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November 20, 2020

A Car-Free Life: Times Square Reimagined by 3deluxe

German design firm 3deluxe have set themselves a lofty goal: reimagining New York’s iconic Times Square as a thoroughfare that prioritises pedestrians and sustainability.

Addressing the shifting needs and priorities of the modern city, German design firm 3deluxe have set themselves a lofty goal: reimagining New York’s iconic Times Square as a thoroughfare that prioritises pedestrians and sustainable transport over cars and other automotive vehicles. Their rendered images of this possibility are a case study in how we can remake cities in ways that encourage sustainable practices while also bringing people and culture to the forefront.

It’s now well recognised that the use of private cars is on a relative decline, especially in major cities. Whether avoiding traffic congestion or conscious of their carbon footprint, many people are opting for alternative ways of getting around, a transition which 3deluxe believes can be encouraged by completely redistributing road space. Using Times Square as an example, they’ve demonstrated how the invasive and restrictive grid of roads could be transformed into more organic, fluid pathways that welcome sustainable transportation options. These dynamic thoroughfares interweave different forms of ‘soft mobility’ – that is, pedestrians, bikes, scooters, and various types of e-transportation such as shuttles – with different zones to separate those who want to keep up with the bustle of New York City from those who wish to stop and take in the view. Cars are relegated to the exterior of the square, encouraging people to choose more environmentally friendly ways to get across the city.

Since it has become obvious that motor vehicles are set to gradually disappear from the cityscape, it is now time to give some thought to how road spaces might be redesigned in the future.
– DIETER BRELL, CREATIVE DIRECTOR AT 3DELUXE

Not only does the reduction of traffic help the environment, but by eliminating New York’s infamous gridlock, the design leaves more room for cultural and social activities to take place in the heart of the city. The new footpaths weave around individual islands that can be used for a variety of purposes, from relaxation to retail. Zones that are open or provide simple seating allow passers-by to pause for a break or a chat, while others are filled with greenery and water features to bring natural beauty back into the cityscape. These islands can also be put to more practical use, filled with e-mobility charging points with solar panelling, or pop-up shops and food stalls ready to serve the increased number of people passing by on foot. From huge cultural festivals to the lone wanderer admiring the iconic New York landmark, this redesign caters specifically to people, not machines.

Although there are some questions about whether such an innovation could come to fruition, 3deluxe have already realised their vision on a smaller scale. In June 2020, they unveiled a renovation of V-Plaza in Kaunas, the second-largest city in Lithuania, where they implemented similar techniques to those imagined for New York. The new design pays tribute to the plaza’s traditional Bauhaus and Art Deco architecture in the buildings on the upper section, but as the paths descend they become fluid, wrapping around the recreational islands and a beautiful interactive water fountain. Despite opening during the COVID pandemic, the new plaza has been well-received by locals, whose regular visits are proving how redesigning roads for people is successfully transforming them into vibrant public spaces.

Embedding these fundamental changes to our way of living into the landscape represents an important commitment to the environment and culture, two facets of modern life that require considerable attention. Actually implementing these shifts in New York would take these restructures to a whole new level, but whether or not it would work as imagined, we at Casper Magazine admire 3deluxe’s ambitious and commendable vision of a brighter, cleaner future.

To read more about integrating sustainability into every-day living, see our feature on the Green City Hotel Vauban.

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