Reclaiming the street world wide

by Ingunn Hvidsten in , ,

Photo: Ferenciek tere, Budapest, "Urb-I" (Google Street View)

Urb-I is a group of young urban designers based in Sao Paulo, Brazil. They are a passionate group who wish to translate their knowledge of urban design into something anyone (not only urban designers) can easily understand. This wish in combination with a Google Street View addiction has lead to an expanding gallery of before/after pictures of transformed urban spaces around the world. They also explain their view of good urban spaces, the ongoing struggle of pedestrians vs. cars and finally their goals for the future city. 

Photo: Amsterdamstraat, Amsterdam, "Urb-I" (Google Street View)

Good Urban Design

We believe essential good urban design components are a suitable relation between the private space (buildings) and the public space (streets and squares). This relationship is especially important in the border between the two, usually in the ground floor bordering the public space. There should be an interesting active front, i.e. shops, on the ground floor in order to make the public space livelier. Finally, creating a link between the way people move around and how they use the city, encouraging the use of public transport and designing higher density around transit areas.

Photo: Rue St Hubert, Montreal,  "Urb-I" (Google Street View)

Photo: Rue St Hubert, Montreal, "Urb-I" (Google Street View)


Pedestrian vs. Cars

The public space isn't divided very democratically. Cars count for about a third of people commuting, and take up most of our public road space. We totally accept this paradigm without even questioning it. For the pedestrian, an extra meter or two of sidewalk means a whole lot. But it is not only the dimensions - it is also the quality of the public space which, if designed well, functions as a place linger where we socialize rather than just a passage to get us from point A to point B. Furthermore, there is a question of public health involved, with the car promoting an unhealthy lifestyle (contributing to the spread of the obesity epidemic), while walking promotes a healthier lifestyle.

Photo: Sognsveien, Oslo, "Urb-I" (Google Street View)


Our Goals

We hope to inspire people and make it clear that it is a necessity to make cities more livable and pedestrian orientated. We hope to help form the opinions of people in the discussion of the transformation of the public space that after all belongs to all of us. More locally, Urb-I is planning to propose some transformation projects in São Paulo, where we are located, and focus on the realization of these projects. We hope to inspire other groups around the world to do so as well, demanding better cities for all of us.

On that note we leave Urb-I and turn the challenge on to you. Do you know a transformed place that should be brought into the light? Or do you have a good idea on how to transform a street? Send us your pictures, drawings or tell us about your idea, and we will help you share it with the world. 

Photo: Broadway, New York City, "Urb-I" (Google Street View)

Photo: Carrer d´Hondures, Barcelona,  "Urb-I" (Google Street View)

Photo: 6 Sierpnia, Lodz, "Urb-I" (Google Street View)

Photo: Elisenbergveien, Oslo, "Urb-I" (Google Street View)

Photo: Gwangjingyo, Seoul, "Urb-I" (Daum maps)

Photo: Rua dos invalidos, Rio de Janeiro, , "Urb-I" (Google Street View)