Urbanesque: An imperfect mix of 19th century urbanism with 20th century technology.
Like the Promenade Shops in Saucon Valey ( see earlier post) this square, “La Grande Place” , is surrounded by a sea of parking.
While this inner suburb for 9,000 people has a main access road, a boulevard, no commercial uses flank it. Instead, at the end of the road and in the midst of a large parking area stand four building forming a “square” with all the historic references to an Italian “piazza”. To make things worse, the piazza is bisected by two roads; one has to cross them to reach the flannking buildings. Moreover, its entire north side backs on to a golf course; a contrived sense of a commercial cetre. Bollards have been used to detter cars from going on to the square; a sure sign of design failure. Bollards become necessary in existing towns where the street design is inherited and inalterable. The designers of this plan had plenty of freedom to devise a car free space the size of a block without reverting to mechanical devices.
This layout, a parking lot that surrounding a shopping street (open or enclosed), can be found in many suburbs and has been criticized as anti-urban. This scaled down version, is found in one of the acclaimed New Urbanist developments – Bois Franc – in Montreal; an ironic twist of urbanism and suburbanism, of urban aesthetic and car functionality.
An ideal world for upscale living based on the car.
(bird’s eye view of plaza by Bing)