Tuesday, 26 November 2013

meeting our neighbours

On the way home from school drop off this morning, in the car, I listened to The Politics of Architecture on the radio.  It sounds pretty dull to me, but actually it was fascinating.  This morning Jonathan Glancey was discussing the layout of housing developments.  He was saying that there was a shift from planning for vehicles (with trunk roads, and a lot of cul-de-sacs with turning areas at the end), to planning for people, with thought being put into shared spaces, and encouraging people to meet their neighbours.

It made me think about the houses I've lived in.  Two questions that were asked in the show were:
  • Could you hold a street party in your street?
  • Our street: the houses could be more
    interesting, and it could be more
    connected in with the town, but for
    meeting neighbours, or having a street
    party, it's ideal.
  • Would you meet your neighbours easily?
Now I believe that the space we live in is very important.  Easily as important as the houses we live in, for the most part, but surely what you want from your home, and your neighbourhood changes as your life stage changes?

What is your neighbourhood like?  Is it part of what you like about your home?  Could you hold a street party?  Do you meet your neighbours easily?  Could you care less? Please share your thoughts.

Now our new house is a great place to live - the house is good, but we really chose it because it's next to a park, and because the children could play safely in the street.  It is a cul-de-sac.  I can confirm that we could hold a street party (perhaps we should get on that), and we've met lots of the neighbours.  Having the park nearby has been especially good for that.

When I was really little I lived on a busy road, but we still managed to have a street party, for the jubilee, in the back road.  That street was great, because it was really close to the shops, and everyone walked, so it was super for meeting neighbours, although it did have a lot of stairs down to the garden at the back, and the back road bisected the gardens, so I'm not sure I would have chosen it for our family now.  Still the jubilee party was fun.

Street party: 1977 style.  Thanks to Dad for the pic.
But do you know who we don't see much in our street?  The young, childless couple.  I'm not criticising them for that, it's a life stage thing.  When I was young and childless I didn't know my neighbours much either, and yet I was still happiest living in places where we could have had a street party, and you were likely to meet your neighbours.  In Otley, my friends and I lived in a cul-de-sac, within easy walking distance of the town, and we did get to know some of the neighbours, and in Edinburgh, we lived in a gorgeous tenement flat, overlooking a park.  We often walked to the corner shop; Margiotta's, but we met very few neighbours.  The streets were busy, but we could have had a party in the park.  If we still lived there now, with children, I'm sure we would make a lot more use of the park, and we would have met more neighbours.

So what about you?

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