BUILDING SERIES

Boundary
Between Upper Street and Liverpool Road : What separates public from private 
- Click on the dots above to explore the area -
A community cannot be without its residents. To provide safety and security for the residents, separating public functions from private residences becomes a design exercise in community building. But what defines such boundary? We attempt to find out how a community can impose spatial barriers between its public and private spaces through exploring the transition between Angel’s urban streets and its residential blocks.
 
 
 

Angel Islington, London, U.K.

The number of pedestrians and the amount of urban activities are often good indicators of a space’s publicness as areas containing mostly residential functions provide less motivation for the people to linger on. Physical boundaries such as walls and fences also create an off-limit mentality to the passersby. With a combination of minimizing public functions and creating passage obstructions, spatial boundaries between the public and private domain can therefore be defined.
 
 
We start off at Angel Plaza (now renamed to N1 Centre). With several giant grocery chain stores, eateries and pubs surrounding the busy pedestrian-only plaza, this area is constantly packed with people during its operation hours. Leaving the commercial area, the scenery along Liverpool Road quickly transitioned into residential blocks. Pedestrians start to disperse. The street gets quiet. We walk pass the back façade of Georgian-styled Business Design Centre (previously known as Royal Agricultural Hall for its cattle market) and arrived at Old Royal Free Place. 
 
 
Unlike the obvious off-bound vibe sent by Business Design Centre's secured closed doors, Old Royal Free Place’s permeable brick fence and opened gates displays a much friendlier message. Nonetheless, the presence of the street-facing fence sends out a seclusive message to the passersby, protecting the privacy and enhancing security for the estate residents. The estate’s quietness is maintained by its imposed boundaries, which its connection between Liverpool Road and Upper Street is only shared by the community locals. Passing through the estate, our journey ends on the luminous Upper Street where people frequently gather. Energetic and lively, the atmosphere suggests we have transitioned back into the public domain.
 
 
The number of pedestrians and the amount of urban activities are often good indicators of a space’s publicness as areas containing mostly residential functions provide less motivation for the people to linger on. Physical boundaries such as walls and fences also create an off-limit mentality to the passersby. With a combination of minimizing public functions and creating passage obstructions, spatial boundaries between the public and private domain can therefore be defined.
 
 
As seen from the journey photos, the number of pedestrians and the amount of urban activities are often good indicators of a space’s publicness.
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