Bratislava: Architects Erring Everywhere You Look

Two Bratislava lessons on urbanism today. These belong to the worst examples of how architects and bureaucracy fail to include the pedestrians in the city planning.

Aupark shopping mall with 500m detour for pedestrians coming from the bus stop

Ola F?gelmark, of the Technical University in Lund, Sweden, analyzed the pedestrian traffic moving from a bus stop on one side of a heavily trafficked street to a shopping center on the opposite side. Of the three possible choices – walking a 50-meter detour via a pedestrian crosswalk, walking directly across the street, or taking a route through a pedestrian tunnel with two sets of steps – 83 percent of the pedestrians chose the detour and pedestrian crosswalk, 10 percent walked directly across the street, and only 7 percent chose the tunnel and steps. In cases in which pedestrian traffic is directed up over a high footbridge, it is nearly always necessary to set up a fence to encourage the pedestrians to use the bridge.

Jan Gehl: Life Between Buildings (Using Public Space), page 142-143

Instead of providing convenient access for the pedestrians coming from the city centre, Aupark shopping mall administration, City Mayor’s Office and the Police decided to set up a fence and send the pedestrians over 500-meter long detour via ramps, stairs and abandoned parking lots full of cars without any marked pedestrian paths. Working together against citizens.

Eurovea shopping mall with the stairs everywhere outdoors

Differences in level are a very real complication. In outdoor spaces there are good arguments for either completely avoiding changes in level or at least designing the connecting links so that they are as easy and psychologically practicable as possible to use. […] In situations in which pedestrian traffic must be led up or down relatively flat ramps are generally preferred to stairs. Ramps also permit people to maneuver baby carriages and wheelchairs more easily. The main rule for pedestrian traffic and differences in level, then, is that variations in level should be avoided whenever possible. If it becomes necessary to direct pedestrians up or down, then ramps, not stairs, should be used.

Jan Gehl: Life Between Buildings (Using Public Space), page 145

How could those architects rape the new prominent public space just like that? Bastards. Eurovea is almost completely inaccessible for the disabled, cyclists or mothers with baby carriages.

  • Aupark case: “500-meter long detour” is a kind of overstatement, isn’t it? Although I do agree it is very long detour, compared to airline.

  • Daniel

    OK, maybe it’s just 200+ meters. Still, it’s a long way. The last time it took me over five minutes to get to the main gate.