Author(s): A. Furman
In the contemporary urban condition there exist pedestrian systems that are not
defined as sidewalks or streets – these are the urban filaments that weave
themselves into the existing flow structures in historic and more recent urban
This paper will trace the challenges facing pedestrian spaces/urban
filaments in the modernist experiment with urban form from a European and
North American urban context – particularly in the urban cores of the city.
Historically urban filaments emerged alongside historical and social changes,
spurred on by the growing congestion of major traffic corridors, and responding
to the opportunity to provide ameliorative social/cultural space between the
existing patterning of public/private space.
Innovation in technology and science
propelled the form and helped to develop the language of urban filaments along
until the automobile challenged the logic of the historic fabric; a largely
pedestrian outlook of travel within the built fabric was replaced with a
competing vision of the street.
This is a tactical position for the city, it needs to
continuously absorb and even rediscover various coping mechanisms to
counteract the squeeze on pedestrian streetscapes.
As a result, there are various
qualities and kinds of public/private spaces that are arguably urban filaments,
some emerging with other types enduring since before the Renaissance.
pedestrianism, walking, modernity, pathways, public realm.
1 Nolli’s wisdom
Giovanni-Battista Nolli’s enduring genius to urban planners and designers, lies
in his ability to understand how people in his time related to their surroundings.
The Nolli maps (figure 1) as they are often referred, have stimulated interest in
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Paper DOI: 10.2495/SC100231
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