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2017 > 04

Most people go to Grand Central Market because of the food but when I went there this morning it was to find out how people behave around the small urban park outside the market hall. There they have replaced a number of parking spots with a simple installation of tables, umbrellas, plants, and seats and it has become a place where people go to hang out. Its simple design could work in many places and even if I went there alone my study showed that this is a street you go to when you have company. 

The space also reminds me of an initiative called Park(ing) Day. This initiative uses one day every year in order to transform metered parking spaces into temporary urban spaces for people to enjoy. It started by in 2005 by a studio in San Fransisco called Rebar but today it happens all over the world and has become a great way to showcase new forms of street usage. The good thing about it is that anyone who has an idea could take part by following their guidelines. So if you want to do something with your home street check it out. Who knows, maybe your installation will become permanent just like the park outside Grand Central Market.

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The daily transformation of the urban park

Inside GCM and Eggslut's instagram famous sign
Inside GCM and Eggslut's instagram famous sign
Etiketter: los angeles, streetact

Last year I went to a lecture by Riccardo Marini. He introduced the "Gehl Theory" which talks about making streets for the human scale. The idea is that when streets are narrow and the buildings are short than it is easier for people to relate to what is around them. Consequently, the pedestrians can easier feel confident and secure which helps when creating a vibrant street.

However, in Los Angeles, most streets are very wide and in the downtown area, there are also several sky scrapers. Therefore, the scale is definitely not human and I seldom see people using the street furniture or sit in the cafés' outdoor seats. Consequently, I am starting to think about what could be done in DTLA to make it a vibrant city centr similar to European cities.

I have a few ideas that I am developing and when I have concluded on something I will share them with you. Meanwhile, I like to recommend this documentary. It is made by Gehl Architects and has been a big inspiration for me and what I work on at the moment.

Etiketter: favorite

After two months of studying the pavement's morning traffic, I have been able to identify a few different types of commuters As I have a fun time looking for them, I thought I share my favorites with you. So here they are:

  • The one that is running late, unaware of what's around them and desperately creates new shortcuts.
  • The calm controlled one that had time to pick-up a coffee and walks with big steps looking straight ahead.
  • The one that is still half asleep with headphones plugged in, making sure no one disturbs their morning bubble. 
  • The business traveler with their face going between google maps and the street numbers. No one wants to walk into the wrong building...
Which one are you? And who do you think we should design the streets for? According to this morning's study, it should be the solo walker with either headphone and/or something to eat or drink in their hand. Because that is one of the more common behaviors outside the OUE building and the Public Library in DTLA during rush hour. 
Etiketter: los angeles, streetact
After my time in Singapore, I get asked where should I go in the city? Therefore, here is a short guide I hope it will be helpful. 

Café
Forty Hands
Located along the hip “must visit street” Yong Siak Road, Forty Hands has amazing coffee, the best Brunch, and cakes that suit everyone. Even those who are a gluten and lactose intolerant. 
Pacamara
This is a bit more expensive but after a hike in the Mac Ritchie Reservoir, it could be worth it. It’s a place for "coffee-snobs" and those who like delicious food. You can also refresh with a beer or fun sparkling drinks.
Riders Café
Looking for a place to brunch? Go here! It’s located in a forest in an old horse stall and you get a feeling of being away from the city out in the countryside. The food here is really good and you can find many new varieties of classic brunch dishes.

Restaurants
Potato Head Folk
Even if you’re not in the mood for food, go to their roof terrace to grab a drink. The vibe is relaxed and it is a great hangout during the sunset. They are famous for their burgers, but as a vegetarian, I skip those and order some corn on the cob with all the extras.
Open Farm Community
This place has a slightly higher price-tag but for special occasions, I can recommend it. It has a great atmosphere and you’re basically sitting in a greenhouse. Their food concept focuses on greens that they grow in their garden. This place makes me wish I had a higher salary.
D.O.P
Singapore has many good Italian restaurants but nothing beats sharing a mozzarella, platter and some Italian red wine at D.O.P. It is located by Singapore River and you can end the dinner with a stroll along the water. Maybe over to Clark Quay for some more drinks?

Drinks
Level 33
If you don’t like to crowd with the tourists at Marina Bay Sands head to Level33’s terrace. It’s a micro brewery located high up in a banking building. It has many interesting brews and you can complement it with tasty bar snacks or a full sit-down dinner.
Club Street 
During the evening this street is closed off and bars and restaurants take over There are many good spots and together they create a vibrant atmosphere worth checking out.

Architecture
Tiong Bharu
Singapore’s first public housing buildings are located here and they are definitely worth seeing. I personally find them beautiful and their low rise design creates a nice feeling in the surrounding streets. Here is also a good wet-market that always has nice fruit, fish, and veg.
Park Royal Hotel
Park Royal is a really interesting building when it comes to “green architecture”. If you’re an architecture nerd like me, google it before you go and find out more about the building’s hidden features. Also, be nice to the receptionist and you might get to see more than the fascinating entrance level.
Esplanade
Singapore’s Opera House is also worth a visit. Have a look at the outside and then head up to the rooftop.There you get a nice view over the whole bay.

Art
Gillman Barracks
Singapore’s art scene is slowly starting to buzz and Gillman Barracks is one of the leaders in this new time. Go and spend some time here if you like looking at art.
Singapore Art Museum 
Singapore Art Museum is a bit more established and shows a good variety of emerging local artists and world known ones. Don’t forget to check out their events schedule, there is often something happening here.

Music
Blu Jazz Café
This place is located on one of the few streets that get pedestrianized in Singapore. There are many fun bars and restaurants in the neighborhood and in the evening this is the place for jazz and a few beers with your friends.

Hikés
There are many well-arranged hiking trails in Singapore and I think that no one should miss them out. There are walks for all levels however some of them are only open during the weekend, so make sure you check that before you go. Another tip is to head out as early in the morning as possible. It gets hot in Singapore! I would personally recommend MacRitchie, Southern Ridges, and Pulau Ubin but for more hikes and information check out NParks.

Here is a PDF version that is easy to download and bring along.

Photos: (in order starting top left):
Visit Singapore, Tekko, Visit Singapore, Must See Places, Alex Ang, Visit Singapore, Food Nomad, Afur Wong, Pinky Piggu, Ungku Ibrahim, Patrick Bingham, Jolequin, Visit Singapore, Michelle Lee, Families For Life

Etiketter: singapore, favorite

...that is the question and I think I am starting to find an answer. Because the LA street is severely suffering from lack of life. I have been around in many streets by now and the cars are there but not the pedestrians. Therefore, my motivation to do research is failing and at the moment the LA streets seem dead.

However, it is also becoming a motivation and inspiration. Maybe LA is the place I should return to for work? I am not sure but it makes me happy to meet initiatives like LA Walks who are here to make a difference. Because it is desperately needed.

It doesn't even help that the side walks are wide
It doesn't even help that the side walks are wide
The most common sight of this street
The most common sight of this street
Etiketter: los angeles

In Sweden Easter is a public holiday and if you go out in street you hardly see anyone walking in their job suit. However, in America, it's different and therefore I saw several people rushing to their offices when I was studying people's behavior in Grand Park this morning. 

It even turned out to be those who were rushing that were the most interesting to watch. They needed to do what they could to cut down on time and started to design their own streets through the park. The fact that the lower level of Grand Park is dominated by a big lawn without cars helped. People who were in a hurry could take whatever way that was fastest for them.

However, those who were not in a hurry (maybe they were on their Easter break) would obey the pre-designed paths and be required to make a detour around the big lawn - no one dared to step outside the box. So, ones again we see that pressure help us to be creative and maybe it is those that are in a hurry that we should look at when designing our paths and streets?

Etiketter: los angeles, streetact

We all have those days when we feel much less inspired and only motivated to do fun things. Today is one of those days for me. But I'm glad I still managed to make a street study.

Considering my mood, I at least wanted to go to a comfortable place, so I went to one of the public squares that developers often create between office towers. In Singapore, I went to a similar place and the nice thing about these spaces is that they often have tables and benches for anyone to use. So, I walked to Two California Plaza, made myself comfortable there I started counting, writing and taking pictures.

There were not many surprises in today's study, as many of the behaviors that I had seen in the square in Singapore were replicated here. However, I did find two new things. First of all, people seemed to start work about an hour earlier than in Singapore and secondly, after work start, there were more people walking with their eyes focusing on their phones. Could it be that they were reading their work e-mail? Or, was it just a way to stay social without having physical company (I'm thinking of messenger, SnapChat, WhatsApp etc.)? I am not sure, I only know that in Singapore those walking alone were more likely to use headphones than their phone and If they wanted 
company they brought someone with them. So, maybe the walk to the coffee place in Singapore is an excuse to not work whereas in LA it is a journey you whilst getting updated.

There was a police officer constantly watching. Maybe to keep away homeless people that you otherwise see everywhere in Down Town LA? Either way I felt very observed.
There was a police officer constantly watching. Maybe to keep away homeless people that you otherwise see everywhere in Down Town LA? Either way I felt very observed.
Most people's goal - Starbucks
Most people's goal - Starbucks
It almost felt like a holiday resort
It almost felt like a holiday resort
Etiketter: los angeles, streetact
The projects biggest surprise came today! This morning I was doing a study in West College Street, right by Chinatown Metro Station and three different bus stops. I expected to get a glimpse of all the LA morning commuters but there was no one there. On average there would be 100 people passing by during a half an hour slot. In a similar place in Singapore, the average number would be 500! I knew that LA is famous for their cars but since I constantly see so many people struggling in this city I definitely thought there would be more people choosing public transportation. As this doesn't seem to be that case, why is it that no one uses public transportation in LA? That is definitely the question I will start asking people I meet.
Etiketter: los angeles, streetact

Now I've finally arrived in LA! Here I have a flat in Chinatown and an office in the Arts District, but I'm hoping to go way beyond when studying this city's streets. However, I did decide to start local and this morning I went to a street around the corner from my office. It was bright and sunny but more importantly, it introduced a whole new vehicle to my study - boards. 

We all know that Americans take pride in their cars but E 3rd St showed me that they also like their long- and skateboards. For fun, I decided to compare the two and it made me wonder if boards could be the future means of transport in the States? Look at this:

1. "Boarders" talk about their boards in the same way as drivers talk about their cars 
2. Both boarding and driving increases your travel speed and takes you from A to B faster
3. They share the fact that you can personalize your vehicle
4. They can both create a feeling of freedom when beeing used 

However, boards remove many of the problems that cars have:

1. You're not required to be a certain age to use one
2. You're less likely to die when traveling on one
3. They help you to stay healthy
4. They only pollute the air when being produced

So, maybe we should forget cars as our prime four-wheeler and start to relate the four wheels with boards? I'm not sure but it creates a thrilling image in my head.

LA skater
LA skater
No more cars or car-parks
No more cars or car-parks
E 3rd Street
E 3rd Street
Etiketter: los angeles, streetact

I think most people can relate to tired mornings where you need some extra time by yourself to get going. Personally, I try to create a bubble around myself at these points and during my last street study in Singapore, it seems as if others do the same.

For the study, I went to Duxton Park Place, which is a pedestrian road that connects Singapore's largest public housing with Chinatown. It is a park-like path where many people come to relax, hang out or walk back and forth as a form of exercise. It has a calming atmosphere, however, there are also a few crossing shortcuts that bring MRT travelers to their offices in Duxton Hill. The group who were using the crossroads used their headphones three times more than those walking along the park road and it made me wonder if it was to shield off from their surroundings. As I didn't stop and ask everyone I don't know, but it struck me that you could act so different even if you move in the same environment.

Consequently, I also ask myself (again): if it is our destination that affects our street behavior rather than the street's design?

DON'T DISTURB!!
DON'T DISTURB!!
Way to the offices ->
Way to the offices ->
Singapore's largest public housing, Pinnacles, in the background
Singapore's largest public housing, Pinnacles, in the background
The park is framed by shop-house backsides
The park is framed by shop-house backsides
Different activities happen during certain days
Different activities happen during certain days
Etiketter: singapore, streetact

7 months in Asia showed me many things related to Feng Shui. One thing is the importance of water and its effect became even more clear to me during my visit to Korea. They often use water along pedestrian stretches and it created an incredibly peaceful atmosphere. Sometimes the water was still as a mirror and at other times it was flowing freely. Either way, it is an element that we are used to when we go out into nature, so maybe it is time for us to use it more in the cityscape as well?

Seoul
Seoul
Jenju
Jenju
Wonju
Wonju
Etiketter: korea, streetact

Now I'm back from Korea and it has been two weeks of crazy experiences. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to do a full street analysis but I have made some observations (in addition to the one I wrote about in the previous post) that I like to share with you. 
 
The first one is about their divided zebra walks. Not only in Seoul (a city with 10 million inhabitants) but in all the places we went they try to make sure that no one walks into each other by splitting their crossings into two. One half is for those walking from one side and another half for those coming from the other side. Although, even is this is how they try to manage big and small crowds the general person completely ignores the suggestion and walks wherever they like. 
 
So, the question is if this division actually helps people from walking into each other, or is it better to try finding something that prevents people from looking down into their phone when crossing the street? Because according to me this seems to generate more collision then if people walk on the wrong half of the crossing. I'm not sure but I will continue looking for something that could prevent people from walking into each other. Or actually, maybe it is good if people do? Not sure yet...​​

Etiketter: korea, streetact



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