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Ancient street and social space

In many centuries street always places to meet peoples in ancient times. Where economic activity happens in the streets. In ancient Rome street take huge role to the activity in city center. Active frontage directly touched with the street and streets connected with square and monuments. Street act like a path that connect each node and make as personal space for the people (Lynch, 1959)

illustrated ancient Rome street
Driving city

In early 1920 first motorway has been built in Europe as demand of invention of a car (Wikipedia) From that time movement from point to point become much easier. And Network of road build to connect between cities. Not for long time road network overtaking the actual street in the cities. To accommodate economic demands to prosper the city.  Since industrial revolution in early 1950 cities vision of modern days become more grid to act as symbol of efficiency and futuristic (Corbusier,1929).

Street condition at New York in 1950

At this time street now overtaken by the cars. Connecting tissue of city now linked by network of car roads and diminished the essence of street as social hub for the people. Sidewalk become more like accessorize to the street with no comfortable for people to make social interaction. Speed of the car become faster makes pedestrian even more danger to walk in sidewalk. This also criticized by Jane Jacobs that street should be place for social interactions happens and make the urban form stronger and not segregated by motorway (Jacobs, 1961)

Street as part of urban design
Active high street in Liverpool

The movement of reducing motor ways come in Europe to consider the importance of well-being in the streets as part of reconnecting each building. Regeneration of high street as pedestrian only can create social interaction in the street with active frontage. In this long corridor of high street, they try to redesign the space for people can interact with place landscape and street furniture.

Design of new street that increase walkability and connection at the same time try to reduce the need of car has been developed in recent decades. There is some key aspect to create new street as social hub for people (Street design for all, 2014):

  1. Mixed use street
Mixed function street

To make the street not for the car it need to make wider pedestrian street and gives be spoke design to the pedestrian. Pedestrian should be place near the corridor of active frontage. Try to mixed the function of the building with low to medium density to encourage movement of the people. Shop and beverage can be place to attract passerby to interact in the street and ensure movement of people can happen every time.

Bicycle infrastructure also part of mixed use street that need to separate from the car road. With the place of bike parking and introducing of bike sharing scheme in the city movement can go further and safer.

2. Insert affordable BRT and Transit system

Transit system can encourage walkability

Transit system and BRT is the key factor to reduce the number of the car. With short transit system that inside walkable coverage can make the city more walkable. The system can use the existing street to reduce the road or using subway system. Tram system is well known as transit system that have attractive value to the city and various mode of transit system also can have great impact to create more walkable city.

3. Make social pocket place in the street

Small pocket street corner with furniture

To create interaction in the street designing pocket place in the junction of the street that contains streetscape or street furniture can help people to stop and rest. In hot climate area provide shading to make people comfortable to walk. Water features can be provide so the people can interact with it and creating good place making

4. Increasing green infrastructure in the street

Green landscape at pedestrian coridor

Promoting green line into the street can be good criteria for make people wants to walk.  Landscape can be function as a barrier from direct road. Landscape in the street corridor also can reduce the speed limit of the car and make saver pedestrian. Landscape also can be function as bio drain to absorb excess water from the road and some of them can be form as swale and use for flood prevention system.


1. Lynch. K., 1959. The Image of The City. Massachusetts,UK : The MIT Press

2. Le Corbusier, 1929. The City of Tomorrow and Its Planning. 3rd ed, London : Architectural Press

3. Jacobs. J, 1961. The death and life of Great American city, New York, US : Random house

4. Davis. C.J., Street Design for all, 2014, United Kingdom: Public Realm Information and Advice Network (PRIAN)



3 responses to “Street as social Hub for the people”

  1. Thank you, Ganang, for sharing your views on the topic of streets as a social hub for people! In my opinion, with regards to streets and urban design the features you have mentioned are vital for well-functioning streets for the user, though there are also other features to be considered other than social hubs and creating walkable spaces.

    I totally agree with Jane Jacobs (1961), that they should be made as spaces for social interactions and we see that in Barcelona and the superblocks. The areas where the superblocks have been implemented have been used as a measure to increase sustainable living as well as social interaction space. The streets work well in conjunction with the roads, Bausells (2016) writes that, the new superblocks will slow down the existing routes and the new have a 10km/h speed limit. Streets should be made people-friendly, and a way to make sure this has been implemented is through participation with young people in urban design. Derr et al. (2018: 41-42) writes that with participation with young people, streets and spaces will become safer and create better places for all groups and communities.

    As written by Gill (2019), in Urban Childhoods, designing for young people can better all communities and this should be taken into action by more government bodies and design groups. This may also increase mental health (University of Reading, 2019) and even vulnerable groups like the elderly or disabled (Derr et al. 2018: 41-42).

    Bausells, M. (2016). Superblocks to the rescue: Barcelona’s plan to give streets back to residents. The Guardian. [online] Available at: < > [Accessed 20 May 2020].

    Derr, V., Chawla, L. and Mintzer, M. (2018). Placemaking With Children and Youth.
    1st ed. New York: New Village Press.

    Gill, T. (2019). Cities Alive – Designing for Urban Childhoods. ARUP, Retrieved 15 April 2020 from: cities-alive-designing-for-urban-childhoods

    Jacobs, J. (1961). The Death and Life of Great American Cities, New York, US : Random house

    University of Reading, (2019). Superblocks: Barcelona’s car-free zones could extend lives and boost mental health. [online] Available at:

  2. Thank you Ganang for your post.
    I agree with all the key factors you discussed, but I think it has one more aspect that may help create a new street as a social hub for people: that is“art”.

    Drawing and painting on the street is simple, but it can surprisingly create liveliness to the area. It makes people who walk past each other, have the same interest. In the late 19th century, England began to have more roads because of urban sprawl. The artists started to draw on the road, and it became a culture that made the neighborhood more colorful. In that era, the content that artists painted on the street were often images from poems, tales, and images of current events. Another aspect is that it is news criticism. Therefore, one of these artists’ functions is to send messages or news to illiterate people, not reading books or newspapers. People can stay informed on the roadside. The coolness of roadside artists is to use city space to create works, make money while also creating amazing human interaction. In terms of art, this may be a temporary art, but it can create a gimmick atmosphere for the city.

    Moreover, we can see that many places around the world also use permanent and temporary art to create the social space, or some of them have become a famous tourist attraction such as Bricklane in London, Asphalt Art project in New York.


    Tracy Lee Stum. 2007. What Are The Origins Of Street Painting?. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 24 May 2020].

    Small, A., 2019. Want Better Streets?, Just Add Paint.. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 24 May 2020].

    Maric, B., 2014. History Of Street Art In The UK. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 24 May 2020]. 2017. London Street Art. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 24 May 2020].

  3. Thank you, Ganang, for expanding the topic, which has been in minds of urban planners and designers for centuries. I completely agree with Jane Jacobs’s recommendations regarding the issue and believe that walkability, permeability and sustainability should be placed at the forefront of street design.

    However, expanding on your ‘make social pocket place in the street’ recommendation, I would additionally suggest provision of retail units, which would create a more vibrant atmosphere to this social pocket and lead to more public interactions. Jacobs (1961, pp. 34-36) considers shops and markets as the important places with a significant flow of people. Moreover, the author strongly believes that, apart from their professional duties, shopkeepers also tend to provide a natural surveillance to the streets, thus limiting opportunities for public tensions to occur.

    It is safe to say that retail units transform basic streets into high streets and, currently, majority of British cities experience their slow death (Hughes and Jackson, 2015). Berman (2019, p. 76) argues that the increase of digital marketing and shopping would create a lamentable future for the streets and contribute to low public interaction levels. People would not be drawn to streets, subsequently generating a soulless image to the urban streetscape (Fletcher et al., 2016, pp. 84-85).

    In result, it is also the agenda of urban design to provide effective solutions in preventing closure of retail units in order to retain their importance in enhancing the street culture and facilitating the flow of people in the urban environment.

    Reference List:

    Berman, B. (2019) ‘Flatlined: Combatting the death of retail stores’, Business Horizons, 62(1), pp. 75-82.

    Fletcher, G., Greenhill, A., Griffiths, M. and Mclean, R. (2016) ‘The social supply chain and the future high street’, Supply Chain Management: An International Journal, 21(1), pp. 78-91.

    Hughes, C. and Jackson, C. (2015) ‘Death of the high street: identification, prevention, reinvention’, Regional Studies, Regional Science, 2(1), pp. 237-256.

    Jacobs, J. (1961) The death and life of great American cities. New York: New York Vintage Books.

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