How to create a design framework for attractive, memorable streetscapes

Article By:

Principal | Urban Designer

“ To linger! If we could but linger again in those places whose beauties never wane; surely we would then be able to endure many difficult hours with a lighter heart, and carry on, thus strengthened, in the eternal struggle of this existence."

Camillo Sitte, (1843 – 1903) Austrian architect, painter and urban theorist

What comes to mind when you think of a Traditional Main Street? Most people would imagine the heart of a town centre surrounded by vibrant streets and comprised of low-rise shops and services, rich in historical architecture. The quote from Camillo Sitte’s 1889 Artistic Principles of City Planning intimately characterizes the old streets and plazas of Bruges, Belgium, to illustrate the artistic principles of urban design.

Whether it is Rue du Petit-Champlain in Quebec City, Ninen-zaka and Sannen-zaka in Kyoto or San Telmo in Buenos Aires (one of my favorite places), any of these streets can be a destination, not just a traffic thoroughfare.

The City of Ottawa defines main streets as “streets that offer some of the most significant opportunities in the city for intensification through more compact forms of development, a lively mix of uses and a pedestrian-friendly environment.”

Traditional Main streets, in contrast to Arterial Main streets, were developed before 1945 and generally presented a tighter urban fabric, high pedestrian traffic and vibrant mix of commercial uses at the street level. These streets often have on-street parking and adjacent development with limited on-site parking at the back.

Most municipalities and communities aspire to have traditional main streets for socioeconomic development, tourism, environmental protection and place-making reasons.

Community-based organizations work with property owners, municipal governments and other stakeholders to promote and conserve historical buildings and downtown streetscapes for contemporary use.

What typically follows are the public realm design of the main street and the creation of architectural design guidelines to ensure that the overall historical/cultural identity of commercial buildings is protected and that any future development enhances the space.

Within a decade, Nadi Group has developed a reputation in Manitoba as the preeminent urban design firm responsible for a significant majority of new subdivision and town centers. Our clients include Manitoba Housing and Renewal Corporation, Northern Lakes Economic Development Corporation, City of Saskatoon, City of Melfort, Town of Kindersley, Daytona, Qualico and many other land developers/ municipalities.

With our strong background and in-depth understanding of the urban and architectural landscaping, construction techniques and the land development process, the team has helped clients achieve their vision for town centre beautification and place-making solutions.

Projects such as Bridgwater Centre, Town of Spiritwood’s main street, Kindersley Town Square, Sage Creek Village Centre and Argyle Street, Chicago have elevated real estate value, making them neighborhoods or townships of choice for many discerning home buyers.

Nadi Group's overarching mission- design for a better world continuously influences our work. It’s our unique value proposition that we instill in the delivery of our landscape architecture and urban design services and areas of expertise. Within this synergy, we find design solutions that are in-line with the long-term sustainability of the main street, along with a symbiotic fusion of human and natural needs.

We view these solutions as opportunities for significant job creation, private sector investment, tourism potential, increased walkability and “sense of place” for community residents. Nadi understands the role a Traditional Main Street brings, which envelopes not only the commercial and business mainstay of the town but also the pride and legacy of the community.

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3150 Livernois Road,
Unit 136
Troy, Michigan
Toll: 844-669-6234

289 Garry Street,
Unit 300
Winnipeg, Manitoba
R3C 1H9
Toll: 844-669-6234

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