Wednesday, 27 July 2011

The Beauty of Small - Urban Acupuncture

Seeing a disused rail line in the vicinity of West 8th Avenue and Arbutus Street got me thinking about the oft forgotten smaller urban spaces.  Though this specific rail line has been converted to a community garden on part of West 6th Avenue (see here), it remains under-loved in other parts.  It was therefore timely when I stumbled upon the design concept of 'urban acupuncture', as featured in The Guardian here.

The term urban park commonly conjures images of Hyde Park, Central Park or Stanley Park.  Yet this neglects the importance and role of smaller 'pocket' parks.  These smaller parks are often more convenient to use and can easily provide the children's facilities or sun bathing spot we demand.  This is where urban acupuncture plays a part.  The concept of urban acupuncture focuses on smaller design interventions in the urban fabric, in lieu of major urban redevelopment proposals.  This could take the form of de-cluttering a sidewalk or providing allotments on a disused green space.  It focuses more on the everyday spaces that could be improved by simple design solutions and community interest. 

The disused rail line in Kitsilano, Vancouver
This re-focusing on the smaller parts of the urban environment is especially enticing at a time of pubic sector cut backs.  With Government less likely to pump-prime large development schemes through the provision of up-front transport infrastructure or remediation, these schemes become less viable than five years ago.  Though large urban redevelopment projects receive the support of politicians for the anticipated tax dollars and Kodak moments, we must not forget the beauty of small and its role in improving existing neighbourhoods and kick-starting the development sector.

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