Garden Streetscapes: Front Yards as Territorial Confi gurations
Too often, we assume great streets are defi ned by great buildings. Yet many
streetscapes distinguish themselves by the presence of fl ower or vegetable gardens, front yards or backyards, allotment gardens, community playing fi elds or parks.
Gardens, as a substantial element of low-density (and even high-density)
neighbourhoods, articulate a highly qualitative relationship between private and
public properties, between shared spaces and those used individually and between domestic spaces that can be separated or joined. As a consequence, streetscapes need to be considered as spaces delimited not only by building faÃ§ades but also by configurations of garden walls, fences, strips of grass, tree lines, muddy roads or concrete slabs for parking: these are the territorial borders that indicate how and to what extent collective spaces can be interpreted and appropriated by their users.
This paper presents a theoretical framework that studies gardens as structural
elements of streetscapes and it discusses a case study in Williamsburg, New York, that is part of the international Streetscape Territories Research Project being conducted by the Department of Architecture of the University of Leuven on different cases of streetscapes in New York, Barcelona, Ghent, Brussels, Havana, Addis Ababa and so on (see also www.streetscapeterritories.wordpress.com). Additional international references to recent uses of space in diff erent sociocultural contexts are provided to broaden the perspective of the research. The paper deals with the following research question: Can we describe the structural role of gardens in the making and use of contemporary streetscapes?
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