Crowded streets and busy shopping areas are part of the urban experience. Any larger city, even smaller towns, have a designated shopping street(s) and places where lots of people walk every single day. But can these busy commercial streets also be stressful? Some urban thinkers warn that very crowded areas, too much noise and lack of green, open spaces can make this experience very unpleasant. In some cases, it can even create a stress, unease and have negative psychological effects on the people.
Did you know?
The word street has its origins in the Latin strata (paved road). It is related to stratum and stratification, and also in Ancient Greek stratos means army. This is because Greeks originally built roads to move their armies! It seems that nowadays, shopping streets are used to move armies of shopaholics who relentlessly enter into any and every store, looking for new deals, latest collections, sales or any other special offers which will make them happy.
What cities can (and should!) do is to always make shopping streets more open, more engaging, offering new ways of urban experience, instead of just having a singular shopping-focused area. It is expected that cities of the 21st century, or so-called “smart cities” will also make shopping experience in cities better and more interesting.
One interesting article, published in The Guardian, claims that designing environments which affect our mood is no new invention – pyramids were built to inspire awe, monasteries to encourage contemplation, and all too often architecture has been used to instill fear and obedience in its users.
This is why a conscious city – the city of the future could combine open data, new technology and urban planning techniques to address all these issues and adapt our shopping streets into a more human-centered and green-friendly spaces.