Sunday, February 14, 2016

There's close and there's "just right"

During my recent visit to Adelaide I drove a lot of streets I had never seen before. This is good because it overcomes the familiarity blindness we tend to suffer from in our own patch.

As I drove, it slowly dawned on me that when it comes to streetscapes, there's "nearly right" and there's "just right". And the indicator of "just right" - for me at least - is a strong sense of peacefulness. That, and a desire not to leave.

So I started thinking about the physical attributes that make a streetscape "just right" (for me) and I decided these four were the most important:
  • the trees create a sense of enclosure over the road
  • the spacing of the trees allows both light and shade but the shade is dominant
  • the shade is dappled, not solid
  • the trees are healthy - ie the leaves are green, not chlorotic*

This avenue of Cape Lilacs in D'erlanger Ave, Adelaide is close but dips out on the second attribute…ie the light to shade ratio isn't quite right. Taken as a whole, the road appears as a strip of light with blobs of shade on it.

What works better in a hot climate is the the road appears essentially shaded with occasional pools of light in it.

I actually did find one that I thought was perfect and it definitely passed the "so-peaceful-I-don't-want-to-leave" test. But by then I was running out of time to get my hire car back so I didn't get out and photograph it. I wish I had now.

* This factor is often not given the weight it deserves. I also talk about it in this post about Jacarandas on the Perth sand plain.

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