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Gävert, Anna-Karin, 2012. Counteracting effects of sprawl : how to reclaim city life in Lafayette. Second cycle, A2E. Uppsala: SLU, Dept. of Urban and Rural Development



Pedestrian life in a city that has been planned for the car for over fifty years is not easy. This is a matter I discovered during the academic year of 2010/2011 as an exchange student at Purdue University in Indiana. During my year abroad I was struck by how a city, so similar to my hometown of Uppsala, was yet so different. This master thesis is a case study on the city of Lafayette where I studied what effects urban sprawl has had on city life.

Sprawl is often characterized by a separation of functions and mono cultural residential, industrial and office areas tied together with a structure of roads. In order to assess the impact of urban sprawl in Lafayette I chose to focus on three different aspects related to sprawl and the contemporary image of the city: urban development, infrastructure and the functions of Main Street.

The thesis aims to describe how urban sprawl has affected Lafayette and to suggest actions to counteract the effects of urban sprawl, with support from the Uppsala example and literature within the subject of city life with focus on the books of Jan Gehl.

The strongest impact of urban sprawl in Lafayette is the tendency of single minded transportation planning. As a pedestrian it is hard to move around in the car focused road structure with poorly maintained sidewalks and unsafe pedestrian crossings. There is a lack of comprehensive planning and green structure, one of many reasons for the lack of life between the buildings. The inventory and analysis of Lafayette show how the Main street and downtown area still is adapted to the car and its need rather than to pedestrians and bicyclists. The analysis, inspired from the methods of Kevin Lynch identified landmarks, nodes, paths and districts in the area along with the presence of green- open- and hardscape areas. This resulted in illustrations visualizing these relationships.

Life in the city is not only afflicted by the size of it but its functions. Gehl implies that in order to create a successful city the planning must originate from human dimensions. I developed six (6) actions in order to reclaim city life and reduce the effects of urban sprawl in Lafayette: (1) Comprehensive planning with long term visions in order to delimit city growth. (2) Densification of the downtown area in order to (3) define the streetscape. (4) Develop social generators such as public and green spaces in order to create meeting places and a plan in order to (5) complete the streets and (6) deal with traffic. This allocation of space would secure a long term sustainable society through a focus of pedestrians and bicyclists.

It is visible that previous planning causing urban sprawl has had a negative impact on the city life. It is time to start changing the idea of the American dream, with isolated single family homes, and start revitalize cities and build sustainable communities - remaining and reclaiming city life.

Main title:Counteracting effects of sprawl
Subtitle:how to reclaim city life in Lafayette
Authors:Gävert, Anna-Karin
Supervisor:Myhr, Ulla
Examiner:Ignatieva, Maria
Volume/Sequential designation:UNSPECIFIED
Year of Publication:2012
Level and depth descriptor:Second cycle, A2E
Student's programme affiliation:YLARK Landscape Architecture Programme (admitted before July 1, 2007) 300 HEC
Supervising department:(NL, NJ) > Dept. of Urban and Rural Development
(LTJ, LTV) > Dept. of Urban and Rural Development
Keywords:Indiana, Lafayette, city life, urban sprawl, West Lafayette, stadsliv, stadsutglesning
Permanent URL:
Subject. Use of subject categories until 2023-04-30.:Landscape architecture
Deposited On:26 Jun 2012 12:49
Metadata Last Modified:26 Jun 2012 12:49

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