Separation Anxiety: High Walks and Modern Publics
What does it mean to walk when walking is removed from the street? To think this through, I look to a time in post-war London when the separation of pedestrians and road traffic was held as a design imperative. In particular, I look to designs where elevated walkways were part of the ‘public spaces’ of new buildings in the city. In October of 1959 the City of London considered a report titled ‘The Provision of High Level Footways in the Barbican Area’. That same year, initial designs for an expanded South Bank Arts Centre included vast systems of elevated walkways and footbridges connecting it to Waterloo station. The idea at the time was that these momentary strange insertions into the city would someday become a network of walkways covering all of London. Rather than suggest, as some have, that this segregation cast walking as ever only an exercise in mobility, I cast it as a design argument about the publicness of walking itself.