Just feel the difference

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ул. Сакко и Ванцетти около ЖК "Тихвин"

How ill-conceived parking policies ruin the pedestrian realm of the city

In my November post on street design I have pointed at certain features of modern Russian architecture that undermine the creation of good public spaces. Namely I mentioned deep setbacks between buildings and the right-of-way that are used as parking lots. Thus buildings face the street not with pedestrian-friendly frontages but with hoods and tailpipes of parked cars.

The difference between pedestrian-oriented and car-oriented development is not usually striking to a passer-by. It is a background that creates a certain atmosphere in the city or on particular streets. Like stuffiness in a room – one wouldn’t notice how stifling it was until the window is opened.

To ‘open the window’ and illustrate the difference between pedestian- and car-oriented buildings I’ve created pairs of photographs showing the same places but with different placement of buildings relative to the street. Let’s have a look!

Use arrows on images to switch between two versions.

Good quality pavement and street furniture cannot make up for the lack of pedestrian-oriented frontage.

On streets in the historical center the loss of build-to line is particularly disappointing.

This driveway is dysfunctional even for cars. And it separates pedestrians from the building.

This space can hardly become pedestrian-friendly anytime soon.

Good architecture is clearly not enough to create a good pubic space. Correct building placement is just as important.


An older building across the street from the previous one.

This building might be classical in looks but it’s placement is clearly modernist i.e. with disregard to the street space.

What’s more attractive – walking between two fences or having a active building frontage on one side?

A neighborhood main street – not for pedestrians.

A corner of two streets is formed by a parking lot.