I’m going to try a quick redesign of Qortuba Block 2. First, here it is as is:
I’m going to restrict myself into not altering the inlets to Qortuba, and leave the institutional buildings on the main road as they are. What I can change are the street layouts and the density and location of the residential plots. The goal is to turn it into a self-sustaining, livable and walkable area while still having a similar number of homes as before, which is about 750 villas. Right in the middle of Block 2 is a strange little island of commercial properties along with a large Kindergarten that I attended as a kid. The first thing I would do is take that island out and spread it in a linear fashion along the perimeter, where the heavy traffic is. It doesn’t make sense to hide it the way it is now.
I’d also expand the green belt that surrounds the block further in, and restrict the residential block to a squarish element that runs parallel to the main roads of Qortuba. The commercial strip would have ample parking at the front and back. I’d imagine a long line of cafes, grocery shops, hair dressers, laundry, daycare centers and lots of other stuff that you need close to home. Most people will be able to walk to these from where they live. The green belt would have lots and lots of trees (it already does!) and would be open to the public. This means that it’s no longer considered an ‘irtidaad’ the way it is now. There would be a long well lit place to run, maybe a caged football pitch and lots of benches.
Now this is where it gets tricky. I would design two different street widths. The main perimeter streets are two-way, while the interior streets are one-way. The point here is that since streets take up so much space, having them be one-way means that you save half the space. The interior streets would alternate directions, with odd number streets being one direction and even numbers in the other. This means that every home is only accessible from one direction, but I think this is an inconvenience worth having for the sake of saving space.
The slices are pedestrian streets. They will chop up the boring boxes into weird little triangles. These ‘in-between’ spaces are what gives each neighborhood its own distinct character. This is how people would walk to the commercial strip or to the green belt. The slices sometimes create an awkward space. This doesn’t go to waste. It can turn into a simple playground, or if it’s big enough, a mosque or a library. The purpose is to layer a pedestrian network over the street, so that people don’t always feel as if they’re subservient to cars. In order for this to work there has to be a reason to go out to walk and place to walk to; the green belt, the commercial strip and the little things to do in the awkward spaces.
The homes themselves would be very dense and they would all be attached to each other, separated only when a pedestrian street slices through them. This would further intensify and direct people into the pedestrian streets as it’s easy to identify them. The reason why I want the house to be attached is because you save lots of space and they shade each other.