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Superblock[ edit ] A superblock or super-block is an area of urban land bounded by arterial roads that is the size of multiple typically-sized city blocks. Within the superblock, the local road network, if any, is designed to serve local needs only.
Definitions and typologies[ edit ] Within the broad concept of a superblock, various typologies emerge based primarily on the internal road networks within the superblock, their historical context, and whether they are auto-centric or pedestrian-centric. The context in which superblocks are being studied or conceived gives rise to varying definitions.
An internal road network characterised by cul-de-sacs is typical of auto-centric suburban development primarily in Western countries throughout the 20th century.
The Oxford Dictionary of Architecture and Landscape Architecture's definition is rooted within this typically suburban conception: It is linked to other super-blocks and a town centre by means of paths over or under the roads e.
Superblocks can also contain an orthogonal internal road network, including ones based on a grid plan or quasi-grid plan. This typology is prevalent in Japan and China, for example. Chen defines the supergrid and superblock urban morphology in this context as follows: The road network within the sector uses dead-ended streets complemented by bike and foot paths which connect the entire sector and beyond A diagramatic illustration of the streets bluepaths green and open spaces yellow in a " Pedestrian Pocket " superblock after P.
Stuyvesant Town road and path network plan showing the looped streets and the connecting paths through the open space. It is an example of the superblock concept and of the idea of "filtered permeability". Superblocks were popular during the early and midth century auto-centric suburban development, arising from modernist ideas in architecture and urban planning.
Planning in this era was based upon the distance and speed scales for the automobile and discounted the pedestrian and cyclist modes, as obsolete transportation vehicles.
Superblocks are often found in suburbs or planned citiesor are the result of urban renewal of the midth century, where a street hierarchy has replaced the traditional grid.
In a residential area of a suburb, the interior of the superblock is typically served by dead-ended or looped streets. The discontinuous streets served the automobile as longer distances, and the extra fuel required to go between destinations, was not a concern, but at the pedestrian scale, the discontinuity of the roads added to the distance that must be traveled.
The discontinuity inside the superblock forced car dependencydiscouraged errand walking, and forced more traffic onto the fewer continuous streets, increasing demand for through streets, which led ultimately to these streets having more travel lanes added for cars, thereby making it more difficult for any pedestrian to cross such streets.
In this way, superblocks cut up the city into isolated units, expanded automobile dominance, and made it impossible for pedestrians and cyclists to get anywhere outside of the superblock.
Superblocks can also be found in central city areas, where they are more often associated with institutional, educational, recreational and corporate rather than residential uses. Urban planner Clarence Perry argued for use of superblocks and related ideas in his " neighborhood unit " plan, which aimed to organize space in a way that was more " pedestrian -friendly" and provided open plazas and other space for residents to socialize.
Planners, today, now know that the street discontinuity and the multi-lane roads associated with superblocks have caused the decline of pedestrian and bicycle use every where this "sprawl" pattern is present. The traditional urban block diffused automobile traffic onto several narrower roads at slower speeds.
This more finely connected network of narrower roads better allowed the pedestrian and cyclist realms to flourish. The superblock, at the scale only suitable for automobiles, and not pedestrians, was the means for ultimate automobile dominance by the end of the 20th century.
It is, similarly, a superblock composed of nine normal city blocks clustered around a light rail station and a central open space. Its circulation pattern consists primarily of a dense pedestrian network which is complementary to but independent from the car network.
Access by car is provided by means of three loops. This superblock differs from Perry's concept in that it makes it impossible for cars to traverse it rather than very difficult; it is car-impermeable. In the s, superblocks were often used in urban renewal public housing projects in American cities.
A contemporary function which reflects ancient practices that also requires larger than typical blocks is the sports stadium or arena. Just as the Colosseum in ancient Rome, sports complexes require superblocks.
The Providence Park stadium in Portland, for example, takes up four normal city blocks as does the equally large Greensboro Coliseum in North Carolina.
Other contemporary institutions, establishments or functions that use superblocks are: Cultural complexes, such as the Lincoln Center in New York City, often occupy a superblock achieved through the consolidation of regular city blocks.
Most notably, however, the largest superblocks in contemporary cities are used by university and college campuses[ citation needed ] such as Massachusetts Institute of Technologythe University of Illinois at Chicagothe City College of New YorkColumbia University and the University of Alberta in Edmonton.
The "campus" impact on the city block structure is quite prominent particularly in small university towns such as Waterloo, Ontario or Ithaca, New York where the university superblock counts for a sizeable portion of the total city area. Campuses, in general, are fully walkable and sociable environments within the superblock structure.
On some university campuses the extensive and exclusive pedestrian path network at grade is supplemented with below grade paths. New Urbanists would argue that separating circulation modes effectively kills the social interaction that bolsters urban areas.Welcome to the California Adult Education website!
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