Daniel Ewald, landscape architect MNLA

LAA340 – Urban connections & town modelling

Pedestrian Crossing

Our projects for Sortland municipality has been delivered and presented. With great room for freedom, the projects were very diverse across the scale from detail concept plans to overall strategies for green structures. In a project such as this, the challenge was first and foremost where to begin: we had the impression that so much was needed here, almost anything would be an improvement.

I started early on with the impression of a town in need of better structure and planning (see my earlier post), and decided to work in two directions: One to develop a 3D model of the town, so it would be easier to analyse the area in full, as I felt I needed more data than what I had time to collect beforehand and while we were there on excursion. I simply didn’t feel I knew the place. I had access to some resources – Google street views covered the main road through the town, and a GIS model from the Norwegian Webatlas were helpful to get an overview of the surroundings, but I felt it wasn’t enough.

Sortland Civil 3D

A view from the 3D model made in Autodesk Civil 3D. 

The model helped with a few things: first, it showed the relation of volume and scale of the buildings in a much clearer sense than on the plans we were given. Second, it allowed for analysis on larger scale of terrain and sun conditions. It really helped to get to know the place. While building, I thought to myself that having a model of this scale should be a necessity when planning on a city scale. How would you visualise the effects of planned regulations otherwise? A regulation plan drawing in 2D actually prevents you from seeing the whole picture, I thought. The argument followed me throughout the project, until my presentation where I argued that the seafront in Sortland looked like it did partly because one hadn’t been able to visualise the approved projects in context – thus allowing for several buildings to be built and reducing – effectively destroying – the seafront access for people.

Movement lines

Using the model, I could also see where the sightlines connecting the town to the sea were and where they got obstructed. Following my initial concept of the long lines across Sortland, I started to map these connections and analyse their functional value as movement patterns. Some lines quickly appeared to be more important than others; connecting various programs and functions together. All of them, however, had issues with movement flow in one or several points. The process led me to three ideas of how to improve the patterns that exist today – one, by using methods such as lighting, vegetation, outdoor furniture and so forth to emphasise the existing important lines and provide identity. Second, the issue of crossing – how to force through traffic barriers when pedestrians aren’t a priority?

Freedom of movement

Freedom of movement

In my project, I argued that before you continue adding new programs to a city centre that has no people using the urban spaces, the first step has to be making the city accessible and inviting for pedestrians and cyclists. Why? Because these are the people who spend time moving, exploring and observing. Exclude the pedestrians, exclude the use of urban space. What need is there for programs, when they can’t be reached easily and logically? Will a new cultural centre create more activity in the town, or will it merely be another point of interest driven to and from?

Finally, I discussed the possibility of increasing freedom of movement and town-sea connections by doing structural changes to buildings; as in making changes to facades, removing needless obstructions, and/or allowing for movement through them. As an idea outside my area of expertise, it was merely an “what if” discussion, supported by visualisations.

Seafront access

Structural changes to buildings to create seafront access

The project can be viewed in full on my project presentation page (project is in Norwegian).

Filed under: Illustrations, Presentations, Studies, , , , , ,

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