streetscape, historic buildings

the Vartov square

The square from the upper end with the new planting with cherry trees

The Vartov hospital across the far end of the square 


Paving, or what is sometimes called slightly dismissively hard landscape, is extremely important, particularly in historic towns, but this is an aspect of city planning that can often be overlooked by the public ... inevitably most people are in too much of a rush to think carefully about what they are walking on or where they are walking through to get wherever they want to get. 

Partly, as always, people do not notice good design when it works and does what it is supposed to do but do notice if it is wrong … for instance if the spacing or height of steps is just wrong to fit with the normal length of a stride or a ramp or raised feature blocks the route they want to take. It is partly because, so often, the point of the landscape in a town is to simply be the background for buildings or events and partly the problem is that people quickly forget just how bad an area was, in terms of clutter or bad layout, before changes were made.

A good example of high-quality, and very clear, simple but subtle townscape design is the area across the east side of the city hall in Copenhagen recently remodelled with a scheme from the Belfast architectural practice of Hall McKnight.


The square is in the final 40 projects nominated for the prestigious Mies van der Rohe award for European Architecture.


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