Book Review

Shanghai Street Design Guidelines

Shanghai Planning and Land Resource Administration Bureau

Cities need high quality street environments and public spaces that are not dominated by moving and parked vehicles. Manual for Streets (2007) and the New York-based National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO ) are two key street design guides. This well-produced and lavishly illustrated guide may not be easy to procure, but it is well worth the effort.

The full title includes ‘humanised street shaping’, and the language in the translation is more endearing than usually found in publications. For example, well-designed streets should ‘promote friendship’, while buildings along the street should satisfy ‘the visual experience while walking’.

In the Roads to Streets chapter, accommodating vehicles is not be the sole objective, and the guide attempts to reconcile old and new ways of thinking by correlating road classifications (expressway, artery, sub artery, etc.) with street type classifications (commercial street, living and service street, landscape and leisure street, etc.), illustrated with an interesting matrix of photo examples. It rightly argues that classifications do not have to be continuous (as I showed in the Devon Traffic Calming Guidelines in 1991), thus providing more scope for variations.

It states that the shift away from motor domination requires ‘more delicate, user friendly and intelligent planning, design and management’ to encourage streets that are ‘safe, green, vibrant and smart’. A chapter is devoted to each.

There are many examples of entirely new neighbourhoods and settlements, from which a selection of masterplans and figureground illustrations are shown.

Other themes include landscaping, design and use of (behind the brass strip) private street space, corners and crossings. Most topics are covered, from lighting and landscaping, to bus stops with bicycle bypasses. A new element (to me at least) is the inclusion of advice on how to integrate the facilities and equipment associated with smart technology, such as electric charging points, solar panels, and information screens.

More attention could have been given to public transport streets, and the design of junctions, always a point of conflict between users, and (perhaps deliberately) neglected are Chinese electric scooters. These sell better than cars, can travel at speed, and yet are tolerated in cycle lanes and pedestrian areas, posing a traffic safety and design challenge that is not addressed.

The relevance of this guide for a British audience is surprising, and it is an immensely interesting and enjoyable document.

URBAN DESIGN 144 Autumn 2017 Publication Urban Design Group

As featured in URBAN DESIGN 144 Autumn 2017

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Shanghai Street Design Guidelines Publication Urban Design Group
Tongji University Press
Reviewed By
Tim Pharoah, transport and urban planning consultant