session 4 - Big Streets

the Future Design of Streets – webinar series – 4th edition 2023

19 April 2023, 17.00-18.30 (GMT+1)

Speakers: Joan Caba, Nikklas Aalto-Setälä, Juan Luis Rivas Navarro // Moderation: Daniel Casas Valle

Big streets have an important role in the functioning and experiencing of large cities and spread urban territories. They form a backbone for urbanisation. As urban component they provide space for daily activities and special events. At the same time, many ´big streets´ give character to a place. The challenge is to see these space not only as ´urban motorways´ with only space for movements and circulations, but also as public spaces, as a street for people, with a human scale.

Joan Caba presented how the Metropolitan Area of Barcelona is implementing a more human scale approach in their street design and planning, also on large streets and roads (transformation). To integrate the motorways, the public transport, and bike and pedestrian movements, by establishing these approaches for a vision as new streets, avenues and green axis. The idea of a metropolitan plan is to create / recognise a polycentric metropolis.

From roads to streets is also a goal for the Helsinki municipality. On their ´Boulevard Strategy´, it is looking for the emergency of densifying its territory and looking carefully for the sprawl situation and inefficiency of infrastructural roads and nodes. It has will enlarge their public transportation with ´urban light rails / trams´. Existing roads are transformed into new boulevards. Nikklas Aalto-Setälä highlights that, as several projects are ongoing, that there is room to learn and adjust from the planning experience.

Juan Luis Navarro unfolded the complexity that streets have, showing various solutions/models, strategies, urban designed spaces, public spaces. Addressing that streets are much more than barriers. Rather than talk about one type of streets, it is important to see the space by the size, the lens, the space of the section, and above all the significancy or meaningfully of each street. Those spaces fulfil a more important in the overall mobility demands, but are also for important societal and economic structures. The comprehension lays in multiple layers of cities: their backbones, the urban morphologies, and the landscape characteristics.