Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Transit (transportation) infrastructure as a key element of civic architecture

Been busy.  Hard to write.

The Germans know how to do train stations.  Essen is not a small city for German (I think it is the seventh largest), as a region, the Ruhr is unusual because it is so dense, and is a contiguous framework of cities, like Greater Los Angeles or Detroit or in New Jersey.   But the transit system isn't massive, with about 300,000 riders daily.

The train station dates to the 1950s and is well organized and full of shops, including great magazine-book stores and a Lidl deep discount grocery store (some of the prices astounded me, for all of the talk that food costs more in Europe--which it does at restaurants especially, which is not news).

Underground there are great connections to the tram and subway networks, and outside the station there are taxi stands in the front and back, and connections to the local bus system--many of the stops are located under the train yard overpass, so they have some protection from the weather, and regional bus services.

The underground areas of the station have nice use of light as an artistic element.

Video of the changing colors behind glass blocks in one of the connecting hallways in the underground section of the station.

Underground tram-subway platforms

The various underground walkways have shops or basement sales floors for above-ground stores.  This kind of setup was definitely a missed opportunity in DC.

The bus station underpass has a kind of Dan Flavin artistic treatment

Informative and attractive bus stop signposts.

Embedded lights in walkways.  Blue is the dominant color scheme.

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At 7:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

if you can you should go to Wuppertal and see the Schwebbebahn system- it is astounding. It blows Seattle out of the water completely. The Ruhr is quite a place once you get to see it. I have traveled it extensively. Dussledorf is a good city- I cycled there quite a bit and ALL of the cycle tracks are sidewalk protected. NO BIKE RACERS at all.

At 7:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

also- the Germans used the aftermath of WW2's destruction as a sort of opportunity to experiment- and new subway systems were put into cities like Dortmund that didnt have them before. Germany is the most car- centric country in the world after the USA but they figured out how to do things the right way and to also build up their other systems alongside the cars. The long distance trains are amazing there. The train between Frankfurt and Koln is outstanding.

At 8:49 AM, Anonymous charlie said...

aborb now, write later. It may take six months for the lessons learned to sink in.

Again, going back to the money, who pays for the stations?

Lighting treatment is a 100x better than what we get here. And not difficult to do.

At 1:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

also neat are the little adaptations in the bahnhofen- such as the tiny escalators you can put your luggae onto next to a staircase that lifts your suitcase up a flight of stairs as you walk beside it- or the little ramps on out of doors staircases that have ramps for bicycles so you can guide your bike down a steep flight of steps while holding it and stepping alongside of it- these are the little things that make life far easier that we would never think to integrate here because we seldom consider the walker or the bike rider except as a nuisance or as an after thought. The long distance trians often have entire train cars dedicated to JUST BICYCLES where you can leave your bike and come back and get it later when you hit your destination.
And you will see at the train stations the incerdible numbers of bicycles parked and stored there or nearby...

At 4:43 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

I really don't have time or money to explore, but I definitely hopw to come back. It's basically Essen and certain other sites (not even cities) associated with the program purpose that brought us here (people from the US, India, Croatia, UK, etc.). And transit's definitely not part of the equation actually.

I did see a regional bus (probably like Megabus) that had a bike rack system on the back of the bus, but I wasn't able to take a photo.

the luggage thing in the "bahnhofen," I haven't seen, but I have said for years that stations in airports and train stations should have wider escalators...

lighting treatment I agree is easy. It's something that I alluded to in my piece about transit, stations and placemaking, and the reaction against some of the proposed test changes at Bethesda station by preservationists.

The lighting in Weese's design sucks and shouldn't be "preserved" for preservation's sake. Lighting and the tile treatments are abomidable.

I went into a couple other stations tonight, one small and one "big" and they also weren't graffiti-ed. The big station, associated with a shopping center just a couple blocks from where I am staying also had excellent lighting, but less art treatment.

I was videotaping a video projection (of an Essen marketing video and something about transit vision too and a cop told me to stop taking photos. Since he spoke no English and I no German, I just stopped.

WRT paying for the stations, I guess the regional governments make transit a key priority...

Granted the trams are short, and the subway trainset isn't that big either, but the frequency appears to be pretty good.


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