View Corridors

Daniel Appell:  Nov. 2, 2010

I recently had a very interesting and pleasant conversation with one of the people who owns a business along Stewart Ave. He is a supporter of the so called “neighbourhood plan” for Newcastle+Brechin Hill. Part of his argument rests on a misunderstanding of what a “view corridor” is. I had a similar discussion with an architect that I work with, several months ago. There seems to be a common misconception, that needs to be addressed.

Perhaps, the most famous examples of ‘view corridors’ are in Paris. In Paris, if you look down any major boulevard, or avenue or rue, you will see something of interest. In my case, it was almost always Sacre-coeur. To give you an idea of how completely disoriented I was in Paris. I would be walking down some rue and I would come to an intersection. Looking down the intersecting avenue in one direction, and I would see Sacre-coeur. As I came to another intersection, I would look down the avenue in what I thought was an entirely different direction, and I would see Sacre-coeur. Then I would carry on, until I walked over a small crest that had, up to then, blocked my view, and there in front of me, at the end of the rue would be Sacre-coeur. I still have no way to explain that, except that Paris is amazing.

This is one building that seems to move around a lot.


The point is, that a view corridor has a view down the road. This means that while you are driving down the road, with your eyes on the road you are presented with a view worth looking at.

If you have a view worth looking at that requires you to take your eyes off the road, then that can be properly described as a distraction and a traffic hazard. This is the type of ‘view corridor’ my friend was talking about. Of course, he wasn’t so much interested in the view, as he was in justifying the construction of towers along Stewart Ave. Presumably, towers would allow spaces along the road to give drivers a view of Newcastle Channel and the island.

Without fully understanding the nature of ‘view corridors’ as an urban form, or understanding their consequences within the context of Stewart Ave. the concept is being twisted so suit the inappropriate ambitions of a few developers. And city planners are supporting this; even though they should know better.