2nd Annual Street Conversion Design Contest

I wonder how cities will change in the 21st century, and believe that it will generally be for the better. That is a good thing given that most people will be city dwellers. One problem which I expect to be solved is traffic as an environmental problem. As travel becomes relatively cheaper and more convenient (which I think it will in the long run) people will travel longer and more often, so the time spent travelling won’t decrease even though the injury caused by it hopefully will.

Assuming that the car will retreat from ever-larger parts of our cities, that gives us an interesting problem, what shall we do with the spaces thus liberated? If you go to a city like Copenhagen many central streets seem curiously overdimensioned when the cars are largely gone. Of course there were streets long before there were cars, but in the middle part of last century the city plans were often designed for the car. What can best be done with streets like this when vacated by cars? The traffic and pollution might be gone, but the street is still not an integrated part of the city, and cities abhor empty spaces.

That makes some rationale for a design competion.

The value of human-scaled carfree areas is increasingly appreciated, both among urbanists and the general public. Yet how can we transform existing areas to create lively people-oriented spaces free of traffic?

Through our 2nd Annual Street Conversion Design Contest, we are challenging architects, artists and ordinary citizens from around the world to design carfree spaces from formerly car-oriented spaces. And where possible, we’re also encouraging people to realise the designs on the ground. Update: Thanks to a grant from Artists’ Project Earth, we are able to do further global outreach to announce this year’s contest more widely. Therefore the deadline has been extended to November 15, 2007. The grant has also allowed us to offer cash prizes of €100-200.

The principle is that street space was once used for both transport and human interaction. But with the arrival of the automobile, street space has become monopolised by cars and other vehicles, resulting in a loss of community and livability. This competition aims to reintroduce a level of humanity to the streetscape, both on paper and by encouraging lasting on-the-ground initiatives.

We are asking participants to design carfree spaces from formerly car-oriented spaces, in three categories

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  1. nice to see that your optimistic about the traffic but it will be a long time before they get rid of cars and population is increasing and that means more cars but somthing will probably change because of the polloution. my blog is jackets


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