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Thread: Puerto de la Cruz (Tenerife) and public spaces [Broadband Recommended]

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    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
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    Puerto de la Cruz (Tenerife) and public spaces [Broadband Recommended]

    In this thread, I wanted to show some excellent public spaces that I recently photographed while visiting the in-laws in Puerto de la Cruz, in the northern part of Tenerife (Canary Islands). Tenerife was developed as a mass tourist destination from the 1960s, with predictably dire consequences. The old town centers, however, survive and recently have received needed attention.

    The first picture gives an idea of the sort of high-rise, cheap-holidays-for-boozing-foreigners that dominates part of Tenerife. One positive to point out, though, is the retail at ground floor and generally dense fabric (compare to the high-rise sprawl north of South Beach...)



    Moving toward the seaside promenade, some examples of modern low-rise retail surmounted by living accommodations.



    The following is just a place to sit, note the nice structure and planting.



    The pictures that follow show some general aspects of street life in 'downtown' Puerto. Locals and tourists mixing and people enjoying the weather (this was just after New Year's). Small offices, hotels, apartments, shops, restaurants in a mix that would make Jane Jacobs nod in approval.







    In the old cathedral square, the quality of the landscaping and the state of the old architecture is admirable. DON'T TELL ME THIS STUFF IS EXPENSIVE, the per-capita income, while high by world standards is about that of the US or even Germany or UK, etc.. The central courtyard of EVERY shopping mall in the Southwest could be of this quality. They should be MADE to do it.





    Moving back toward the newer part of town, an example that even modern buildings/settings can maintain a neighborly feel. Note the paving stones which tend to calm traffic (they are noisier inside the car and bumpier than smooth asphalt).



    Uphill (wayyyy uphill, Tenerife is a volcanic island with very steep slopes), the town of Orotava has many fine buildings. This is one smallish square looking nice with the Christmas lights. Temporary stalls for a Christmas market on the left, a bandstand at the back. The bottom of the bandstand contains a small cafe with outdoor tables. All very civilized.



    The bandstand itself. Let's compare that to the 'gazebos' you would tend to find in a typical pseudo-TND.....This is the real thing. Perfectly doable today.

    Last edited by Luca; 15 Jan 2006 at 4:55 PM.
    Life and death of great pattern languages

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    Cyburbian abrowne's avatar
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    Thanks for the photos. Added to my mind's eye.

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    he central courtyard of EVERY shopping mall in the Southwest could be of this quality. They should be MADE to do it.
    In the SouthWest of the U.S.? Everything would still be surrounded by parking lots. Beautiful pics!

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    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by The Irish One
    In the SouthWest of the U.S.? Everything would still be surrounded by parking lots. Beautiful pics!
    ...OR, the parking lots could be buried and surmounted by squares like these and buildings like the ones you see.

    To all those who don't think 'traditional' work unless it's 'of its time', check out the buildings in pic. n. 4, they are not 19th century, they are recent. Not exceptional, just decent/nice.
    Life and death of great pattern languages

  5. #5
    ...OR, the parking lots could be buried and surmounted by squares like these and buildings like the ones you see.
    I want what you're saying but where would everyone park? This is suburbia. Cars pervert every faucet of social organization in this corner of the world.

    To all those who don't think 'traditional' work unless it's 'of its time', check out the buildings in pic. n. 4, they are not 19th century, they are recent. Not exceptional, just decent/nice.
    Pics 4 & 5 are of the best kind of place, I fantasize about whole sections of Southwestern cities becoming like that. Everytime I see a new infill development go up in my area I go from very excited (we're making progress, soon we'll see people on the streets carrying groceries, fresh flowers or brief cases and books, with children and adults mingling in public) to disappointment (wow, there's a lot of room for parking). I'm not a skeptic, someday those pics could be from inland San Diego County.

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    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by The Irish One
    I want what you're saying but where would everyone park? This is suburbia. Cars pervert every faucet of social organization in this corner of the world.

    Pics 4 & 5 are of the best kind of place, I fantasize about whole sections of Southwestern cities becoming like that. Everytime I see a new infill development go up in my area I go from very excited (we're making progress, soon we'll see people on the streets carrying groceries, fresh flowers or brief cases and books, with children and adults mingling in public) to disappointment (wow, there's a lot of room for parking). I'm not a skeptic, someday those pics could be from inland San Diego County.
    Well, all the old folks and teenagers don't have to own cars at all because everything they need is right there. Cars are nice though, when you want to get away from it all... Indeed much of Tenerife HAS sprawled due to cars/better roads. As a practical measure, I think that if you require all parking lots to be underground or multi-story with liner buildings you can make things better. In Puerto, there is a decent sized municipal lot on the outskirts of the old town (the old town is smallish so you can walk across it in 5/10 minutes).

    My contention is that if a (major) private developer built something like that in the Southwest, brick for brick (so to speak), the punters WOULD come. I think they would FLOCK. Then you start extending. Then you take over part of the sprawl. Then you demolish the rest and turn it back into farmland/nature. Uhn...wake up Luca! Dreaming again!
    Life and death of great pattern languages

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    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Beautiful place. Reminds me a little of Tavira, Portugal, kinda, which I visited over the X-mas week. Actually, I was happy to spend a significant amount of time in the major southern Spanish cities recently and really enjoyed the initimacy of the cities and the vibrancy of the mediveal form.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    The ends can justify the means.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Luca
    Well, all the old folks and teenagers don't have to own cars at all because everything they need is right there. Cars are nice though, when you want to get away from it all... Indeed much of Tenerife HAS sprawled due to cars/better roads. As a practical measure, I think that if you require all parking lots to be underground or multi-story with liner buildings you can make things better. In Puerto, there is a decent sized municipal lot on the outskirts of the old town (the old town is smallish so you can walk across it in 5/10 minutes).

    My contention is that if a (major) private developer built something like that in the Southwest, brick for brick (so to speak), the punters WOULD come. I think they would FLOCK. Then you start extending. Then you take over part of the sprawl. Then you demolish the rest and turn it back into farmland/nature. Uhn...wake up Luca! Dreaming again!
    As far as not owning cars, however... how does one get to things like sports events, concerts, cultural events, visiting friends who do not live by mass transit? I can see where people would want to reduce car use... but to eliminate car use by most people is almost impossible without razing our cities altogether and forcing everyone to live in Soviet-style high rise condos/apartments... and I don't think that's the answer.

    Don't get me wrong, I'd love to be able to walk down the street to a restaurant or bar, or to a local store. But I'd still like to be able to have a car to enjoy the things I want to do in life -- not to mention, variety is important -- I'm sure not every store or restaurant I like would be in walking distance, probably not even if I lived in Manhattan, so while reducing dependancy on cars is alright, I just don't think it's ever true that most people won't need a car.

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    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Blue
    As far as not owning cars, however... how does one get to things like sports events, concerts, cultural events, visiting friends who do not live by mass transit? I can see where people would want to reduce car use... but to eliminate car use by most people is almost impossible without razing our cities altogether and forcing everyone to live in Soviet-style high rise condos/apartments... and I don't think that's the answer.

    Don't get me wrong, I'd love to be able to walk down the street to a restaurant or bar, or to a local store. But I'd still like to be able to have a car to enjoy the things I want to do in life -- not to mention, variety is important -- I'm sure not every store or restaurant I like would be in walking distance, probably not even if I lived in Manhattan, so while reducing dependancy on cars is alright, I just don't think it's ever true that most people won't need a car.
    Absolutely, I'm not an anti-car freak. I love cars. IF you have a good selection of retail/restaurants/entertainment (Puerto has 2 cinemas (both muti-screen), dozens of restaurants and bars, shops, schools, hospital, town hall all within walking distance. So let's say you DO own a car (underground parking lots and street parking can accommodate them). I referred to teenagers who typically mostly know people from their (remember, walking distance) school, etc. also with some public transport you can get around fine, no need for 'Soviet style blocks'. Same goes for seniors. Dense community plus public transport takes care of it 90% of the time. About 1 car per family is fine. It's when you need one car per person between 16 and 86 that things get..."Arizonan"

    When I was a kid in Milan, I got around fine with buses/subway/trams. We ranged all over a town of 1.5 mn without a car.
    Life and death of great pattern languages

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    Cyburbian Budgie's avatar
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    I went to Tenerife for my spring break as a Senior in High School (NO PARENTS ALLOWED). We were at Playa de Americanas. The night clubs were insane... We arrived by plane, took a cab to the hotel and walked most of the time. Some of us rented mopeds (Moto Santos es el guano) and rode into the hills. Anyway, for a group (40) high school coeds, it was heaven for a week.
    "And all this terrible change had come about because he had ceased to believe himself and had taken to believing others. " - Leo Tolstoy

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    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Budgie
    I went to Tenerife for my spring break as a Senior in High School (NO PARENTS ALLOWED). We were at Playa de Americanas. The night clubs were insane... We arrived by plane, took a cab to the hotel and walked most of the time. Some of us rented mopeds (Moto Santos es el guano) and rode into the hills. Anyway, for a group (40) high school coeds, it was heaven for a week.
    That part of the island is the low-rent tourist developed bit, with all the appurtenances. Even then, a car is not absolutely necessary, yer right.

    For a local having to run their 'real' life, however, unless they live in one of the two-three major towns construction has now sprawled enough that they do need a car.
    My father in law moved there in the early 60s. It was just banana plantations. Too bad the place got developed in the bad and mad, slash-and-burn 60s and 70s.

    You’re talking about a place 4 hrs flight from Europe with year-round mild weather, beautiful sights/nature (before the sprawl), a reasonable rule of law, no extremists or cultural dissonance, etc. It could be a paradise…
    Life and death of great pattern languages

  12. #12
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Luca
    Absolutely, I'm not an anti-car freak. I love cars. IF you have a good selection of retail/restaurants/entertainment (Puerto has 2 cinemas (both muti-screen), dozens of restaurants and bars, shops, schools, hospital, town hall all within walking distance. So let's say you DO own a car (underground parking lots and street parking can accommodate them). I referred to teenagers who typically mostly know people from their (remember, walking distance) school, etc. also with some public transport you can get around fine, no need for 'Soviet style blocks'. Same goes for seniors. Dense community plus public transport takes care of it 90% of the time. About 1 car per family is fine. It's when you need one car per person between 16 and 86 that things get..."Arizonan"

    When I was a kid in Milan, I got around fine with buses/subway/trams. We ranged all over a town of 1.5 mn without a car.
    This city sounds great! And I agree -- it's great to have all those things within walking distance. In looking for condos, I'm looking for a lot of that stuff within walking distance, the downside in way too many cities is the cost to be close to all that stuff -- it puts it out of my price range! But I'd love to see more development like that -- and with parking garages or underground parking, that means you can still have a car to go to the further away events.

    The problem in North America is the design of cities has become so far from that concept that in many places -- such as Southern California -- it would be hard to create truly self-sufficient neighborhoods. On newer suburbs where you're virtually starting from scratch, it might work -- to a point, anyway. It's still going to be a situation where your job will likely be in a different suburb, and odds are you can't get there through mass transit (the area is so split up with various transit systems that do not connect that most people just throw up their hands and give up).

    The last paragraph brings me to another point -- do you think the proliferation of a large number of suburbs prevents this type of development? In SoCal, there must be well over 100 communties that make up one continuous metro area. Compare this to, say, Toronto, where the city has absorbed some of the suburbs, and another 10-15% of the population lives in one suburb (Mississauga), and it seems easier to keep the city together -- or limit sprawl, if you will. On the other hand, the Twin Cities (Minneapolis-St. Paul) are made up of many small cities -- even Minneapolis consists of only about 10% of the population -- and it's common to drive through miles of corn fields between suburbs -- and you're in the middle of the metro area.

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    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Blue
    ...do you think the proliferation of a large number of suburbs prevents this type of development....
    I'm not sure it precludes them, it certainly is antithetical to it.
    The sprawly suburb seems to be predicated entirely on two characteristics:
    > a very low density.
    > a design that is heavily car-centric
    All other amenities and conveniences seem to be eliminated.
    Life and death of great pattern languages

  14. #14
    Looks like a beautiful place.

    But I think the idea that developers in the American Southwest will voluntarily build buried parking is a little naive. The land is way too cheap to necessitate that. Even in dense inner cities in the Northeast, underground parking is so expensive that you rarely see it outside of large, high-end luxury projects (or where the law requires it, as in Vancouver).

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    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Luca
    I'm not sure it precludes them, it certainly is antithetical to it.
    The sprawly suburb seems to be predicated entirely on two characteristics:
    > a very low density.
    > a design that is heavily car-centric
    All other amenities and conveniences seem to be eliminated.
    I hear what you're saying, but what I was especially wondering about -- is it harder to get these types of development because of the small size of individual suburbs, as opposed to less, but larger, suburbs? For example, in the Twin Cities, most suburbs are 40-50,000 people, so you're likely to live in one community, shop in another, work in another -- each individual community doesn't necessairly have enough business to make an area like this work. But if you look at a suburb like Mississauga (Toronto), it has more than 600,000 people -- so many people work, live, and shop in one community. As a result, it would seem to make transit, regional urban planning, etc., easier -- as well as giving a particular suburb enough clout and population to attract the types of businesses needed for a self-sufficent community.

    For example, in my community, the civic government roadblocked an extremely short segment (bordering on another suburb) of a perfectly good road (new, never used) for years because they felt if they opened traffic between our community and the adjoining suburb on that road, it would lead to overuse of the roads in that particular part of our suburb. The ironic thing is, my location would have been affected more than most by the "increased traffic" -- I'm guessing since that road was opened, the road might have gone from 15% capacity to 30% capacity -- it is by no means congested. Yet, prior to the opening of this road, some parents drove as far as 45 minutes to take their kids to a school that was a mile away -- instead of just going up a community road, they had to go to a freeway and use major arteries to get to the school. Eventually, the civic government caved in, but it seems that little arguments like this between adjoining suburbs prevents a comprehensive master plan, which to me is something that tends to encourage more pockets of dense development.

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    Quote Originally posted by Luca
    All other amenities and conveniences seem to be eliminated.
    Partly, of course, because it just costs so much money to cater to cars. How can you afford to provide a beauitiful environment when the ugly pavement for the two ton monster is needed?

    Sadly, I too love cars. It's like Crack Cocaine.

    Anti-car zealots argue that "sure you can "experience more" with private cars," but the experience is faster, more superficial, less deep then living at a slower pace without private cars. Not saying I believe this (entirely), but it is an interesting argument.

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    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
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    I think the deabte 'for' or 'against' cars is too polarized.

    Cars ARE a great ivnention. It's just a matter of limiting their negative impact and that relies on peopel valuing other things as well.

    London, for instance could be considerably more car-firendly and still preserve its charm. it could not be TOO car firendly, however, without risking being ruined. So we put up with cognestion, high aprlking costs, some sloos of convenience in order to have a beautiful, interesting, walkable city.

    I honestly don't think I could live happily in a typical US (sub)urban setting nowadays. When I was last there (Miami Beach, last year), I felt that was at the lower limit of wlakability. Even the much vaunted Coral Gables only seemed to have a few really walkable blocks, the rest was suburbia, albeit with nicer architecture, etc.
    Life and death of great pattern languages

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    Cyburbian jresta's avatar
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    a brief anecdote

    i'm getting married in September and we insisted on having the wedding in the city.
    It just so happens that it's going to be near 2nd & Pine in one of the oldest neighborhoods in Philly.

    When we took my in-laws-to-be to check out the space, despite the fact that they found a parking space without having to look, their first question was "where's everyone going to park?". We shrugged our shoulders and named a half dozen lots and garages within a two block radius - none of them visible from the venue (which is part of what makes it appealing in the first place).

    The in-laws said "that's kind of far to walk, don't you think?" We laughed.
    My fiancée ended the discussion with (specific relatives in mind): "we're paying a lot of money for this if [our relatives] don't come because they can't walk two blocks that's fine by me."

    A lot of people are so expecting of 7-11 style convenience that they've come to expect it. Asking people to walk more than 200 ft. is a now a burden.

    In my experience most people will give any excuse to keep living an autocentric lifestyle. Their life is literally built around it and they can't imagine it any other way.

    It's an addiction that has all of the negative health and social consequences of any other drug. 40,000 people a year die on our roads and hundreds of thousands are maimed. That should be enough for pause.

    People can choose to change their lifestyle by moving to a place that's less auto-dependent. It's just not a priority for them. I'm much more comfortable with that explanation than with people creating a false dichotomy where everyone either lives in a sunbelt sprawlville or in "Soviet-style" projects with nothing in between.

    it's an imaginary world where this housing style counts for nothing










    or even like this


    where shopping streets like this could never be built again


    note the cars in the last picture. In fact, cars were in all of these pictures and that's fine. (they'd just been cropped out because the photos were about the architecture rather than the street scene) They're just not the be all and end all of life in the places where these pictures were taken. Places, i might add, that are resurgent for exactly that reason.
    Indeed you can usually tell when the concepts of democracy and citizenship are weakening. There is an increase in the role of charity and in the worship of volunteerism. These represent the élite citizen's imitation of noblesse oblige; that is, of pretending to be aristocrats or oligarchs, as opposed to being citizens.

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