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Remember when the Congress had a theme but you could never really remember what it was? As part of our effort to rethink the way we present the Congress, in Charlotte we are introducing the annual Congress Focus - a big idea that influence all the content at the Congress. Each focus will tie to language from the Charter and intersect with issues that are being addressed by our Local Host region or city.
The focus of CNU 31 is Corridors.
- The corridor is at once the connector and the separator of neighborhoods and districts. Corridors include natural and man-made elements, ranging from wildlife trails to rail lines. The corridor is not the haphazardly residual space that remains outside subdivisions and shopping centers in suburbia. Rather, it is an urban element characterized by its visible continuity. It is defined by its adjacent districts and neighborhoods and provides entry to them.
- The corridor is a significant element of the New Urbanism because of its inherently civic nature. In the age of the metropolis, with villages, towns, neighborhoods and districts aggregated in unprecedented quantity, the most universally used public spaces are the corridors that serve connection and mobility. Of the three elements - the neighborhood, the district and the corridor - the latter, in its optimum form, is the most difficult to implement because it requires regional coordination.
Unfortunately, corridors generally fall short of the potential outlined above by CNU founder Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk and her husband Andrés Duany. When corridors prioritize the movement of cars as quickly as possible, they fail to provide safe or comfortable pathways for pedestrians or bikes - making them incredibly dangerous while also having a significantly negative impact on health and local economic activity. They are ugly, scary, and ubiquitous.
In Charlotte, the city is investing $38.5 million to bring the idea of "connector" back to corridors through their Corridors of Opportunity program, using the design of the corridors to directly address housing equity, economic development, safety, mobility, access to nature, and promoting local identity.
What does the Charter say?
The CNU 31 Focus draws directly from these two Charter principles.
- 11. Neighborhoods should be compact, pedestrian friendly, and mixed-use. Districts generally emphasize a special single use, and should follow the principles of neighborhood design when possible. Corridors are regional connectors of neighborhoods and districts; they range from boulevards and rail lines to rivers and parkways.
- 14. Transit corridors, when properly planned and coordinated, can help organize metropolitan structure and revitalize urban centers. In contrast, highway corridors should not displace investment from existing centers.
How will this play out at CNU 31?
We want the majority of the content at CNU 31 to tie in some way to the Corridor. However, not all Corridor content is transportation-related:
- The idea of public space zippering communities together
- How design elements can separate rather than connect
- What impact can we have on local wealth generation and community access
- Design and neighborhood identity
- Housing types and creative solutions for housing shortages
- Continuity and regional connection