Length: 1100 ft (335 m)
Width: Varies from 83 ft (25m) on south end to 115 ft. (35m)
Height: 2 to 4 stories
The High Street in Marlborough, Wiltshire was the pick of New Urbanist, John Massengale. Though clearly not a residential square, Marlborough none the less represents another way of breathing air, light and vitality into the core of an urban village, and rounds out the broad range of New Urbanist picks. Not as long as either Eaton Square or Cadogan, it illustrates how both narrowing the width and curving the alignment can improve the spatial quality.
Ben Bolgar, Director of Design for the Prince’s Foundation, explained some of the reasons they picked Marlborough High Street as a design pattern for the new town of Sherford:
“The reason we like it is it acts as a linear square about 300 to 400 meters long and 50 meters wide with parallel short term parking near shops, medium term parking in centre and longer term parking within blocks behind the super market on the south side. It also has two lanes going each way and self regulates speed given the cars piling in and out looking for parking spaces. If you can’t find a space, you keep going round and round the linear square.”
Obviously, this is not a residential square, but it illustrates the rich manner configured space can bring a city to life if carefully planned. The composition is highly mixed in uses – both commercial, residential, office, religious and civic.
The fine building at the terminus of the street in Marlborough anchors and embellishes the extremely long line of shops and is visible for over 1000 feet from the southern end where the slight bend in the street precludes vision. The Prince’s Foundation new town proposal for Sherford has a similar layout for its High Street, and the Sherford rendering shows the obvious similarities.
Paul Murrain was also key to the Sherford effort and added the following:
”Marlborough is, of course, a High Street. It is most definitely NOT a square…. It is extremely popular both locally and nationally. It is extremely adaptable and is programmed to be many things over a week. It is a local space on a global network and manages to maintain that balance without the need for a by pass to take traffic away. It demonstrates that the continuity of built form is as significant as ‘enclosure ‘ in terms of height/width ratio. It would be better if the buildings had a more consistent 3/4 storeys I think but it is still a wonderfully defined typical High Street. The curve helps that by closing down vistas sequentially. Traffic speeds are controlled by it breaking every ‘safety’ rule in the book. It has an immense amount of teaser parking because of its width.
“We used it [Marlborough as a pattern] at Sherford because it best suits the typologies that allow considerable movements of traffic through a street where pedestrians still have to hold their own. Sherford will take some 15,000 vehicles a day. But it is not good enough for public transport so we need the width to take a dedicated bus route down the middle of the street.
Marlborough High street does not have the ideal number of streets entering it a long its length that in turn go deeper into the spatial system. Sherford does.”