What makes travel a great experience?

Design schools are starting to tackle questions of urban scale city design in their masters programs. The key to future transit systems is to make that form of travel the best it can possibly be. Ask, what would make people choose this form of transport over other alternatives if they had many equally accessible and affordable options? Why might they want to travel this way? What would be unique, good or special about the experience?

10 thoughts on “What makes travel a great experience?

  1. Tom Turner

    Though slicker and litter-free and more shrubbed, the above image reminds me of Canon Street Station in London. I think design schools should shift their gaze from high-tech urban transport to intermediate-tech urban transport and low-tech urban transport.

  2. Christine

    I thought the image above was an intriguing diagram because it illustrates the different forms of transport that need to be considered in a development, and suggests that they can be combined spatially in many different ways to achieve an outcome which is both functional, efficient and aesthetically pleasing (high-tech,intermediate or low-tech options).

  3. Tom Turner

    London Bridge Station has trains, taxis and a pedestrian deck – combined with insulting provision for cyclists. Am I missing something or is there provision for my favourite transport mode in the above image? The tower building in the photograph looks as though it was inspired by Guys Hospital! I could not find a photo to show this and will aim to take one next time I am there.

  4. Christine

    Ohhh. Perhaps you are right…I can’t actually see a cyclist and my eye sight is not quite good enough to read all the tags. ie what are the blue trays for? What is the ‘white’ figure plus something on the concourse near the circle? Or can you cycle near the planting on the train deck (where there is a structural separation on some sort)?

  5. Tom Turner

    To be generous, let’s assume the designer envisages an enlightened cycle&pedestrian policy, treating the deck as shared space. If cyclists are willing to behave themselves, and not behave as devil-may-care-boy-racers then this works well. In Tokyo, for example, cyclists are encouraged to share scarce space with pedestrians rather than with cars. Japan has few dedicated cycle lanes so these are the two choices.

  6. Christine Post author

    [ http://www.igreenspot.com/wp-content/uploads/transbay-transit-center-renderings8.jpg ]
    Hmmm. Perhaps I was wondering what would happen if the transit pieces were pulled apart, reconsidered and then reconfigured in ways that possibly hadn’t been imagined before?

    Imagining urban transit as a design problem is emerging in the thinking of architects such as Pelli with the Transbay Transit Centre [ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QcFxOLcbILg ] where the project was specifically a transit project. To some extent this was true also of Grimshaw’s Southern Cross station. [ http://www.strategyco.net/newsletter/Images/SouthernCrossStation.jpg ]

    The shared space concept is great. Perhaps the best example I can think of of this zonal approach is Venice Beach. [ http://www.2steger.de/canada/images07/Venice_Beach.jpg ] conceptually illustrated in this painting [ http://www.hsart.com/images/Venice%20Beach%20Vibes.jpeg ].

  7. Tom Turner

    Imagine if all buildings were the work of structural engineers, scarcely even employing architects as styling consultants. This is the present condition of transport engineering – so I welcome all attempts to convert transit projects into design projects.

  8. Christine

    I tend to be ambivalent about this – as the team approach a genius architect and genius engineer – like Utzon and Peter Rice – probably achieves the best results.

    “One of the most important aspects as far as Peter Rice was concerned was the influence of the original architect, Joern Utzon, on his way of thinking about architecture and technology. Like Ove Arup himself, Rice was consistent in his view that Utzon was a gifted talent who deserved the utmost respect. Rice worked as a site engineer in Sydney for three years and his close contact with Utzon was of great importance in establishing Rice’s career long view that the architect provided the vision and a set of skills which the engineer could not, and should not, try to replicate. Instead they were skills that should be supported and responded to.

    There are so many aspects of the Opera House project that it is impossible to say which team was responsible for the engineering solutions.”p36

    The Engineer’s Contribution to Contemporary Architecture, Peter Rice 2001.

  9. Tom Turner

    Ah yes, but geniuses are always in short supply. The Millau Viaduct is another successful example of co-opeation (French structural engineer Michel Virlogeux and British architect Norman Foster, ). But most people need to deal with only-average designers most of the time. And the great majority of transport project are the work of only-engineers. They don’t have aestethic advice and, with regard to the above discussion, they do not have social/planning advice. So what we get are bloody-minded single-purpose projects, most of the time.

  10. Christine

    Yes. The Millau Viaduct is incredible!

    Perhaps we should keep advocating for the benefits of collaboration and perhaps convince a design school or two to do an exhibition to promote the idea? Or even get engineering and design students involved in a collaborative transport ideas project?


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