 1987.Tutt,P.,Adler,D.(eds),New MetricHandbook: Planning and Design Data,Architectural Press, 1979.Vale, B., Vale, R., Green Architecture: Designfor a Sustainable Future, Thames andHudson, 1991.Wilson, C., Architectural Reï¬‚ections,Architectural Press, 1992.112 Architecture: Design Notebook