The Case for Creating a Pattern

From Fin:

We had a good discussion on Saturday about paving, but there wasn’t a clear consensus on the best way to move forward. With the timescales being what they are, we don’t have long to make a decision on the type of materials we use. I set out here the case for developing a bold pattern and it would be great to hear the community’s feedback.

As a team we are motivated to ensure the designs make the neighbourhood feel special and unique. Why? If a neighbourhoood looks and feel like it is ‘owned’ by the community and obviously different to just another ‘normal’ road, people are more likely to treat it with respect.

As a community, your priorities included slowing traffic speeds, a better ‘definition’ of the neighbourhood, and encouraging people to show ‘respect’ for the area. Creating a ‘bespoke’ pattern can help to address some of these objectives. A pattern can challenge the perception of a road and the behaviour of drivers. In a previous project in Oxford, average traffic speeds were reduced to 16mph as a result of a pattern being painted on the road. A pattern also has the potential to create a visual ‘thread’ to tie the neighbourhood together.

Some people felt the use of ‘Charcoal’ and ‘Natural’ tones were not colourful enough. Others felt that the pattern should be more random. The colours and pattern proposed were chosen because they offered a good contrast and simplicity. However, the use of other colours and a more random style might be more interesting and could still achieve this effect – your ideas are encouraged!

However, we would still argue against the use of red blocks. Red is by far and away the most commonly used colour in highway design, you see it everywhere, bus lanes, cycle lanes, busy junctions as well as in more conventional traffic calming projects. It is also the colour of choice for retail parks and supermarket car parks. It is argued that red provides a good contrast and drivers are less inclined to park in red areas. However, if we really want to make your neighbourhood (whatever you decide to call it) truly special, we argue that we need to be bolder and opt for something more striking.

This is your neighbourhood, what do you think?

I attach a photo of an example (of random block work) from Holland.

We welcome your ideas!

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3 Responses to The Case for Creating a Pattern

  1. veronica says:

    Colour of buildings, surrounding make alot of difference to how road markings work. I like this pattern but what would it look like in our streets? Can we see an example using a photo of this our roads?
    The holland photo is great but a very different style of place. Grey modern architecture, whereas ours is red brick victorian. I think if there was 3-4 examples to look at, it will help a decision to be made.

  2. Fin says:

    It is very true to say that context is important. When you look at the housing in the area you notice there is red brick but also the more yellow tones of the ‘london stock brick’. See for example the window detailing on the doublebay houses in Langham Road and the sides of the houses at the junction of Waldeck Road and Carlingford Road. The london brick has a more mottled look and when next to the red brick ‘coursing’ offers a more structured patterned look. You could argue this is a good justification for a more patterned look in the proposed designs.

    More generally, the use of a material which blends in with the existing fabric of the neighbourhood might not always be appropriate. It could be argued to be pastiche (i.e. pretending to be something its not) or contrived and in the process undermines the existing, authentic character of the area. Sometimes a more contemporary style is more respectful because, by its contrast, it highlights what is the pre-existing character and what is the new intervention.

    In my view, you would ideally have a design which draws on the local character but interprets it in a new and refreshing way. Perhaps the designs we come up with could in some way reference the colours of the brick in local housing but within a contemporary style or pattern. I know some residents are already looking at this.

    I will try to draw something up as you suggest but please be aware it might a few days!

  3. sara brown says:

    i’ve rethought this. at first i also thought grey and black a little drab. but i;ve been looking at road surfaces where red and yellow are used and they become pretty grubby looking. maybe grey and black could actually look quite smart, especially if in a bold design. hopefully the plantings around these areas will be the main focus of attention.

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