Monday, November 22, 2010

Rules to Follow- Naming of Roads and Streets

Rules for naming Streets- A systematic approach
This post is a continuation of the previous post- Breaking the rules.
Of course, it is easier to break the rules in Architecture, but when it comes to City Planning, the consequences are too many. Let me give you an example of it.

Gujarat State in India is going through major development and growth. The upcoming conference in Jan 2011, Global Investment Summit "Vibrant Gujarat" caught my attention because not only I was born and raised in that region but also I am always interested in the cities and planning. The Vibrant Gujarat Summits, held biennially since 2003, to facilitate investment alliances with various countries. To state just few facts about Gujarat and people living in Gujarat- It is located on Western Coast of India and connected with major countries UK, Australia, Japan, Korea, China, Gulf Countries etc through the ports. Gujarati people have entrepreneurial spirit and are living all over the world. According to Chief Minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi "Gujarat, with its all inclusive, sustainable and rapid growth, is emerging as a globally preferred place to live in and to do business."

I got very excited about this Summit and started to think about the new development, new highways and connections between towns, connecting streets; some planned and some organic developments and so on. I started picturing in my mind the city and towns of Gujarat, travelled back to memory lane of the names of the roads and streets and started to wonder - Are they going to have any system, any rules! Are they going to give Indian names or international names as many investors are pouring money for this growth! Are they going to use leaders names or investors names for the streets!  How about the local geographic or historic context! Can you imagine not having any system and confusion it can create.

Street Naming-
So first of all the basic purpose of  naming the street is to navigate easily from one place to another. The other reasons are to  locate and deliver the mails, provide emergency services, utilities and so on. In USA, there are certain rules to follow when you are giving names to new streets in the new development. Few to mention- Street names can't start with "The", No discriminating or offensive names can be used and the names can not be duplicated, no names of living person are allowed or names should not be awkward or difficult to pronounce. I do not agree on the last two though.

Street Naming in Washington DC-
Romans were the first civilization designed and constructed roads. How did they name them? Washington DC was designed by Pierre (Peter) Charles L'Enfant (August 9, 1754 – June 14, 1825), a French-born American Architect and Civil Engineer. Accordingly, At the center of the grid system is White House and the city was divided into four quadrants -Northeast, Southeast, Southwest and Northwest. The streets oriented from North to South are designated by numbers and counted upward from East to West in the Northwest quadrant to Southwest Quadrant of the city  for example-1st St NW, 2nd St NW, 3rd St NW etc. For further information, check the post "DC Like a Local". That is very logical system but when you add different streets or divide the streets and connect to curved streets and things start to get complicated in the case of no system with growth in plan. This is just one way to naming and creating a system, but there are various other systems such as alphabetic order and combining them with numbers. There are streets named for all different species of trees, rivers, flowers, Historical leaders and so on.

So I hope Gujarat considers all these and other related issues while creating circular ring roads, connecting highways and other minor street systems. I hope a systematic approach is designed to plan for future growth.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Breaking The Rules

In Architecture, when one designs space, the basic rules are followed: the rules about  making things perfectly uniform or symmetrical or exact implementation of the program.  Of Course some assumptions are made about human behavior based on well known facts to follow all the rules. The result is well thought out good building and space. That is perfectly fine, but occasionally when the architect breaks the rule, people adapt the space and the place becomes memorable.


The photo is of Seattle Public Library designed by architect Rem Koolhaas. It is the view of one of the lobbies and what you see are the books-shelves not lined up perfectly and people getting the books. The floor has picture of green shrubs and plants inlay-ed in the flooring. It feels like it is the underground water surface. It works perfectly well.  It is like Risk and Reward relationship. Higher risk brings higher rewards if you get rewards. The architect Rem Koolhaas has designed this building with thinking outside the box. This is just one photo of the library. 


Sometimes, I also break rules and take risks.