Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Five ideas for Freo from...Budapest

Dean Cracknell is the author of this post. He is a Freo devotee dedicated to creating interesting, diverse places for people and is a guest contributor to The Fremantle Doctor blog. 

Dean can be followed on Twitter by checking out: @city_pragmatist

Budapest has been a place for writers, intellectuals and the arts for centuries. Last year, I was sipping on a morning coffee outside a small local cafe when the enchanting sounds of classical music filled the street. I looked around, expecting others to be amazed like myself. But nobody seemed surprised at all, in fact they were continuing on with everyday life. I later discovered that I had been sitting on a small street beside the city opera house.

One of my first impressions of Budapest, apart from the stunning skyline, culture and inexpensive culinary delights, were the streetscapes (a decent example of my planning nerdiness). Hungary is not a rich country, yet it has invested well in designing ‘streets for people’. Walking around was easy, pleasant and interesting.What can Freo learn from Budapest?

Here are some ideas - 

Some ideas for Freo from Budapest

Consistent wall of buildings

Buildings are most important for the way they frame and enclose the spaces between them. This Budapest street has 3-5 storey facades, which intimately enclose the space and create a feeling of cosiness and protection.

The facades should also be interesting - these buildings have different colours, materials, textures and features such as sculptures, ledges, ornaments and a variety of window shapes and sizes.

Street activity

Placemaking guru, David Engwicht, reckons one of the secrets to placemaking is slowing the flow of people along a street.

“People are the life-blood of place. Density of people-activity is a key attractor to a place. Here is a secret to making a space twice as full of people — without needing to attract one extra customer. Get people to take twice as long to move through the space and that space will be twice as full of people. You can help seduce people into spending more time in your street”.

David is onto something. People attract other people.

(See more of David’s ideas here)

Variety of places to sit and linger

People need to feel welcome in a space. This street has a variety of formal and informal spots to stop, sit and linger. The street has a nice atmosphere.


Great places need greenery. This street has 3 types – street trees, garden beds and large-potted plants. The more greenery the better!

Simple consistent paving

We often over-engineer streets and spend too much money on pretty paving. This Budapest street has simple, non-descript concrete surfaces. The recent upgrade of Queen Victoria Street in Freo is a good example of keeping the paving fairly simple. The old Queen Vic now just needs more potted greenery to add some life.

That's about it for some ideas for Freo from Budapest. Although the two busy roads either side of the Danube River make walking along the river difficult, I think that this city has got many of the placemaking ingredients right.

No comments:

Post a Comment