According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a block is “an area of land surrounded by four streets in a city”. It is one of the less specific definitions among the languages I have consulted, but it gives a number of four streets, so there is a hint of a quadrangular shape somewhere. The Oxford dictionary, despite a more complex urban layout in Britain, says “a group of buildings bounded by four streets”, but it also recognizes that in America this applies to an area (no need for buildings)… bound by four streets.
What is relevant in terms of architecture and urban planning in a block?
- Size, minimal in middle age cities or Genoa, and enormous in Berlin and other cities.
- Treatment of courts or internal spaces, when they exist
- Permeability between street and court
- The way the street and the lateral façades relate: continuous or not, with varying setbacks by level…
- The shape of angles
- Differences in height between buildings
These are the subjects for the next weeks.