ISSUES2019 No.3
Editor’s Note: In Chinese cities, even before the concept of public space was invented, streets had been an important element of public space. They are both the infrastructure of transportation and the place for the activities of commerce, communication, recreation, and so on, which are indispensable in daily life. On the one hand, they provide the residents with the access to almost every part of the city through a network, facilitating their movement in the city while increasing the land value of the city. On the other hand, by forming a network of a specific pattern delimited by the bordering buildings and plantations on both sides, they shape both the structure of urban tissue and the perspectives of streetscape, giving the city a unique identity of urban form. Moreover, as a kind of common wealth, they are a platform to show the social equity of the city, with due respect to the various demands of different travelers of different travel modes. Technically, the form of streets, in term of both layout and section, is decided by the role of a street in the city’s transportation system and road network, as well as the land use and the function of the bordering buildings of a street. To some extent, the balance between the street’s roles of transportation infrastructure and living place is one of the fundamental factors for creating Great Streets. However, it is much easier to build streets as transportation infrastructure than to transform streets into a livable living place. In history, when both travel demands and travel modes were limited, streets were mostly a pedestrian-oriented place which was evenly distributed in a city to be used by non-mobile users. While in the modern time characterized by industrialization and urbanization, the continuous increase of travel demands and the wide popularization of automobiles make streets more and more automobile-oriented, being stratified for travelling fast and efficiently. As a result, more and more streets are congested by cars and suffered from the conflicts among multiple users of different travel modes, losing their charm of a living place. When China in recent years issued the policy of New Urbanization to shift its urbanization mode from quantity growth to quality development, due attention has been paid to rebalancing the street’s roles of transportation infrastructure and living place, in hope of making them again pedestrian-friendly and life-oriented. At the same time, new challenges caused by the coming of an aging society, the advancement of automobiles and the diversification of travel modes also call for creative and foresighted ideas to reshape the form of streets with design thinking.

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