I totally fell for this goof post by Seattle urbanist Chuck Wolfe.
Simply stated. walkable is good, but sit-able is better. And it’s time for the next big focal point and the next big idea, The Sit-able City.
The sit-able realm is a place of human universals, broader than the walking that transports us there or passes through…
…Consider the purposeful, contemporary images shown here. Sitting, in order to rest, converse, beg and sell is what people have always done, and captures a major part of urban life. Sitting with style, grace, safety and reflection is a major element of “place capital”—an increasing buzzword for urban success.
In summary, a greater focus on the sit-able is an invitation to rich discussion and ready illustration based on human tradition. The sit-able is where those walking home meet the homeless. It embraces parks and park users, places to read and those benches where we offer a place to rest to someone who has a better reason to sit down than you, or me.
I fell for it because it’s a GREAT IDEA.
Consider this analogy: When city planners design cities with kids and seniors in mind, it can recalibrate the larger vision and ultimately upgrade the infrastructure choices, making cities better for everyone.
For example, there end up being more parks when kids are the top design priority because city hall plans for more play fields knowing that every kid can’t possibly have a backyard. (There’d also be more affordable housing because rich people aren’t the only ones with kids.) And if planners prioritized safety for seniors, cities would be more pedestrian friendly, with longer walk signals, more curb ramps, clearer way-finding, better night lighting, and more benches.
I think we’d end up with a similar human-scale infrastructure & design revolution if city planners made “sit-ability” the guiding principle. (“Sitable” is an awful term, obviously. “Chillable?” “Hangout-able?”)
Designing public space with hanging out in mind (and also putting pro-hang out requirements on private development ) could rewrite land use and public right of way code with wonderful results: We’d swap out garages and parking spots for more microparks, microasises, and parklets; there would be more licenses for cafe, bar, and restaurant sidewalk seating; there would be more car-free streets (or at least shared…or mixed use…right of way); more plazas; more bike racks, more benches; and more food carts.
And because there would be more people out in the public realm, there would be more businesses catering to them.
It sounds like a pretty lively scene.
One of the coolest things I noticed during my trip to London this summer, was that happy hour spilled into the streets.
With drinks in hand, after-work revelers (on a Monday!) ended up mingling in the center of the road with the crowd from the bar across the street…or at least shouting to them from their seats. Lively scene.