LYNCH’S 5 ELEMENTS OF AN URBAN ENVIRONMENT.
Like any urban landscape, San Pedro de Macoris can also be broken up and analysed in terms of Kevin Lynch’s five elements of urban design; Landmarks, Nodes, Paths, Edges and Districts. By isolating these elements within the urban fabric, the functionality and composition of the space becomes evident as does the manner in which it may be occupied.
San Pedro de Macoris boasts copious major landmarks, the most notable being the Cathedral of Saint Peter, or Catedral San Pedro Apostol. Various other landmarks include large factory buildings and industrial sites, public buildings such as the town hall, various churches, the hospital or the university and recreational facilities such as the baseball stadium. All of these landmarks provide an indication of the dominant culture of the population, their preferred past times and the thriving sugar industry in the area.
Major traffic corridors, in the form of roads form the primary network of paths through the city. These are supported by a complex network of small one way streets and alleyways, the majority of which are designed for vehicles and are not particularly accommodating to pedestrians.
The nature of the street system and the urban fabric made it particularly difficult to highlight specific nodes within the city. The only obvious node is the open square space in front of the Catedral San Pedro Apostol. The lack of designated pedestrian paths and public spaces leaves very few spaces that are recognizable as nodes. The few identifiable nodes include the open space outside the town hall, the university and the shopping centre.
Edges are another of Lynch’s elements that were not clearly visible within the city, apart from the obvious physical edges between the urban landscape, the river and the ocean. On a smaller scale, edges could include the limits of road surfaces, or the border between the street and a built structure. However, the various building typologies within San Pedro de Macoris and their grouping in various portions of the city provide a number of perceived edges within the urban fabric. An example of this is the perceived border that exists between the medium to low density, planned residential areas and the high density, organic residential areas. These perceived borders create a divide within the city and the community and due to the implication that the organic areas are populated by a demographic dominated by low incomes, these spaces may be avoided and marginalised by more established members of the community.
These perceived edges allow San Pedro de Macoris can be divided up into various districts, based on the building typology and the general nature of the built forms within certain areas. As indicated in the morphological and functional analysis diagrams, there are a number of areas within the city that are dominated by a certain building type. These areas include industrial zones, residential zones that vary in density and commercial based areas.
This images displays four of Lynch’s elements in a key space within the city. The main landmark of the city, the Catedral San Pedro Apostol is highlighted in red, while the open square space in front of it which forms a node is shown in green. Edges between the road surface and pedestrian paths are highlighted in blue, as are various planted spaces which form physical edges within the space. The road and pedestrian paths though the area are shown in yellow.
This image demonstrates the relationship between a landmark and a major node within the city and how they relate and are connected to one another. The open square space allows people to gather before or after a church service and simply invites pedestrians to linger in the area at any given time. The location of the node can also be contributed to the fact that the cathedral is a major attraction and people are inclined to visit the surrounding area and occupy in the space.
This image is less complex and simply indicates the various paths and edges within a typical street in San Pedro de Macoris. Paths are highlighted in yellow, while edges both physical and perceived are illustrated in blue. The image highlights two paths through the space, the road on the right and the pedestrian sidewalk in the centre. These spaces are divided by a perceived edge which is marked by the line of trees along the side of the road. The other edge within the image is the physical boundary between the sidewalk and the buildings.