What and Why of Street architecture?
With growing environmental concerns and new pandemic standards, prioritizing ‘Urban Livability’ has become a significant aspect of Urban design or street architecture. Shifting automobile-centric designs to pedestrian and transit-focused design is the future of a healthy urban space. Streets and sidewalks cover 25-30% of urban space.
As a prime chunk of urban land, attending to streets is an illustrious opportunity to cater to urban issues. Although for many organizations around the world, street beautification is considered an unnecessary expense. But it does promise future returns.
Cities in the UK and US, which invested in street architecture have witnessed a spike in footprint by 20-40% and retail sales by 10-25%. A nationwide study in the US concluded a 30% increase in the property value after improved urban design measures on the streets. A well-designed street influences the psychology of its inhabitants positively.
As per CABE polls, 85% of people claim that uplifting the quality of the built environment makes them feel welcomed and inspires them to use the streets more frequently. Concurrently with the increased use of well-designed streets, shop vendors which open into the urban space claim their growing business due to increased footprint on the street. Conditional physical health, attractive street design invite people for passive exercise.
What is Street Art?
Street art and Graffiti do share a mutual history. Cavemen used wall art to depict their life and communicate, today street art is a medium of having fun, art, and making political statements as a sign of vandalism.
Expression of art on the streets started as graffiti in the 1920s and 1930s, on sides of trains and cars in New York. This led to the start of a submissive culture which reached its peak in the 1970s and 1980s. It was the time when the young ones took to the roads to respond to their social and political environment.
As a turning point in the history of street art, graffiti became a medium of expression in the ‘Battle of Meaning’ led by the younger generations. Although the urge of creating meaningful urban spaces remains in the expression of the street artists since the beginning of the 21st Century, it models to generate antithesis to the prevailing social context.
Street art is a significant part of the city aligns with its identity and defines a sense of community and personality of a metropolis. An undeniable fact of street art is its association with social, political, touristic, and artistic values. The roots of street art define freedom and creativity. It is a holistic medium to communicate ideas, emotions and connect to the needs of society.
A city that is rich in street art depicts its active, free, and creative expression, the voices of its citizens, and the medium they choose. Promoting diversity, street art showcases different groups of its communities. Apart from promoting social and political views, Street art makes cities colorful, exposing its citizens to happiness and joy.
Impacts of Street Art
Apart from social, creative, and political benefits, street graphics also contribute to the urban architectural settings. It impacts the existing infrastructure as a live piece of art, constantly interacting with its inhabitants in several ways such as:
Creative Placemaking – Street Art creates a palpable sense of a place, increasing the footprint by adding color, vibrancy, and character to the urban setting. It counters the negative impacts of the concrete jungle and implants therapeutic effects for the urban dwellers. Creative Placemaking can be equated with enhanced development of urban streets to a notable increase in the passive use of streets.
Public Safety – Contrary to the famous urban theory of ‘Broken Windows’, street art enhances the safety of a secluded location by emphasizing its regular attendance by the locals. It reduces the crime opportunities like vandalism or illegal dumping to arise.
Weakening the Menace – Street Art in urban cities is a relatively inexpensive way of urban redevelopment. It helps to uplift the blighted areas in the inner parts of the city by giving character and maintaining property values and lowering criminal activities. Combining street art with streetscaping projects can upscale the value of an urban street by increasing the active and passive footprint of the area.
Crossover of Street – Art and Architecture
Urban habitats have become used to the daily urban life living in the predetermined walls, buildings, and routes. Urban art is about repurposing those spaces as a canvas to express political, social, or artistic ideas.
Street art bridges the gaps between the spectator and artist, the message and the interpretation by making it accessible to the world. It involves people by allowing them to add ideas and comments in the initial phase. It diverts the culture of Read-only to a Read/Write Culture.
It has uplifted the way cities feel, express, and draw attention towards meaningful aspects of power dynamics and social relationships which constitute the urban fabric. Such a bold expression of voice and opinion calls for legal issues by default. The use of space to raise voice in a political setup questions the everyday practices of life but it also generates awareness and change.
In this fast-moving world, driving attention towards urban interventions has become critically integral to keep the urban spaces active. Stimulating culture and merging it with the functional aspect of urban interventions has given birth to meaningful urban narratives. Art amalgamated with street architecture gives a dollop of pop, eye-catching, and proactive sense to its surroundings making the urban space a regular visit for its audience.