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My street attracts some tourists as they stroll of the beaten track. Many take a picture in front of my house of the street - a Woonerf (picture 1). Most of the buildings are post 2000. If they look behind them they see a street with one of the earliest Dutch social housing scheme from the 19th century (picture 2). Why does the majority of tourists prefer to take pictures of the Woonerf? Is it the curvy nature, the fact that most buildings are unique? Or is it just the lack of car parking?

@gertjanhulster all of the above

I think what catches people out is that what they're looking at structurally is an "alleyway" but they're inviting and rich places to be (for most people)

@gertjanhulster Indeed, the cars have something to do with it, and the curvy nature as well for sure.

@gertjanhulster for me, it's the greenery which is also part of the lack of car parking. If it weren't green i don't imagine it would be any more interesting than the other street

@gertjanhulster now that i look really closely at the other street i see it isn't lacking greenery but it's hidden by the cars so yeah the lack of car parking does it. XD

@gertjanhulster What an interesting question. Left-hand pic definitely the better one. Plantings soften the otherwise harsh lines, they also evoke care of owners. Lack of autos = quiet, calm, breathable air. And the curve implies a mystery: what's round the bend?

@gertjanhulster - my own response is more to the left pic. The attractiveness is in the "newly built" street which is NOT built for cars, but for people; it's clearly a walking/cycling road.

The right hand pic invokes familiarity - and NOT curiosity; within a microsecond I conclude "older, common" dwellings. Curiosity factor is low there!

@gertjanhulster All of the above. Your Woonerf looks much cosier. So lovely and lively.

@gertjanhulster I’ll vote for two things: yes, the curve in the road; it feels cozy. It takes me a while to notice differences in actual house architecture, house to house, but the space I feel right away, and even in the photo, you can get that — the second pic has none of that feel.

@gertjanhulster It's the human scale of the path. It's clearly made for people, not cars. It also has good symmetry, whereas the older street has janky rooflines, utility poles and cars.

@gertjanhulster Yes, I think you're correct on both counts.

The curving street provides what's called a "terminating vista" in urban design. This looks more visually appealing than a street that goes on into the distance.

And cars are just ugly to a streetscape; the plants are much prettier.

These two photos side-by-side are really good at showing what makes a great street.

@notjustbikes I've never come across the term 'terminating vista'. Now I know what to call it when I see one. They do add a bit of mystery to the equation, don't they?

@notjustbikes @galand2dogs Absolutely! They call to you to walk up the street and peak around the corner to see what might be there

@gertjanhulster I'd say ask them next time, good chance they are not even aware why they do it.

@gertjanhulster The facades are nicer in picture 1 and the lack of cars equals great walkability.

@gertjanhulster I would absolutely take a picture of your street as well.
The colours pop more, the red herringbone brick street with contrasting softer grey stone edges, lack of cars and nice green bench. The lamp on the building looks nice too.
Add that the ending is obscured by the curve, where the other ends in a modern brown building that doesn't look good.

I might take a picture of houses on the other street as well, but it would be more close-up on an individual building.

@gertjanhulster I can't stand it when developers decide to make every house in a new development look exactly or almost exactly the same, thankfully this has only happened in the few private street developments that we have in my town though (Is that the right way to describe it? They are small groupings of houses on private streets, presumably maintained by all of them).

@awesomesheep48 I completely agree with you. But most streets in The Netherlands from the late 19th Century onwards are filled with rows of identical houses. It might say something about our culture of conformity and equality.

@gertjanhulster @awesomesheep48 That was the easiest way to build at that time. Just like how they build in the seventies. Much of the same.

@awesomesheep48 @gertjanhulster the ratio of the width of the street to the height of the houses is different in the two images. In the first, the taller buildings create a sense of enclosure that, when combined with the curving street, looks intentionally designed to be safe, and inviting. By contrast, the somewhat random width to height ratio in the 2nd image lacks that same sense of enclosure and coherence.

@hkdunston @awesomesheep48 @gertjanhulster I agree with this, although I couldn't put my finger on it without your help @hkdunston. My strong preference was for the left hand picture, and on reading through the replies, yours really rang true for me.

@gertjanhulster
Coziness is the main caracteristic: your street embraces pedestrians in a comfortable way. The curve adds to this effect.
Warm red bricks surround you, dressed up with nice details like the grey square bricks and the green plants.
Cars would interfere with this, but the other street is uninviting in more ways.
Facades are like faces; these are not well displayed, especially because some are blocked (eg. that wooden fence).
What remains, does not promise shelter to walk though.

@gertjanhulster I’ve heard social housing is on the decline in the Nederlands and with that a steady rise in rents..

@GhostOnTheHalfShell You are right. Since the 1980’s there has been a steady decline. I think it starts to sink in that we need to built social housing again. Hopefully we will see that happening the coming years.

@gertjanhulster I think #NotJustBikes mentioned this About Here video. The dramatic difference in price of non market housing keeps rental market profiteering in check. It is a must to keep prices stable and the cost of living reasonable.

I want to mention that business owners should be keenly aware of the housing market. Expensive housing raises wage pressure and diminishes disposable income for customers. They pay dearly for high rents.

youtube.com/watch?v=sKudSeqHSJ

@GhostOnTheHalfShell I share your concerns. Part of the problem is the low interest on mortgages over the past years. This drove the prices to unimaginable heights. Now that interest rates start to rise again, I worry about the financial stability for many of the recent buyers.

@gertjanhulster Agree. Interest rates are an absurd way to 'manage' money circulation or to 'tame' inflation. Interest after all is just another inflation going straight into creditor pockets, damaging most those least involved in demand.

@gertjanhulster I think it’s a little bit of everything you’ve mentioned.

The fact that the buildings on the street on the left were mostly built after 2000 is astonishing, as this would street would be illegal/impossible to build nearly anywhere in the United States (quite possibly nowhere!)

@mikebishop the street design is much older. It dates back to early 14th century. It used to be an industrial area at the time: ship building and beer breweries. In 1980’s the street had run down as the municipality wanted to cut an expressway through the neighborhood. Fortunately the inhabitants were able to turn the tide.

@gertjanhulster That makes sense! Thank you for the backstory.

I imagine in the States, however, this street would have surely been bulldozed for a highway, or would have been redrawn, redirected, and/or widened by now. Very few streets like this still exist in America’s oldest cities.

I live in Philadelphia, and sadly one of the only streets still like this (“Elfreth’s Alley”) is a preserved tourist destination.

@mikebishop That really is horrible. I feel really privileged to live in a country where we are still build this kind of streets.

@gertjanhulster I think it's just the whole vibes... which for sure the lack of cars is a big part of

@gertjanhulster Of course there is the lack of cars. Then, there is the curve that adds a bit of drama to the scene, and all the plants who add more life.

@gertjanhulster Your street is prettier. The roof on that building on the corner is just tragic.

@gertjanhulster having Dutch roots and almost being grown up on a bike I never struggled with the streets like the one on the right (since I have to compare them with German streets), but surely I would always prefer the one on the left.

@gertjanhulster picture 1 is newer construction, but the road is so narrow (so not designed for cars) that it seems older when I first looked at it. The narrowness (human scale), the absence of cars, the greenery, the well-maintained look of it all combine to make it very inviting.

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