Kimberton Village Green

presented by Helena van Vliet - Architect - AIA

Design  Goals:

Integrationto dissolve the current linear-ness of Kimberton Road into a village”square” setting, which begins to pull together the North and South sides of the road into one coherent place.

Local Stores and Civic Spaces to refine a setting, which can sustain a few local stores and restaurants, and which encourages community “living rooms”, indoors and outdoors, thereby  enriching the quality of life for Kimberton residents on a day to day basis.  

Pedestrian Safety and comfort to create a design, which slows current traffic speeds to match pedestrian speed in a self-enforcing way (by way of the design itself) to @ 20mph, such that pedestrian life can occur right next to the cartway without danger or even just perceived danger to  pedestrians, especially children and seniors.


Design Thoughts:   

  • I show several layers of actual and perceived protection from areas of moving traffic, such as bollards, planting areas and pavement changes……a circular walkway on the periphery of the central circle (which might have a slightly different pavement color than the circle’s interior) offers pedestrian “safety islands”, which are created by strategic placement of said bollards and planting islands. 
  • Trees, planting beds and indeed the proposed KWF Café itself are deliberately placed to achieve (without ever changing the actual width of the road) a narrowing of the vision corridor as viewed from a distance by approaching motorists. Akin to a door leading into a living room, drivers will automatically approach this perceived “bottleneck” cautiously, resulting in a self-enforcing reduction in traffic speeds (as has been well documented in many other villages, where this was done).
    ( Just for reference:  in Europe upon entry into many villages, on- street parking on at least one side is encouraged on a road of the same width as ours here (@20’), which means that two-way traffic has to alternate letting each other pass….which obviously is a most effective “traffic calming” measure….and greatly discourages rush hour through- traffic! )
  • Distance of the proposed KWF Café gable wall to edge of cartway is 15’, which matches exactly the distance from my house to the edge of Kimberton Road…..the porch of the duplex across the street is actually less than 15’ from cartway, as are several other buildings now existing in Kimberton Village. Building proximity to road helps to maintain a more historically appropriate scale for the Village.
  • The introduction of the circle itself will serve well to pull the two sides of the road together, in fact dissolving the road entirely in that area, such that motorists will be immediately and from a distance aware that they are crossing a pedestrian area rather than the other way around.
  • Exact placement of buildings, planting islands and trees as shown are crucial to achieving the above mentioned goals.
  • The outdoor section of the KWF Café is the largest of several pedestrian  sitting “ Pods”. The others are placed in such a way, that they create visual connections to each other, thereby enticing pedestrians to venture forth and discover other “layers” or courtyards a little further away from the road. 
  • I feel it is important, that the small specialty stores (new and existing) are quite transparent, meaning that one can walk in, through and out the other side towards further stores in the Courtyard. This avoids any “dead-end” feeling, creates a walking loop-trail right through the stores and thereby fosters the enjoyment of shoppers resulting in increased sales.   Each store then has several store fronts: “Earthspeak” for instance will have one store front facing Kimberton Road and another facing the Village Courtyard to the North.
  • On axis with KWF to the North, the proposed “Kimberton Marsh or Loop Trail” will come into the village. I am suggesting, that it could come right in and through the Northern small new building, such that the building itself creates a welcoming archway to receive the trail and deliver its users directly into the center of Kimberton Village Green.
  • Several water features or flow forms are strategically located near Sitting Pods to draw people in and near, cool the air in the summer and mask road noise very effectively.
  • Bike racks are provided in four central areas.
  • In addition to the existing large parking lots near the Inn, several small parking areas are tucked in here and there to allow direct and easy access to “quick in and out” shoppers, accommodate product pick-up etc. Traffic in that area is one way only and will, due to the configuration of design elements, only be able to move at pedestrian speed.
  • The central circle itself will be ideal for passenger pick-up and drop-of….perhaps to then park the car more remotely if close parking is full.
  • The Courtyard (behind EarthSpeak) is already almost perfect. It only needs
     1.) a “closure element” to prevent it from “running away” on the West side (I therefore placed a small retail building to the West, which has the added advantage of breaking up the existing large parking lot into two smaller portions, which can more easily be integrated into the village atmosphere) and
    2.)a central feature, here provided in the form of an umbrella canopy tree with water feature below. The existing barn building should be added onto as shown, such that its new form creates a somewhat embracing, enclosing gesture to the West.
    (Just for reference: the reason many European villages are so beautiful is that building locations and shapes were quite deliberately placed to create civic “outdoor rooms”. Same as indoor rooms, they depend on a carefully crafted balance between a sense of enclosure (representing safety and belonging) and interesting vistas out and beyond (representing connection and possibility).
  • Outdoor concerts or lectures could occasionally be held in the Courtyard, as they used to be popular in the Red Raven Coffeehouse (my house now) before its closure in 1994. Presenters or performers could “set up” behind EarthSpeak, while the audience sits comfortably facing into the village, their backs sheltered by the tall barn building on the North side of the Courtyard and protected from the sometimes uncomfortably low rays of the setting sun by the tall trees in back of the Wellness Center….(see notes on “safety” and “possibility” above). I can also envision Shuffelboard, Bocce or Horseshoes being played out there  …and how about an outdoor chess table ?
  • Central fire: for community events it might be wonderful to have a fire pit in the Courtyard . It would, of course, be designed for safety and could be covered and locked when not in use. User permits for private functions could be obtained for a (perhaps reimbursable) fee at the township building.
  • Materials/Colors: All sidewalks and Pods should match the pavers used in the central circle area; I suggest to mix two or three different paver colors of the UNILOCK Brussels Block Tumbled Pavers Series , arriving at a color palette, which harmonizes with the stone colors of the EarthSpeak building wall.  The central Courtyard could have river gravel or crushed stone flooring, again to harmonize with existing stone walls. Sun umbrellas might “pick up” the brick color of the KWF gable wall, which would better integrate the brick into the area without actually repeating it anywhere.
  • For fire department purposes and store deliveries, access into the Courtyard could be achieved by introducing collapsible bollards on either end.
  • Proposed planting areas near new and existing buildings can be thought of as “Rain Gardens” for purpose of stormwater management.
  • Additional area drains are shown on the more detailed plan in between the central circle bollards.

And….additional thoughts and suggestions are always welcome. Please feel free to contact me at