Posts Tagged ‘amenities’

Photo: Suzanne and John’s Mom.
The beautiful pedestrian bridge over the Providence River in Rhode Island. This is a city that values free public space.

On Twitter and Mastodon, I follow a guy (@FortPointer) who is a voice in the wilderness for free public amenities in Boston. He himself may be able to afford the prices that have been slapped onto events that were once going to be accessible for all, but he is outraged for the sake of lower-income people — and for the world-class city Boston could have been. He may be Don Quixote, but there are those of us who believe in the mission.

For example, there used to be a pleasant footbridge that went over Fort Point Channel and connected two parts of the city. I loved to walk there on my lunch hour. Bikers biked it. When the old bridge wore out, the city — under cover of needing access for emergency vehicles — decided to replace it with a bridge for cars and trucks. The Fort Pointer was outraged. So was I!

Today’s article from the Guardian talks about footbridges that enhance life for pedestrians in London.

Rowan Moore writes, “All the world loves a bridge that moves. Usually, the point of a bridge is that it is fixed – when so much trouble has been taken to overcome gravity and tame nature, instability is the last thing that you want – so there is surprise and delight when it confounds its own rigidity. I give you as an example Tower Bridge.

“In an overlooked part of east London, weed-strewn and still industrial – a district un-steamrollered by the giant apartment blocks going up in much of the old docklands, close to where the River Lea joins the Thames – two curve-cornered squares of steel frame the view. They look like heavy metal sculptures. They are actually essential elements of the recently completed Cody Dock Rolling Bridge, designed by the architect Thomas Randall-Page and Tim Lucas of the engineers Price & Myers, which moves in a way that no bridge has done before. Its purpose is to make good a missing link in the Leaway, a ‘green corridor’ that runs from Hertfordshire then along the Olympic park towards the Thames. It also serves as an emblem for the Gasworks Dock Partnership, a charitable social enterprise that has created a ‘community-based arts and creative industries quarter’ on what was derelict land.

“As its name says, the bridge rolls. It crosses a channel that runs from the Lea to an adjoining dock, and most of the time it provides a flat steel deck, level with the ground, which pedestrians and cyclists can use to get from one side to the other.

When necessary, those squares can be turned through 180 degrees, such that the deck is raised in the air and turned upside down, which gives enough headroom for boats to pass underneath.

“It is operated by two manual winches, the tonnage of steel balanced in such a way that a bit of human muscle can shift it. The simplicity of its idea requires fiendish mathematics and precise construction. The squares roll along sinuous tracks, kept in place by interlocking teeth and sockets, the angles and forces of each one different from its neighbor. Cake Industries, the company that built it, employed furniture-makers to construct the moulds for the concrete elements of the structure. …

“Meanwhile, in a gentler place some distance up the Thames, another structure has been completed that is also in the nice-to-have rather than must-have category. It is a bridge under a bridge, a way of getting a riverside path to pass below the Victorian iron arches of Barnes Railway Bridge. Previously, users had to trek inland, through a menacing tunnel under the tracks, and back again to the riverbank. Now they can travel over a broad, winding deck, falling then rising again, that projects over the water with a mild frisson of peril.

Dukes Meadows Footbridge is designed by Moxon Architects, a practice based in London and Aberdeenshire with several other bridges to its name, and the structural engineers COWI. This, too, has required ingenuity, albeit less for the self-imposed reasons at Cody Dock: the deck has to just clear the high-water mark of the tidal river, while giving enough room beneath the arches, without obstructing access for maintenance for the old structure. It could impact neither on the many rowers who use this stretch (the Oxford and Cambridge boat race finishes nearby), nor on the endangered snails in a neighboring nature reserve, which meant that its route and its lighting were designed not to disturb them. …

“The result is faceted and intriguing, its irregularity driven by the imaginative response to circumstance. ‘It’s marvelous,’ says an elderly user, unsolicited. Funded by the London borough of Hounslow and the mayor of London’s Liveable Neighbourhoods scheme, it makes a striking contrast with the years-long, still-ongoing struggle to make Hammersmith Bridge, the next crossing downriver, safe for traffic. It’s easier, evidently, to build one that doesn’t actually cross a river than to repair one that does.

“Moxon is also working on a plan, long promoted by local citizens, to make a disused part of the old railway structure into a linear park – a small version of New York’s High Line, or a successful version of Boris Johnson’s doomed Garden Bridge. Like the new footbridge, this project is shaped more by quality-of-life considerations than the hard industrial imperatives that drove either the original railway bridge or the big old structures of docklands.”

What is your experience of footbridges?

More at the Guardian, here. No firewall. Great pictures.

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Upscale housing developers used to advertise tennis courts, pools, or golf courses as desirable amenities. Today they are increasingly likely to tout farmland.

Amy Hoak writes at MarketWatch about a family in suburban Chicago, where neighbors’ lawn chemicals have killed off pollinators. She reports that the Faheys are moving to a community that offers more opportunity for growing vegetables.

“Set in Hampshire, Ill., about 50 miles from downtown Chicago, Serosun Farms is a new home-conservation development, restoring wetlands, woodlands and prairie, and preserving farmland throughout. Already, the frog population has grown exponentially from the conservation work done onsite, and monarch butterflies are also on the rebound, said Jane Stickland, who is working on the project with her brother, developer John DeWald. Their efforts also are boosting the bee population. …

“Serosun plans to incorporate about 160 acres of working farmland, making farm-to-table a way of life for residents through regular farmer’s markets. The community also offers eight miles of trails, an equestrian center and fishing ponds: 75% of the development will be reserved for farming and open space. …

“The concept isn’t new, but ‘agrihoods’ are gaining in popularity, said Ed McMahon, senior resident fellow for the Urban Land Institute, an organization that focuses on land-use issues. He tracks about 200 agrihoods, where residential development coexists with farmland. …

“ ‘We started to realize you could cluster houses on a small portion of a farm and keep the farm working,’ he said. People were often drawn to the open spaces. More recently, however, there has been a huge interest in locally grown food. ‘All of a sudden, agrihoods have become a hot commodity in residential development,’ McMahon said.” More here.

This concept is not only for upscale developments. In urban neighborhoods without access to a local grocery or healthful food, affordable housing combined with community gardens and sales outlets are moving along without much fanfare. In Providence, for example, West Elmwood Housing Development Corporation‘s new Sankofa Apartments partner with the Sankofa Initiative, an outlet for homegrown food and handmade crafts from many countries. The initiative is satisfying to residents on a personal-development level and as a way to meet neighbors and build community.

Photo: J. Ashley Photography
Serenbe farmers’ market.

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