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Thread: Poundbury (long)

  1. #1
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Poundbury (long)

    Some images from Poundbury. Absolutely wonderful. The beauty is in the details, right down to the curbs ... I mean kerbs, as they say across the Great Pond.







































    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

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    Poundbury

    I know that we are supposed to dismiss this kind of stuff because it is not "modern," but I found the photos pretty attractive and persuasive.

    Of course, this could never be built here:

    1. No tradition of craftsmanship or materials remains in the US. I can just envision the Hardee Plank, sprayed-on stucco, and the permastone equivalents "manufactured" in California.

    2. No provision for large SUVs and three-car garages.

    3. How will WalMart SuperCenters fit into this townscape?

    4. Large fire trucks will not be able to drive down the street parallel.

    Oh well.

  3. #3

    Re: Poundbury

    Originally posted by BKM
    [4. Large fire trucks will not be able to drive down the street parallel.[/B]
    Although there are benefits to having wide open roads a la America... In Britain, in situ recycling of roads only happens on(generally long straight stretches of) roads in the middle of nowhere. Even rural villages have roads that are too narrow (and bendy) to allow the machinary in and do a good job. Which makes some of the theory I've been looking at pretty useless. *sigh*

  4. #4
    Cyburbian el Guapo's avatar
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    Atta Boy!

    I just love when you post photos like this Dan! Please keep it up.

    I lived in a village in Germany which had a similar sense of scale. I miss it sometimes.
    el Guapo is a former 20 year +/- urban planner (just like you) who thought becoming an attorney was a good life choice.

  5. #5
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Re: Re: Poundbury

    Originally posted by Journeymouse

    Although there are benefits to having wide open roads a la America... In Britain, in situ recycling of roads only happens on(generally long straight stretches of) roads in the middle of nowhere.
    I've been engaged in a philosophical battle with the consulting town engineer regarding road standards. In older parts of town, there's a relatively intact grid of dirt roads. Not only are there alternative routes to a destination, but there's room to pull off the surface and let other vehicles pass. New roads off the grid must be paved, but I think they should have the same unintentional advantages the dirt roads provide. Make 'em narrow, and let them meander within the right-of-way.

    The engineer says "nope." He's thinking about worst case scenarios -- two fire trucks racing side-by-side down a street, with vehicles parked on one side. Has anyone ever seen two fire trucks or ambulances dragging to an emergency? Neither have I. Strangely, though, engineers always use this scenario to justify lots of pavement.

    BTW, earlier this year there was a referendum on whether the old dirt roads should be paved. There was the traditional Florida-like margin in the result, which was to leave 'em clay, but rebuild them nonetheless. The popular opinion was that the narrow dirt roads slowed traffic.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  6. #6
    Cyburbian GeogPlanner's avatar
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    Re: Re: Re: Poundbury

    Has anyone ever seen two fire trucks or ambulances dragging to an emergency?
    You obviously don't know many EMTs working for a commercial agency...been there done that in my former life! But we used to get 3 or 4 racing to breakfast before going on duty...ahhh the good ol' days or races and doing synchronized donuts in a snow covered parking lot...there's just something beautiful about seeing a couple of ambulances with thier lights on f*&^ing around in the snow.
    Information necessitating a change of design will be conveyed to the designer after and only after the design is complete. (Often called the 'Now They Tell Us' Law) - Fyfe's First Law of Revision

    We don't believe in planners and deciders making the decisions on behalf of Americans. -- George W. Bush , Scranton, PA -- 09/06/2000

  7. #7
    Cyburbian El Feo's avatar
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    It's beautiful, but...

    does anybody but me find it a little jarring that Poundbury seems to be unpopulated? The only 4 folks I see in the photos appear to be Scotland Yards' version of Mulder and Scully, investigating just why in the heck all the people suddenly disappeared...

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    Wide Streets

    I hate wide streets because they encourage quick driving-

    And then the City posts ridiculous 25 mph speed limits (and a speed trap to boot).

    I am $91 poorer, sad to say.

    As for El Feo's comments: Poundbury is, I would guess (Journeymouse?) a commuter town or a holiday town, maybe. Mid day, mid-week, you're not going to see many people. Just guessing.

    Plus, showing people would violate the "Purity-in-Architectural-Photography" law.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian jmf's avatar
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    I as thinking that too, there aren't even any signs of life...except for a few cars, no planters, no window boxes, no open windows, no locals (pubs), no newsstands, no bikes or bikeracks......everything is just a little too neat and tidy.......

  10. #10

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    Poundsbury

    Could we possibly have the setting for a British version of . . .
    The Truman Show-complete with plummy British accents, cool costumes, and class shenanigans.

  11. #11
    maudit anglais
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    Hmmm...it's actually a new town! I thought it was an established place. I do find the lack of people and activities a little unsettling. And from reading the article it seems like it is probably a bedroom community for really wealthy people who all commute to "The City" in their bowler hats and what not.

  12. #12
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Originally posted by Tranplanner
    And from reading the article it seems like it is probably a bedroom community for really wealthy people who all commute to "The City" in their bowler hats and what not.
    Journeymouse ... still see bowler hats in the UK? I have this mental impresion of these blue-suited, bowler-hait wearing businessmen walking across the Thames on some bridge.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

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    The article as a whole was quite interesting

    You know, I just read the entire article. The first thought that came to mind is that no American newspaper (or weekly magazine) would run such a thorough, well-written, and literate discussion of an issue like architecture. It would take space better used to describe the social lives of yuppie twenty-somethings in the Marin a District (SF Chronicle).

    I find the "classical vision" appealing. I remain skeptical that it could work in the US (we are "further gone" than Britain), and modern urban life is more chaotic and every-changing than classicism could address (as one of the architects admitted). But, it is far more convincing visually than the chaotic, computer-generated claptrap of the avant-garde, as interesting and even beautiful as such avant garde architecture can be.

  14. #14
    Originally posted by Dan
    Journeymouse ... still see bowler hats in the UK?
    I've never seen any that I can remember - they're a bit out of fashion these days!

    For those who haven't looked, there's an article at http://www.princes-foundation.org/fo...poundbury.html. I get the impression that Poundbury was/is another one of HRH's good intentions that have got slightly highjacked by the realities of life - as a general rule, country and country-style homes a more expensive in the UK than their city counterparts so any new 'country' development is likely to have a lot of commuters or 'good life' people in it.

  15. #15
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    Poundbury Update

    El Feo, when I go out to photograph a town, I often go on Sunday morning. At this time, the traffic is light, and I can stand in the middle of the street. I also don’t have to worry about offending someone by taking his picture. Look at the shadows in the photos posted at the beginning of this thread: the shadows are long. I suspect these pics were taken on a Sunday morning. This in some measure accounts for the lack of people on the street. This is, after all, a small town. In residential districts, even in big cities such as Georgetown, DC, you can take a picture anytime on one of its dense residential streets that will make it look uninhabited.


    POUNDBURY UPDATE


    Construction has proceeded apace at Poundbury. The trees and bushes have grown in, the stores have been rented, factories have sprung up, and many new houses have been built, some with interesting architecture.


    The Farmers Market in Pummery Square, with Poundbury Village Stores in the background.



    The Poundbury Village Stores, and the HeyBaby store in Pummery Square.



    Two stores in Pummery Square.



    The Poet Laureate Pub and its outdoor seating area, with the Octagon Café (arched window on left).



    Residential above shops, and fanciful houses and garages.



    Office buildings, one with a small parking area inside its gatehouse.



    Detached houses on small lots.



    More shops.



    The Brownsword Hal l(L) in Pummery Square, available for your banquets, concerts, conferences, exhibitions, functions, meetings, parties and receptions; Middlemarsh Street (R).



    Looking down Ashington Street to the Octagon Café (L); Brookhouse Street: a pair of culs-de-sac for the motorist, but a through-street for the pedestrian (R).



    A shop in a residence; the Octagon Café.



    Contrasting houses --or are they mansions? (L); a garden wall that becomes the ground floor of a house (R).



    The fountain at Dinham Walk (L); and Brownsword Hall on a non-market day (R).



    The professional offices of Cancer Care Dorset and the Dorset Cereals Factory.



    The Picturehouse Gallery; Holmead Walk.



    The Poundbury Belvedere, looking to Maiden Castle in the distance across the fields. Not a suburb to be seen.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian martini's avatar
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    Wow. Looks great Dan. This looks like it may be a newer development, probably higher end. Any indication of mixed income? I love the feel. Very welcoming, slow traffic patterns, easy to walk/cycle if you want. I saw shops/stores, but what about grocers? Were there any in close proximity?

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          ablarc's avatar
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    poundbury


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          ablarc's avatar
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    Sorry. The link didn't work in my original post, so I have reposted a working link.

    http://www.byen.org/poundbury.html

  19. #19
          ablarc's avatar
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    America’s best architecture critic weighs in…


    Getting it right (maybe a little too right) in well-behaved England

    Critique

    By Robert Campbell, FAIA

    Think of this column as a letter to a friend about a recent trip to England.

    I was tagging along with the Seaside Pienza Institute, which is an informal gang of mostly American architects, educators, and developers all of whom subscribe, more or less, to the principles of the so-called New Urbanism. They agree, at least, that they prefer walkable towns to car-culture sprawl.

    Sprawl is something you certainly don't see much of in rural England. It's amazing to an American: no roadside Dairy Queens, motels, billboards, used- car dealerships, suburban malls, or scattered single-family houses. Beautiful as it is, it's possible to get bored. The endless green countryside, unviolated by trade or commerce, bespeaks the heavy hand of a ruling bureaucracy, as it once spoke of a ruling aristocracy. Where, you ask yourself, is the insurgent who breaks the rules? Where is the bubbling up of private initiative that makes life irrational and interesting? Can I buy some fireworks, please?

    They don't let sprawl happen. We talked to several government officials who told us there is a greenbelt around every city, town, and village. You can't develop anything in that belt unless you can prove to government planners that (a) there's a need and (b) there's no capacity for growth on existing sites inside the town limits. The "thrill of walking from the town into the country," as one speaker put it, is preserved by government fiat.

    I'm certainly in favor of a sharp line between town and country. But with this same group, I toured Tuscany last year. There we discovered that the equally bucolic Italian farm landscape is uneconomic and survives only because it's considered historic and is subsidized by the European Union [RECORD, October 2003, page 67]. England has similar problems, its agriculture now threatened by cheaper overseas imports. One group is addressing that problem with the pleasingly named "Eat the View" initiative, trying to get town dwellers to buy fresh produce grown in the immediate scenic surroundings.

    Logical there; heretical in U.S.

    Planning happens on a big scale, too. We learned that the government has identified four national corridors where growth will be encouraged. The major one lies along the new rail link to mainland Europe. It's a proposal as logical there as it would be heretical in the U.S.

    We visited Poundbury, the new town sponsored by the Prince of Wales and planned by New Urbanist guru Leon Krier, who met us there. He said architects should imitate rather than invent, and noted that "nobody has proposed an anticlassical Chianti." He also said, in a sentence worth thinking about, that "architecture should be divorced from art history."


    Sponsored by Prince Charles, Poundbury follows New Urbanist planning rules.

    Poundbury obeys the principles of Jane Jacobs and the New Urbanism. It's mixed-use and dense. The houses don't float on wasteful green lawns; they butt up against one another in traditional rows. Streets wander around as unpredictably as in a medieval village, in a way that's maybe too self-consciously picturesque. Parks are banished to the perimenter, so that the town itself can remain compact and walkable. Cars are tucked semi-visibly in parking courts. It's a real town, not just a bedroom burb, with commerce and light manufacturing.

    I have to admit I was amused to learn that although Poundbury is only one-fifth built, the serpent of Nimbyism has already raised its hissing head. A group has been formed that calls itself PROD: Poundbury Residents Opposed to Density. At the time of our visit, PROD had just succeeded in getting planning authorities to deny permission for a modest new apartment building. These are guys who chose to live in a traditionally dense, compact settlement, and who paid a premium to do so (Poundbury has been a marketing success). They then turn around to protest the very qualities that, presumably, attracted them in the first place. Although I think PROD is selfish and absurd, it's somehow reassuring to know that contrariness can still flourish in a model community. Krier, as usual, gets it right. When you do a new development, he says, "You must build the noxious uses first or the residents will prevent them." They love to talk about architecture in England. George Ferguson, the current president of the Royal Institute of British Architects, has proposed an X rating for works of architecture. He hasn't explained the details, but the idea is that really terrible buildings would be given the X in the hope that, labeled with such a stigma, they might be demolished. Perhaps the government could subsidize the demolition, or perhaps it could refuse needed permissions or benefits. One delights in imagining the star-chamber gathering of taste police who would meet to award the X listing. Alas, it probably won't happen.

    The hottest argument at the moment is over a government policy that says, or seems to say—the wording is the usual bureaucratic fog—that traditional styles of architecture are now banned in the British countryside. The law formerly banned any large new house in open countryside, since the government policy, as noted above, is to keep development in towns. But it was modified—with backstage pressure, everyone thinks but can't prove, from Norman Foster— to permit houses that are "truly outstanding and groundbreaking" and reflect "the highest standards in contemporary architecture."

    Architects who practice in traditional modes believe this is a deliberate prohibition of historic styles, and they're up in arms, as are Americans like Andres Duany. A member of Prince Charles's staff suggested to me that if you were to ban architecture that imitates the architecture of some previous era, you'd have to demolish half of London. Gothic Revival? Palladian? Even a landmark like Tower Bridge is merely thick clothes of traditional stone over a modern steel frame.

    Speaking of Foster, his office courteously arranged a private tour of the master's new office tower in the financial district of London, the so-called Gherkin. (Taciturn Americans lack the gift for nick- names that come so easily in the
    more verbal culture of the Brits.) A gherkin is a pickled cucumber, and Foster's tower does indeed look like a pickle or a fat cigar standing on end [RECORD, May 2004, page 2181. I loved and hated it. From an urban point of view, it's remarkably unsocial. It wraps itself haughtily in its glass cloak, like an operatic diva, ignoring everything around it. The architecture tells you this is a generic building that could be sited anywhere. It offers nothing to the life of the street. The ground floor, which is tiny, as befits the end of a gherkin, contains only an elevator lobby.
    A vertical cul-de-sac

    Upstairs, though, if you're privileged to go there (the whole building is occupied by a single Swiss insurance company), the place is remarkable. Glass atriums spiral up the exterior, offering fresh air to every occupant. At the top are a restaurant and bar with spectacular views over the city, at least until the next tower blocks them. In a talk at Poundbury, the ever-quotable Krier fulminated about skyscrapers. They are, he said, "network disrupters" and "catastrophic social isolators." A skyscraper is a "vertical cul-de-sac" - cul-de-sac being, probably, the most vicious insult a New Urbanist can utter.

    And indeed, the Gherkin functions more like an elitist club than a connected piece of the city. But it's an elegant work of architecture. Four days after my visit, when the Gherkin opened briefly to the public, the queue went around the block. Television crews were present to record the event. It's hard to imagine that kind of interest in a work of commercial architecture in the U.S.

    Incidentally, architectural techies should check out the window-washing system at the Gherkin. Cleaning a building of this shape is a challenge, to say the least. Foster and consultants had to invent an elaborate crane and boom that climbs around the exterior like a giant spider. Let's hope it works. As every architect knows, in architecture you don't get to build, test, and improve a prototype before going on to the production model. You have to get it right the first time.


    --Architectural Record

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