The sociability of the street interface – revisiting West Village, Manhattan

2019-03-07T11:41:29Z (GMT) by Garyfalia Palaiologou Laura Vaughan
This paper examines themicromorphology of street interfaces, considering how street life is shaped by the emergent pattern of spatial layout and built form. In an effort to reassess Jane Jacobs’s conception of liveability, the study uses urban form and space syntax methods to record the changing micro socio-spatial texture of West Village, Manhattan. The paper shows that West Village contains a wide range of morphological street vistas, in which residential buildings are differentially interspersed with institutional and commercial uses while being in close proximity with the industrial west waterfront. The paper considers the way in which pedestrian experience varies and changes as the characteristicsof street facades change: from the postmodern solid block front to an alignment of short row house facades or from a wholly domestic setting, to a street lined with shops and businesses. In order to understand the urban streetscape as a place of social activity, the study uses novel techniques for measuring built volume in terms of building-street connections aggregated within a block frontage. The resulting pattern is analysed to consider how morphological properties might give rise to street interaction.The study also maps the mixture of buildings by age and relates this pattern to the spatial distribution of non-domestic land uses, the street network configuration and associated urban interfaces to draw the conclusion that –notwithstanding the area’s conservation status –it has maintained its street-life characteristics in part due to the stability of its built form coupled with its inherent spatial adaptability.