Village Green: How Big is Too Big?

Last week I posted The Village Green: Size Matters to the EVstudio website. “Right-sizing” the Village Green is a topic that is always on my mind as I design and visit new urban communities. Unfortunately, there are too few Village Greens that feel just right. They are often built with too much space, making it feel uncomfortable to spend a lot of time.

The numerous ceremonial Piazzas in Italy are often looked at as the justification toward a large Village Green. However, there are major differences between Italy and most places attempting to construct American Village Greens – Density and Activity Intensity in particular.

Some of the best urban outdoor places to congregate have a sense of enclosure and can be utilized for multiple purposes. When we design large places for a single purpose, failure is often imminent. When the space is designed to be adaptable and flexible, the results are often unpredictable and organically lovable.

The Village Green in Prospect New Town in Longmont, CO has an appropriate ratio of density and enclosure, produced in part by the intensity of mature trees.
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3 Comments

  1. I wholeheartedly agree that many village greens are “supersized” in the U.S., and that the comparison to piazzas in Italy are quite a stretch. As a 2nd generation Italian American, I am pleased when I hear urban planners using piazzas (or piazze, the correct plural in Italian :)) as a goal. But consider all that happens in a piazza – the many forms of retail whether in the outer ring of shops or vendor’s carts, fountains, artwork, and the great cultural phenomena that keeps Italians fit – the daily passeggiata, the leisurely afternoon stroll that Italians take to socialize, playfully flirt and generally enjoy “La Dolce Vita” – the good life. Their piazzas – and the many interesting activities found in it at almost any hour – are a reflection of their culture and long history of living well in density.

    There is nothing like a good piazza!

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