Fifth in the new series, in the urban world, juxtapositions matter

CornerSit_ChuckWolfe1

CornerSit_ChuckWolfe3

This series has emphasized urban overlaps, overlays and, without saying so, the real points of convergence in city life. The photographs above recognize two variations of this convergence: a corner, and a place to sit and see, interact and do.

In two linked posts in 2011 and 2013 examined important characteristics corners and sit-ability (a.k.a. “sit-able city”) in the urban setting.  Those two posts defined both crossroads and sit-able places as key, interdisciplinary focal points of human interaction with the city.

My point remains as stated—that these focal points offer challenges and opportunity, worthy of study and contemplation in the tradition of William H. Whyte‘s work (carried on today by the Project for Public Spaces), and in Jan Gehl and Birgitte Svarre’s latest summary of Gehl’s longstanding approaches, How to Study Public Life.  And several others remind us of the latent “ecosystems” of humans, from Dannenburg, Frumkin and Jackson’s Making Healthy Places, to concepts inherent to my good friend Kaid Benfield’s new book, People Habitat.  (Coincidently, all three book references–and my work—share a publisher and/or distributor in Island Press).

The “corner” and “sit-able city” posts were also viewed and endorsed by thousands of people around the world in both their original and repurposed forms.  The idea of “sit-ability” compelled several follow-up articles by others.

Why?

For the same reason that the urban drummer in the photographs above latently knew, without guidance, where and how to place himself in a way that draws attention and charitable donations from passers-by. We inherently know the stages and windows and observation points of urban life—the entry points to everything from transportation modes to safety at night—and that knowledge is captured in scenes such as those shown here.

My examples of convergence points—corners and sit-able places—embody the premise offered in the opening post of this series, that in the urban world, juxtapositions matter.

Images composed by the author in Seattle. Click on the image for more detail. © 2009-2014 myurbanistAll Rights Reserved. Do not copy.

For more information on the role of personal experience in understanding the changing city, see Urbanism Without Effortan e-book from Island Press.