Beyond Circulation: Forms, Quality and Performance of Urban Streets
Beyond their typical role of conveyance and transport, urban streets have served a host of social, cultural and economic functions historically, in the same way as other public spaces in creating a vibrant urban life. These functions are influenced by spatial forms/configurations of different street types. In the general absence of similar studies from our local context, this paper aimed to identify different physical, social and psychological attributes of urban streets that engender street vibrancy. Two types of neighbourhood-level streets, namely 'through/open-ended' and 'closed' types were studied, which are part of a well-known urban street/neighbourhood system in Khulna, Bangladesh. A number of socio-cultural, psychological and physical attributes of streets were also studied, and a comparative qualitative analysis between different street types was conducted. Findings suggest that the presence of mixed-use functions, medium length of streets, active building frontage, concave/bulged shape of streets, presence of natural elements, sense of safety, clear visibility, presence of people and landmarks — all add to the positive quality and participation of urban streets. A combination of through and closed types with all the above qualities was recommended for newer developments, especially for housing development and design.