• The modern avenue: Avenue des Champs-Elysees, Regent Street and Avenida da Liberdade

Roseta Vaz Monteiro, Filipa, 2009, Thesis, The modern avenue: Avenue des Champs-Elysees, Regent Street and Avenida da Liberdade PhD thesis, Royal College of Art.

Abstract or Description:

What is an avenue? When and why did avenues emerge in the landscape? When and how did avenues become urban routes? Which physical features relate early seventeenth century avenues to their nineteenth century descendants? The present research set out to answer these questions.

Published literature regarding the urban type avenue was either too general, neglecting thorough examination of case studies, or too particular, focusing solely on idiosyncratic traits. The methodology chosen to pursue this research was to change focus from individual cases to urban type; nevertheless, conclusions were founded on the comparative analysis of three case-studies in order to avoid generalist preconceptions. The three case-studies were chosen because of their iconic stature: Avenue des Champs-Elysees (Paris), Regent Street (London), and Avenida da Liberdade (Lisbon). The detailed account of why and how the three chosen case-studies were commissioned, conceived and built provides an illustrated sequence of how the avenue, as an urban type, was used in the seventeenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The comparative methodology introduced by this thesis can be applied to future research focusing on avenues or on any other urban type.

Through the use of original comparative methodology, this research has led to two fundamental theses which differ from established understanding.

First, as may have been guessed by those who have walked through Regent Street, this thesis challenges the generalist understanding of an avenue as a tree-lined pathway of arrival. This definition will be replaced by a broader understanding of the avenue as a public space celebrating arrival within a transport network, but conceived to physically merge landscape and cityscape in the same geometric composition, as is presented in this thesis with Avenue des Champs-Elysees. This first thesis opens up the possibility to examine avenues according to principles emerging in landscape architecture, without reducing the definition of the avenue to a physical trait.
Second, this research does not endorse the understanding of the Nineteenth century urban percee (or avenue piercing through built core requiring for that purpose an exhaustive programme of expropriations and compensations) as a type created by enlightened absolute power, as is often suggested by reviewed literature. This thesis presents the nineteenth-century avenue as a type emerging with (and because of) a society founded on economical and political liberalism.

The final chapter explores the avenue’s design potential: the avenue has both an all- inclusive, multifunctional, nature and the ability to become a meaningful public space, symbolizing the nation.

Any study related to the urban realm embraces many disciplines; nevertheless, this research has chosen as primary field of research the physical development of urban space and has been framed within Urban Critical and Historical Studies.

Qualification Name: PhD
Subjects: Creative Arts and Design > W900 Others in Creative Arts and Design
School or Centre: School of Architecture
Additional Information:

This thesis has been digitised as part of a project to preserve and share the RCA Library's historic thesis collection. If you own copyright to any material in this work and would like it to be removed from the repository then please contact repository@rca.ac.uk.

Date Deposited: 28 Feb 2024 15:44
Last Modified: 28 Feb 2024 15:44
URI: https://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/5745
Edit Item (login required) Edit Item (login required)