Cities are built for humans.
But if you look at the layout of most of them, it looks like they’re made for cars.
Especially in the world’s most populated places. In São Paulo, Brazil — which boasts over 10 million residents — a third of the people travel by car, another third takes public transit, and another walks. Yet cars take up a majority of the roads and public spaces.
Seeing that, a Brazilian urban planning collective called Urb-i set out to demonstrate that imbalance and show off examples of more people-friendly design. They scoured Google Street View images to find the most stunning public space transformations from around the world.
The results give us hope that our cities are becoming more beautiful places to live.
Traffic lanes and parking take precedent over green spaces and outdoor seating. People travelling on foot are quarantined to tiny footpaths.
It just doesn't seem fair. Fortunately, the founders of Urb-i -- Carolina Guido, Fernanda Mercês, Rodolfo Macedo, and Yuval Fogelson -- have an addiction of their own ...
The foursome would spend hours diving into the search engine's rabbit hole, scanning the world for stunning public space redesigns that favour pedestrians over vehicles.
In some areas, Google Street View offers a timeline of images, so you can see how a space has evolved over time.
Urb-i began curating the images in a gallery, hoping to showcase public spaces that put pedestrians (and cyclers) first.
They keep tabs on urban-transformation blogs and architectural projects, so they know where to check on Google Street View.
Today, Urb-i's before-and-after gallery contains more than 300 public space transformations from around the world.
In São Paulo, Brazil, where Urb-i's members work at a socially responsible architecture firm, this alleyway got a new life with a fresh coat of pavement and colourful flags.
The makeovers vary in scale. A side street in Antwerp, Belgium, is nearly unrecognizable after an outdoor eating area and greenery are added.
Two whole traffic lanes disappeared from Budapest, Hungary, giving locals and tourists more space to take in the harbour views.
'If designed well,' Urb-i says, a public space 'functions as a place of permanence where we socialise, rather than just a passage to get us from point A to point B.'
In Budapest, Hungary, a well-manicured curb looks (and smells) far more pleasant than a bunch of trash cans.
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