A design firm in Florida thinks that Madison's Union Corners is the perfect place to demonstrate "woonerf," a Dutch term for shared-streets where pedestrians and bicyclists have priority over cars.
The concept -- by Greg Witherspoon and Urban Planning Studio of Canin Associates, an Orlando firm -- won a design competition for the vacant Union Corners, which was held as part of the Congress for New Urbanism conference at the beginning of this month.
For inspiration, Canin looked to Europe, including Madison's German sister-city, Freiburg. The "Woonerf" development (PDF) includes utilizes narrow streets, mixed use properties and three- or four-storied buildings that allow "for a variety of intimate civic spaces."
In Woonerf "neither cars nor people are prevented from using the same facility at the same time, but the physical design of the streets necessitates slower speeds for cars and increases safety, comfort and walkability for all modes."
Two designs tied for second place: "Demeter Square" (PDF) by James Han, a University of Maryland student and "Redefining the Core" (PDF) by Sheila Hakimpour of Urban Diversity Design and Garlen Capita, Ayako Okutani both of Wallace Roberts & Todd.
"Demeter Square" envisions Union Corners as "one of many stops along a proposed agricultural tram way" connecting farmlands of Wisconsin to the city's neighborhoods. This design includes a public market house, mixed used commercial and residential space and encourages cycling and walking.
"Redefining the Core" uses a 2-acre park to serve as the neighborhood's town square, "providing opportunities for performances, gatherings, farmers' markets and other community sustaining functions." From the park "a network of pedestrian and bike paths link residents to public transit, shared open spaces, community facilities and to the regional trail system."