Focus on streets
Crown Street is a bold attempt to recreate a modern version of the Glasgow tenement block structure with real streets. Here we look at the design of Errol Gardens as an example of one of the streets and how the street network is working in practice.
Good parking with wide streets
The generous width of Crown Street’s streets has accommodated parking in double rows in the centre of the streets, at right angles to the building frontages, in addition to parking along the pavement edge. This avoids excessively cluttering the road space immediately in front of the houses and flats, yet keeps the cars in view of the residents. By keeping the parking within the street it has also allowed the space inside the perimeter blocks of housing to be entirely private communal landscaped space and has helped reinforce the building line and the streets’ sense of enclosure.
The hope was that in time the trees in the centre of the street would grow and mature to soften the cars’ visual impact and to green the streets. That this is not happening particularly successfully is thought to be due to the tree roots being compacted by the cars parking over them. It is hoped that this will be remedied in later phases of development by providing larger root pits. There are accessible parking bays outside the offices of the New Gorbals Housing Association on Crown Street and in Errol Gardens.
Clarity and attention to detail aids movement for all
Crown Street shows the benefits of involving people with disabilities in the design of the development. The approach to parking means vehicles are generally kept well away from the pavements, which are wide and open for pedestrian use, and suitable for a range of users including pedestrians, people with mobility impairments, people using mobility scooters and those pushing prams and buggies.
The traffic flow is controlled using paved areas which also act as pedestrian crossing places. A variety of surface textures and finishes including coloured granite setts offer tactile information and visual contrast to people using the space. It is aesthetically pleasing whilst at the same time providing useful navigational information for blind and partially sighted people. This is particularly useful when approaching areas where vehicles are parked.
Design delivers the feel of an urban street
The size of the Errol Gardens buildings and their location at or near the edge of the pavement creates a sense of enclosure that is the mark of a real urban street. Generally living rooms front on to the streets, while bedrooms face the quieter back courts.
Showing itself to be an urban rather than suburban street, Errol Gardens is fairly lively. The master plan connected the area back into the network of local streets: for residents over a wide area the street is a route to the local shops and, further afield, to the city centre. For some people who work in the city centre it is a place to park before making a short walk to work: more cars are parked in the Crown Street area by day than at night. In time, parking restrictions and enforcement will probably be introduced to reduce such parking by commuters. For the moment such parking has the beneficial side effect of enabling the local shops and the good range of other facilities such as the local library, in the words of one observer, to punch above their weight.
Problems providing wider area connections
The connected network of streets in Crown Street works well and provides a legible movement network within the development. However the through connections to the wider street network have been interrupted because of local complaints about rat-running through the development. Also some of the surrounding roads are high speed roads and these have not been reconfigured to allow movement to occur across them to reach the Crown Street development.