The urbanism blogosphere has been buzzing in anticipation of the release of SimCity 5. So we thought it would be a good opportunity to share with you another application that does a fun job of simulating urban design.
StreetMix.net is a digital mixing board for the urban environment. It invites its users to create, mix and mash a streetscape with a wide array of typical road elements, such as bike and vehicle lanes, medians, boulevards, sidewalks and trees.
Do you live along a busy four lane thoroughfare, and want to see what it would be like if you chopped off two lanes of traffic to add bike lanes? Give it a shot! StreetMix lets you experiment and envision possible configurations that would improve the liveability your city’s streets. You can also be a silly with it, and create streetscapes that may never see the light of day – like a five lane, unidirectional bike highway, surrounded by trees! (Okay, maybe this exists somewhere in the Netherlands…).
The application contributes to the conversation community designers are having about ‘rightsizing’ streets: re-purposing a street to fit the needs of its users best. The intuitive interface promotes a change in thinking about our streets from something that is permanent, to something that can be flexible and adaptable. Since we can easily change the configuration of a road on StreetMix, we can in turn, start to think of our real streets as similarly able to quickly adapt to meet the changing needs of its users.
Since StreetMix limits the amount of elements you can put on your street it is a realistic simulation: streets can’t accommodate the needs of every type of user, and some sacrifices need to be made in their design. Easy access to cross-section diagrams previously limited to professionals also means that citizens are empowered to become the civil engineers and architects of the city.
As StreetMix was developed in five hours at a Code for America hackathon, it is still a work in progress, but it already demonstrates its potential impact on community planning and design. In the spirit of open-sourcing, StreetMix invites people to comment on the application, and suggest elements that should be included in its next version — edible boulevards, anyone?