eco-city design

walkable centres

shared space or separation


efficient buildings

public transport

why the trolleybus

road layout

car-lite districts



sustainable farming


quality of life


Shared Space Or Separation

There is growing realisation that our streets have become far too dominated by the car.

When seeking to reclaim streets for people, there are two options available: shared space and separation.

Shared Space

With shared space, also known as the woonerf and home zone, there is no distinction between the path and the road cars and people share the same space.

Home zone in Vauban, Freiburg

Cars are required to drive more slowly, and no longer have priority.


The separation approach seeks to keep pedestrians and cars as far apart as possible.

Radburn, New Jersey, was the first community designed around separation.  Here there are two separate networks houses front onto the main pedestrian paths, with the secondary road network hidden behind the backs of houses.

Segregated pedestrian and road networks

A Question Of Density

The advantages of separating pedestrians from cars are many - once you get rid of the cars from a street, you also get rid of the air pollution, noise and danger they bring.

These advantages become even greater as densities increase.  Every extra car driving on a shared space street impacts on that street, whereas the pedestrian streets of the Radburn model are unaffected by traffic levels.

However, there is a proviso.  Separation only works where there is sufficient foot traffic.  Otherwise, pedestrians can feel vulnerable without the extra eyes of drivers.

I cant understand why people are frightened of new ideas.  Im frightened of the old ones.

 - John Cage

Thus where densities are low, and the car is the primary mode of travel, shared space is the better option.

But at higher densities, where walking and cycling are the main modes of travel, separation becomes the preferred choice.