Some work on a lecture I recently gave about Secured by Design (more on that coming up) produced a spin-off diagram worth sharing. Unashamedly following the Indexed model (what’s the formal name for this diagram type?), it pitches three elements of urban design (accommodation, people, transport) against each other and marks intersections, inputs and outputs.

What I’m interested in here is the way this type of diagram turns boundaries or edges – lines – into space to inhabit, both intellectually and physically. Territory that is usually microscopically small, like the surface tension between liquid and its container – such as the boundaries that bump into each other between a path alongside a garden, or a pavement alongside a road – is ripped open, forming a space (A, B and C) that must be negotiated and moved through, rather than stepped over.

I like the idea that these rifts, as Jack Harkness might call them, have a temporal viscosity, as Fassin Taak might say, that could range from foggy pea-soup to sticky treacle. I like the fact that the intersections, the crossing of streams, as Egon Spengler might say, rather than “…causing “total protonic reversal”, destroying the gate and removing Gozer…”, denote the rainwater outlets. The gutters. The connection to the wider infrastructure beyond the diagram.

At the end of all this, when I’m cross-hatching the bits in the middle, I’m defining that qualitative quantity ever-present in urban design discussion: density.

Update: Let’s be more explicit with our hyperlinks: the foggy link is an overlap with some recent posts by Adam Greenfield commenting and expanding on the work of Steven Flusty – see this post also: Foggy, further to Flusty’s five.

Also, I realise now that this was merely a continuation of my previous posts, Vacant Space and Theory about practice.

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