Switzerland, Lausanne, city market
Daily morning market in public square near the university in Lausanne. This is located just below the old city and the cathedral's terrace, where T.S. Eliot wrote part of his manuscript in 1921 for his seminal work of poetry, The Waste Land. This photo was taken in early March 2003.
The daily public market located in the center of old Lausanne is a great place to purchase fresh local cheese.
A modern parking garage and market storage is hidden beneath the adjacent streets at the edge of the square. This is an example of why Europeans find it odd that Americans would use a valuable public space like this to build a multi-story parking garage above ground. Despite Europe's success at hiding them and our tendancy to glorify them, American cities repeatedly discover that poorly designed and placed parking garages, also described as car mauseleums, quickly become an architectural eyesore and an economic dead zone for the neighborhoods which they dominate.
European cities will typically bury their parking facilities under public streets and squares or behind rows of buildings. These mixed use structures are designed for residential, commercial and institutional occupants like this setting near the university in Switzerland's largest French speaking city.
They appear to have learned from past mistakes made too often in many western European cities in the 1960's and 1970's involving surrendering to the private automobile. Rarely now will forward thinking urban planners and developers use scarce and valuable commercial land in city centers to store automobiles. Even then it is only if these are hidden and, where possible, linked to other forms of public transportation. Marginal land or otherwise undevelopable spaces are being used where possible.
How to determine Highest and Best Use without selling everything? Public parks, squares and open spaces, like this one shown in Lausanne, are no longer seen as potential garage sites. Because of the trade, commerce and physical interaction with the surrounding businesses and apartment buildings, this public square is considered no less essential to the fabric and function of this neighborhood than would be the presence of good public schools, efficient transportation systems and reliable water lines. If any one of these were to be sold off, the value of the remainder would be lessened disproportionately and in an accelerating manner.
In otherwords, parks and open spaces can be measured as part of a city's infrastructure. In turn, the presence and adequacy of this infrastructure adds value to all other properties in the immediate neighborhood. In situations like this, to develop the open space so that it is no longer open to the public would decrease the value of the surrounding properties by more than whatever value might be realized by the sale of the land causing it to cease to be occupied by a much used public market, among other public uses.
As undeveloped as this space might appear to some, it still functions in the role of a vibrant organ critical to sustaining this part of Lausanne, Switzerland. Photo taken March 2003.
Photo and text posted: 5 February 2008
Revised: 30 September 2010
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