robertogreco + urbanplanning   162

What the Nordic nations can teach us about liveable cities - BBC Worklife
“Inclusivity issue?

But others working in the field are more sceptical about the idea of singling out Nordic methods as a global ideal worthy of their own postgraduate programme.

“There is a great paradox between how Sweden, Norway and Denmark sell themselves and what is actually the case,” argues James Taylor Foster, a British curator at ArkDes, the Swedish Centre for Architecture and Design in Stockholm. He says that the Nordic concept of Jantelagen, which discourages standing out from the crowd, can hinder frank conversations about challenges and the need to adapt for the future. “Urban planning should be about inclusivity and I am not sure how inclusive the region is in reality, in relation to how it can often describe itself,” says Taylor Foster, who is trained in architecture.

There is a great paradox between how Sweden, Norway and Denmark sell themselves and what is actually the case – James Taylor Foster
One issue he believes deserves particular attention is the region’s dwindling stock of affordable housing. Many major urban hubs including Copenhagen, Stockholm and even Tromsø are experiencing a squeeze amid rapid population growth, gentrification and increased tourism. This has led to increased segregation as lower earners are forced further out of city centres and exacerbated integration challenges following record immigration, especially in Sweden.

In Stockholm, for example, outer suburbs such as Tensta and Rinkeby are largely populated by low-income immigrant families. While these areas comprise well-maintained apartment blocks, parks, pedestrianised shopping areas and subway stops connecting them to the city centre, Taylor Foster argues that residents can still feel isolated and may find their interaction with city services limited.

“If you need to go to a specialist hospital, they are largely in the centre of the city. Tax offices, museums… they are largely in the centre,” says Taylor Foster. “But some low-income families simply can’t afford a monthly SL [Stockholm public transport] pass, which is set to get even more expensive in the new year.” He argues that mobility – physical, cultural and social – needs to be prioritised in future. “We need to be able to think in a holistic way that allows engagement and experimentation. Practically speaking, public transport within a city could be completely free of charge,” he says.

We could learn a lot from other places that experiment and test ideas quickly – Jordan Valentin Lane
Jordan Valentin Lane, an Australian-born sustainability strategist and architect who works in Södertälje, a municipality south of the Swedish capital, describes urban planning practice as “quite homogenous”, with middle-class locals tending to dominate the field. This, he argues, can promote a limited perspective, while the region’s penchant for strict rules and consensus-based decisions can sometimes limit innovation. “Cities are works in progress, but sometimes things take too long, we could learn a lot from other places that experiment and test ideas quickly.”

However, Valentin Lane argues that courses like the Nordic urban planning master’s programme can play a positive role in promoting diversity in the field. “We can learn in the Nordics from hiring people with international backgrounds,” he says. “They have different ways of knowing the world and what’s possible. They take with them a whole history of place-making and city-making that may not have even been considered in the Nordics”.

He cites the example of outdoor pavement seating areas at city centre restaurants and cafes, a concept popular in other European cities which experienced “a real push-back” from city officials when planners suggested introducing it to Stockholm the 1970s. This kind of al fresco experience proved highly popular, despite Sweden’s cooler climate, with bars and restaurants now allowed to open their outdoor areas from April until October.

Valentin Lane also believes international students have much to gain from working in the region. “There is a good level of English, generous parental leave which you don’t get in other countries, and a lot more discussion and research being done from critical perspectives.”

Adapting the Nordic way

Back at Roskilde University, David Pinder says he is aware of the danger of “presenting a too celebratory perspective on Nordic urban planning”. He says the course also raises “critical questions” about past and present regional projects and hopes that it will help play a role in solving future issues.

“As cities grow and become prosperous, we really need to look at the downsides of that development, especially questions about affordability and growing inequality,” he argues. “What is meant by liveability, is this potentially an exclusive agenda and how can it address these problems of inequality and social justice? [This] will be a key area of debate in the coming years.”

Students take part in regular discussions with practitioners who are already starting to deal with these challenges, including local municipalities, urban consulting firms and non-profit organisations. Pinder hopes some of these practitioners will hire students after they graduate or inspire them to embark on their own planning projects. Meanwhile there are signs that the international students are already bringing a critical perspective to the table.

Leo Couturier Lopez argues that while he appreciates living near parks, having wide streets and the trend for low-rise buildings in Denmark, he believes that Copenhagen could become more attractive by densifying, rather than focusing on creating new areas such Lynetteholmen, a new island which is set to provide 35,000 new homes east of the city centre.

He also misses Paris’ buzzing late-night restaurant and cafe culture; in Copenhagen he is “sometimes a bit disappointed” with the social life in some residential neighbourhoods. “Copenhagen could develop and revitalise its existing centralities with small restaurants, small shops and little cafes and affordable houses, rather than the risk of creating lifeless new neighbourhoods.”

The region is perhaps best used as a source of inspiration for other cities, rather than as a direct guide to ‘copy and paste’
It’s an observation that has recently started to enter mainstream social and political debate, following studies suggesting that Nordics countries are some of the most challenging for expats and immigrants to make friends in, while concerns about social isolation and loneliness among the local population have also come to the fore.

Student Camilla Boye Mikkelsen says she will likely remain biased towards Nordic planning methods in future, having grown up in Copenhagen. But for her, a key takeaway from the course so far is that the region is perhaps best used as a source of inspiration for other cities, rather than as a direct guide to “copy and paste”.

“Saying ’now we are going to make London into a bike-friendly city like Copenhagen’ might not be the right thing to do,” she argues. “London is way busier and a stressful city where there are always people around.”

“If you were to be inspired by the Nordic perspective on planning, the most important thing would not be to directly copy and put it on your city, but instead think: how can I adapt the Nordic model to our city and how our city works and our city’s unique rhythms?””
cities  society  nordiccountries  scandinavia  sweden  denmark  2019  urban  urbanism  planning  urbanplanning  inclusivity  inclusion  jordanvalentinlane  jantelagen  jamestaylorfoster  copenhagen  tromsø  stockholm  norway 
yesterday by robertogreco
Uber Undone | Noah Kulwin
"Silicon Valley began this decade as the bleeding edge of the American economy, where new technologies were said to be building a better future for the whole planet. By its end, the American tech industry will be largely viewed as the labor-destroying, profit-hungry behemoth that it truly is. While Facebook’s inadvertent election-rigging and Google’s near-monopoly on digital advertising might draw more attention as the culprits behind that pendulum swing, it is Uber’s Randian capitalism that most transparently lays bare Silicon Valley villainy. And even from outside the C-suite, from which he was ejected in 2017, Kalanick remains its smug, unapologetic face."
siliconvalley  californianideology  grifters  us  finance  economics  venturecapital  2019  mikeisaac  noahkulwin  technology  technosolutionism  google  facebook  society  traviskalanick  uber  lyft  gigeconomy  labor  inequality  urbanplanning  urban  urbanism  capitalism  neoliberalism 
10 weeks ago by robertogreco
The Dig: Real Estate Capitalism And Gentrification With Samuel Stein Jacobin Radio podcast
"What is gentrification? It isn't just about what was once known as the hipster and is still known as the artist, the telltale warning signs of impending demographic change. It's part of an entire political-economic order that has made real estate global capitalism's most prized asset for storing wealth—one that has helped bend place-based urban governments to the will of mobile, and thus more powerful, capital. Dan interviews Samuel Stein on his book, Capital City: Gentrification and the Real Estate State."
realestate  samuelstein  2019  gentrification  capitalism  neoliberalism  finance  realestatefinancialcomplex  money  wealth  cities  urban  urbanism  urbanplanning  inequality  shelter  labor  policy  newdeal  urbanrenewal 
may 2019 by robertogreco
Urban Warfare: housing under the empire of finance [podcast]
"This book launch discussed how our homes and neighbourhoods have become the “last subprime frontiers of capitalism’.

Raquel Rolnik’s new book Urban Warfare: Housing under the empire of finance explores how financialisation has colonised cities and housing systems around the world, provoking homelessness and dispossession despite its promise of homeownership for all. The book examines housing politics and policy from numerous national contexts including the UK, Kazakhstan, Chile, the USA and Brazil. Rolnik offers a searing critique of the political economy of housing under neoliberalism and a poignant analysis of how it has decimated households across the globe, as well as an account of how residents and social movements are fighting back.

Raquel Rolnik is Professor of Architecture and Urbanism at the University of São Paulo. A widely-published academic and writer, she has also served as Director of the Planning Department of the city of São Paulo, National Secretary for Urban Programmes of the Brazilian Ministry of Cities, Urban Policy Coordinator of the NGO Polis Institute and United Nations Special Rapporteur on adequate housing.

Glyn Robbins is a long-time housing worker and activist with Defend Council Housing, and holds a PhD in urban policy. He is the author of There's No Place: The American housing crisis and what it means for the UK. His articles about housing and urban policy appear regularly in the labour movement and housing press and have also been published by The Guardian.

David Madden is Associate Professor of Sociology and Co-Director of the Cities Programme at LSE. He is co-author, with Peter Marcuse, of In Defense of Housing: The politics of crisis. His writing has appeared in the Guardian, Jacobin, and the Washington Post.

Suzanne Hall is Associate Professor of Sociology and Co-Director of the Cities Programme at LSE. She is the author of City, Street and Citizen: The measure of the ordinary and co-editor, with Ricky Burdett, of The Sage Handbook of the 21st Century City.

Established in 1904, the Department of Sociology @LSEsociology at LSE is committed to empirically rich, conceptually sophisticated, and socially and politically relevant research and scholarship. Building upon the traditions of the discipline, we play a key role in the development of the social sciences into the new intellectual areas, social problems, and ethical dilemmas that face our society today."
raquelrolnik  glynrobbins  davidmadden  suzannehall  housing  urban  urbanism  finance  capitalism  cities  urbanplanning  realestatefinancialcomplex 
may 2019 by robertogreco
'Capital City' on How Planning Follows Real Estate - CityLab
"Stein argues that the combined forces of development, finance, and a global elite parking its wealth in luxury housing swamp planners’ best intentions. With most industrial activity now pushed outside of city limits and public services dependent on property taxes, real estate, he contends, has come to dominate urban planning; the technology and finance sectors are beholden to it and offer no political counterweight.

The state is “a central actor” in gentrification, Stein writes. Planners lure developers and landlords with land-use and tax incentives on the one hand, while enticing new residents and shoppers with amenities on the other—all of which push prices up. “A planner’s mission is to imagine a better world, but their day-to-day work involves producing a more profitable one,” he writes. One chapter of the book tracks the real-estate dealings of three generations of the Trump family, boosted at intervals by public policies and incentives seized on for personal profit.

For Stein—a doctoral candidate in geography at the City University of New York, an instructor at Hunter College, and a trained planner—the question of planning is front and center to understanding our current economic order as experienced in city life. CityLab asked him about the rise of real estate, radical planners, and how would-be planners should approach the role. (This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.)"

[See also: https://www.versobooks.com/books/2870-capital-city ]
urban  urbanism  urbanplanning  cities  inequality  democracy  money  wealth  finance  samuelstein  2019  housing  realestatefinancialcomplex 
may 2019 by robertogreco
Capital City: Gentrification and the Real Estate State – Next City
"This book is about planners in cities run by real estate. It describes how real estate came to rule, and what planners do under these circumstances. Planners provide a window into the practical dynamics of urban change: the way the state both uses and is used by organized capital, and the power of landlords and developers at every level of government. They also possess some of the powers we must deploy if we ever wish to reclaim our cities from real estate capital. Understanding planners is an important way to understand the capitalist state — how it is built, and what it would take to dismantle it."



"A private land market is essentially a spoils system — whoever owns the land keeps the accrued benefits, whether or not the owner is responsible for them. Until land is socially controlled, those who possess property, capital and access to power will shape planning priorities. With so much global capital invested into real estate, planners are facing enormous pressure to stoke land markets and enable gentrification. Their charge is to find creative ways to raise property values — either because they are low and landowners want them higher, or because they are already high and city budgets will fail if they start to fall. Any seemingly technical discussions of growth, density or urban form are always also shaped by this imperative. Planners are not just shills to real estate, though; they can and generally want to make spaces more beautiful, sustainable, efficient and sociable. But without control over the land, the result of their work is often higher land prices, increased rents and ultimately displacement.

As some places endure this kind of land market inflation, others fall prey to disinvestment: their land loses its exchange value, their residents are shut out of credit markets and their buildings fall into dangerous disrepair. This leads to a landscape of radically uneven geographical development between capital-flush cosmopolitan centers, like New York and London, and investment-scarce cities like Camden, New Jersey and Blackpool on England’s Irish Sea coast. Even within cities, the same inequalities are often evident from neighborhood to neighborhood. Gentrification cannot be a universal phenomenon; money tends to come from one place and go to another, creating chaos on both ends. On the disinvested side, communities face terrible choices. Many want the benefits of good planning — safe streets, clean air, decent housing — but not the catastrophic tide of capital it summons. In these places, residents will often reject planners’ interventions out of a well-founded fear that they will be kicked out of their neighborhoods before they ever enjoy the promised improvements.

One recent example: in March 2017, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a major new initiative for the poorest parts of Brooklyn. The plan promised jobs, park, health care and housing at a cost of $1.4 billion. But Brownsville resident Dayon Hopkins was skeptical. He had already been displaced from Bedford Stuyvesant after that neighborhood started to gentrify. Pointing to an ordinary building, he told a New York Times reporter, “They’ll take this right here, and put a glass door, a brick wall on one side of the hallway, and now it’s a loft, and now it costs way more than people are making around these parts. And I understand: It does get nicer. But where’s everybody else going to go? Down south? Where are we going to go?’”

Hopkins says what most planners won’t: that as long as some people’s business is to profit off land and property, most people will not be able to enjoy the benefits planners promise. Of course, it doesn’t have to be this way. We can imagine a better world — in fact, we must. First, however, we need to understand how we got here and how the system works. I wrote this book for anyone who is frustrated with both the direction their cities are taking and the alternatives planners are offering. I put planners at the center of the story because they are uniquely positioned at the nexus of state, capital and popular power. On their own, however, planners cannot unwind real estate’s grip over our politics. For that, we will need organized people: mass movements to remake our cities from the ground up and gain control over our homes and lives.

Such movements have been a consistent feature of urban life, and have grown and adapted to face new challenges. Gentrification is brutal, but rarely total — not only because colonizers always rely on the labor of a local workforce, but also because people always fight back: as individuals, as families (of birth and of choice), as communities (local and international), as neighbors and as a class. Even after displacement, people find a way to remake their spatial cultures and rebuild their social ties — not just to survive, but to fightback anew.

Gentrification’s apologists will see this and claim displacement is not that bad — people are resilient, they move, they rebuild, they’re fine. My point is precisely the opposite: human beings will always resist regimes in which land ownership gives a small number of people enormous power over the lives of all others. People will fight back, and I believe that we will win. I hope this book contributes to that fight. It is made not only to be read, but to be used."

[See also:
https://www.versobooks.com/books/2890-urban-warfare
https://www.versobooks.com/books/2870-capital-city ]
oscarperryabello  raquelrolnik  samuelstein  housing  economics  capitalism  neoliberalism  urban  urbanism  cities  urbanplanning  2019  gentrification  ownership  inequality  dayonhopkins  realestatefinancialcomplex 
may 2019 by robertogreco
Shade
[via: https://twitter.com/shannonmattern/status/1122670547777871874

who concludes…
https://twitter.com/shannonmattern/status/1122685558688485376
"🌴Imagine what LA could do if it tied street enhancement to a comprehensive program of shade creation: widening the sidewalks, undergrounding powerlines, cutting bigger tree wells, planting leafy, drought-resistant trees, + making room for arcades, galleries, + bus shelters.🌳"]

"All you have to do is scoot across a satellite map of the Los Angeles Basin to see the tremendous shade disparity. Leafy neighborhoods are tucked in hillside canyons and built around golf courses. High modernist homes embrace the sun as it flickers through labor-intensive thickets of eucalyptus. Awnings, paseos, and mature ficus trees shade high-end shopping districts. In the oceanfront city of Santa Monica, which has a dedicated municipal tree plan and a staff of public foresters, all 302 bus stops have been outfitted with fixed steel parasols (“blue spots”) that block the sun. 9 Meanwhile, in the Los Angeles flats, there are vast gray expanses — playgrounds, parking lots, and wide roads — with almost no trees. Transit riders bake at unsheltered bus stops. The homeless take refuge in tunnels and under highway overpasses; some chain their tarps and tents to fences on Skid Row and wait out the day in the shadows of buildings across the street.

Shade is often understood as a luxury amenity, lending calm to courtyards and tree-lined boulevards, cooling and obscuring jewel boxes and glass cubes. But as deadly, hundred-degree heatwaves become commonplace, we have to learn to see shade as a civic resource that is shared by all. In the shade, overheated bodies return to equilibrium. Blood circulation improves. People think clearly. They see better. In a physiological sense, they are themselves again. For people vulnerable to heat stress and exhaustion — outdoor workers, the elderly, the homeless — that can be the difference between life and death. Shade is thus an index of inequality, a requirement for public health, and a mandate for urban planners and designers.

A few years back, Los Angeles passed sweeping revisions to the general plan meant to encourage residents to walk, bike, and take more buses and trains. But as Angelenos step out of their cars, they are discovering that many streets offer little relief from the oppressive sunshine. Not everyone has the stamina to wait out the heat at an unprotected bus stop, or the money to duck into an air-conditioned cafe. 11 When we understand shade as a public resource — a kind of infrastructure, even — we can have better discussions about how to create it and distribute it fairly.

Yet cultural values complicate the provision of shade. Los Angeles is a low-rise city whose residents prize open air and sunshine. 12 They show up at planning meetings to protest tall buildings that would block views or darken sunbathing decks, and police urge residents in high-crime neighborhoods to cut down trees that hide drug dealing and prostitution. Shade trees are designed out of parks to discourage loitering and turf wars, and designed off streets where traffic engineers demand wide lanes and high visibility. Diffuse sunlight is rare in many parts of Los Angeles. You might trace this back to a cultural obsession with shadows and spotlights, drawing a line from Hollywood noir — in which long shadows and unlit corners represent the criminal underworld — to the contemporary politics of surveillance. 13 The light reveals what hides in the dark.

When I think of Los Angeles, I picture Glendale Boulevard in Atwater Village, a streetcar suburb converted into a ten-lane automobile moonscape. People say they like this street for its wall of low-slung, pre-war storefronts, home to record stores and restaurants. To me, it’s a never-ending, vertiginous tunnel of light. I squint to avoid the glare from the white stucco walls, bare pavement, and car windows. From a climate perspective, bright surfaces are good; they absorb fewer sun rays and lessen the urban heat-island effect. But on an unshaded street they can also concentrate and intensify local sunlight."



"At one time, they did. “Shade was integral, and incorporated into the urban design of southern California up until the 1930s,” Davis said. “If you go to most of the older agricultural towns … the downtown streets were arcaded. They had the equivalent of awnings over the sidewalk.” Rancho homes had sleeping porches and shade trees, and buildings were oriented to keep their occupants cool. The original settlement of Los Angeles conformed roughly to the Law of the Indies, a royal ordinance that required streets to be laid out at a 45-degree angle, ensuring access to sun in the winter and shade in the summer. Spanish adobes were built around a central courtyard cooled by awnings and plants. 15 As the city grew, the California bungalow — a low, rectangular house, with wide eaves, inspired by British Indian hill stations — became popular with the middle class. “During the 1920s, they were actually prefabricated in factories,” Davis said. “There are tens of thousands of bungalows, particularly along the Alameda corridor … that were manufactured by Pacific Ready-Cut Homes, which advertised itself as the Henry Ford of home construction.” 16

All that changed with the advent of cheap electricity. In 1936, the Los Angeles Bureau of Power and Light completed a 266-mile high-voltage transmission line from Boulder Dam (now Hoover Dam), which could supply 70 percent of the city’s power at low cost. Southern Californians bought mass-produced housing with electric heating and air conditioning. By the end of World War II, there were nearly 4 million people living in Los Angeles County, and the new neighborhoods were organized around driveways and parking lots. Parts of the city, Davis said, became “virtually treeless deserts.”"



"It’s easy to see how this hostile design reflected the values of the peak automobile era, but there is more going on here. The destruction of urban refuge was part of a long-term strategy to discourage gay cruising, drug use, and other “shady” activities downtown. In 1964, business owners sponsored another redesign that was intended, in the hyperbolic words of the Los Angeles Times, to finally clear out the “deviates and criminals.” The city removed the perimeter benches and culled even more palms and shade trees, so that office workers and shoppers could move through the park without being “accosted by derelicts and ‘bums.’” Sunlight was weaponized. “Before long, pedestrians will be walking through, instead of avoiding, Pershing Square,” the Times declared. “And that is why parks are built.” 19"



"High-concept architecture is one way to transform the shadescape of Los Angeles. Street trees are another. Unfortunately, the city’s most ubiquitous tree — the iconic Washington robusta, or Mexican fan palm — is about as useful in that respect as a telephone pole.

Palm trees have been identified with southern California since 1893, when Canary Island date palms — the fatter, stouter cousin — were displayed at the Chicago World’s Fair. On the trunk of one of those palms, boosters posted the daily temperatures at a San Diego beach, and the tree itself came to stand for “sunshine and soft air.” In his indispensable history, Trees in Paradise, Jared Farmer traces the palm’s transformation from a symbol of a healthy climate to a symbol of glamour, via its association with Hollywood. 26

Despite that early fame, palm trees did not really take over Los Angeles until the 1930s, when a citywide program set tens of thousands of palms along new or recently expanded roads. They were the ideal tree for an automobile landscape. Hardy, cheap, and able to grow anywhere, palm trees are basically weeds. Their shallow roots curl up into a ball, so they can be plugged into small pavement cuts without entangling underground sewer and water mains or buckling sidewalks. As Farmer puts it, palms are “symbiotic infrastructure,” beautifying the city without making a mess. Plus, as Mary Pickford once pointed out, the slender trunks don’t block the view of storefronts, which makes them ideal for window-shopping from the driver’s seat. The city’s first forester, L. Glenn Hall, planted more than 25,000 palm trees in 1931 alone. 27

Hall’s vision, though, was more ambitious than that. He planned to landscape all of Los Angeles’s roads with 1.2 million street trees. Tall palms, like Washingtonia robusta, would go on major thoroughfares, and side streets would be lined with elm, pine, red maple, liquidambar, ash, and sycamore. A Depression-era stimulus package provided enough funds to employ 400 men for six months. But the forestry department put the burden of watering and maintenance on property owners, and soon it charged for cutting new tree wells, too. Owners weren’t interested. So Hall concentrated his efforts on the 28 major boulevards that would serve the 1932 Olympics — including the now-iconic Ventura, Wilshire, Figueroa, Vermont, Western, and Crenshaw — and committed the city to pay for five years of tree maintenance. That may well have bankrupted the tree planting program, and before long the city was urging property owners to take on all costs, including the trees themselves.

This history partly explains the shade disparity in Los Angeles today. Consider the physical dimensions of a major city street in Hall’s time. Between the expanding road and narrowing sidewalks was an open strip of grass, three to ten feet wide, known as the parkway. Having rejected a comprehensive parks system, Los Angeles relied on these roadside strips to plant its urban forest, but over time the parkways were diminished by various agencies in the name of civic improvements — chiefly, road widening. 29 And the stewardship of these spaces was always ambiguous. The parkways are public land, owned and regulated by the … [more]
losangeles  trees  shade  history  palmtrees  urbanplanning  electricity  inequality  2019  sambloch  mikedavis  urban  urbanism  cars  transportation  disparity  streets  values  culture  pedestrians  walking  heat  light  socal  california  design  landscape  wealth  sidewalks  publictransit  transit  privacy  reynerbanham  surveillance  sun  sunshine  climatechange  sustainability  energy  ericgarcetti  antoniovillaraigosa  environment  realestate  law  legal  cities  civics 
april 2019 by robertogreco
Reading Lists | Places Journal
"Race, Space, and the Law
Desiree Valadares
UC Berkeley

Architecture and Structural Engineering
Tyler Sprague
University of Washington

Coding Flux
Fadi Masoud
University of Toronto

Designing for Science Tourism
Matias del Campo and Sandra Manninger
University of Michigan

Writing Geography
Nehal El-Hadi
University of Toronto

Reading Cities
Alex Baca
Urbanist

Material Nature in Architecture
Erin Moore
University of Oregon, School of Architecture and Environment

Tending Toward Attention
Nathaniel Rivers
Saint Louis University

Enchanting Flow
Guillermo León Gómez and Sofia Bastidas
The New School and Southern Methodist University

Public Architecture
Emma Rowden and Jesse Stein
University of Technology Sydney

Infrastructural Ecology: The City’s Buried Systems
Nicholas Pevzner
University of Pennsylvania

Urbanism After Extraction
Marie Law Adams and Rafi Segal
MIT

Transparent Structures
Beverly Choe and Jun Sato
Stanford University

Re-Imagining Toronto’s Urban Waterways
Alissa North
University of Toronto

Designing with Ruins in Post-Industrial Appalachia
Luis Pancorbo and Edward Ford
University of Virginia

Architecture and Pedagogy
Benjamin Smith
Tulane University

Drawing Place
Carl Smith and Blake Belanger
University of Arkansas and Kansas State University

Toward a Future Agrarian Urbanism
Phoebe Lickwar
University of Arkansas

AIA Gold: Paul Revere Williams
Daisy-O'lice Williams
University of Oregon

Animal Machines: The Architecture of the Body
Iman Ansari
University of Southern California

Landscapes of the Scientific Imaginary
Justine Holzman
University of Toronto

Another South: Exurbs and America
Ashley Bigham
University of Michigan

Art in the Public Sphere
Aleksandra Kaminska
Université de Montréal

Homeplace: Planning and African American Communities
Andrea Roberts
University of Texas, Austin

Black Geographies
Anna Livia Brand
University of Texas, Austin

Nature in the City
Hillary Angelo
University of California, Santa Cruz

Architecture and Control
Louis Nelson
University of Virginia

Black in Design
African American Student Union
Harvard University Graduate School of Design

Designing for Future Weathers
Phu Hoang
Columbia University, Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation

Cloud Vision
Nick Lally
University of Wisconsin–Madison

Architecture in Spaces of Crisis
Dawn Gilpin
University of Michigan

Studio Reading, Late Reading, Anti-Reading: The Regime of Humbug
Roger Connah
Carleton University

Architecture and Jazz
Kenneth Schwartz
Tulane University

Women, Space, and Place: Four Cinematic Pairings
Amy Murphy
University of Southern California

Architecture and Real Estate in the United States
Temple Hoyne Buell Center
Columbia University

China’s New Landscape
Dorothy Tang
University of Hong Kong

Environmental Readings
Frederick Steiner
University of Texas at Austin

The Stars at Night Are Big and Bright [Insert Sound of Hands Clapping]
Enrique Ramirez
University of Pennsylvania

Public Reading
Shannon Mattern
The New School

The Aesthetic Design of Freeways
Nate Berg
Los Angeles journalist

Critical Ecologies
Nina-Marie Lister
Ryerson University

America 30:60
Brian Davis
Cornell University

Deconstructing the Imperialist’s Approach to Geomorphology
Kristi Cheramie
Ohio State University"
readinglists  geography  place  architecture  urban  urbanism  urbanplanning  law  race  engineering  placesjournal 
april 2019 by robertogreco
San Francisco; or, How to Destroy a City | Public Books
"As New York City and Greater Washington, DC, prepared for the arrival of Amazon’s new secondary headquarters, Torontonians opened a section of their waterfront to Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs, which plans to prototype a new neighborhood “from the internet up.” Fervent resistance arose in all three locations, particularly as citizens and even some elected officials discovered that many of the terms of these public-private partnerships were hashed out in closed-door deals, secreted by nondisclosure agreements. Critics raised questions about the generous tax incentives and other subsidies granted to these multibillion-dollar corporations, their plans for data privacy and digital governance, what kind of jobs they’d create and housing they’d provide, and how their arrival could impact local infrastructures, economies, and cultures. While such questioning led Amazon to cancel their plans for Long Island City in mid-February, other initiatives press forward. What does it mean when Silicon Valley—a geographic region that’s become shorthand for an integrated ideology and management style usually equated with libertarian techno-utopianism—serves as landlord, utility provider, urban developer, (unelected) city official, and employer, all rolled into one?1

We can look to Alphabet’s and Amazon’s home cities for clues. Both the San Francisco Bay Area and Seattle have been dramatically remade by their local tech powerhouses: Amazon and Microsoft in Seattle; and Google, Facebook, and Apple (along with countless other firms) around the Bay. As Jennifer Light, Louise Mozingo, Margaret O’Mara, and Fred Turner have demonstrated, technology companies have been reprogramming urban and suburban landscapes for decades.2 And “company towns” have long sprung up around mills, mines, and factories.3 But over the past few years, as development has boomed and income inequality has dramatically increased in the Bay Area, we’ve witnessed the arrival of several new books reflecting on the region’s transformation.

These titles, while focusing on the Bay, offer lessons to New York, DC, Toronto, and the countless other cities around the globe hoping to spur growth and economic development by hosting and ingesting tech—by fostering the growth of technology companies, boosting STEM education, and integrating new sensors and screens into their streetscapes and city halls. For years, other municipalities, fashioning themselves as “the Silicon Valley of [elsewhere],” have sought to reverse-engineer the Bay’s blueprint for success. As we’ll see, that blueprint, drafted to optimize the habits and habitats of a privileged few, commonly elides the material needs of marginalized populations and fragile ecosystems. It prioritizes efficiency and growth over the maintenance of community and the messiness of public life. Yet perhaps we can still redraw those plans, modeling cities that aren’t only made by powerbrokers, and that thrive when they prioritize the stewardship of civic resources over the relentless pursuit of innovation and growth."



"We must also recognize the ferment and diversity inherent in Bay Area urban historiography, even in the chronicles of its large-scale development projects. Isenberg reminds us that even within the institutions and companies responsible for redevelopment, which are often vilified for exacerbating urban ills, we find pockets of heterogeneity and progressivism. Isenberg seeks to supplement the dominant East Coast narratives, which tend to frame urban renewal as a battle between development and preservation.

In surveying a variety of Bay Area projects, from Ghirardelli Square to The Sea Ranch to the Transamerica Pyramid, Isenberg shifts our attention from star architects and planners to less prominent, but no less important, contributors in allied design fields: architectural illustration, model-making, publicity, journalism, property management, retail planning, the arts, and activism. “People who are elsewhere peripheral and invisible in the history of urban design are,” in her book, “networked through the center”; they play critical roles in shaping not only the urban landscape, but also the discourses and processes through which that landscape takes shape.

For instance, debates over public art in Ghirardelli Square—particularly Ruth Asawa’s mermaid sculpture, which featured breastfeeding lesbian mermaids—“provoked debates about gender, sexuality, and the role of urban open space in San Francisco.” Property manager Caree Rose, who worked alongside her husband, Stuart, coordinated with designers to master-plan the Square, acknowledging that retail, restaurants, and parking are also vital ingredients of successful public space. Publicist Marion Conrad and graphic designer Bobbie Stauffacher were key members of many San Francisco design teams, including that for The Sea Ranch community, in Sonoma County. Illustrators and model-makers, many of them women, created objects that mediated design concepts for clients and typically sat at the center of public debates.

These creative collaborators “had the capacity to swing urban design decisions, structure competition for land, and generally set in motion the fate of neighborhoods.” We see the rhetorical power of diverse visualization strategies reflected across these four books, too: Solnit’s offers dozens of photographs, by Susan Schwartzenberg—of renovations, construction sites, protests, dot-com workplaces, SRO hotels, artists’ studios—while Walker’s dense text is supplemented with charts, graphs, and clinical maps. McClelland’s book, with its relatively large typeface and extra-wide leading, makes space for his interviewees’ words to resonate, while Isenberg generously illustrates her pages with archival photos, plans, and design renderings, many reproduced in evocative technicolor.

By decentering the star designer and master planner, Isenberg reframes urban (re)development as a collaborative enterprise involving participants with diverse identities, skills, and values. And in elevating the work of “allied” practitioners, Isenberg also aims to shift the focus from design to land: public awareness of land ownership and commitment to responsible public land stewardship. She introduces us to several mid-century alternative publications—weekly newspapers, Black periodicals, activists’ manuals, and books that never made it to the best-seller list … or never even made it to press—that advocated for a focus on land ownership and politics. Yet the discursive power of Jacobs and Caro, which framed the debate in terms of urban development vs. preservation, pushed these other texts off the shelf—and, along with them, the “moral questions of land stewardship” they highlighted.

These alternative tales and supporting casts serve as reminders that the modern city need not succumb to Haussmannization or Moses-ification or, now, Googlization. Mid-century urban development wasn’t necessarily the monolithic, patriarchal, hegemonic force we imagined it to be—a realization that should steel us to expect more and better of our contemporary city-building projects. Today, New York, Washington, DC, and Toronto—and other cities around the world—are being reshaped not only by architects, planners, and municipal administrators, but also by technologists, programmers, data scientists, “user experience” experts and logistics engineers. These are urbanism’s new “allied” professions, and their work deals not only with land and buildings, but also, increasingly, with data and algorithms.

Some critics have argued that the real reason behind Amazon’s nationwide HQ2 search was to gather data from hundreds of cities—both quantitative and qualitative data that “could guide it in its expansion of the physical footprint, in the kinds of services it rolls out next, and in future negotiations and lobbying with states and municipalities.”5 This “trove of information” could ultimately be much more valuable than all those tax incentives and grants. If this is the future of urban development, our city officials and citizens must attend to the ownership and stewardship not only of their public land, but also of their public data. The mismanagement of either could—to paraphrase our four books’ titles—elongate the dark shadows cast by growing inequality, abet the siege of exploitation and displacement, “hollow out” our already homogenizing neighborhoods, and expedite the departure of an already “gone” city.

As Beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti muses in his “Pictures of the Gone World 11,” which inspired Walker’s title: “The world is a beautiful place / to be born into / if you don’t mind some people dying / all the time / or maybe only starving / some of the time / which isn’t half so bad / if it isn’t you.” This is precisely the sort of solipsism and stratification that tech-libertarianism and capitalist development promotes—and that responsible planning, design, and public stewardship must prevent."
cities  shannonmattern  2019  sanfrancisco  siliconvalley  nyc  washingtondc  seattle  amazon  google  apple  facebook  technology  inequality  governance  libertarianism  urban  urbanism  microsoft  jenniferlight  louisemozingo  margareto'mara  fredturner  efficiency  growth  marginalization  publicgood  civics  innovation  rebeccasolnit  gentrification  privatization  homogenization  susanschwartzenberg  carymcclelland  economics  policy  politics  richardwalker  bayarea  lisonisenberg  janejacobs  robertmoses  diversity  society  inclusivity  inclusion  exclusion  counterculture  cybercultue  culture  progressive  progressivism  wealth  corporatism  labor  alexkaufman  imperialism  colonization  californianideology  california  neoliberalism  privacy  technosolutionism  urbanization  socialjustice  environment  history  historiography  redevelopment  urbanplanning  design  activism  landscape  ruthasawa  gender  sexuality  openspace  publicspace  searanch  toronto  larenceferlinghetti  susanschartzenberg  bobbiestauffacher  careerose  stuartrose  ghirardellisqure  marionconrad  illustration  a 
march 2019 by robertogreco
Future of Cities: Medellin, Colombia solves city slums - YouTube
"Medellin, Colombia offers a window into the future of cities. Once synonymous with the drug violence of Pablo Escobar's murderous cocaine cartel, Colombia's second largest city undergone a remarkable transformation. Medellín has done so largely by investing heavily in upgrading slums and connecting them to the city center. A centerpiece of this effort: innovative public transportation, such as a Metrocable gondola system that helps residents of informal communities get around town and enjoy all the benefits of a reinvented city.

In collaboration with Retro Report, learn more here: https://qz.com/is/what-happens-next-2/ "

[See also:
"Slums are growing around the world—but a city in Colombia has a solution"
https://qz.com/1381146/slums-are-growing-around-the-world-but-a-city-in-colombia-has-a-solution/ ]
medellin  medellín  colombia  cities  urban  urbanism  housing  poverty  2018  urbanplanning  justinmcguirk  slums  favelas  transportation  mobility  publictransit  urbanization  libraries  infrastructure  juliodávila  funding  policy  government  cablecars  economics  informal  education  schools  edésiofernandes  omarurán  janiceperlman  eugeniebirch 
march 2019 by robertogreco
Opinion | The New ‘Dream Home’ Should Be a Condo - The New York Times
"This is the New American Home for 2018. It’s a sprawling monstrosity of more than 10,690 feet (the lot encompasses 65,340 square feet).

The New American Home should really be this condo. There are six units. One unit here can have just 1,800 square feet."



"The first New American Home that N.A.H.B. built, in Houston in 1984, was 1,500 square feet and cost $80,000. By 2006, at the peak of the housing bubble, the N.A.H.B. home – a lakeside McMansion in Florida with a tri-level kitchen island and a waterfall off the master suite – was over 10,000 square feet and listed for $5.3 million in what is today one of the nation’s foreclosure capitals, Orlando.

That 1984 project was the smallest; square footage hasn’t dipped below 2,200 since 1985. The 2018 version, also in Florida, is “Tuscan”-inspired and is close to 11,000 square feet, with eight bathrooms and both an elevator and a car elevator in the garage. The 2019 version, to be unveiled soon, is 8,000 square feet and has an “inner sanctum lounge” and a view of the Vegas strip.

The N.A.H.B. house may be meant to highlight trends, but they’re not necessarily the trends homeowners want (and certainly not what most people need). Instead, they’re what builders, kitchen and bath manufacturers and real estate agents would like to sell them: Think cathedral ceilings, granite countertops, gift-wrapping rooms and, more recently, “smart” appliances like a refrigerator that can text you when you’re low on milk and eggs.

Many builders will tell you that though these houses are large, they are more efficient – even that they have a small carbon footprint. But this is like bragging about the good gas mileage of an S.U.V. While a 10,000-square-foot house built today uses less energy than a 10,000-square-foot house built a decade ago, a home of this size requires a phenomenal amount of energy to run. (And most likely has an S.U.V. or two in the garage.)

Does anyone need 10,000 square feet to live in?

Families are getting smaller, not larger. The average American household shrank by 30 percent from 1948 and 2012, to 2.55 people from 3.67. Yet houses have ballooned as family sizes have contracted.

The average new home today is 1,000 square feet larger than in 1973. The square footage of living space per person has increased to 971, from 507 – a 92 percent increase.

What if the next New American Home was a condo? And what if there was a new American dream, not of auto-dependent suburbia, but walkable urbanism?

In the Cloverdale749 building designed by Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects in Los Angeles, six families are housed – luxuriously – in a 10,500-square-foot building that has little else in common with the N.A.H.B. home.

No space is wasted here – it may not have multiple walk-in closets or “air-conditioned storerooms,” but it has high ceilings and roof decks.

Larger homes use more resources, typically require longer commutes, come with more expensive utility bills, and often contribute to more sedentary lifestyles (which in turn results in increased rates of conditions like obesity and heart disease).

The way the Cloverdale building is designed effectively reduces the need for (and costs of) heating and cooling, and increases natural light and circulation.

Thanks to its central location (and Los Angeles’s serious commitment to expanding public transit), it reduces the need for driving, too. Building this way has the highest potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in cities. The N.A.H.B. home, in contrast, is entirely self-contained, with no regard for neighbors or neighborhood. It might as well have a moat.

This approach to housing is not only socially isolating, it’s no longer sustainable.

Our way of building homes and neighborhoods lost the plot a long time ago.

Homes like those the N.A.H.B. is promoting ignore the changing nature of families and the imminent crisis in housing for the elderly – not to mention climate change, which we have no hope of combatting without a true reimagining of the American dream. Enter the Green New Deal: If it recognized the link between building more infill housing and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, it would be even greener. Taking a strong stand against the primacy of the single family home (and the zoning that encourages it), especially the 10,000-square-foot ones, would represent a bold move toward combating climate change."
allisonarieff  housing  us  sustainability  2019  transportation  density  urban  urbanplanning  urbanism  excess  efficiency  energy  society 
march 2019 by robertogreco
Model Metropolis
"Behind one of the most iconic computer games of all time is a theory of how cities die—one that has proven dangerously influential."



"Forrester’s central claim about complexity wasn’t a new one; it has a long history on the political right. In a 1991 book, Rhetoric of Reaction, the development economist and economic historian Albert O. Hirschman identified this style of argument as an example of what he called the “perversity thesis.” This kind of attack, which Hirschman traced back to Edmund Burke’s writings on the French Revolution, amounts to a kind of concern trolling. Using this rhetorical tactic, the conservative speaker can claim that they share your social goal, but simultaneously argue that the means you are using to achieve it will only make matters worse. When commentators claim “no-platforming will only make more Nazis,” that welfare programs lock recipients into a “cycle of dependency,” or that economic planning will lead a society down a “road to serfdom,” they’re making this kind of perversity argument.

What Forrester did was give the perversity thesis a patina of scientific and computational respectability. Hirschman himself makes specific reference to Urban Dynamics and argues that the “special, sophisticated attire” of Forrester’s models helped reintroduce this kind of argument “into polite company.” In the nearly fifty years since it has come out, Forrester’s “counterintuitive” style of thinking has become the default way of analyzing policy for mainstream wonks. For many, “counterintuitivity” is the new intuition.

Expert knowledge, of course, has an important place in democratic deliberation, but it can also cut people out of the policy process, dampen the urgency of moral claims, and program a sense of powerlessness into our public discourse. Appeals to a social system’s “complexity” and the potential for “perverse outcomes” can be enough to sink transformative social programs that are still on the drawing board. This might not matter in the context of a virtual environment like that of Urban Dynamics or SimCity, but we have decades of real-world evidence that demonstrates the disastrous costs of the “counterintuitive” anti-welfare agenda. Straightforward solutions to poverty and economic misery—redistribution and the provision of public services—have both empirical backing and moral force. Maybe it’s time we start listening to our intuition again."
simcity  libertarianism  history  games  gaming  videogames  cities  simulations  simulation  2019  kevinbaker  urban  urbanism  policy  politics  economics  bias  willwright  urbanpolicy  urbanplanning  complexity  democracy  alberthirschman  edmundburke  danielpatrickmoynihan  jayforrester  paulstarr  urbandynamics  johncollins  dynamo  class  classism  motivation  money  government  governance  poverty  systemsthinking  society 
february 2019 by robertogreco
Making the Ordinary Visible: Interview with Yasar Adanali : Making Futures
"Yaşar Adanalı defines his work over the past decade as being that of a “part time academic researcher and part time activist”. He is one of the founders of the Center for Spatial Justice in Istanbul, an urban institute that focuses on issues of spatial justice in Istanbul and beyond. In this interview, he reflects upon “continuance” as a tool of engagement, the power of attending to the ordinary within the production of space, and the different types of public that this works seeks to address.

What led to the founding of the Center for Spatial for Justice and how does its work relate to the worlds of academia, activism and urbanism?

I’m interested in questions regarding spatial production in general and more specifically justice – the injustices that derive from spatial processes or the spatial aspect of social injustices. The Center for Spatial Justice takes the acronym MAD in Turkish – a MAD organisation against mad projects, that’s our founding moto. We bring together people from different disciplines such as architects, urban planners, artists, journalists, filmmakers, lawyers and geographers to produce work in relation to what’s going here: grassroots struggles in the city and in the countryside. The Center for Spatial Justice believes in the interconnectedness of urban and rural processes.

As educator and an activist, you work both within and outside an institutional setting. Have you been able to take the latter experience back into the academy and if so, what in particular? How do these two roles inform each other?

Since 2014 I have been teaching a masters design studio at TU Darmstadt. It’s a participatory planning course that both follows and supports a cooperative housing project in Düzce, Turkey, produced for and by the tenants who were badly affected by the 1999 earthquake. Over the course of the past five years, the master students have been developing a 4000 sq m housing project from scratch. The students from Darmstadt come to Istanbul as interns, working partly on the project. The result is a long-lasting relationship with the neighbourhoods in question and with the organisations we have been working with.

Apart from that, through MAD and Beyond Istanbul we develop summer and winter schools – non-academic experiences that similarly bridge the gap between the alternative universe and the mainstream universe. When you start to put critical questions into the minds of the students, these linger and they then take them back to the university, so their friends and professors also become exposed to that. We prefer to develop this approach outside of the university so that we are freed from bureaucracy and rigid structures but we keep it open to enrolled students and professors.

What are some particular strategies and methodologies that you adopt to engender this approach to urban practice? How do you involve local residents, for example?

That building of long-term relationships with communities is why we do a lot of walking. Our research questions are informed by the community and the site we arrive at – we do not predetermine hypotheses in advance. We remain in direct contact with different groups in the city and walk through these territories – with the neighbourhood association – not just once but every week. We listen to a lot of stories and record them. Oral histories are an important part of the ethnographic enquiry.

We also use mapping, a tool commonly used to exert power but that nature can be reversed. Through mapping we reclaim territories that have perhaps been “erased” – that is, transformed by injustice. We also map informal areas and then give those maps to the communities there because the way they appear on official plans often doesn’t reflect how things look on the ground. What looks like a carpark in the plan might be someone’s house; what’s represented as a commercial development might currently be a neighbourhood park or some other form of already existing social infrastructure.

In addition, we try to embed journalistic means within our academic interests, which is why we work with documentary journalists and photographers on each of our projects. We broadcast spatial justice news videos, in depth films that offer 8-10 minutes of reporting on a particular issue, giving it context and also pointing towards possible solutions. Solution journalism, which doesn’t just focus on crisis, is very important in the work we do.

As part of its work making spatial injustices visible, MAD publishes a wide range of materials. Which are the publics you try to communicate with through this?

Research has to be coupled with a conscious effort to communicate because you want to make change. We don’t want to make research for the sake of research or produce publications for the sake of publishing. We want to create those publics you allude to – and to influence them. We are addressing people involved in the discipline in its broadest sense: planners, architects, sociologists, activists, but perhaps most especially students who are interested in spatial issues, urban questions and environmental concerns. They are our main target. We want them to understand that their discipline has much more potential than what they are learning at university. I’m not saying the entire education system is wrong but there is much larger perspective beyond it and great potential for collaboration with other disciplines and engagement with different publics as well.

Another important public is the one directly involved with our work, i.e. the community that is being threatened by renewal projects. These groups are not only our public but also our patrons – we are obliged to be at their service and offer technical support, whether that’s recording a meeting with the mayor or analysing a plan together. Then there is the larger audience of broader society, who we hope to encourage to think of and engage with these issues of inequality and spatial justice.

I found an interesting quote on your webpage that says that the founding of MAD “is an invitation to understand the ordinary in an extraordinary global city context”. Can you talk a little about the urban context of Istanbul, Turkey and why the focus on the ordinary?

Everything about Istanbul is extraordinary: transformation, speed, scale. We are interested in making the ordinary visible because when we focus so much on the mega-projects, on the idea of the global city, then the rest of the city is made invisible. We look beyond the city centre – the façade – and beyond the mainstream, dominant discourse. This “ordinary” is the neighbourhood, nature and that which lies beyond the spectacle – other Turkish cities, for example. This approach can entail initiatives that range from historical urban gardening practices, working with informal neighbourhoods subject to eviction and relocation processes, or rural communities on the very eastern border currently threatened by new mine projects.

More specifically, today we live in an extraordinary state. The public arena is in a deep crisis and the democratic institutions and their processes do not really deserve our direct involvement right now. Having said that, there are different pockets within these systems, municipal authorities that operate differently, for example, and when we find these we work with them, but we remain realistic with regards to our limits. The “now” in Turkey has been lost in the sense that its relevance is not linked to the future beyond or to the next generation. That is a deep loss. But if you have the vision and the production means, if you set up a strong system, build the capacity first of yourself and then of the groups your work with, then when the right moment comes, all of these elements will flourish."
urban  urbanism  urbanplanning  cities  maps  mapping  neighborhoods  unschooling  deschooling  education  independence  lcproject  openstudioproject  justice  visibility  istanbul  turkey  ethnography  inquiry  erasure  injustice  infrastructure  socialinfrastructure  2018  rosariotalevi  speed  scale  transformation  walking  community  yasaradanali  space  placemaking  interconnectedness  interconnected  geography  interdisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  socialjustice  architecture  design  film  law  legal  filmmaking  journalism  rural  engagement 
december 2018 by robertogreco
Tirana: Transforming a City by Kid-Friendly Urban Policy - CityLab
"The ambitious mayor of Tirana, Albania, is selling a wary constituency on economic transformation by putting kids at the forefront of his agenda."



"Tirana’s main children’s playground fits so neatly in the Albanian capital’s central Grand Park, it feels as if the playground’s wooded ridge has organically sprouted terracotta-colored climbing frames, swings, and crawl spaces. Children of all ages play under its tree canopy, the sound of their parents’ and grandparents’ chatter, knitting needles, and dominoes clacking from the surrounding benches.

More than simply a charming space, the playground is the spearhead of a grand plan to refashion Albania’s capital city as a more walkable, more sustainable, less car-dependent city—specifically by placing the needs of the city’s youngest citizens at its forefront. Its creation also sparked one of the most intense urban debates in Albania’s recent history, one that reveals the highly specific growing pains the country has endured since the fall of communism in 1991.

The Grand Park playground, the largest of its type in eastern Europe, was the first site chosen for a child-friendly overhaul by Tirana’s center-left mayor Erion Veliaj, who was elected in 2015. The playground became a flagship for a municipal scheme that has since seen 33 more playgrounds installed across the city, with more on the way.

This focus on both children’s needs and reclaiming public space runs like a seam through Veliaj’s attempts to refashion Tirana as a greener, denser, and less car-dependent city. When Veliaj’s administration wanted to kick-start the pedestrianization of Skanderbeg Square, Tirana’s central plaza, he staged monthly car-free days when parents were actively encouraged to bring their children to cycle. When the city recently launched a central cycle lane grid—one that easily surpasses equivalents in American cities of similar size—the municipality also created special days when cyclists as young as three years old could cycle there in convoy, supervised by adults. And when the city sought to encourage more healthy eating, it started by revising kindergarten menus to make them healthier, sending local chefs into elementary schools to provide education about produce and cooking.

Focusing on the young makes sense in a very young city—Tirana’s average age is 27 to 28. There’s more, however. As Mayor Veliaj told Citylab’s General Manager Rob Bole during a discussion at this summer’s reSITE conference in Prague, children are like “revolutionaries in the household,” capable of influencing their parents far more strongly than a politician ever could.

There might seem to be an eccentric strain to the idea of transforming a city from toddler height upwards, and using children as sleeper agents to promote sustainability, but it is in keeping with UNICEF’s efforts to position child-friendly urban development as a cornerstone of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Albanian capital is thus part of a growing global wave that sees urban children’s well-being as a way of unpicking a broader knot of issues.

Such an approach is particularly effective, says Sam Williams, initiator and co-author of the Arup study “Cities Alive: Designing for Urban Childhoods,” because good child-friendly development does not isolate the young, but integrates them more seamlessly into their wider communities.

“Unfortunately for them, children are a great indicator species for urban problems, because they are more vulnerable to traffic pollution, to car accidents,” Williams told CityLab. “They have less range because they have shorter legs. They don't have money or income and they can't drive.

“By designing well for children, what you're really doing is designing well for the most vulnerable in society, whether that's the elderly or disabled, or the less wealthy. It's a very equitable approach to design that can fall by the wayside if you focus is on getting 30-year-old commuters from A to B as quickly as possible.”

This is grand rhetoric to attach to a playground development plan, but these playgrounds do more than provide more community space. Following years of (not yet dispelled) mistrust of officialdom in the immediate post-communist period, the municipality is using a child-first approach to urban management as a shop window for its political message that government can indeed be trusted.

The transformation of Skanderbeg Square is emblematic of this. A huge space lined with a collection of monumental communist-era institutions and saffron-colored, Italianate buildings from the interwar period, the square was almost entirely car-free under communism—because private cars themselves were so rare during the period. In the post-communist era as congestion gradually increased, Skanderbeg Square’s fate became a battleground between rival city administrations: One mayor’s total pedestrianization plan from 2010 was cancelled by his successor, who had the space remodelled as an island surrounded by a carousel of traffic—an arrangement that, as of December 2018, is still visible on Google Street View.

When elected in 2015, Mayor Veliaj revived his predecessor’s total pedestrianization plan. This time, in order to help win the public relations battle, his administration appealed to the public by emphasizing the space’s role as a facility for young people, and by using occasional car-free days as an advertising campaign to turn the whole area into a child-friendly strolling area and play space.

Veliaj describes the reaction: “Kids came with their bikes and rollerblades and were very happy. Their parents, however, hated me. They said, ‘He was such a nice guy during the election campaign, and now he wants to take the cars away!’ But with kids, it’s very different. They don’t have dogma or ideology. The kids loved it and said, ‘Mr. Mayor can we do it one more time?’ Then, when they went home, they’d convert their parents.”

These car-free days became monthly fixtures until residents came to expect and rely on them, a reaction that helped smooth Skanderbeg Square’s transition to its now remodelled, permanently car-free state. The effect of the makeover is subtle, but dramatic. The square’s paved heart now slopes gently upwards to a sort of flattened hump, transforming the square into a stage that places pedestrians at its center. As the sun cools, children kick footballs around on a sunken lawn that, so far, seems to be bearing up well under the pressure of their feet. And it’s doubly popular because it doesn’t cost anything, says a young woman called Anita, (who preferred not to give her last name), who I find hanging out with teenage friends next to the square’s temporary beach volleyball courts. “There aren’t many places for us to spend time in the city without paying something,” she tells me. “Here there is always something happening and all we need is the bus fare to come.”

Tirana’s child-first reforms are also reclaiming formerly public plots of land that have been taken over for private uses such as garages and parking in the immediate post-communist years.

With central planning control largely removed during Albania’s semi-lawless 1990s, Tirana’s apartment buildings started to bulge with informal extensions, and self-built houses started to sprawl across farmland. Many formerly public courtyards and open spaces were encroached upon for private uses, such as garages, parking lots, small sheds—and in a few rare cases, even tower blocks. By clearing away these illegal occupations, the city restored the spaces to common use.

“Ours is a fundamentally Mediterranean culture,” says Veliaj, “where a lot of social life takes place outside in the afternoons and evenings. But if public spaces have been taken over by private owners, if sidewalks aren’t wide enough or cars are rushing by all the time, who is going to want to sit outside breathing in fumes and looking at someone’s garage?”

The need for children’s play space has over the past few decades been met by the same private interests. The city’s huge expansion has left little open space, prompting the private sector to step in with children’s facilities in the form of small playgrounds attached to cafés and bars, where access comes at the price of a drink. This creates an inherent inequality between those children whose parents can afford to access play space and those who cannot.

“One thing that's come out of our research here is that parents pay for their kids to play,” said Simon Battisti, director of Qendra Marrëdhënie, a Tirana spatial consultancy non-profit working with the city. “There is very little public open space of qood quality, especially on the periphery.

“Time after time, parents we talked to lamented this issue that they had to pay for their kids to play locally—some as much as a quarter of their monthly disposable income to play. Having this little creature that must expend this energy every day. if you don't have a park nearby, the best place to go is the bar. That means that the poorest people, out on the periphery, are currently paying the most.”

Reclaiming public space for both the children and adults of Tirana, and refashioning the city into a greener, denser, and less car-dependent place, has been a slow, deliberate process.

But not everyone immediately embraced the changes. During the construction of the Grand Park playground in 2015, the site saw 78 days of constant protest, and even sabotage of construction equipment. This intensity of feeling partly represents the extremely polarized nature of Albanian politics, but also shows how battered public confidence in the state had become. Some feared a large-scale destruction of the park, one that might enable officials partly to harvest kickbacks to builders and allow the commercial exploitation of garden space in one of the most exclusive areas of the city.

One… [more]
tirana  via:derek  albania  urban  urbanism  srg  children  cities  planning  urbanplanning  safety  mobility 
december 2018 by robertogreco
Catapult | The Case Against Making a City “Beautiful” | Bryan Washington
"On finding beauty in Houston amidst the ugliness, and what the city stands to lose from increasing gentrification."



"A few years back, my buddy Sam called Houston one big strip mall. He’d flown in from Hong Kong to study at a local university, hoping to stay a few years longer for a gig in medicine. Sam never had a reliable ride, and Uber was out of his budget, so another friend of mine named Jon and I were always driving him around town. We’d made a point of showing him what we thought there was to see in the city, barreling our way out of the downtown plaza we worked at for the more open, absurdly crowded pastures constantly clogging Houston’s highways.

Sometimes, we found Indian food out in Sugarland, pausing for antacids at the CVS whenever the curried goat and Tsingtao overtook us. Once, we drank our way up and down Washington, just to end up sleeping in Jon’s car, in this drunken huddle, burrowed around a busted radiator while proggy ’80s rock crooned from the bar beside us. This time, we were driving down Bellaire Boulevard, taking note of strip mall after strip mall after strip mall. And Sam pointed out, in a still-elastic English, that Houston was actually pretty fucking ugly, wasn’t it?

I looked at Jon. Jon told me to look at the fucking road (which was fair: on the best of days, I’m not the smoothest driver). Sam stretched in the back seat, where he’d set up something like an impromptu photo studio—everywhere he went, he took photos, which he’d send to his folks back home. And this particular stretch of road in Chinatown was hardly noteworthy, hardly different from the avenues surrounding, hardly meriting a portrait worth painting for the Louvre.

But before I could start in on one of my usual rants—about how there is beauty in ugliness, how the city’s residents had made an oasis out of the bayou, blah blah—Sam laughed. He said it was nice. This was different. It worked.

Jon laughed, too. Sam kept taking pictures. The three of us kept driving. I thought then that it was funny how someone who’d only been in the city for a few months had gotten at the heart of the thing—he’d figured it out exactly, succinctly."
bryanwashinton  houston  ugliness  urbanplanning  urbanism  zoning  design  urban  2018  austin  texas  gentification  sripmalls 
december 2018 by robertogreco
Overgrowth - e-flux
"Architects and urban practitioners, toiling daily at the coalface of economic expansion, are complicit in the perpetuation of growth. Yet they are also in a unique position to contribute towards a move away from it. As the drivers of growth begin to reveal their inadequacies for sustaining life, we must imagine alternative societal structures that do not incentivize unsustainable resource and energy use, and do not perpetuate inequality. Working on the frontline of capitalism, it is through architecture and urban practice that alternative values, systems, and logics can be manifest in built form and inherited by generations to come.

Editors
Nick Axel
Matthew Dalziel
Phineas Harper
Nikolaus Hirsch
Cecilie Sachs Olsen
Maria Smith

Overgrowth is a collaboration between e-flux Architecture and the Oslo Architecture Triennale within the context of its 2019 edition."

[See also: https://www.e-flux.com/architecture/overgrowth/221902/editorial/ ]

[including:

Ateya Khorakiwala: "Architecture's Scaffolds"
https://www.e-flux.com/architecture/overgrowth/221616/architecture-s-scaffolds/
The metaphor of grassroots is apt here. Bamboo is a grass, a rhizomatic plant system that easily tends towards becoming an invasive species in its capacity to spread without seed and fruit. Given the new incursions of the global sustainability regime into third world forests to procure a material aestheticized as eco-friendly, what would it take for the state to render this ubiquitous material into a value added and replicable commodity? On one hand, scaffolding offers the site of forming and performing the subjectivity of the unskilled laborer—if not in making the scaffolding, then certainly in using it. Bamboo poles for scaffolding remain raw commodities, without scope for much value addition; a saturated marketplace where it can only be replaced by steel as building projects increase in complexity. On the other hand, bamboo produces both the cottage industry out of a forest-dwelling subject, on the margins of the state, occupying space into which this market can expand.

Bamboo is a material in flux—what it signifies is not transferable from one scale to another, or from one time to another. In that sense, bamboo challenges how we see the history of materials. In addition to its foundational architectural function as scaffolding, it acts as a metaphorical scaffolding as well: it signifies whatever its wielders might want it to, be it tradition, poverty, sustainability, or a new form of eco-chic luxury. Bamboo acts more as a scaffolding for meaning than a material with physical properties of flexibility and strength. Scaffolding, both materially and metaphorically, is a site of politics; a space that opens up and disappears, one that requires much skill in making.

Edgar Pieterse: "Incorporation and Expulsion"
https://www.e-flux.com/architecture/overgrowth/221603/incorporation-and-expulsion/
However, what is even more important is that these radically localized processes will very quickly demand spatial, planning, and design literacy among urban households and their associations. The public pedagogic work involved in nurturing such literacies, always amidst action, requires a further institutional layer that connects intermediary organizations with grassroots formations. For example, NGOs and applied urban research centers with knowledge from different sites (within a city and across the global South) can provide support to foster these organizational literacies without diminishing the autonomy and leadership of grassroots movements. Intermediary organizations are also well placed to mediate between grassroots associations, public officers, private sector interests, and whoever else impinge on the functioning of a neighborhood. Thinking with the example of Lighthouse suggests that we can think of forms of collective economic practice that connect with the urban imperatives of securing household wellbeing whilst expanding various categories of opportunity. The transformative potential is staggering when one considers the speed with which digital money systems and productive efficiencies have taken off across East Africa during the past five years or so.

There is unprecedented opportunity today to delink the imperatives of just urban planning from conventional tropes about economic modernization that tend to produce acontextual technocracy. We should, therefore, focus our creative energies on defining new forms of collective life, economy, wellbeing, invention, and care. This may even prove a worthwhile approach to re-signify “growth.” Beyond narrow economism there is a vast canvas to populate with alternative meanings: signifiers linked to practices that bring us back to the beauty of discovery, learning, questioning, debate, dissensus, experimentation, strategic consensus, and most importantly, the courage to do and feel things differently.

Ingerid Helsing Almaas: "No app for that"
https://www.e-flux.com/architecture/overgrowth/221609/no-app-for-that/
Conventionally, urban growth is seen in terms of different geometries of expansion. Recent decades have also focused on making existing cities denser, but even this is thought of as a process of addition, inscribed in the conventional idea of growth as a linear process of investments and profits. But the slow process of becoming and disappearance is also a form of growth. Growth as slow and diverse accretion and shedding, layering, gradual loss or restoration; cyclical rather than linear or expansive. Processes driven by opportunity and vision, but also by irritation, by lack, by disappointment. In a city, you see these cyclical processes of accretion and disruption everywhere. We just haven’t worked out how to make them work for us. Instead, we go on expecting stability and predictability; a city with a final, finished form.

Peter Buchanan: "Reweaving Webs of Relationships"
https://www.e-flux.com/architecture/overgrowth/221630/reweaving-webs-of-relationships/

Helena Mattsson and Catharina Gabrielsson: "Pockets and Folds"
https://www.e-flux.com/architecture/overgrowth/221607/pockets-and-folds/
Moments of deregulations are moments when an ideology of incessant growth takes over all sectors of life and politics. Returning to those moments allows us to inquire into other ways of organizing life and architecture while remaining within the sphere of the possible. Through acts of remembrance, we have the opportunity to rewrite the present through the past whereby the pockets and folds of non-markets established in the earlier welfare state come into view as worlds of a new becoming. These pockets carry the potential for new political imaginaries where ideas of degrowth reorganize the very essence of the architectural assemblage and its social impacts. These landscapes of possibilities are constructed through desires of collective spending—dépense—rather than through the grotesque ideas of the wooden brain.

Angelos Varvarousis and Penny Koutrolikou: "Degrowth and the City"
https://www.e-flux.com/architecture/overgrowth/221623/degrowth-and-the-city/
The idea of city of degrowth does not attempt to homogenize, but rather focus on inclusiveness. Heterogeneity and plurality are not contrary to the values of equity, living together and effective sharing of the resources. Difference and plurality are inherent and essential for cities and therefore diverse spatial and social articulations are intrinsic in the production of a city of degrowth. They are also vital for the way such an idea of a city could be governed; possibly through local institutions and assemblies that try to combine forms of direct and delegative democracy.
]
growth  degrowth  architecture  overgrowth  2018  nickaxel  matthewdalziel  phineasharper  nikolaushirsch  ceciliesachsolsen  mariasmith  ateyakhorakiwala  edgarpieterse  ingeridhelsingalmaas  peterbuchanan  helenamattsson  catharinagabrielsson  angelosvarvarousis  pennykoutrolikou  2019  anthropocene  population  sustainability  humans  civilization  economics  policy  capitalism  karlmarx  neoliberalism  systemsthinking  cities  urban  urbanism  urbanplanning  urbanization  ecology  consumption  materialism  consumerism  oslo  bymelding  stability  change  predictability  design  africa  southafrica  postcolonialism  ethiopia  nigeria  housing  kenya  collectivism  dissensus  experimentation  future  learning  questioning  debate  discovery  wellbeing  intervention  care  technocracy  modernization  local  grassroots  materials  multiliteracies  ngos  autonomy  shigeruban  mumbai  bamboo  burkinafaso  patrickkeré  vikramadityaprakash  lecorbusier  pierrejeanneret  modernism  shivdattsharma  chandigarh  india  history  charlescorrea  scaffolding 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Engaging Children in the Park Planning Process | Health and Wellness | Parks and Recreation Magazine | NRPA
"In planning and designing new facilities, park and recreation agencies typically seek public input through a meeting or a series of meetings. Having hosted and participated in many such meetings as a park planner, I believe they may not be the most effective way to obtain input that reflects all segments of communities and their diverse viewpoints. Children (under 18 years of age), for example, are often underrepresented or not represented at all. This is certainly alarming but not entirely surprising, considering that the formal or rigid nature of most public meetings can intimidate and discourage kids of all ages from openly sharing their ideas and thoughts.

Given that children are key park users and parks contribute significantly to their development and quality of life, we must be intentional and creative in how we engage them in the planning and design of parks. An important lesson I have learned over the years is that children have much to say about parks and have valuable insights to contribute. The challenge then is for us to engage them in ways that encourage and empower them to share their ideas and to actively participate in existing and future planning and design processes.

Voting for Park Features and Activities
Many kids today are tech savvy and most have their own smartphones. One way to effectively engage them is to have an activity during a community meeting that allows them to vote for their favorite park features (like a basketball court) and recreational activities (like skateboarding). This may be done using special mobile devices or smartphones, with participants being shown images of various park features and activities, and then being able to select the ones that appeal to them the most.

This approach was part of the process used to develop the Puente Hills Landfill Park Master Plan, which involves the conversion of the nation’s second-largest landfill into a regional park. Voting using sticker dots was also done on a large scale for the Los Angeles Countywide Parks and Recreation Needs Assessment as children and adults voted for their top 10 park projects in communities across the county. Although this method might be more old school, it was still a good way to determine a community’s park priorities.

Drawing and Building Dream Parks
The traditional public meeting tends to be dominated by a few loud voices, eager to share their opinions with everyone. To truly engage kids, meetings need to be more fun and interactive. Providing art supplies and allowing younger children to draw their favorite dream or ideal park is one way to do this. This type of activity not only encourages them to be creative and share their ideas visually, but it also helps parents to more freely participate in the meeting without having to worry about their children. For the Master Plan for Sustainable Parks and Recreation planning process, time was set aside toward the end of meetings for children to present their drawings. This helped to create an overall hopeful and positive feeling for all participants. Yet another way to engage kids is to provide them with toy blocks and other random materials they can use to build model parks. For example, planner and artist James Rojas’ interactive planning approach through the use of model building has proven successful in engaging the public, especially kids, and encouraging innovative city-making. Having had first-hand experience in a
Rojas-led exercise, I know this approach empowers participants by allowing them to shape and share visions in a supportive environment without the fear of providing a wrong answer.

Touring Parks
Sociologist Frederik Polak once said, “The future may well be decided by the images of the future with the greatest power to capture our imaginations and draw us to them, becoming self-fulfilling prophecies.” To enable children to see what is possible, they need to be exposed to a wide variety of park and recreation destinations. This is especially true for kids growing up in underserved communities with very few parks and lacking the means to travel to places outside of their immediate neighborhoods. As part of our various planning efforts, we organized tours for children to visit and experience parks in other areas. For example, during the Belvedere Skate Park’s design process, our department took young East Los Angeles skateboarders on a tour of various skateparks to see which design features they would like at their own skatepark. Also, for the Puente Hills Landfill Park Master Plan, many youths participated in an organized hike to the top of the landfill so they could experience what it would be like to have a regional park there in the future.

Visiting Schools
In addition to hosting meetings with activities that engage children and offering tours of parks, it is also important to visit children where they are and where they spend most of their time — at their schools. This requires coordination with and the cooperation of local school districts and/or principals, but it is well worth the effort. As part of the Florence-Firestone Community Parks and Recreation Plan, a middle school allowed us time to conduct a survey of its students to better understand their needs and preferences with respect to park and recreation programs. We also asked the students to illustrate their ideal park and came away with some wonderful pieces of art that were incorporated into the plan.

To meet the growing and diverse needs of communities, park and recreation agencies must effectively reach out to and collaborate with existing and future park users in the planning and design of recreational facilities. We must plan and design parks with, rather than for, children."
children  parks  planning  urbanplanning  urban  urbanism  clementlau  2018  howto 
august 2018 by robertogreco
Where Exactly Is “the Bay Area”? | SPUR
"The San Francisco Bay Area has long been understood as a region made up of the nine counties that touch the Bay. This definition has a simplicity that other large metro areas lack; not all can be organized around a natural feature that is significant in geologic time and scale. But the nine-county border doesn’t always hold. The reality today is that counties such as Merced and San Joaquin are growing quickly and housing more and more of the people who work in the nine counties.

SPUR has launched a multi-year project, the SPUR Regional Strategy, to develop a civic vision for the Bay Area over the next half-century. The goal is to collectively imagine what kind of region we want to be and develop an actionable set of strategies to get us there. Addressing many of our current regional challenges — such as job access, housing affordability and congestion — will require working at many scales: at the local level with cities, at the nine-county level with regional agencies and sometimes at the level of the Northern California megaregion.

Given this, is the traditional nine-county definition the correct scale for this project? Should we consider including more counties? Or should we look instead at systems instead of counties?

To answer these questions, SPUR gathered experts, looked to other efforts to define geographies, and studied maps and data to decide which scale(s) will work best for addressing the region’s greatest challenges."
bayarea  sanfrancisco  norcal  cities  urban  urbanism  urbanplanning  transportation  transit  policy  population  2018  spur  megaregions 
june 2018 by robertogreco
Superblocks: How Barcelona is taking city streets back from cars - YouTube
"Modern cities are designed for cars. But the city of Barcelona is testing out an urban design trick that can give cities back to pedestrians."
cities  cars  transportation  pollution  2016  airpollution  noise  noisepollution  urban  urbanism  superblocks  urbanplanning  air  pedestrians  ildefonscerdà  classideas 
may 2018 by robertogreco
a rat is killed, a man broken, a horse splashes | sara hendren
"Take small steps. In an experimental approach to social change, presume that we cannot know the consequences of our interventions in advance. Given this postulate of ignorance, prefer wherever possible to take a small step, stand back, observe, and then plan the next small move. As the biologist J. B. S. Haldane metaphorically described the advantages of smallness: “You can drop a mouse down a thousand-yard mineshaft; and on arriving at the bottom, it gets a slight shock and walks away. A rat is killed, a man broken, a horse splashes.”

Favor reversibility. Prefer interventions that can easily be undone if they turn out to be mistakes. Irreversible interventions have irreversible consequences. Interventions into ecosystems require particular care in this respect, given our ignorance about how they interact. Aldo Leopold captured the spirit of caution required: “The first rule of intelligent tinkering is to keep all the parts.”

Plan on surprises. Choose plans that allow the largest accommodation to the unforeseen. In agricultural schemes this may mean choosing and preparing land so that it can grow any of several crops. In planning housing, it would mean “designing in” flexibility for accommodating changes in family structures or living styles. In a factory it may mean selecting a location, layout, or piece of machinery that allows for new processes, materials, or product lines down the road.

Plan on human inventiveness. Always plan under the assumption that those who become involved in the project later will have or will develop the experience and insight to improve on the design."
2018  sarahendren  seeinglikeastate  jamescscott  urbanplanning  socialservices  government  everyday  maps  mapping  legibility  highmodernism  socialengineering  reversibility  small  slow  humanism  humans  ecosystems  markets  community  cooperation  scale  scalability  taylorism 
january 2018 by robertogreco
How teen-focused design can help reshape our cities - Curbed
"Sometimes it seems like there is nowhere for teens to be. Here’s what they are doing about it"



"A decade ago, skateparks also tended to be bounded, purpose-built environments that skaters nicknamed “exercise yards.” Today the boundaries are often more fluid, at least between a public park and the skate park. In Tacoma, rather than a 10,000-square-foot skatepark, the city built a few skate spots in a park and, in downtown Wright Park, made the semi-circular benches around the “sprayground” skateable with steel edges rather than defending them with steel knobs. In Emeryville, California, there’s a skate path, with bowls, bumps and rails spread out over a recreational corridor (provoked, it must be said, by the demolition of a DIY skate park).

These designs simulate the thrill of the streets where skateboarding began and, some skateboarders insist, it belongs. In Red Hook, the new park will stay connected to the city, and be protected by more eyes, because it will still serve as a pass-through for residents walking north.

******

Many of the teens’ suggestions, coast to coast, just seem like good sense for people of any age: seating, green space, recreation zonesclose to public transportation, an adult nearby should something happen (but not operating under a state of constant surveillance), longer and later hours. Teens are people too! These projects harness their energy, their ideas and their persuasive powers so that the education goes both ways: teens learn how to advocate for themselves on the city stage, adults learn what it is that a famously uncommunicative demographic needs.

I like Rich’s formulation of teenagers as a febrile, emotional version of adults, not yet disappeared inside a carapace of car, phone, job, gym. The skateboarders and the snackers, the watchers and the players are all alive to the built environment."
alexandralange  architecture  design  urbanism  urban  skateboarding  skateboards  skating  teens  youth  urbanplanning  cities  activism  civics  publicspace  edhook  nyc  booklyn  emeryville  skateparks  parks 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Gautam Bhan: A bold plan to house 100 million people | TED Talk | TED.com
"Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata -- all the major cities across India have one great thing in common: they welcome people arriving in search of work. But what lies at the other end of such openness and acceptance? Sadly, a shortage of housing for an estimated 100 million people, many of whom end up living in informal settlements. Gautam Bhan, a human settlement expert and researcher, is boldly reimagining a solution to this problem. He shares a new vision of urban India where everyone has a safe, sturdy home. (In Hindi with English subtitles)"

[via: "lovely @GautamBhan80's short, succinct explanation of our cities' relationship with informal housing deserves whatsapp virality"
https://twitter.com/supriyan/status/940453565276987394 ]
urbanization  urban  urbanism  housing  slums  settlements  india  gautambhan  2017  eviction  land  property  homes  place  cities  urbanplanning  planning  thailand  informal  inequality  growth  squatting  class 
december 2017 by robertogreco
Felipe Vera - Urbanismo Efimero - YouTube
"Charla en Scola da Cidade sobre ciudades temporales y el Kumbh Mela."

[1:41:33] "Déjame ver si entendí la pregunta. Me está preguntando cuáles con ls implicancias del urbanismo efímero para el tema patrimonial, en resumen? … Una cosa muy interesante, yo creo, es que nosotros tendemos en pensar en temas de conservación como temas de conservación de lo material. Estos caso del urbanismo efímero, cuando uno lo analiza, se da cuenta que el valor está en la práctica, en la praxis, en la conservación de maneras particulares de o bien reconstruir una ciudad o bien construir un ídolo y llevarlo y botarlo en un lugar para que se disvuelva o bien reformular todos los pasajes y cambiar la funcionalidad de algunos espacios urbanos. Entonces, lo que es interesante, yo creo que es interesante esto, sí ahora para las ciudades permanentes es decir en algún minuto vamos a tener que entender que la preservación arquitectónica no tiene que ver con parar el tiempo y con dejar que las cosas no se muevan, sino que va a tener que ver con como durar el cambio, modular el cambio a través de la memoria. Y en una formulación de ese tipo, pensar en la preservación como una práctica y no como la preservación de la forma y yo creo que nos pueda ayudar a desarollar nuevas estrategias."

[Translation (mine, quickly)]: "Let me see if I understand the question. In summary, you are asking me what are the implications of ephemeral urbanism with regard to cultural heritage? … Something very interesting, I think, is that when we think about conservation we tend to think about it in terms of the material. When you analyze these cases of ephemeral urbanism, you realize that the value is in the practice — the praxis — in the conservation of particular ways of things like rebuilding a city or constructing an idol and taking it and throwing it in a place that will make it dissolve, or reformulating all the passages and changing the function of some urban spaces. Then, what is interesting, I think, is to think about this for permanent cities and how at some time we are going to have to think about architectural preservation not as stopping time or preventing things from moving, but rather how to persist through change, how to manage change through memory. And think about preservation through practice and not the preservation of the form and I think that can help us develop new strategies."]

[More related bookmarks collected here:
https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:76144fff16c5 ]
felipevera  architecture  2015  ephemerality  ephemeral  kumbhmela  india  praxis  practice  heritage  conservation  preservation  culture  urbanism  urbanplanning  urbandesign  cities  design  process  craft  rahulmehrotra  memory  change 
october 2017 by robertogreco
Ephemeral Urbanism: Cities in Constant Flux - YouTube
urbanism  urban  cities  ephemerality  ephemeral  2016  rahulmehrotra  felipevera  henrynbauer  cristianpinoanguita  religion  celebration  transaction  trade  economics  informal  formal  thailand  indi  us  dominicanrepublic  cochella  burningman  fikaburn  southafrica  naturaldisaters  refugees  climatechange  mozambique  haiti  myanmar  landscape  naturalresources  extraction  mining  chile  indonesia  military  afghanistan  refuge  jordan  tanzania  turkey  greece  macedonia  openness  rigidity  urbandesign  urbanplanning  planning  adhoc  slums  saudiarabia  hajj  perú  iraq  flexibility  unfinished  completeness  sustainability  ecology  mobility 
october 2017 by robertogreco
A Boom Interview: Mike Davis in conversation with Jennifer Wolch and Dana Cuff – Boom California
"Dana Cuff: You told us that you get asked about City of Quartz too often, so let’s take a different tack. As one of California’s great urban storytellers, what is missing from our understanding of Los Angeles?

Mike Davis: The economic logic of real estate and land development. This has always been the master key to understanding spatial and racial politics in Southern California. As the late-nineteenth century’s most influential radical thinker—I’m thinking of San Francisco’s Henry George not Karl Marx—explained rather magnificently, you cannot reform urban space without controlling land values. Zoning and city planning—the Progressive tools for creating the City Beautiful—either have been totally co-opted to serve the market or died the death of a thousand cuts, that is to say by variances. I was briefly an urban design commissioner in Pasadena in the mid-1990s and saw how easily state-of-the-art design standards and community plans were pushed aside by campaign contributors and big developers.

If you don’t intervene in the operation of land markets, you’ll usually end up producing the opposite result from what you intended. Over time, for instance, improvements in urban public space raise home values and tend to become amenity subsidies for wealthier people. In dynamic land markets and central locations, nonprofits can’t afford to buy land for low-income housing. Struggling artists and hipsters inadvertently become the shock troops of gentrification and soon can’t afford to live in the neighborhoods and warehouse districts they invigorated. Affordable housing and jobs move inexorably further apart and the inner-city crisis ends up in places like San Bernardino.

If you concede that the stabilization of land values is the precondition for long-term democratic planning, there are two major nonrevolutionary solutions. George’s was the most straightforward: execute land monopolists and profiteers with a single tax of 100 percent on increases in unimproved land values. The other alternative is not as radical but has been successfully implemented in other advanced capitalist countries: municipalize strategic parts of the land inventory for affordable housing, parks and form-giving greenbelts.

The use of eminent domain for redevelopment, we should recall, was originally intended to transform privately owned slums into publicly owned housing. At the end of the Second World War, when progressives were a majority in city government, Los Angeles adopted truly visionary plans for both public housing and rational suburban growth. What then happened is well known: a municipal counter-revolution engineered by the LA Times. As a result, local governments continued to use eminent domain but mainly to transfer land from small owners to corporations and banks.

Fast-forward to the 1980s. A new opportunity emerged. Downtown redevelopment was devouring hundreds of millions of dollars of diverted taxes, but its future was bleak. A few years before, Reyner Banham had proclaimed that Downtown was dead or at least irrelevant. If the Bradley administration had had the will, it could have municipalized the Spring-Main Street corridor at rock-bottom market prices. Perhaps ten million square feet would have become available for family apartments, immigrant small businesses, public markets, and the like, at permanently controlled affordable rents.

I once asked Kurt Meyer, a corporate architect who had been chairman of the Community Redevelopment Agency, about this. He lived up Beachwood Canyon below the Hollywood Sign. We used to meet for breakfast because he enjoyed yarning about power and property in LA, and this made him a unique source for my research at the time. He told me that downtown elites were horrified by the unexpected revitalization of the Broadway corridor by Mexican businesses and shoppers, and the last thing they wanted was a populist downtown.

He also answered a question that long vexed me. “Kurt, why this desperate, all-consuming priority to have the middle class live downtown?” “Mike, do you know anything about leasing space in high-rise buildings?” “Not really.” “Well, the hardest part to rent is the ground floor: to extract the highest value, you need a resident population. You can’t just have office workers going for breakfast and lunch; you need night time, twenty-four hour traffic.” I don’t know whether this was really an adequate explanation but it certainly convinced me that planners and activists need a much deeper understanding of the game.

In the event, the middle class has finally come downtown but only to bring suburbia with them. The hipsters think they’re living in the real thing, but this is purely faux urbanism, a residential mall. Downtown is not the heart of the city, it’s a luxury lifestyle pod for the same people who claim Silverlake is the “Eastside” or that Venice is still bohemian.

Cuff: Why do you call it suburbia?

Davis: Because the return to the center expresses the desire for urban space and crowds without allowing democratic variety or equal access. It’s fool’s gold, and gentrification has taken the place of urban renewal in displacing the poor. Take Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris’s pioneering study of the privatization of space on the top of Bunker Hill. Of course, your museum patron or condo resident feels at home, but if you’re a Salvadorian skateboarder, man, you’re probably headed to Juvenile Hall."



"Jennifer Wolch: Absolutely. However it’s an important question particularly for the humanities students, the issue of subjectivity makes them reticent to make proposals.

Davis: But, they have skills. Narrative is an important part of creating communities. People’s stories are key, especially about their routines. It seems to me that there are important social science skills, but the humanities are important particularly because of stories. I also think a choreographer would be a great analyst of space and kind of an imagineer for using space.

I had a long talk with Richard Louv one day about his Last Child in the Woods, one of the most profound books of our time, a meditation on what it means for kids to lose contact with nature, with free nomadic unorganized play and adventure. A generation of mothers consigned to be fulltime chauffeurs, ferrying kids from one commercial distraction or over-organized play date to another. I grew up in eastern San Diego County, on the very edge of the back country, and once you did your chores (a serious business in those days), you could hop on your bike and set off like Huck Finn. There was a nudist colony in Harbison Canyon about twelve miles away, and we’d take our bikes, push them uphill for hours and hours in the hope of peeking through the fence. Like all my friends, I got a .22 (rifle) when I turned twelve. We did bad things to animals, I must confess, but we were free spirits, hated school, didn’t worry about grades, kept our parents off our backs with part-time jobs and yard work, and relished each crazy adventure and misdemeanor. Since I moved back to San Diego in 2002, I have annual reunions with the five or six guys I’ve known since second grade in 1953. Despite huge differences in political beliefs and religion, we’re still the same old gang.

And gangs were what kept you safe and why mothers didn’t have to worry about play dates or child molesters. I remember even in kindergarten—we lived in the City Heights area of San Diego at that time—we had a gang that walked to school together and played every afternoon. Just this wild group of little boys and girls, seven or eight of us, roaming around, begging pennies to buy gum at the corner store. Today the idea of unsupervised gangs of children or teenagers sounds like a law-and-order problem. But it’s how communities used to work and might still work. Aside from Louv, I warmly recommend The Child in the City by the English anarchist Colin Ward. A chief purpose of architecture, he argues, should be to design environments for unprogrammed fun and discovery."



"Wolch: We have one last question, about your young adult novels. Whenever we assign something from City of Quartz or another of your disheartening pieces about LA, it’s hard not to worry that the students will leave the class and jump off of a cliff! But your young adult novels seem to capture some amount of an alternative hopeful future.

Davis: Gee, you shouldn’t be disheartened by my books on LA. They’re just impassioned polemics on the necessity of the urban left. And my third LA book, Magical Urbanism, literally glows with optimism about the grassroots renaissance going on in our immigrant neighborhoods. But to return to the two adolescent “science adventure” novels I wrote for Viggo Mortensen’s wonderful Perceval Press. Above all they’re expressions of longing for my oldest son after his mother moved him back to her native Ireland. The heroes are three real kids: my son, his step-brother, and the daughter of our best friends when I taught at Stony Brook on Long Island. Her name is Julia Monk, and she’s now a wildlife biologist doing a Ph.D. at Yale on pumas in the Andes. I’m very proud that I made her the warrior-scientist heroine of the novels, because it was an intuition about her character that she’s made real in every way—just a remarkable young person."
mikedavis  2016  interviews  economics  california  sanfrancisco  losangeles  henrygeorge  urbanism  urban  suburbia  suburbs  jenniferolch  danacuff  fauxurbanism  hipsters  downtown  property  ownership  housing  populism  progressive  progressivism  reynerbanham  planning  urbanplanning  citybeautiful  gentrification  cities  homeless  homelessness  michaelrotundi  frankgehry  richardlouv  gangs  sandiego  friendship  colinward  thechildinthecity  architecture  fun  discovery  informal  unprogrammed  freedom  capitalism  china  india  england  ireland  famine  optimism  juliamonk  children  teens  youth  development  realestate  zoning  sanbernardino  sciarc 
january 2017 by robertogreco
The Future of Cities – Medium
[video (embedded): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xOOWk5yCMMs ]

"Organic Filmmaking and City Re-Imagining

What does “the future of cities” mean? To much of the developing world, it might be as simple as aspiring to having your own toilet, rather than sharing one with over 100 people. To a family in Detroit, it could mean having non-toxic drinking water. For planners and mayors, it’s about a lot of things — sustainability, economy, inclusivity, and resilience. Most of us can hope we can spend a little less time on our commutes to work and a little more time with our families. For a rich white dude up in a 50th floor penthouse, “the future of cities” might mean zipping around in a flying car while a robot jerks you off and a drone delivers your pizza. For many companies, the future of cities is simply about business and money, presented to us as buzzwords like “smart city” and “the city of tomorrow.”

I started shooting the “The Future of a Cities” as a collaboration with the The Nantucket Project, but it really took shape when hundreds of people around the world responded to a scrappy video I made asking for help.

Folks of all ages, from over 75 countries, volunteered their time, thoughts, work, and footage so that I could expand the scope of the piece and connect with more people in more cities. This strategy saved me time and money, but it also clarified the video’s purpose, which inspired me to put more energy into the project in order to get it right. I was reading Jan Gehl, Jane Jacobs, Edward Glaeser, etc. and getting excited about their ideas — after seeing what mattered to the people I met in person and watching contributions from those I didn’t, the video gained focus and perspective.

If I hired a production services outfit to help me film Mumbai, it would actually be a point of professional pride for the employees to deliver the Mumbai they think I want to see. If some young filmmakers offer to show me around their city and shoot with me for a day, we’re operating on another level, and a very different portrait of a city emerges. In the first scenario, my local collaborators get paid and I do my best to squeeze as much work out of the time period paid for as possible. In the second, the crew accepts more responsibility but gains ownership, hopefully leaving the experience feeling more empowered.

Architect and former mayor of Curitiba Jaime Lerner famously said “if you want creativity, take a zero off your budget. If you want sustainability, take off two zeros.” It’s been my experience that this sustainability often goes hand-in-hand with humanity, and part of what I love about working with less resources and money is that it forces you to treat people like human beings. Asking someone to work with less support or equipment, or to contribute more time for less money, requires a mutual understanding between two people. If each person can empathize for the other, it’s been my experience that we’ll feel it in the work — both in the process and on screen.

Organic filmmaking requires you to keep your crew small and your footprint light. You start filming with one idea in mind, but the idea changes each day as elements you could never have anticipated inform the bigger picture. You make adjustments and pursue new storylines. You edit a few scenes, see what’s working and what’s not, then write new scenes. Shoot those, cut them in, then go back and write more. Each part of the process talks to the other. The movie teaches itself to be a better movie. Because organic is complicated, it can be tricky to defend and difficult to scale up, but because it’s cheap and low-resource, it’s easier to experiment. Learning about the self-organizing, living cities that I did on this project informed how we made the video. And looking at poorly planned urban projects reminded me of the broken yet prevailing model for making independent film in the U.S., where so many films are bound to fail — often in a way a filmmaker doesn’t recover from — before they even begin.

Jane Jacobs said that “cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.” I’ve worked on videos for companies, for the guy in the penthouse, for nobody in particular, in the developing world, with rich people and poor people, for me, for my friends, and for artists. I’m so thankful for everybody who allowed me to make this film the way we did, and I hope the parallels between filmmaking and city building — where the stakes are so much higher — aren’t lost on anyone trying to make their city a better place. We should all be involved. The most sustainable future is a future that includes us all.

“The Future of Cities” Reading List

(There’s a longer list I discovered recently from Planetizen HERE but these are the ones I got into on this project — I’m excited to read many more)

The Death and Life of American Cities by Jane Jacobs
The Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier by Edward Glaeser
Cities for People and Life Between Buildings by Jan Gehl
The Well-Tempered City: What Modern Science, Ancient Civilizations, and Human Nature Teach Us About the Future of Urban Life by Jonathan Rose(just came out — incredible)
Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time by Jeff Speck
The City of Tomorrow: Sensors, Networks, Hackers, and the Future of Urban Life by Carlo Ratti and Matthew Claudel
Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design by Charles Montgomery
Dream Cities: Seven Urban Ideas That Shape the World by Wade Graham
Connectography: Mapping The Future of Global Civilization by Parag Khanna
Delirious New York by Rem Koolhaas
Low Life and The Other Paris by Luc Sante
A History of Future Cities by Daniel Brook
Streetfight: Handbook for the Urban Revolution by Janette Sadik-Khan and Seth Solomonow
Tactical Urbanism: Short-term Action for Long-Term Change by Mike Lydon & Anthony Garcia
Living In The Endless City, edited by Ricky Burdett and Deyan Sudjic

“The Future of Cities” Select Interviewees:
David Hertz & Sky Source
Vicky Chan & Avoid Obvious Architects
Carlo Ratti: Director, MIT Senseable City Lab Founding Partner, Carlo Ratti Associati
Edward Glaeser: Fred and Eleanor Glimp Professor of Economics, Harvard University Author of The Triumph of the City
Helle Søholt: Founding Parner & CEO, Gehl Architects
Ricky Burdett: Director, LSE Cities/Urban Age
Lauren Lockwood, Chief Digital Officer, City of Boston
Pablo Viejo: Smart Cities Expert & CTO V&V Innovations, Singapore
Matias Echanove & Urbz, Mumbai
Janette Sadik-Khan: Author, Advisor, & Former NYC DOT Commissioner
Abess Makki: CEO, City Insight
Dr. Parag Khanna: Author of Connectography
Stan Gale: CEO of Gale International, Developer of Songdo IBD
Dr. Jockin Arputham: President, Slum Dwellers International
Morton Kabell: Mayor for Technical & Environmental Affairs, Copenhagen
cities  urban  urbanplanning  urbanism  bikes  biking  cars  singapore  nyc  losangeles  janejacobs  jangehl  edwardglaeser  mumbai  tokyo  regulation  jaimelerner  curitiba  nantucketproject  carloratti  vickchan  davidhertz  hellesøholt  rickyburdett  laurenlockwood  pabloviejo  matiasechanove  urbz  janettesadik-khan  abessmakki  paragkhanna  stangale  jockinarputham  slumdwellersinternational  slums  mortonkabell  urbanization  future  planning  oscarboyson  mikelydon  anthonygarcia  danielbrook  lucsante  remkoolhaas  dayansudjic  rickyburdettsethsolomonow  wadegraham  charlesmontgomery  matthewclaudeljeffspeck  jonathanrose  transportation  publictransit  transit  housing  construction  development  local  small  grassroots  technology  internet  web  online  communications  infrastructure  services  copenhagen  sidewalks  pedestrians  sharing  filmmaking  film  video  taipei  seoul  santiago  aukland  songdo  sydney  london  nairobi  venice  shenzhen  2016  sustainability  environment  population  detroit  making  manufacturing  buildings  economics  commutes  commuting 
december 2016 by robertogreco
Gallup: Zoning Is Reducing American Productivity And Making The Poor Poorer
"Gallup has released a report called, No Recovery: An Analysis of Long-Term U.S. Productivity Decline that explains that even with modest job and productivity growth post-recession, the productivity of the country is down overall. A big part of the reason for this stagnation and decline is because of the disproportionate growth in costs and decline in value in education, health care, and housing. The Gallup report tells the story that many of us have been repeating for years: we need more housing options. But local governments in fast growing cities have resisted housing production with zoning regulations.

What’s happening with housing that’s affecting productivity? The Gallup report argues makes the case that Americans are paying more for less, spending an average of 28 percent on housing costs compared to 19 percent over thirty years ago. Part of this is the size of units is getting smaller, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Many people are choosing to live in smaller spaces with higher per square foot costs. The Urban Land Institute produced a report on micro housing, A Macro View on Micro Housing, that found many people chose smaller space because while the square foot cost of housing for smaller units is higher, over all rent is less.

But the Gallup report lays the real blame squarely on local elected officials and the influence of incumbent homeowners that constrain supply with aggressive zoning.
The core problem with the housing market is that it is not allowed to function as a market at all. In a healthy market, an increase in demand for a product leads to a greater supply and prices stay the same. In housing markets, demand increases as new households are formed, which results from natural population growth and immigration. The problem is that new supply is massively restricted, leading to inflation (Page 98).

Americans are facing, especially in cities, is housing scarcity that is pushing up prices and consuming their incomes. The money lost to higher prices is money not saved, not invested in new ventures, or education, or meeting other needs. People want to live and work and cities because that’s where the opportunity is; but the report found that zoning is making it harder for new people to live in cities. Here’s a devastating indictment of zoning (emphasis mine):
Local zoning boards and planning agencies have almost complete discretion over what gets built where, and they are under intense political pressure from homeowners’ associations and other groups to block development in high-priced, low-density areas for cultural and economic reasons. Culturally, homeowners clamor to preserve what they regard as the “character” of their communities, by which they mean things like traffic, the race and social status of their neighbors, and environmental amenities like green space and scenic views. Additionally, homeowners have strong economic interests in restricting the supply of housing in their neighborhood for two reasons: having more people, especially people with young children, requires a higher tax rate on property, and even more fundamentally, greater housing supply in their neighborhood lowers the value of their unit relative to the prevailing scarcity. Thus, even as housing prices increased, U.S. population density actually fell from 2000 to 2010 for metropolitan area residents as newer housing units were pushed further out into the distant suburbs (Page 99).

But here’s what Gallup doesn’t say: progressive political rhetoric and policies blaming developers and building owners for higher prices provides the political cover to enact these kinds of measures that actually hurt poor people. And this is truly the scandal of the last three decades, that incumbent single-family homeowners have used the suffering of poor people to argue for policies that benefit their own financial interests while making life worse for people with the fewest dollars to spend on housing in the city, the very people that they claim to be worried about.

Gallup says it isn’t done but will be producing more detailed ideas on solutions. The housing solution will have to require that local politicians and officials stop implementing policies that appear redistributive at the expense of developers and landlords, but that only make things worse for people seeking housing (see Seattle Mayor Murray's Mandatory Inclusionary Zoning scheme). Ironically the fees and taxes wrung out of the production of much needed housing will only raise its price, funneling the money raised into a manifestly inefficient system of housing production. As Margaret Thatcher famously pointed out, all these apparently socialist policies using taxes, fees, and zoning do is make the “poor poorer” while ensuring current homeowners see themselves get richer and richer.

[video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pdR7WW3XR9c ]"
housing  zoning  2016  inequality  urban  urbanism  urbanplanning  planning  cities  economics  progressives  margaretthatcher 
december 2016 by robertogreco
BRASÍLIA by Rem Koolhaas – EN | REVISTA CENTRO
"UNESCO often threatens to strip a site of its status when it or its surroundings are becoming too drastically or too visibly modern. Dresden lost its status because of a new bridge that was thought to threaten the beauty of its protected riverbank landscape. Saint Petersburg is at risk of losing it because of the construction of a Gazprom tower.

Tiring of these endless frontline battles, UNESCO is developing a new definition of the Historic Urban Landscape: heritage is no longer considered as a single object or a single urban ensemble, but as ‘all natural and historical layers of a site, its empty spaces, its infrastructure, and its social, cultural, and economic processes’. Brasília might be one of the most interesting tests for this new definition.

In CRONOCAOS [1], we concluded that the interval between ‘now’ and that which has been ‘preserved’ is shrinking continuously. Shortly, heritage might even acquire a prospective character instead of a retrospective one.

In Brasília, this is already happening. A federal ukase from 1992 demands that any addition to the ‘plane’ be designed by Niemeyer himself (at that time, 85 years old). From this moment, Niemeyer’s future plans were automatically considered World Heritage. And this might make him the biggest threat to his own posthumous reputation: Niemeyer’s most recent additions are nonchalant, sometimes grim, seldom convincing, and always situated somewhere in the wide range between the sublime and the worthless. Just as the ‘older De Kooning’, his recent work makes one wonder whether there still is a functioning mind guiding the master’s hand, or whether the hand has taken over."
brasil  brazil  architecture  remkoolhaas  2011  design  unesco  cities  heritage  worldheritagesites  preservation  urbanism  urban  oscarniemeyer  luciocosta  urbanplanning  brasilia  brasília 
september 2016 by robertogreco
Discrimination by Design - ProPublica
"It’s likely that as long as humans and their institutions hold prejudices and bias, their designs will reflect them. But some progress is possible. Two decades ago architect Ronald Mace imagined a new standard, in which anything humans make — a new piece of technology, a public park, a household product — is usable by everyone. He called this idea “universal design.” Today it’s an enforceable legal standard in Norway. One way to help us get there? Make sure the design process itself is also accessible to all."
design  discrimination  culture  bias  2016  lengroeger  snapchat  robertmoses  katiezhu  racism  urbanplanning  redlining  industrialdesign  homeless  architecture  bathrooms  kathrynanthony  gender  accessibility  universaldesign  norway  prejudice 
september 2016 by robertogreco
How Bad Urban Planning Led To The Birth Of A Billion-Dollar Genre | The FADER
"Architect Mike Ford traces the relationship between structural racism, public housing projects, and hip-hop."



'Hip-hop lyrics are [filled] with first-hand accounts of living conditions in the projects. The hip-hop MC used lyrics to create a dialogue, to give commentary and counterpoints to the modernist vision [that birthed towers like 1520 Sedgwick Ave]. The MCs served as a voice for disenfranchised communities and often un-consulted end users of public housing. Think about Streetlife’s contribution to Wu Tang Clan’s [1998 song] “S.O.S”: Street chronicle, wise words by the abdominal/ High honorable, rap quotable phenomenal/ Seniority kid, I speak for the minority/ Ghetto poverty fuck the housing authority. Or Snoop Dogg’s song “Life in the Projects,” [from the soundtrack of the animated TV show The PJs]: Ain't no trees, the grass ain't green/And when I say it's all bad, you know what I mean. They provided realistic accounts of what life in the projects was like, of the failed urban planning and deplorable conditions of high-rise, low-income housing developments in contrast to the utopia imagined by Le Corbusier.

Corbusier’s plan [did receive] its fair share of criticisms. A critique of the plan was published in the French architectural magazine L’Architecte, and spoke to the uncertainty of the social impact of high density living and Corbusier’s machine-like architecture: “Is the next generation really destined to pass its existence in these immense geometrical barracks, living in standardized mass production houses with mass production furniture…Their games, and by that I mean their recreations, are all based on the same model…Poor Creatures! What will they become in the midst of all this dreadful speed, this organization, this terrible uniformity?” I argue that this 1925 criticism is a prediction of hip-hop culture.

It’s crazy because every architecture school around the country celebrates people like Corbusier and Moses as being great. I’m changing up the story and saying that these people and their ideas were flawed, you know? They created these awful conditions that birthed hip-hop. This is something that’s left out of architectural studies. It hides the hands of those that damaged communities and blames the existence of the “hood” on African-American culture.

As long as people from the outside are telling the story, that narrative will continue. We need to continue to get people of color involved in architecture, as urban planners, as professors, as authors. It’s important for minorities to enter architecture because, throughout the United States, our communities have been designed, uprooted, and pretty much destroyed by architects and urban planners who do not look like us and unfortunately have little to desire to communicate with us during the planning of those events.

So what can happen if we get more minorities involved in architecture and architecture fields such as urban planning? You’re gonna have people at the table who are sensitive to the fabrics of [their] communities and understand what it means to not uproot them. Having a voice at that table to be an advocate for those underrepresented communities is essential. Architecture can destroy and inhibit people from becoming their best, but it also has the power to uplift and empower them. If we’re going to achieve the latter, it’s got to be a collaborative effort."
mikeford  architects  architecture  design  urbanplanning  music  history  hiphop  bronx  nyc  robertmoses  lecorbusier  housing  housingprojects  urbandesign  urbnism  racism  race  us  wutangclan  snoppydogg 
september 2016 by robertogreco
Why Are America’s Most Innovative Companies Still Stuck in 1950s Suburbia? | Collectors Weekly
"When Apple finishes its new $5 billion headquarters in Cupertino, California, the technorati will ooh and ahh over its otherworldly architecture, patting themselves on the back for yet another example of “innovation.” Countless employees, tech bloggers, and design fanatics are already lauding the “futuristic” building and its many “groundbreaking” features. But few are aware that Apple’s monumental project is already outdated, mimicking a half-century of stagnant suburban corporate campuses that isolated themselves—by design—from the communities their products were supposed to impact.

In the 1940s and ’50s, when American corporations first flirted with a move to the ‘burbs, CEOs realized that horizontal architecture immersed in a park-like buffer lent big business a sheen of wholesome goodness. The exodus was triggered, in part, by inroads the labor movement was making among blue-collar employees in cities. At the same time, the increasing diversity of urban populations meant it was getting harder and harder to maintain an all-white workforce. One by one, major companies headed out of town for greener pastures, luring desired employees into their gilded cages with the types of office perks familiar to any Googler.

Though these sprawling developments were initially hailed as innovative, America’s experiment with suburban, car-centric lifestyles eventually proved problematic, both for its exclusiveness and environmental drawbacks: Such communities intentionally prevented certain ethnic groups and lower-income people from moving there, while enforcing zoning rules that maximized driving. Today’s tech campuses, which the New York Times describes as “the triumph of privatized commons, of a verdant natural world sheltered for the few,” are no better, having done nothing to disrupt the isolated, anti-urban landscape favored by mid-century corporations.

Louise Mozingo, the Chair of UC Berkeley’s Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning Department, detailed the origins of these corporate environments in her 2011 book, Pastoral Capitalism: A History of Suburban Corporate Landscapes. From the 1930s designs for AT&T Bell Laboratories in New Jersey to Google’s Silicon Valley campus today, Mozingo traced the evolution of suburbia’s “separatist geography.” In contrast with the city, Mozingo writes, “the suburbs were predictable, spacious, segregated, specialized, quiet, new, and easily traversed—a much more promising state of affairs to corporations bent on expansion.” It also didn’t hurt that many top executives often already lived in the affluent, low-density areas near where they wanted their offices built.

Like the expansive headquarters of many companies who fled dense downtowns, Apple’s new office falls into the architectural vein Mozingo dubs “pastoral capitalism,” after a landscaping trend made popular more than a century ago. In the mid-19th century, prominent figures like Frederick Law Olmsted promoted a specific vision of the natural environment adapted to modern life, beginning with urban parks and university campuses and eventually encompassing suburban residential neighborhoods.

“There was this whole academic discussion around what defined the picturesque, the beautiful, and the sublime,” Mozingo told me when we spoke recently. “Landscape gardener Andrew Jackson Downing had written extensively about it in American publications, but Olmsted went beyond that, and called his ideal park landscape ‘pastoral.’ He was well-read enough to understand that this combined elements of wild nature with agricultural nature.”"



"But perhaps even more damaging was the way this architectural trend turned residents away from one another and reduced their engagement in the public sphere. From the 1950s onward, the vast majority of suburban office projects relied on a model Mozingo refers to as “separatist geography,” where people were isolated from their larger communities for the benefit of a single business entity.

Mozingo’s concept of a separatist landscape builds off the ideas of geographer Allan Pred, who describes how our daily path through the built environment is a major influence on our culture and values. “If you live in a typical suburban place,” Mozingo explains, “you get in your car and drive to work by yourself, then stay in your office for the entire day seeing only other colleagues, and then drive back home alone. You’re basically only interested in improving highways and your office building.” Even as big tech touts its green credentials, the offices for Apple, Facebook, Google, and their ilk are inundated with parking, discreetly hidden below ground like their savvy mid-century forebears, encouraging employees to continue their solo commutes.

Today, this segregation isn’t only aided by architecture—it’s also a function of the tech-enabled lifestyle, with its endless array of on-demand services and delivery apps that limit interactions with people of differing views and backgrounds (exposure that would likely serve to increase tolerance). A protective bubble of affluence also reduces the need for civic engagement: If you always rely on ride-hailing apps, why would you care if the sidewalk gets cleaned or repaired?"



"“There are a handful of companies who are finally doing interesting things in the suburbs,” she continues. “For instance, there’s a developer in Silicon Valley, Kilroy Realty, building a development called the Crossing/900, which is the new Box headquarters, and it’s going to be high-density and mixed-use near Caltrain, so everybody’s excited about that one.” Mozingo also sees potential in a future Facebook project, since they’ve purchased a large plot of land near a disused rail line. “It’s supposed to be mixed-use with explicit public space, and a farmer’s market, and there’s the potential to actually service this area with rail,” she says. “I’m skeptical but hopeful.”

Clearly these modern suburban offices can’t resolve all of a community’s planning issues on a single, isolated site. But even companies that do try to affect change on a larger municipal level are often turned off by the required public process, which Mozingo calls “long, arduous, boring, and annoying.” Despite these misgivings, Mozingo’s understanding of urban history gives her faith that suburban corporate architecture could remedy the problems it has wrought.

“One of the reasons cities function really well,” Mozingo says, “is that in the first few decades of the 20th century, after industry had its way, there was a coalition of progressives who said, ‘We want good lighting, good transportation, and clean water in our cities. We’re going to have sidewalks and streets with orderly traffic, and we’re going to do some zoning so you don’t have a tannery right next to an orphanage.’ They put in big public institutions like museums and theaters and squares with fancy fountains. It cost everybody money, but was agreed on by both the public and private sectors. This is the reason why we still love San Francisco and New York City. Even if we don’t live there, we like going there.

“Believe me, in 1890, cities in the United States were just dreadful–but by 1920, they were much better, and everybody could turn on the tap and drink some water. This was not a small victory,” Mozingo emphasizes. “Suburban corporations have to realize that they’re in the same situation: They have to build alliances with municipalities, counties, state agencies, and each other to come together and spend the next three decades figuring it out—and it is going to take decades.”"
suberbs  suburbia  apple  google  ibm  belllabs  isolation  2016  cities  urbanism  us  corporatecampuses  janejacobs  allanpred  publicspace  urbanplanning  segegation  whiteflight  history  class  race  racism  1970s  1980s  housing  jobs  economics  work  generalmotors  transportation  publictransit  normanfoster  architecture  louisemozingo 
august 2016 by robertogreco
Why Tokyo is the land of rising home construction but not prices - FT.com
"The city had more housing starts in 2014 than the whole of England. Can Japan’s capital offer lessons to other world cities?

It was the rapidity of what happened to the house next door that took us by surprise. We knew it was empty. Grass was steadily taking over its mossy Japanese garden; the upstairs curtains never moved. But one day a notice went up, a hydraulic excavator tore the house down, and by the end of next year it will be a block of 16 apartments instead.

Abruptly, we are living next door to a Tokyo building site. It is not fun. They work six days a week. Were this London, Paris or San Francisco, there would be howls of resident rage — petitions, dire warnings about loss of neighbourhood character, and possibly a lawsuit or two. Local elections have been lost for less.

Yet in our neighbourhood, there was not a murmur, and a conversation with Takahiko Noguchi, head of the planning section in Minato ward, explains why. “There is no legal restraint on demolishing a building,” he says. “People have the right to use their land so basically neighbouring people have no right to stop development.”

Here is a startling fact: in 2014 there were 142,417 housing starts in the city of Tokyo (population 13.3m, no empty land), more than the 83,657 housing permits issued in the state of California (population 38.7m), or the 137,010 houses started in the entire country of England (population 54.3m).

Tokyo’s steady construction is linked to a still more startling fact. In contrast to the enormous house price booms that have distorted western cities — setting young against old, redistributing wealth to the already wealthy, and denying others the chance to move to where the good jobs are — the cost of property in Japan’s capital has hardly budged.

This is not the result of a falling population. Japan has experienced the same “return to the city” wave as other nations. In Minato ward — a desirable 20 sq km slice of central Tokyo — the population is up 66 per cent over the past 20 years, from 145,000 to 241,000, an increase of about 100,000 residents.

[Chart: Change in house prices and population]

In the 121 sq km of San Francisco, the population grew by about the same number over 20 years, from 746,000 to 865,000 — a rise of 16 per cent. Yet whereas the price of a home in San Francisco and London has increased 231 per cent and 441 per cent respectively, Minato ward has absorbed its population boom with price rises of just 45 per cent, much of which came after the Bank of Japan launched its big monetary stimulus in 2013.

In Tokyo there are no boring conversations about house prices because they have not changed much. Whether to buy or rent is not a life-changing decision. Rather, Japan delivers to its people a steadily improving standard, location and volume of house.

In many countries, urban housing is becoming one of the great social and economic issues of the age. (Would Britain have voted for Brexit if more of the population could move to London?) It is worth investigating, therefore, how Tokyo achieved this feat, the price it has paid for a steady stream of homes, and whether there are any lessons to learn.

Like most institutions in Japan, urban planning was originally based on western models. “It’s similar to the United States system,” says Junichiro Okata, professor of urban engineering at the University of Tokyo.

Cities are zoned into commercial, industrial and residential land of various types. In commercial areas you can build what you want: part of Tokyo’s trick is a blossoming of apartment towers in former industrial zones around the bay. But in low-rise residential districts, there are strict limits, and it is hard to get land rezoned.

Subject to the zoning rules, the rights of landowners are strong. In fact, Japan’s constitution declares that “the right to own or to hold property is inviolable”. A private developer cannot make you sell land; a local government cannot stop you using it. If you want to build a mock-Gothic castle faced in pink seashells, that is your business.

In the cities of coastal California, zoning rules have led to paralysis and a lack of new housing supply, as existing homeowners block new development. It was a similar story in 1980s Tokyo.

“During the 1980s Japan had a spectacular speculative house price bubble that was even worse than in London and New York during the same period, and various Japanese economists were decrying the planning and zoning systems as having been a major contributor by reducing supply,” says André Sorensen, a geography professor at the University of Toronto, who has written extensively on planning in Japan.

But, indirectly, it was the bubble that laid foundations for future housing across the centre of Tokyo, says Hiro Ichikawa, who advises developer Mori Building. When it burst, developers were left with expensively assembled office sites for which there was no longer any demand.

As bad loans to developers brought Japan’s financial system to the brink of collapse in the 1990s, the government relaxed development rules, culminating in the Urban Renaissance Law of 2002, which made it easier to rezone land. Office sites were repurposed for new housing. “To help the economy recover from the bubble, the country eased regulation on urban development,” says Ichikawa. “If it hadn’t been for the bubble, Tokyo would be in the same situation as London or San Francisco.”

Hallways and public areas were excluded from the calculated size of apartment buildings, letting them grow much higher within existing zoning, while a proposal now under debate would allow owners to rebuild bigger if they knock down blocks built to old earthquake standards.

All of this law flows from the national government, and freedom to demolish and rebuild means landowners can quickly take advantage. “The city planning law and the building law are set nationally — even small details are written in national law,” says Okata. “Local government has almost no power over development.”

“Without rebuilding we can’t protect lives [from earthquakes],” says Noguchi in Minato ward, reflecting the prevailing view in Japan that all buildings are temporary and disposable, another crucial difference between Tokyo and its western counterparts. “There are still plenty of places with old buildings where it’s possible to increase the volume.”

Constant rebuilding helps to explain why housing starts in the city are so high: the net increase in homes is lower. Like our next-door neighbours, however, a rebuild often allows an increase in density.

All of this comes at a price, not financial, but one paid in other ways. Put simply, the modern Japanese cityscape — Tokyo included — can be spectacularly ugly. There is no visual co-ordination of buildings, little open space, and “high-quality” mainly means “won’t fall down in an earthquake”.

Some of Tokyo’s older apartment buildings give industrial Siberia a dystopian run for its money. The mock-Gothic castle is no flight of fancy: visit the Emperor love hotel, which (de) faces the canal in Meguro ward. Most depressing of all are the serried, endless ranks of cheap, prefab, wooden houses in the Tokyo suburbs.

“The Japanese system is extremely laissez-faire. It really is the minimum. And it’s extremely centralised and standardised. That means it is highly flexible in responding to social and economic change,” says Okata.

“On the other hand, it’s not much good at producing outcomes suited to a particular town in a particular place. It can’t produce attractive cities like the UK or Europe.” Okata wants to hand much more power to local government.

And yet. At the level of individual buildings, if you block from your vision whatever stands next door, Tokyo fizzes with invention and beauty. It is no coincidence that the country where architects can build has produced a procession of Pritzker prize winners.

Japanese urbanism, with its “scramble” pedestrian crossings, its narrow streets, its dense population and its superb public transport is looked to as a model, certainly in Asia, and increasingly across the rest of the world as well.

Most of all, Tokyo is fair. The ugliness is shared by rich and poor alike. So is the low-cost housing. In London, or in San Francisco, all share in the beauty, but some enjoy it from the gutter; others from high above the city, in the rationed seats, closer to the stars."
japan  tokyo  sanfrancisco  london  us  uk  housing  population  property  construction  development  urban  urbanism  urbanplanning  cities  california  zoning  homeownership  policy  england  economics  propertyrights  density 
august 2016 by robertogreco
Third L.A. with Architecture Critic Christopher Hawthorne | KCET
"Architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne partners with Artbound for an episode that looks into the future of Los Angeles. "Third L.A. with Architecture Critic Christopher Hawthorne" examines the city's architecture, urban planning, transportation and changing demographics, giving us a glimpse of Los Angeles as a model of urban reinvention for the nation and the world."

[See also:

"Is Los Angeles a Horizontal City?"
https://www.kcet.org/shows/artbound/tall-buildings-los-angeles-vertical-construction

"Is Los Angeles a City of Houses?"
https://www.kcet.org/shows/artbound/los-angeles-architecture-history-multi-family-housing

"Is Los Angeles a City of Immigrants?"
https://www.kcet.org/shows/artbound/demographics-of-los-angeles-immigrantion

"Is Los Angeles a Private City?"
https://www.kcet.org/shows/artbound/privacy-segregation-in-los-angeles

"What is the Third Los Angeles?"
https://www.kcet.org/shows/artbound/christopher-hawthorne-critic-third-la-los-angeles ]
christopherhawthorne  carolinamiranda  losangeles  urbanplanning  2016  architecture  urban  urbanism  transportation  demographics  barbarabestor  michaelmaltzan  michaelwoo  history  future  density  cities  development  gentrification 
june 2016 by robertogreco
The Playground Project | Art & Education
"Until the 1980s—and in rare cases until today—playgrounds were places for social experiments, risky projects, and spectacular sculptures. Architects, urban planners, artists, parents, and children were invited to leave their comfort zone and to venture something new. Curated by Gabriela Burkhalter, The Playground Project at Kunsthalle Zürich brings many of these exemplary, but nowadays forgotten initiatives, pioneering acts, and adventures back, and installs three playgrounds for children to run, hide and climb. May our cities invent new playgrounds!

The place and the idea of the playground also raises questions about the relationships between different generations. The experiences, memories, and stakes of our changing lives and times do overlap at the climbing poles and sandpits: toddlers’s games, youth folly, parental worry, grandparental bliss…The playground blends together what elsewhere seems restricted to succession. Therefore, the theory and educational program of The Playground Project focuses on joint activity: A room full of things to design your own playground, physical excitement at our monthly yoga classes in the exhibition, public guided tours about the playground’s own biography, and a look behind the scenes of playground production and discourse at a day-long symposium with international guests.

The symposium “Free and daring! Play(grounds) as a place of identification, community, and disorder in the city” takes place on Friday, April 22 from 9:30am to 6pm at Kunsthalle Zurich, and gathers activists, designers, and researchers to discuss and define the conditions for autonomous, free, and daring play within urban space. What does the creation of places that challenge kids require? And what must be the contribution of the given community towards it?

With Gabriela Burkhalter (curator of the exhibition, Basel), Marion Ebert (activist, Kinderbaustelle Biel), Tim Gill (activist, author, scholar, London), Axel Fischer (Head of Maintenance Grün Stadt Zürich), Sven Goebel (Pro Juventute, Divisional Manager “Free Space and Participation,” Zurich) and Petra Stocker (Pro Juventute, Project Coordinator “Play and Social Space,” Zurich), Karl Guyer (Director GZ Wipkingen), Alberto Nanclares da Veiga & Manuel Polanco Pérez-Llantada (Basurama, artist collective, Madrid), Helle Nebelong (landcape architect, Copenhagen), Sam Roth (Director open youth work Wattwil/Project Coordinator Kinderbaustelle Wattwil), Sreejata Roy (artist/pedagogue, Delhi), Xavier de la Salle (Group Ludic, artist collective, France), and others.


Entry: 50 CHF / 30 CHF members / 15 CHF reduced (incl. exhibition ticket), final panel discussion free

More information, detailed program and registration here.
For more information on the exhibition and full artist list please click here.
For dates and more information on other public programs please click here.

The exhibition is accompanied by a comprehensive catalog: The Playground Project, edited by Gabriela Burkhalter, with contributions by Daniel Baumann, Gabriela Burkhalter, Vincent Romagny, Sreejata Roy, and Xavier de la Salle, German/English, Kunsthalle Zürich/JRP|Ringier 2016

Preview: RATZ FATZ ZAUBER WAS – Fairs and Fairy Tales
a project by Luca Beeler, Cedric Eisenring, and Carmen Tobler
Liste Art Fair Basel, June 14–19, 2016
Children’s books are narratives brought into nurseries by parents. Yet those books also transgress the protected private space towards a broader social sphere. Children’s books carry a peculiar set of expectations and aspirations: romantic ideas of the primordial, the “childishly naive,” as well as enlightenment models of education, or the discovery of the child as utopian matter. RATZ FATZ ZAUBER WAS – Fairs and Fairy Tales presents the stories and didactics of numerous examples, from the historical avant-gardes until today. At Liste Art Fair Basel the collection takes shape as a group of sculptural beings out of whose bellies the books are to take. Each day at 3pm special guests will read from their favorite examples.

Luca Beeler (*1985) lives in Zurich and works as a curator. From 2012 until 2014 he ran the art space Muda Mura Muri together with Lorenzo Bernet and Yannic Joray. Cédric Eisenring (*1983) is an artist living and working in Zurich. Carmen Tobler (*1985) is a book designer (a.o. Studio Marie Lusa) and works at Galerie Gregor Staiger in Zurich. Together they run the publishing house Bleach.

Kunsthalle Zürich is regularly supported by:
Stadt Zürich Kultur, Kanton Zürich Fachstelle Kultur, LUMA Foundation, Whale Foundation.

The exhibition is supported by Ernst Göhner Foundation and Graham Foundation."
playgrounds  children  play  lucabeeler  adventureplaygrounds  cities  architecture  urban  urbanism  urbanplanning  gabrielaburkhalter  art  design  timgill 
april 2016 by robertogreco
Why Copenhagen works: Lessons in city governance | Brookings Institution
"With such a reputation, it’s not surprising that Copenhagen has become a required stop for city builders of all stripes looking for smart techniques and tactics like enclosed bike lanes, district heating, innovative transit financing, and internal green courtyards.

But this exercise misses an important point. While acknowledging the value in a search for the discrete, replicable solution, we contend the reason for Copenhagen’s success runs deeper than having progressive ideas. Rather, it is rooted in fundamentals of sound governance. Copenhagen’s municipal government is powerful, and that enhances the city’s ability to make strategic decisions that span decades and mayoral terms. The capacity of the public sector is strengthened by an educated workforce with deep technical knowledge. And collaboration across political parties, levels of government, and sectors of society is common and consistent. 

Understanding this underlying structure—and which parts are replicable and which are not—is critical to advancing progress in other cities."



"The focus on strong local capacity is also reinforced by the city government’s ability to establish publicly owned corporations with specialized areas of responsibility and authority. For example, the city and seven surrounding municipalities co-created and co-own the Greater Copenhagen Utility (HOFOR), which is responsible for building, maintaining, and operating the wastewater system, district heating and cooling, and gas supply for the city and metro region. Another publicly owned corporation is CPH City and Port Development, a joint city/federal effort that is tasked with developing areas along the waterfront and in the Ørestad neighborhood, as well as overseeing operations in Copenhagen Port. The corporation raised capital for developing the Copenhagen metro system by rezoning and selling off valuable land in Ørestad and Nordhavnen—the latter a neighborhood partly built on surplus soil pulled up during subway construction. The benefits of these corporations lie in their ability to bring scale and to harness market forces while working toward the public good."
copenhagen  denmark  cities  planning  governance  government  politics  urbanplanning  longterm  2016  via:tealtan  power  urban  urbanism 
february 2016 by robertogreco
Place Lab
"A catalyst for mindful urban transformation and creative redevelopment for equitable and livable cities.

Place Lab is a team of professionals from the diverse fields of law, urban planning, architecture, design, social work, arts administration, and gender and cultural studies. The think tank is a partnership between Arts + Public Life, an initiative of UChicago Arts, and the Harris School of Public Policy. Led by renowned artist and University of Chicago faculty member Theaster Gates, this joint enterprise merges Chicago Harris’ Cultural Policy Center’s commitment to cultural policy and evidence-based analysis with Place Lab’s work at Arts + Public Life on arts- and culture-led neighborhood transformation.

Over the course of three years, the team works to document and demonstrate urban ethical redevelopment strategies initiated through arts and culture. Place Lab is based in Chicago, extending much of the team’s project management, design, programming, real estate, community building, and documentation acumen towards advancing arts and culture place-based projects on the mid-South Side of Chicago.

Place Lab observes the spaces that Gates reimagines, supports their programmatic activation, captures methods, and shares findings with the partnering demonstration cities of Gary, Akron, Detroit, and other Knight Communities. This work situates artists and creatives in conversations about the urban context. To effectuate policy change, Place Lab amplifies artistic innovators as civic leaders. In order for cities to develop in mindful and equitable ways, artists must be integrated into shaping neighborhoods and public spaces."
placelab  chicago  theastergates  urban  urbanism  architecture  urbanplanning  socialwork  art  arts  culture  cities  redevelopment  gary  detroit  akron  ohio  michigan  indiana 
february 2016 by robertogreco
Just Subtract Water: The Los Angeles River and a Robert Moses with the Soul of a Jane Jacobs - The Los Angeles Review of Books
"Archival photographs taken in the late 19th and early 20th centuries show the LA River as a spreading arroyo of sand and gravel, crazy-quilting the basin for much of its length. It coursed into Santa Monica bay in the early 19th century before shifting to the Los Angeles Harbor, leaving Ballona Creek in its wake on the Ballona Creek watershed. The LA River as it eventually ran from the Valley toward Long Beach was never a miniature Hudson or Mississippi or Nile — wide, flowing, and storied — but a rugged and dry wash for most of the year, crisscrossing the alluvial fan and changing course and direction in a swath eight miles wide in places.

The character of this indeterminate river of changeable mind, alternately casual and violent, was transformed big-time after the 1938 deluge, when 3 million barrels of concrete were dedicated to a single purpose: flood-control management. From Canoga Park in the west San Fernando Valley down to the harbor, its wild, open, and sprawling Zane Grey character vanished into a canyon of concrete.

The river in this form was not designed as a social amenity. The goal-oriented engineers conceived the LA River as a highway for floodwater, to be left virtually vacant otherwise, for most of the year. For some, the river has seemed entombed by a brutal material cast in cold, hostile geometries. After a storm, the river was also treacherous, the pitch accelerating the flow. If the Mississippi seems lazy, it’s partially because it drops about 800 feet in 1,200 miles (if you start at Minneapolis). No rush. The LA River is amphetamine by comparison, dropping by about the same elevation but in only 51 miles.

The ripple effect of the channeled river wasn’t pretty either. The newly defined and protected shoulders of the river were dedicated to electric transformer substations, high-tension wires, warehouses, factories, jails, sanitation truck parking lots, rail lines, and rail yards. It was an industrial service corridor that wasn’t riparian and verdant.

But then it never really had been.

The invisible tributaries to this river of concrete were the street and drainage systems, and as the drought forces hydrologists to look for other sources of water through an integrated program of water usage, including retention, conservation, and recycling, they have come to understand that the river is symptomatic of a paved-over landscape. Focus has widened beyond the Narrows and even the entire 51-mile length of the river to a macro scale and a more holistic understanding of the basin and region.

The drought has changed the game, but another primary factor is the leadership of Mayor Eric Garcetti, who early in his term identified his mayoralty with the river: soon after his election, photos of the mayor kayaking in the river went up in LAX terminals. Perhaps because he grew up in Encino, where he walked alongside the river with his sister and father, and because he represented Silver Lake and other river communities in the City Council, Garcetti has dedicated considerable political will, energy, and capital to a cause he has cared about for decades.

In 2014, he established the multidisciplinary, multi-departmental LA Riverworks department within his own office to coordinate the implementation of the whole river vision, including the 2007 Revitalization Plan, the Army Corps’s Ecosystem Restoration Study, and other plans. “To get anything done in LA, it helps to have the headquarters in the mayor’s office to show the issue is central to the City plans,” Garcetti says, back to normal just a day after a terrorist threat shut down LA schools. “This was a way to centralize cooperation and formalize commitment to the river. It’s a one-stop shop for people to cohabitate, and a reflection of how important the issue is to me.”

The river is playing a role in Garcetti’s bid to bring the 2024 Olympics to Los Angeles: several sites along the river are being considered as possible venues for Olympics-related structures.

Early last year, the independent Los Angeles River Revitalization Corporation wooed Frank Gehry, inviting the Los Angeles architect to study the river and make proposals encompassing everything from the river to the watersheds. “Frank called me and asked me if the invitation was real, and whether it had my support,” says the mayor, “and since I was committed, he committed. Then there was a spillover effect: if he was involved, others wanted to be involved.” Tapping the glocal Gehry, a popular avuncular figure, switched the kliegs onto the river, galvanizing public attention — and lately governmental support: the state has just awarded a $1.5 million grant for Gehry to complete the first phase of a study on which he and his consultants have already worked pro bono for 10 months.

When his involvement was announced, Gehry’s first comments pointed to issues beyond the prevalent notion of the river as a landscaping opportunity. Like Mr. McGuire in The Graduate wanting to say just one word — plastics — to Benjamin (Dustin Hoffman’s character), Gehry memorably uttered hydrology: he would only be interested in the river project if addressed from a water-reclamation point of view. To recharge the basin, he would have to look at the whole river in the context of the larger water ecosystem, and not just the 32-mile Los Angeles city corridor."



"Besides expanding the scope of the inquiry, Gehry has already challenged assumptions. By admitting “concrete” to the palette of ideas, he has expanded the basis of the investigation from plant materials and river cross-sections to include other architectural and cultural issues. There is a place for intimacy and a place for monumentality, and for all the talk about speaking for the river, holding the microphone requires closer listening to what the entire length of the river says it wants to be. The LA River is many rivers, and its character shifts along its course, especially because it widens downstream, as more water enters the channel. Total landscaping is not the answer when the river might be calling for sports stadia with bleachers nested into the embankments.

Confronted with perhaps the largest project of his career, and what could be the commission of an already remarkable lifetime, Gehry didn’t balk at the scale of the endeavor but immediately expressed founding perceptions — hydrology and concrete — with large-scale consequences that break through existing assumptions. The concepts establish an expanded basis for going forward. Angelenos and others have wondered why he has parachuted into the problem. But few people, if any, are better qualified to see the river in all its complexities, and then answer the complexities with proposals. And few figures have the skills to coalesce a broad-based effort that can unite the city. He is a Robert Moses with the soul of a Jane Jacobs.

No one asked for the drought, but it has arrived and is shaping imperatives for the basin’s hydrology, and with it the shape and character of the river and the city itself, recentering it with a common core. In a short period of time, Gehry has assimilated and expanded a complex and lively conversation.

Garcetti explains that the river is not just the geographic heart of the city but also its historic heart. The waterway, which predates people, set pathways for the Tongva, then roads for the Spanish, and then our freeways. A quarter of LA’s population lives within walking distance of the river. “Running from the Valley to Long Beach, it’s really the backbone of the city. Reclaiming the river gives us the ability to reclaim our past and set our future. To me it’s more dynamic than just a magnet or a center. As I’ve said many times, it’s the zipper that can bring us together.”

After the devastating fire of 1871, Chicago remade itself into a modern city, based on innovative architecture and progressive urban planning. Through what seems a propitious alignment of political will, public interest, talent, and momentum, this is LA’s moment to seize its day. A revitalized river running through our megalopolis has the potential not only to revitalize the river, but also to revitalize Los Angeles itself."
losangeles  losangelesriver  lariver  history  cities  california  floodcontrol  2015  josephgiovannini  ericgarcetti  urbanplanning  parks  nature  rivers  urban  urbanism  lariverworks  architecture 
february 2016 by robertogreco
What Happened to the Great Urban Design Projects? - The New York Times
"— Dave Eggers, “This Bridge Will Not Be Gray”

This new book, a collaboration between Eggers and the artist Tucker Nichols, who created the deceptively simple paper cutout illustrations, is a love letter to infrastructure. Eggers’s proclamation that the Golden Gate is beloved because it’s outrageous and weird may fly in the face of just about everyone’s attitude about infrastructure, but it also gets at exactly what we should be feeling about bridges and tunnels.

Awe.

American infrastructure is deferred home maintenance on a massive scale. We just keep putting it off until something major — and often catastrophic — happens, and then it ends up costing twice as much as it would have had we taken care of it proactively. This is a bad strategy — yet it’s the strategy that seems to define United States infrastructure.

There is no awe. There are issues of structural integrity. There are mind-blowing cost overruns. Accidents. Sinkholes. Problems with bolts.

The first design proposed for the Golden Gate was, writes Eggers, “the strangest, most awkward and plain old ugly bridge anyone had every seen ... people compared it to an upside-down rat trap.” (Here is what it looked like.) The public demanded something better — and they got it.

A century later, we’ve lost our collective faith in the power of great projects like the Golden Gate, not to mention our trust in the government to fix a pothole on time and on budget, let alone create an inspiring bridge. How can we restore that faith in possibility?

Let’s take some inspiration from Atlanta — yes, Atlanta! — which is putting the finishing touches on the Atlanta BeltLine, one of the largest, most wide-ranging urban redevelopment programs currently underway in the United States.

The BeltLine is a 22-mile loop of old railroads encircling downtown Atlanta that connects 45 neighborhoods. The project repurposes this historic rail corridor as a new transit greenway, featuring streetcars that connect to existing rail and 11 miles and counting of trails for running, walking and biking. Mostly underutilized industrial properties surround it. These are now becoming perfect sites for new mixed-use, dense projects, including 5,600 units of affordable housing.

The Atlanta BeltLine began as a master’s thesis project. (I don’t know about you, but my master’s thesis project is in a cardboard box in the garage.)



"Yet engineers, planners and policy makers tend to focus on wonky stuff like percentage of parkland per person. They’re awash in acronyms like V.M.T. (vehicle miles traveled), too reliant on planning terms like modeshare that don’t resonate with the general public. These things may be useful in measuring the metrics of a city, but they sure don’t get to the reasons people want to live there. You don’t move to one city because it has 35 percent more parkland per person than another city. You move there because you fall in love with it, or with someone there, or you get a job there, or your family is from there. We need to address metrics, but the bigger goal is to make cities that we love.

Los Angeles, a seemingly even more unlikely candidate to bring awe to infrastructure, is nevertheless doing it, with a dazzlingly ambitious transportation plan (the city’s mayor, Eric Garcetti, has even publicly crooned for road improvements), and also by rediscovering the long-neglected (and abused, frankly) river it was built around. Now, the once largely paved-over 51-mile L.A. River, like the BeltLine, has taken on this mantle of the future again.

Elon Musk’s fanciful Hyperloop may never be built, but let’s give him credit for capturing our collective imaginations. (For a look at other examples of bold, courageous and unusual infrastructure that do, see the slide show.) We can take a lesson from Musk and from Gravel, too, that infrastructure shouldn’t be viewed as an obstacle or a headache but something to behold. That it’s part of something bigger. “People don’t love the physical thing of the BeltLine,” says Gravel. “They love that it’s changing the city. It allows us to look beyond the shortcomings of the city and look ahead to the future and be excited about that.”

In an age of cost overruns, project delays, safety risks and the other, seemingly infinite obstacles to infrastructure, this all might sound awfully reductive, even naïve. But keeping our eye on what’s possible is certainly as important as fixating on what isn’t."
2016  atlanta  planning  metrics  urbanplanning  allisonarieff  daveeggers  infrastructure  goldengatebridge  history  ryangravel  atlantabeltline  beltline  transportation  housing  funding  politics  policy  losangeles  elonmusk  hyperloop  lariver  losangelesriver 
february 2016 by robertogreco
Los Angeles' Moral Failing | California Planning & Development Report
"Whereas a Berkeley resident can cross from exuberance of Telegraph Avenue into the heart of the Cal campus in a few steps, UCLA is an auto-oriented campus surrounded by a moat of driveways, green space, and city streets. Its neighbors are some of the wealthiest and orneriest an institution could ever have the misfortune to live next to. The university, for all its academic heft, retreats from the city, and the city from it.

UCLA was an ironically illustrative venue for a talk by Michael Storper, lead author of "The Rise and Fall of Urban Economies," that I attended recently. Contrary to its expansive title, Storper’s study concerns only Los Angeles and San Francisco. Given that both are booming Pacific Rim metropolises, it may be hard to figure out which is the “rise” and which is the “fall.”

Until you consider this: In 1970, the San Francisco Bay and Los Angeles areas ranked, respectively, numbers three and one in per capita income in the United States. In 2009, after both areas grew by more than 50 percent in population, they were, respectively, numbers 1 and 25.

You don’t have to have a Ph.D. to wonder: What happened?

Some of the reasons for the divergence of Los Angeles and San Francisco, which he defines by their multi-county metro regions, are obvious. L.A.’s aerospace industry crumbled along with the Berlin Wall. Steve Jobs happened to grow up in Cupertino. Et cetera. Hollywood is Los Angeles’ superstar, except that it represents only 2.6 percent of the area’s economy, compared with tech’s 11 percent in the Bay Area

Those factors are just the start. For virtually any given job function, and controlling for all sorts of variables, Storper, who teaches at UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs, finds that a worker in the Bay Area makes more money and does more complex work than her counterpart in Los Angeles does. In other words, they’re not just making more in the Bay Area. They’re making better. This patterns holds for educated and uneducated, immigrants and non-immigrants, and it trickles down even to unskilled workers.

These are the statistics that back up San Francisco’s smugness. Riveting as they are, they describe the only effect but not the cause.

The Intangibles

L.A.’s and the Bay Area’s divergence depends largely on what Storper referred to as the “dark matter” of public policy. Lurking behind every data point and every policy are forces like curiosity, relationships, open-ness, diversity, civic self-image, and values. These factors are often disregarded by short-sighted wonks and bureaucrats not because they’re not crucial but because they aren’t easily quantified.

Storper argues that people in Los Angeles are lousy collaborators. Scholars in L.A. cite each other less often. Patents made in L.A. refer less frequently to other L.A.-based innovations. Los Angeles’ great universities – UCLA, USC, and Caltech – are not nearly as entrepreneurial as Stanford, Berkeley, and UCSF. He cites L.A.’s Amgen as a successful, once-innovative biotech company but says that it’s nothing compared to the Bay Area’s biotech cluster. And it's in Thousand Oaks -- nowhere near a major university.

Storper’s analysis indicates that networks of civic leaders in Los Angeles are often mutually ignorant of each other. The Bay Area Council, the region’s preeminent civic organization, is three times more “connected” than its closest equivalent in Southern California, the L.A. Area Chamber of Commerce. I know what Storper means. I’ve been to events at the Chamber, presided over by civic leaders of a certain generation.

Storper said the phrase “new economy” appears in none of L.A.’s economic development literature in the 1980s. At the same time, San Franciscans were shouting it from the rooftops.

Poverty & Pavement

These attitudes are fatal in an era when ideas, and not Fordist production, are the order of the day.

Echoing Enrico Moretti’s theories about innovation economies, high-wage jobs generate a multiplier that tends to take care of the workers at the bottom. "If you play to weakness (i.e. poverty) you get a weak economy,” Storper said. Interestingly, he said that there’s essentially zero good data on the efficacy of any public-sector economic development programs of the last 45 years. He chided Los Angeles’ leadership for its obsession with the low-paying logistics industry. A rising tide lifts all boats. Unless the boat is a container ship.

If an individual, firm, or government doesn’t have the knowledge or the capital to realize their dreams, so be it. But if they fail because they’re not open to the wisdom, energy, diversity, ambition, and creativity of other human beings, well, that’s something else.

Los Angeles’ economic failing is not just a business failing or a policy failing. It is a moral failing.

What else do you call it when 25.7 percent of residents in the biggest county in the richest state in the richest country in the world live in poverty?

Storper didn’t say so explicitly, but L.A.’s economics sins arise, in part, from our built environment. The two regions have plenty in common, especially in their outlying counties. But insofar as the center cities set the tone for their regions, the differences are striking. We have dingbats, setbacks, curb cuts, mini-malls, chain stores, McMansions, Pershing Square, streets like freeways, freeways like parking lots, and other elements of our landscape that push Angelenos away from each other.

How can you collaborate with someone when they’re in your way, making your drive longer, pouring pollution into your face? How can you feel as optimistic atop an asphalt sheet as you can strolling down a sidewalk lined with Victorians? How can you make friends when you can’t walk to a watering hole? Los Angeles is like a party full of beautiful people who have nothing interesting to say to each other.

Atonement

Atoning for our economic sins must include being a better Los Angeles.

We might not be able to trade Facebook (headquartered in Menlo Park, with 10,000 employees) for Snapchat (headquartered in Venice, with 200 employees). Nor can we can we trade Google for Disney, or the Transbay Tube for the Sepulveda Pass. But we can emulate some of the Bay Area’s urban sensibilities. We can use transit more often. We can build more mixed-use projects. We can embrace public space. We can build to the property line. We can plant trees. We can take advantage of our space rather than squander it. As our city changes, so can its culture.

The great news is that improvement is afoot, with downtown development, new transit, new types of development, and an optimistic corps of young planners. By the time Los Angeles comes into its own, today’s tech titans might be old news, just as Northrup Grumman and McDonnell Douglas are today. Something will have to replace them, and maybe they’ll reside in Los Angeles. We just need to give them a better home.

Postscript: Fortress Westwood

UCLA being what it is, many people who should have attended Storper’s talk – captains of industry, thought leaders, and everyday citizens interested in L.A.’s prosperity – are the ones who are least likely to actually have made the trip. Storper was preaching to a choir, mostly of fellow academics and urban nerds.

After the talk there was a reception. Hors d’oeuvres, wine, the usual. It provided a chance to do some of that mixing and mingling that elude us in L.A.

I would love to have stayed. Maybe I’d have developed new ideas or made new connections. But I had to go. My meter was running out."
losangeles  sanfrancisco  bayarea  ucla  ucberkeley  isolation  collaboration  urban  urbanism  2016  economics  poverty  wealth  janejacobs  cities  accessibilty  caltech  usc  policy  diversity  openness  values  relationships  westwood  california  publicspace  urbanplanning  enricomoretti  michaelstorper  joshstephens 
february 2016 by robertogreco
Apple and Star Wars together explain why much of the world around you looks the way it does - Quartz
"One of the most effective critiques of the totalizing approach to urban design—the Darth-design of cities, if you will—was architecture critic, activist, and theorist Jane Jacobs. Towards the end of her bestselling 1962 critique of mid-century urban design, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Jacobs recounts the number and diversity of the neighbors in the building where she worked. She reports:
“The floor of the building in which this book is being written is occupied also by a health club with a gym, a firm of ecclesiastical decorators, an insurgent Democratic party reform club, a Liberal party political club, a music society, an accordionists’ association, a retired importer who sells maté by mail, a man who sells paper and who also takes care of shipping the maté, a dental laboratory, a studio for watercolor lessons, and a maker of costume jewelry. Among the tenants who were here and gone shortly before I came in, were a man who rented out tuxedos, a union local and a Haitian dance troupe. There is no place for the likes of us in new construction. And the last thing we need is new construction.”

And added, in a forceful footnote: “No, the last thing we need is some paternalist weighing whether we are sufficiently noncontroversial to be admitted to subsidized quarters in a Utopian dream city.”

That there is little room for controversy or discord in the Death Star—amongst its legion of same-suited stormtroopers, say—may go without saying. But what of Apple?

It is clear, first of all, that the company’s success—for all the apparent imperiousness of Jobs—relied, and likely relies still, on discussion, disagreement, and diversity. Jobs himself was famously a stickler for regular “no-holds-barred” meetings in which, while his own leadership had to remain unchallenged, no other presumptions or suppositions were sacred. (Pixar’s irrepressible Alvy Ray Smith would be one of the only employees to challenge Jobs’ control of a whiteboard, part of a duel with Jobs in which dry-erase markers, presumably, stood in for sabers.)

Like the products themselves, however, Apple’s core identity relies on keeping disagreement and discord behind a tightly controlled façade. And sometimes even a tightly controlled interior; one of Jobs’ least successful management interventions on his return to Apple was a short-lived attempt to have all his many thousand employees wear the same, black, custom Issey Miyake clothing. To Jobs’ credit, he quickly withdrew the proposal—but it lived on in the many hundred black turtlenecks Miyake crafted for Jobs’ own, resulting use.

No, if there is something disturbing in the design of Apple’s own apparent Death Star, it is not so much in the company’s clearly successful internal operations, nor in its beautifully singular product range. Rather, it lies in the runaway result of this success; the way in which so many of our interactions with the world, and with each other, are now filtered through the efforts of a single, well-designed and Apple-authored interface.

And beyond well-intentioned, we might even say essential. Particularly given the disorder and predictable unpredictability of complex technological systems, we all crave, and need order. The first Star Wars shoot was so plagued with technical difficulties (and the related derision of the unionized British workforce on the Pinewood Studio lot) that more than one cast member observed that George Lucas appeared far more sympathetic to the authority and order of the Empire than the ragtag Rebel Alliance. Apple has thrived above all in the last two decades by offering the particular beauty that lies in order, organization, and simplicity, and in the predictable delight that results when something technical, unexpectedly, just works."



"We might start inside. A recent profile of Sir Jony Ive in the New Yorker by Ian Parker, “The Shape of Things to Come,” shifts seamlessly from the discussion of consumer objects to that of architecture. Ive, it is suggested, sees himself as an architect too. He finds it, he says, “a curious thing” that in design “we tend to compartmentalize, based on physical scale.” He is reported to assert that he has (in Parker’s words) “taught Foster’s architects something about the geometry of corners,” introducing a seamless, curved detail between wall and floor that now runs throughout the building’s interior.
Yet this detail, and its future life, points to what is in fact one of the main differences between design at the scale of consumer electronics, and that at the scale of architecture and the city.

Apple’s great success as a consumer-focused company is rooted in the one power a consumer has above all: choice. Apple’s products are ubiquitous, above all, because they are far better than what they compete with, a quality that comes precisely from the tight control that Apple exerts on them and their design. But, at the point we don’t like our device, we can—and will—buy a different and better one—from Apple, or from some as-yet-unimaginable competitor.

Yet it is in the nature of architecture that it offers no such choice—the more so the bigger it gets. We can, if we are lucky, sell a house we don’t like. But we can’t sell or dispose of the terrible building across the road. And architecture involves many more people than those who design it, or even pay for it. Myself, I keep thinking of the cleaning staff of the new Apple headquarters; it is for these people, above all, that the usual, clunky detail of wall-meeting-floor exists, with a skirting board to hide the edge of the floor-wax, and catch and disguise the dirt that escapes the polishers. One hopes a special, super-functional polishing device has been designed for them, that will seamlessly clean and feather the floor-wax as it slowly curves into the wall—but one fears that it has not. One thinks as well of Apple’s desk-bound employees, who, so as to preserve the clean lines of the building’s exterior, will not be able to open windows in their offices—despite the Bay Area’s preposterously perfect climate. (“That would just allow people to screw things up,” Jobs apparently declared.)

But here is where the design of products and buildings is most different. The particular conundrum solved by the best teams of architects and city-builders (including all of us as citizens) is how to balance a whole set of competing demands, physical, environmental, and social, against each other—including the demands of the powerful against the needs, and rights, of the powerless.

As we attempt to design 21st-century cities for an increasing landscape of uncertainty, this is an important lesson to remember. Instead of single, grand projects, the staying-power of a city depends on a million connections between its inhabitants, and the natural and technological systems that sustain them. Cities designed tabula rasa, as Jane Jacobs cogently characterized it a generation ago, lack this robust resilience. Instead, their monumental visions of order turn out to hide brittleness, fragility, and frequent catastrophe. Even the most seemingly ordered long-lived city-grid—Manhattan, Barcelona, even San Francisco—simply allows us to better negotiate what is, in reality, a riot of real-world diversity.

It is in this light, perhaps, that one might also examine Apple’s greatest points of corporate difficulty: the interface between the company’s tightly designed and integrated products, and the public software ecosystems it has developed in service of them, the App Store and the Mac App Store. To this architect, these places read a bit like a modernist cityscape; beautiful, elegant, even nice to visit—but very difficult to live in. Like such cities they are also—at least in the case of the Mac App Store—increasingly abandoned, as is usual, by those who can afford to leave.

And yet it is not really Apple that is entirely to blame. The revolution in architecture today—one where the world of screens and devices and the common infrastructure of our cities merge, overlap and combine—is much larger than even the enormous, careful company.

In an awkwardly received, hauntingly prescient diatribe while presenting the Oscar for Best Director in 1979, Francis Ford Coppola declared, “We’re on the eve of something that’s going to make the Industrial Revolution look like a small out-of-town tryout.” What Coppola saw was our world today: “a communications revolution that’s about movies and art and music and digital electronics and satellites, but above all, human talent.”

Steve Jobs’ Apple set out to help create this world—and has succeeded beyond our wildest dreams of the future. George Lucas hired Pixar’s founders, originally, to use technology to make the production of culture easier for himself and a cadre of directors. But Lucas’s digital editing system was quickly eclipsed by Apple’s own, far cheaper, Final Cut Pro—and then, of course, by the iPhones that put high-quality filmmaking and editing into all of our hands. In this, and much else, Apple has helped author a world much like that of Lucas’s far-off galaxy; where all of us are connected, and can tap into vast reserves of invisible power through the device we hold in our hands.

But as Apple’s reach extends into the city and world, into the public sphere as well as the private screen, we should do well to remember these hard-learned lessons of control and openness, hardness and softness, brittleness and resilience. After all, the only thing one can say for certain about a Death Star is that it unexpectedly explodes right before the ending."
apple  starwars  georgelucas  architecture  cities  design  stevejobs  nicholasdemonchaux  history  siliconvalley  filmmaking  urbanism  urbanplanning  control  predicatability  fragility  resilience  unpredicatability  hackers  hackability  jonyive  janejacobs  discussion  disagreement  friction  discord  serendipity  authority  cupertino  pixar  canon  openness  hardness  softness  brittleness  isolation  uncertainty 
december 2015 by robertogreco
The Problem with "Preserving" Single-Family Zoning in San Diego — SD YIMBY
"So, here is what we know: our government-created housing system, across the nation, was expressly racist for decades. Not only were different races segregated, the money could flow only to the white neighborhoods. As a result, certain areas gained nicer houses and better infrastructure and schools. The racist system is gone, but the effects remain. Our current single-family zones tend to be in these nicer areas. No one can question that a single family home generally costs more than an apartment or condo. In direct relation to that, single-family zoning takes up more land and crowds out more inhabitants. Thus, by maintaining our zoning, we are continuing the exclusion of minorities and citizens with low income from our nicest neighborhoods with the best schools and safest streets.

I am not suggesting that any supporter of single-family zoning or residents of single-family homes in general are racist or intend to exclude people; they are merely trying to preserve the wonderful neighborhoods that they already have and I don't blame them for this. But the effect of this preservation is exclusion. If we could increase the density in the nice, single-family zones, we could allow more people to enjoy the 80-year head start given to these neighborhoods. Although a current owner can be expected to fight to maintain the status quo, this position is less defensible when trying to consider the welfare of the city as a whole.

Of course, most would argue that changing the zoning would "ruin" the neighborhood. The thinking is that if our single-family neighborhoods are nice and our denser areas are less nice, this must be a result of the density. But as this history shows, although the correlation between density and "niceness" may be clear, causation is not. Go visit the Upper East Side in Manhattan and argue that density and wealth can't coexist. Given the history described above, it seems the more logical answer is that the nice areas are nice because the government poured resources into them and the less-nice areas suffered from the absence of funding and care. You can't blame a whole class or race for failing to maintain nice single-family houses when they were essentially prohibited by law from doing so. The density is only a byproduct. In fact, density done right can have many benefits. Even if La Jolla is not interested in high rises, allowing accessory-dwelling units, smaller lots, and duplexes could double the population easily without changing the entire culture of the neighborhood. We don't need to put skyscrapers on Mount Soledad, but we can relax some zoning standards.

This is why I have a problem with arguments that we must preserve single-family housing in our urban areas. Not because I am inherently against single family homes, but rather because I believe the most people possible should be able to enjoy these beautiful neighborhoods created by our unfortunate history. As Coates states in another piece, "Housing determines access to transportation, green spaces, decent schools, decent food, decent jobs, and decent services. Housing affects your chances of being robbed and shot as well as your chances of being stopped and frisked." Shouldn't we want our best neighborhoods to be available to as many people as possible? If we don't change our housing policy that has resulted in inequality for at least 80 years, why should we expect anything to change in the next 80 years? It seems more drastic measures are warranted. The best place to start is revisiting our zoning."
zoning  denisty  sandiego  history  2015  policy  redlining  urbanplanning 
december 2015 by robertogreco
New Orleans has launched the city’s first Resilience Strategy
"Three years from now, New Orleans will enter its fourth century. When it is home to the next generation of New Orleanians, what sort of place will it be?

The actions we take today will shape our future city for the coming generation. What must we do now to make the next generation more equitable, more adaptable, and more prosperous? How can we make their New Orleans a dynamic urban landscape – aligned with its natural environment? What leadership is needed – from individuals, communities, the public and private sectors – to realize the city we envision?

RESILIENT NEW ORLEANS addresses these questions and sets forth aspirations to guide our work and specific actions to tackle these challenges. We are building upon the existing visions and plans developed over the last decade. Guided by 100 Resilient Cities, Resilient New Orleans combines local expertise with global best practices to confront our most urgent threats and seek ways to redress our legacy of inequity and risk. We propose bold yet pragmatic actions to adapt our city to our changing natural environment, invest in equity, create flexible and reliable systems, and prepare for future shocks.

We developed this strategy by researching the challenges facing New Orleans, gathering input from stakeholders with relevant knowledge and expertise, and sourcing best practices from around the world. We investigated the city’s shocks, stresses, and assets. We met with local organizations and stakeholders to understand how the city’s resilience is perceived today, to gather local best practices, and devise new approaches.

IMPLEMENTATION

Our strategies will only be as effective as our ability to act. This strategy serves as a focal point and initial work plan for taking action to build resilience. The newly formed Mayor’s Office of Resilience and Sustainability and the Chief Resilience Officer will have responsibility for implementing the strategy by coordinating with partners and agencies. The office will advise the Mayor on policy, guide prioritization, and provide regional leadership on resilience. To further integrate resilience into our regulations, policies, and practices, the resilience office will work closely with the City Planning Commission and Hazard Mitigation Office to ensure consistency with Master Plan and Hazard Mitigation Plan.

By planning coordinating regionally, we can solve immediate and long-term problems that no single municipality or parish can address. Single jurisdictions cannot effectively build better levee systems, restore the coast, create stronger economies, ensure safe and affordable housing for our workforce, or build a transportation systems that will serve us into the future. It is only through cooperation, among cities and towns acting together as a region, that we will be able to effectively engage these challenges."
resilience  nola  neworleans  cities  urban  urbanplanning  urbanism 
october 2015 by robertogreco
The MASSIVE SMALL Compendium: Build a better urban society by Kelvin Campbell — Kickstarter
"In an increasingly complex and changing world, where global problems are felt locally, the systems we use to plan, design and build our towns and cities are doomed to failure. Governments alone cannot solve these problems. We believe there is another way and we can show you how. 

We are creating a concise body of collective knowledge designed to change our top-down systems: a book of lessons from the field; an online submissions platform to collect, develop and share knowledge; a visual framework for building action; and a manual of evolving ideas, tools and tactics both printed and later online. These help and inspire people and government to work together, allowing communities to shape their own environments and make towns and cities that work for us, not against us. We call it the MASSIVE SMALL Compendium."
small  hierarchy  horizontality  2015  government  grassroots  urban  urbanism  urbanplanning  civics 
october 2015 by robertogreco
The Architecture of Segregation - The New York Times
"Fifty years after the creation of the Department of Housing and Urban Development — and nearly that long after the passage of the Fair Housing Act of 1968 — the fight against the interlinked scourges of housing discrimination and racial segregation in America is far from finished. Economic isolation is actually growing worse across the country, as more and more minority families find themselves trapped in high-poverty neighborhoods without decent housing, schools or jobs, and with few avenues of escape.

This did not happen by accident. It is a direct consequence of federal, state and local housing policies that encourage — indeed, subsidize — racial and economic segregation. Fair housing advocates have recently been encouraged by a Supreme Court decision and new federal rules they see as favorable to their cause. Even so, there will be no fundamental change without the dismantling of policies that isolate the poor and that Paul Jargowsky, a professor of public policy at Rutgers University-Camden, and others call the “architecture of segregation.”

As things stand now, federally subsidized housing for low-income citizens, which seems on its face to be a good thing, is disproportionately built in poor areas offering no work, underperforming schools and limited opportunity. Zoning laws in newer suburbs that rest on and benefit from infrastructure built with public subsidies prevent poor, moderate-income and minority families from moving in. Discriminatory practices exclude even higher income minority citizens from some communities.

The economic expansion of the 1990s brought wage increases and low unemployment, diluting poverty and cutting the number of people living in high-poverty neighborhoods by about 25 percent. Many policy experts believed at the time that the era of urban decay was coming to an end. But as Mr. Jargowsky observes, that’s not how things worked out. In a new analysis of census data, he finds that the number of people living in high-poverty slums, where 40 percent or more of the residents live below the poverty level, has nearly doubled since 2000.

Meanwhile, he writes, poverty has become more concentrated: More than one in four of the black poor, nearly one in six of the Hispanic poor and one in 13 of the white poor now live in a neighborhood of extreme poverty. Impoverished families are thus doubly disadvantaged — by poverty itself and by life in areas ravaged by the social problems that flow from it.

The Fair Housing Act was supposed to overcome these problems. But presidents in both parties declined to enforce it vigorously, and governments at all levels simply ignored it. No one knows that story better than former Vice President Walter Mondale, a co-sponsor of the act, who spoke eloquently at a fair housing conference at HUD on Tuesday.

“When high-income black families cannot qualify for a prime loan and are steered away from white suburbs, the goals of the Fair Housing Act are not fulfilled,” he said. “When the federal and state governments will pay to build new suburban highways, streets, sewers, schools and parks, but then allow these communities to exclude affordable housing and nonwhite citizens, the goals of the Fair Housing Act are not fulfilled. When we build most new subsidized housing in poor black or Latino neighborhoods, the goals of the Fair Housing Act are not fulfilled.”

Among the recent positive moves, in a June ruling the Supreme Court reminded state and local governments that housing discrimination is illegal even when unintentional and that the Fair Housing Act bars them from spending federal money in a manner that perpetuates segregation.

The following month, HUD ended decades of equivocation by issuing new rules under a provision of the act that requires state and local governments to “affirmatively further” fair housing goals by making legitimate efforts to replace “segregated living patterns with truly integrated and balanced living patterns.”

These actions, plus growing concern over racial isolation in places like Ferguson, Mo., and Baltimore, have inspired hope among fair housing advocates. But given the high social costs of entrenched segregation, governments at all levels must do far more."

[via: https://twitter.com/quilian/status/640508410325282816 ]
poverty  racism  realestate  zoning  us  segregation  discrimination  hud  housing  cities  urban  pauljargowsky  urbanplanning  fairhousingact  ferguson  baltimore  race  economics  politics 
september 2015 by robertogreco
Only 2 Ways to Fight Gentrification (you’re not going to like one of them)
"When considering gentrification, we must accept the fact that rich people don’t just vaporize by prohibiting the creation of housing for them. If housing desires cannot be met in upscale neighborhoods, the wealthy can and will outbid less affluent people elsewhere. With that in mind, there are only 2 solutions to stem the tide of gentrification. The first solution is widespread liberalization of zoning. This is particularly needed in already desirable locations where incumbent residents have effectively depopulated their neighborhoods over several decades. The only other solution is to eradicate rich people altogether. This, I hope, is not what people have in mind when they declare class war."
gentrification  zoning  urban  urbanism  2015  housing  economics  class  urbanplanning  development 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Chain restaurants are killing us: Billionaire bankers, minimum-wage toilers and the nasty truth about fast-food nation - Salon.com
"At both the corporate and the franchise level, industry officials are keeping their mouths shut about the strike, and for obvious reasons. Acknowledging worker discontent is a no-win situation for enterprises that have invested so much in depicting themselves as enclaves of family-friendly happiness. I mean, nothing deflates a carefully constructed brand image like an angry worker standing out front screaming about not being able to vaccinate her six-month-old on said brand’s lousy pay.

However, the industry’s D.C. attack dog, Rick Berman, felt no such compunction, and commenced snarling immediately. On the day of the strike in August 2013, his Employment Policies Institute ran a full- page advertisement in the Wall Street Journal featuring a big photo of a Japanese kitchen robot. The fast-food protests “aren’t a battle against management,” the ad proclaimed, but a “battle against technology.” Should workers push too hard for super-size wages, shiny automatons might well be deployed in restaurants across the country, making you-know-who totally redundant.

The ad’s implication was that companies employ humans as an act of charity. If those ingrate humans mouth off too much, those noble companies will just go ahead and take the bottom-line steps they’ve magnanimously refrained from taking until now. “Hard work” and an “honest living” actually mean nothing in this world; capital means everything. Look on my technology, ye powerless, and despair!

I thought about that nightmare of automation for quite a while after Berman’s ad ran. It has a grain of truth to it, of course. Journalists have been replaced with bloggers and crowdsourcing. Factory hands have been replaced with robots. University professors are being replaced with adjuncts and MOOCs. What else might the god Efficiency choose to de-skill?

Here’s a suggestion: the ideological carnival barkers in D.C. As I watched the creaking libertarian apparatus go into action, sending its suit-and-tie spokesmen before the cameras to denounce unions and order fast-food workers to shut up, I wondered how long capital would tolerate its old-fashioned existence. In many cases, these people haven’t had an original thought in years. Their main job is to appear concerned on Fox News and collect a six-figure sinecure at some industry-subsidized think tank. To say that they “work hard” for an “honest living” is to bend meaning to the point where its fragile chicken bones snap beneath its rubbery flesh. In a sane world, they are the ones who would be most profitably replaced, their space in the CNBC octobox taken by Hatsune Miku–style projections, attractive Republican holograms whose free-market patter could be easily cued up by a back-office worker in Bangalore."
fastfood  2014  thomasfrank  chains  economics  capitalism  globalization  banking  minimumwage  us  technology  ideology  health  cities  urbanism  urbanplanning  urban  cars  deproffessionaliazation  automation  efficiency  productivity  obesity  power  control  inequality  work  labor 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Urbanism Took a Beating in 2014 | Voice of San Diego
"This time last year, I took a look at all the things happening in San Diego that suggested the city was accepting its role as a major metropolis and embracing urbanist thinking.

“Urbanism seems to have taken hold of San Diego in 2013,” I wrote.

That seems to have been absurd.

In the year since, some of the crumbs that led me to that conclusion have been dismantled or dismissed. New efforts aimed at making the city a more urban place, with denser development and increased use of public transportation didn’t fare well.

The biggest piece of evidence to suggest San Diego was getting serious about planning and development — the hiring of nationally renowned smart-growth champion Bill Fulton as the city’s planning director — was also the biggest counter-argument in 2014. He was welcomed with open arms in 2013.

He’s already gone. He was pushed out, left unsatisfied or took a can’t-pass-up job, depending on who you ask. He’s now running a university planning institute in Houston.

In Fulton’s last months, Mayor Kevin Faulconer created a position above Fulton that would limit his decision-making ability, and the economic development department that had answered to him was taken away, too.

One thing he was left in control of — the Civic Innovation Lab — was born in 2013, and shut down this year.

The brainchild of former Mayor Bob Filner and two UCSD professors, it was meant to be an ambitious mod squad working between city departments to solve urban problems.

Faulconer stripped its funding after it had only been operating a few months. His office said the four full-time employees weren’t fired – but they were.

San Diego’s pivot away from urbanism isn’t all about personnel, either.

Fulton’s planning department this spring unveiled plans in Bay Park near two planned trolley stations in the area.

The new development plan would have increased the number of homes and the height of buildings that could be built in the area. Residents did not like that idea. At all.

Former Councilman Ed Harris organized a three-hour town hall meeting for residents to protest the whole thing. The few plan supporters who got on stage were shouted down, and the city frantically tried to back away from the plan. Fulton said the city would no longer pursue an increase in building height limits, though that change isn’t official yet. A Council race under way at the time became a competition to declare who hated the plan the most.

A few months later, Fulton took the gig in Texas.

And while the city’s ever-hopeful urbanists won a second court victory in their lawsuit against the region’s transportation plan — which they say is too reliant on cars, highways and sprawl — the regional planning agency SANDAG’s board last month voted to go for one more appeal to see if they could avoid making changes to the plan.

But the news wasn’t all bad for urbanist in 2014.

Significantly, Faulconer threw his support behind the Climate Action Plan, a city outline to reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions dramatically by 2035.

The plan would do that, in part, by committing the city to direct new development so that 61 percent of people living within a half mile of a major transit station — as many as 470,000 people — will walk, bike or take transit to work.

It would do that by building lots of homes in dense clusters around transit stations.

And on the micro-scale, the city did see another parklet this year, plus the imminent opening of a temporary commercial space made out of shipping containers downtown from a vacant lot, meant to revitalize the area until it can be developed.

And the city’s oft-delayed bike-share program is tentatively scheduled to open in January.

Nonetheless, 2014 showed anyone looking to make San Diego more like San Francisco, Portland or Denver that they have their work cut out for them."
urbanism  urban  sandiego  2014  regression  andrewkeatts  2013  planning  urbanplanning  transportation  bikes  biking  kevinfaulconer  billfulton  bobfilner  civicinnovationlab  edharris  sandag  policy  politics  density  cities 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Koreatown's cool old buildings point to L.A.'s future - LA Times
"If K-town increasingly resembles an empire on the march, gobbling up new territory by the week, it is not an empire made of bricks and mortar. It is a net draped over the existing cityscape, a net of signage and light, easily stretched and infinitely expandable. It fills, cloaks or remakes spaces in the city others had abandoned or forgotten about.

In a city that has often demolished even its best-known landmarks, that makes it both an anomaly and a suggestion of the L.A. to come. Threaded through a neighborhood that in demographic terms is mostly Latino, well served by subway and bus lines, K-town is a thriving, charismatic advertisement for a more intensely urban Los Angeles.

It is also a reflection of a city whose immigrants are more settled than ever before, increasingly gaining the clout to shape public and private architecture.

We think of Southern California as region of immigrants, and for good reason: 36% of the Los Angeles County population was born outside the U.S., a figure three times the national average.

But immigration to L.A. County peaked in 1990. The foreign-born population is older, better connected socially and more financially stable than it's ever been. A recent study found that just 5% of children here are immigrants but that a remarkable 60% have at least one immigrant parent.

As debates over legal and illegal immigration continue to roil Washington, the rest of the country looks to Los Angeles to catch a glimpse of its cultural future, to see how a metropolitan region, over many decades, has dealt with profound demographic change.

And when L.A. wants to see its own future along those lines? It looks to Koreatown.

The first Korean immigrants to Southern California, a small group that included a number of Presbyterian evangelists, arrived in the late 19th century, settling first on Bunker Hill and later near USC. In the 1960s, thanks to relaxed federal immigration rules, Koreans began arriving in much larger numbers.

Many found housing or opened businesses in the once-glamorous mid-Wilshire area. Rents were cheap, and there was a stock of impressive architecture, including Art Deco buildings wrapped in terra cotta and postwar towers of glass and steel.

"The buildings were not in great shape," said Katherine Yungmee Kim, author of a recent book on Koreatown. "And some of them are still not in great shape. But they're intensely beautiful.""
losangeles  california  koreatown  history  urban  urbanism  2014  urbanplanning  cities  immigration  socal  christopherhawthorne 
december 2014 by robertogreco
'Latino Urbanism' influences a Los Angeles in flux - LA Times
"Work crews in recent weeks have made major design changes to Broadway in downtown Los Angeles, widening the sidewalks and adding planters, chairs and round cafe tables with bright-red umbrellas where rows of parked cars used to be. The upgrades aim to make the street as welcoming to pedestrians as drivers.

They're also superfluous: the urban-planning equivalent of carrying coals to Newcastle. Broadway has for several decades been among the most popular and vital walking streets in Southern California, one typically crowded with Latino shoppers, including many recent immigrants from Mexico.

What's more, Broadway's makeover — which arrives just as some of its discount stores are being replaced in a wave of gentrification by upscale boutiques — happens to take many of its design cues from street life in Latin American cities.

The redesign suggests just how many politicians and policymakers in Southern California are finding inspiration in Latino Urbanism, a term that describes the range of ad hoc ways in which immigrants from Mexico and Central and South America have remade pockets of American cities to feel at least a little like the places they left behind.

Planners are adding parks and bike lanes to major streets but also pushing to loosen outdated restrictions, so that murals can be painted in the arts district and street vendors selling tortas or sliced fruit can operate legally. Temporary events like the popular CicLAvia open-streets festival, patterned after a program in Bogota, Colombia, are spurring permanent urban-design changes that challenge the dominance of cars.

"We're seeing what had been a series of informal activities become more formalized," said James Rojas, a city planning consultant and East L.A. native who coined the term "Latino Urbanism."

Rojas sees the influence across the region, from Santa Monica along the coast to Pasadena in the foothills, and especially in Los Angeles itself. "There's a whole official design lexicon that is borrowed from lessons about how Latinos design their homes and interact with their neighborhoods," he said.

The result is that Los Angeles, long a Latino city culturally and demographically, is beginning to resemble a Latino city in terms of how its streets and public spaces are designed. Latino Urbanism, largely the study of how immigrants use Los Angeles, is increasingly reflected in how Los Angeles looks.

What the shift means for immigrants themselves — particularly in quickly gentrifying neighborhoods like downtown or Boyle Heights — is a separate and deeply fraught question.

For decades in Los Angeles, Latinos have carved out space for entrepreneurial and community-minded activities in a city organized around the freeway and the private house. Largely renters without the connections or capital to remake the architecture of the city, immigrants have found ways to modify an established, largely suburban metropolis around the edges to make it more hospitable and sociable.

In the process they've blurred the line between public and private space that earlier generations of L.A. residents tried to draw as indelibly as possible.

In a neighborhood remade by Latino immigrants, signs are mostly hand-painted, whether they announce an accountant's office or a nail salon. The walls of grocery stores are covered with pictogram-like drawings of milk jugs and boxes of detergent.

Fences are less barriers than thresholds (or impromptu storefronts). Parks are crowded on the weekends, but so are front yards, as birthday parties and other celebrations spill toward the street."



"In some fundamental ways, though, the political establishment's growing embrace of Latino Urbanism is consistent with the cultural history of Southern California. Despite the dominance of car culture over the last half-century, it is remarkable how many of our most successful corridors celebrate walking and some version of sidewalk commerce, authentic or expensively faked, whether it's Olvera Street, the Grove, Disneyland's Main Street, U.S.A., or Santa Monica's 3rd Street Promenade.

After decades of building walkable private enclaves — hugely popular escapes from the rule of the automobile — we are finally turning to the design of the streets and sidewalks themselves.

In Los Angeles, a city with deeper Latin roots than Anglo ones, a street remade to mimic Latino Urbanism is a slice of the city both reinventing itself and looking back to some important first principles."
losangeles  2014  urbanism  urban  latinamerica  cities  urbanplanning  california  christopherhawthorne  socal 
december 2014 by robertogreco
12 ideas for making Boston more inclusive - Magazine - The Boston Globe
"1) CREATE SPACES WHERE PEOPLE FROM ALL WALKS CONVERGE … — Francie Latour

2) HELP SKILLED IMMIGRANTS GET RE-LICENSED … — Omar Sacirbey

3) BRING HIGH-TECH OPPORTUNITIES TO THE INNER CITY … — Michael Fitzgerald

4) GET HIGH SCHOOLERS TO CROSS CLIQUE LINES … — James H. Burnett III

5) ENSURE ACCESS TO PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION … — Sarah Shemkus

6) NURTURE URBAN BUSINESSES … — Michael Fitzgerald

7) SPREAD THE HEALTH … — Priyanka Dayal McCluskey

8) BUILD MORE MIXED-INCOME HOUSING … — Jeremy C. Fox

9) PROTECT THE RIGHTS OF TRANSGENDER PEOPLE … — Jeremy C. Fox

10) CULTIVATE INCLUSION EXPERTS … — Nadia Colburn

11) CELEBRATE DIVERSITY THROUGH THEATER … — Cindy Atoji Keene

12) TEACH TOLERANCE TO CHILDREN — Sarah Shemkus"

[See also: "What are Boston’s biggest barriers to inclusion? Community and nonprofit leaders, academics, activists, and others discuss problems and priorities."
http://www.bostonglobe.com/magazine/2014/12/03/what-are-boston-biggest-barriers-inclusion/0PnxFPYOYlqbAyQRGS4TRK/story.html

[via: https://twitter.com/anamarialeon/status/543045803393433600 ]
boston  cities  urban  urbanism  inequality  2014  francielatour  omarsacirbey  michaelfitzgerald  jamesburnett  sarahshemkus  priyankadayalmccluskey  jeremyfox  nadiacolbum  cindyatojikeene  inclusion  housing  education  health  healthcare  business  highschool  relationships  community  diversity  tolerance  theater  children  youth  technology  immigrants  urbanplanning  inlcusivity  inclusivity 
december 2014 by robertogreco
The architects of apartheid | Cities | The Guardian
"Picturing place: A map can seem a simple thing, yet the act of holding it, studying and discussing the contents illuminates how they operate as practical and rhetorical tools for control, as demonstrated in South Africa during apartheid"

[See also (related to the series "Picturing Place"):
http://www.ucl.ac.uk/urbanlab/research/picturingplace ]
maps  mapping  politics  policy  urbanism  urbanplanning  planning  apartheid  southafrica  africa  racism  cartography  power  control  oppression  history  1950s  picturingplace  photography 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Teddy Cruz to Ted Cruz: Tear Down That Wall | Creative Time Reports
"In an open letter, the renowned urbanist urges the Republican senator to embrace immigration reform—and the creative intelligence of immigrant communities."



"We should recognize and celebrate the innovations of immigrants, because their tactics of survival and self-made entrepreneurship form the core of a more emancipatory idea of the American dream. As an urbanist I look at the complex networks of informal economic exchange and mixed-use housing in immigrant communities and am compelled to ask: How can the human capacity and creative intelligence embedded in migrant communities be amplified to rethink sustainability? Can a cross-border citizen—say, someone who lives in Tijuana and works in San Diego—bring about an idea of citizenship rooted in the shared values and interests between two divided cities? How can immigrant communities help us think about strengthening the social ties and economic landscapes of all our communities, particularly in border cities where American families go back generations?

Because of the opportunities opened up by border territories, I take a stand against your anti-democratic legislation, Senator Cruz. The extremist cultural war that you and your party have waged against the ethical imperative for shared values will only solidify our nation’s global isolation. Do you really have the audacity to claim that undocumented immigrants, the poorest and most marginalized human beings dwelling among us, are the greatest threat to our American way of life? Even after studies have shown that our current deportation program has had “no observable effect on the overall crime rate”? Ultimately a society that is anti-taxes, anti-immigrants, anti-government and anti–public infrastructure only commits civic (and economic) suicide. If we do not reverse the polarizing policies spearheaded primarily by your party, they will lead to the obsolescence of the United States as a global leader in defining how a pluralistic democracy should work.

The truth of the matter is that in today’s world we cannot go it alone—nor can we impose our will on others by force. The problems of Mexico and Central America are ours too. The problems of Ferguson, MO, and other communities with marginalized populations are not isolated from the halls of Washington. We cannot wish away the problems of such places with guns and fences; instead we must listen to, and cooperate with, those most affected by our policies.

"Empathy, of the sort promised on the Statue of Liberty’s plaque, must be at the center of today’s debates. I believe that an absence of empathy also entails a lack of care for ourselves, because we can always find ourselves in the place of others. For this reason, economic and urban growth cannot come at the expense of social equity. The drive to privatize cannot overrun public infrastructure. Mistrust of government cannot undermine the need to protect our shared values. And your hollow notions of freedom and progress, Senator Cruz, cannot and must not subordinate our collective responsibilities to individual self-interest.

Please consider this point, Senator Cruz: immigrants are not threats; they may in fact be our best teachers. So let’s be pragmatic and find an intelligent and just process to provide a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented workers who are already here with us in the United States. They are not returning willingly to the violence and oppression that they escaped, and they are an economic and cultural engine for our country—an engine that you and I have been lucky to be part of as immigrants, documented or not."

[via: http://jonerichall.com/post/103404504479/its-time-for-a-new-border-narrative-based-on-reality ]
teddycruz  tedcruz  2014  border  borders  immigration  economics  urbanism  urbanplanning  urban  cities  militarization  infrastructure  policy  politics  us  immigrants  democracy 
november 2014 by robertogreco
Jeanne van Heeswijk on community development by co-production | Design Indaba
"Jeanne van Heeswijk believes that "radicalising the local" is one of the most important things in the effort to develop communities."

"For somebody to be a citizen, to take part in the shaping of a city, there has to be a sense of belonging. This is the premise of much of the work that Dutch artist Jeanne van Heeswijk concerns herself with. She believes that the people in a community are the best suited to developing, improving and managing the interests in that community.

At Design Indaba Conference 2013 Van Heeswijk spoke about the public space projects she is involved in, with specific references to one in Rotterdam in the Netherlands and one in Liverpool in the UK. For he,r creating public faculty starts with embedding oneself into the community and just going and speaking to people. People need to be engaged in a conversation with each other to learn how to collectively think about organising issues of public interest and concern.

As an artist Van Heeswijk is concerned with the question of how the skills of the artist or designers can be applied for social good in a complex world that is undergoing rapid change and experiencing pressure from the forces of globalisation.

In developing urban communities Van Heeswijk proposes that two important things need to happen. The one is that local production needs to be radicalised, so that the community can tap into existing qualities in the area and find ways of making this more tangible and more visible. Secondly, Van Heeswijk says, communities need to be encouraged and assisted to take matters into their own hands – to create their own antidote.

Repetition is arguably the most important element of urban activities for Van Heeswijk. “Repeat, repeat, repeat, learn, make mistakes, test again, re-take, try again, do it again and again,” she says. And in all of this it is important to get the skills of different people in the community involved.

Van Heeswijk also spoke about the notion of a creative city, organisational forms in community building, storytelling and the importance of thinking about a neighbourhood as a small-scale alternative."

[See also:
http://www.designindaba.com/articles/interviews/stop-waiting-start-making-lessons-liveability-jeanne-van-heeswijk
http://www.designindaba.com/videos/interviews/jeanne-van-heeswijk-becoming-co-producers-our-own-future
https://vimeo.com/62248035 ]
jeannevanheeswijk  2013  art  community  urban  urbanism  production  making  grassroots  design  cities  urbanrenewal  lcproject  socialpractiveart  participatory  participation  publicspace  local  creativity  openstudioproject  workinginpublic  sharing  belonging  repetition  iteration  communitybuilding  storytelling  neighborhoods  socialgood  publicfaculty  conversation  listening  regulation  movement  processions  markets  cooperation  agency  policy  makets  housing  inclusion  urbanplanning  small  activism  voice  governance  planning  expertise  citizens  citizenship  place  involvement  inclusivity  inlcusivity 
october 2014 by robertogreco
Empires Revolution of the Present - marclafia
"The film and online project brings together international philosophers, scientists and artists to give description and analysis to the contemporary moment as defined by computational tools and networks.

It states that networks are not new and have been forever with us in the evolution of our cities, trade, communications and sciences, in our relations as businesses and nation states, in the circulation of money, food, arms and our shared ecology.

Yet something has deeply changed in our experience of time, work, community, the global. Empires looks deeply to unravel how we speak to the realities of the individual and the notion of the public and public 'good' in this new world at the confluence of money, cities, computation, politics and science."

[Film website: http://www.revolutionofthepresent.org/ ]

[Trailer: https://vimeo.com/34852940 ]
[First cut (2:45:05): https://vimeo.com/32734201 ]

[YouTube (1:21:47): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HaTw5epW_QI ]

"Join the conversation at http://www.revolutionofthepresent.org

Summary: The hope was that network technology would bring us together, create a "global village," make our political desires more coherent. But what's happened is that our desires have become distributed, exploded into images and over screens our eyes relentlessly drop to view.

REVOLUTION OF THE PRESENT examines the strange effects — on cities, economies, people — of what we might call accelerated capitalism. Set against a visually striking array of sounds and images, 15 international thinkers speak to the complexity and oddity of this contemporary moment as they discuss what is and what can be.

Documentary Synopsis:
Humanity seems to be stuck in the perpetual now that is our networked world. More countries are witnessing people taking to the streets in search of answers. Revolution of the Present, the film, features interviews with thought leaders designed to give meaning to our present and precarious condition. This historic journey allows us to us re-think our presumptions and narratives about the individual and society, the local and global, our politics and technology. This documentary analyzes why the opportunity to augment the scope of human action has become so atomized and diminished. Revolution of the Present is an invitation to join the conversation and help contribute to our collective understanding.

As Saskia Sassen, the renowned sociologist, states at the outset of the film, 'we live in a time of unsettlement, so much so that we are even questioning the notion of the global, which is healthy.' One could say that our film raises more questions than it answers, but this is our goal. Asking the right questions and going back to beginnings may be the very thing we need to do to understand the present, and to move forward from it with a healthy skepticism.

Revolution of the Present is structured as an engaging dinner conversation, there is no narrator telling you what to think, it is not a film of fear of the end time or accusation, it is an invitation to sit at the table and join an in depth conversation about our diverse and plural world."

[See also: http://hilariousbookbinder.blogspot.com/2014/09/rethinking-internet-networks-capitalism.html ]

[Previously:
https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:ec1d3463d74b
https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:9f60604ec3b3 ]
marclafia  networks  philosophy  politics  science  money  cities  scale  economics  capitalism  2014  kazysvarnelis  communication  communications  business  work  labor  psychology  greglindsay  saskiasassen  urban  urbanism  freedom  freewill  howardbloom  juanenríquez  michaelhardt  anthonypagden  danielisenberg  johnhenryclippinger  joséfernández  johannaschiller  douglasrushkoff  manueldelanda  floriancrammer  issaclubb  nataliejeremijenko  wendychun  geertlovink  nishantshah  internet  online  web  danielcoffeen  michaelchichi  jamesdelbourgo  sashasakhar  pedromartínez  miguelfernándezpauldocherty  alexandergalloway  craigfeldman  irenarogovsky  matthewrogers  globalization  networkedculture  networkculture  history  change  nationstates  citystates  sovreignty  empire  power  control  antonionegri  geopolitics  systems  systemsthinking  changemaking  meaningmaking  revolution  paradigmshifts  johnlocke  bourgeoisie  consumption  middleclass  class  democracy  modernity  modernism  government  governence  karlmarx  centralization  socialism  planning  urbanplanning  grass 
october 2014 by robertogreco
Liberalism and Gentrification | Jacobin
"Gentrification isn’t a cultural phenomenon — it’s a class offensive by powerful capitalists."



"Tying up your assets, your middle-class future, in home values does something to people. It alters their interests. It sutures a professional class, of liberal and even progressive beliefs, to the rapacious capitalist expansion into the city. The people who move to gentrifying areas tend to have liberal, tolerant, cosmopolitan sympathies. But they are aligned materially with reactionary and oppressive city restructuring, pushing them into antagonism with established residents, who do nothing for property values. Behind every Jane Jacobs comes Rudy Giuliani with his nightstick."



"The liberal discourse on gentrification has absolutely nothing to say about finance or prison, the two most salient institutions in urban life. Instead, it does what liberal discourse so often does: it buries the structural forces at work and choreographs a dance about individual choice to perform on the grave. We get tiny dramas over church parking lots and bike lanes and whether 7-11 will be able to serve chicken wings. Gentrification becomes a culture war, a battle over consumer choices: gourmet cupcake shop or fried chicken joint? Can we all live side by side, eating gourmet pickles with our fried fish sandwiches? Will blacks and whites hang out in the same bars? wonders Racialicious.

The problems of gentrification always boil down to those of mutual tolerance (and so, poor black people often become “racists” intolerant of yuppies); the solutions, therefore, reside in personal conduct and ethical choices. In “How To Be A Good Gentrifier,” Elahe Izadi offers such helpful pointers as saying hello to your neighbors and not crossing the street to avoid them. After all, if you’re going to participate in the expulsion of poor people from their communities, you might as well be civil."



"Marx called the violent expropriation of the poor from their lands “primitive accumulation.” The term conjures a one-time sin, in the distant past — Adam Smith called it “originary accumulation.” However, primitive accumulation accompanies capitalist development every step of the way, wherever valuable land meets valueless humanity.

In the early days of America, before Washington existed, nothing short of genocide would suffice. Today’s colonization requires little more than a low-interest mortgage and 911 on speed dial. In the face of this slow destruction of the urban poor, liberals have only one question: can’t we have fried chicken and cupcakes, too?"
capitalism  gentrification  ideology  homeownership  policy  politics  race  racism  2014  gavinmueller  brokenwindows  rudygiuliani  janejacobs  economics  money  sharonzukin  class  urban  urbanism  urbanplanning  carollloyd  sanfrancisco  washingtondc  nyc  richardflorida  creativeclass  frantzfanon  primitiveaccumulation  colonization  housing 
october 2014 by robertogreco
Matt Hern: Vancouver: Spaces of Exclusion and Contestation - YouTube
"Matt Hern's presentation in Session 1, "Spaces of Exclusion and Contestation," in the symposium, "Planning the Vancouver Metropolitan Region: A Critical Perspective," presented by the UBC School of Community and Regional Planning (SCARP), April 15-16, 2014."
matthern  urban  urbanism  2014  portland  oregon  vancouver  britishcolumbia  gentrification  exclusion  contestation  cities  communitygardens  bikelanes  displacement  communities  communityorganizing  purplethistle  groundswell  housing  capitalism  latecapitalism  predatorycapitalism  inequality  politics  policy  colonialism  dispossession  colonization  commons  occupation  density  urbanplanning  planning  solidarity  development  arrogance  difference  hospitality  generosity  friendship  activism 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Special | Current Conservation
"The ten key messages from Action and Policy, with the three key messages guiding this Special Issue highlighted in bold. Source: www.cbobook.org/resources

1. Urbanisation is both a challenge and an opportunity to manage ecosystem services.

2. Rich biodiversity can exist in cities.

3. Biodiversity and ecosystem services are critical natural capital.

4. Maintaining functioning urban ecosystems can significantly enhance human health and well-being.

5. Urban ecosystem services and biodiversity can help contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation.

6. Increasing the biodiversity of urban food systems can enhance food and nutrition security.

7. Ecosystem services must be integrated in urban policy and planning.

8. Successful management of biodiversity and ecosystem services must be based on multi-scale, multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder involvement.

9. Cities offer unique opportunities for learning and education about a resilient and sustainable future.

10. Cities have a large potential to generate innovation and governance tools and therefore can -and must- take the lead in sustainable development.

Cities provide the everyday living environment for a rapidly growing proportion of the world’s population. They also leave footprints in ecosystems in other parts of the world. Increasing the livability in urban environments and self-sufficiency of cities is thus a crucial step towards increasing sustainability of local and global developments. Ecosystems provide humans with everything from food, to feelings of joy and protection against storms. Much of the well-being of future generations will depend on the choices we make today. It is thus crucial to base urban development trajectories on supporting and enhancing ecosystem functions, which can also provide cost-effective solutions."
cities  nature  urban  urbanism  biodiversity  ecosystems  urbanization  policy  urbanplanning  planning  sustainability  environment 
august 2014 by robertogreco
» seattle’s booming sd urban
"I’ve been blabbering to anyone who’ll listen about the density increase we witnessed in Seattle, from the Amazon-induced construction-on-every-block in South Lake Union just north of downtown, to the five-to-eight story buildings going up in every near-urban neighborhood. And it’s not anything new – Seattle has been building multi-unit housing at a rate twice that of San Diego for years (more data here)."



"Imagine if we had hundreds, if not thousands, of new units going into Hillcrest, North Park, Golden Hill and Mission Hills. Because that’s exactly what was happening in the similar neighborhoods of Seattle. And this rainy city is priming itself for the future after years of high unemployment by building the housing that its tech workforce requires. How is Seattle able to overcome NIMBY opposition to smart growth, while San Diego isn’t?

Seattle’s also building the mass transit and bike facilities younger workers seek, while raising its minimum wage to $15 as our mayor vetoes our much smaller increase. The Seattle metro’s unemployment rate is the nation’s lowest, at 5.9%. It’s the fastest-growing large metro in the country. I wonder where our city’s economy will be 20 years from now versus Seattle, as our skilled workers move away in search of affordable housing, our aging population continues to fight development, our hourglass economy worsens, and we continue to expand our freeways for ‘boomers in the ‘burbs."

[See also post about Denver: http://sdurban.com/?p=8974 ]
pauljamason  sandiego  seattle  cities  denver  urban  trasnportation  housing  planning  urbanplanning  transit  publictransit  bike  biking  2014 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Tijuana: life on the political equator | Cities | theguardian.com
"In one of those speculative reports full of foreboding about our urban future, UN-Habitat has predicted that this century metropolises will start joining up like blobs of mercury, crossing international borders to form urban mega-regions. Tijuana-San Diego is an intriguing prospect because the border is not just national but forms part of an imaginary line dividing the global South and North, the developing and developed worlds. This is what Cruz calls the political equator. The question is how the two worlds on either side of it can influence each other?"



"Cruz has done pioneering work in Los Laureles. He was the first to point out that the waste from San Diego’s construction industry was being recycled into new homes here. Further along the valley, where the settlement is more precarious, the evidence is everywhere. “You see those yellow walls?” says Cruz, pointing to the side of a house. “Those are garage doors from San Diego.” Garage doors are a popular material in this canyon. The houses are works of assemblage, like habitable collages. Elsewhere, there are whole post-war prefab houses, simply transplanted from the San Diego suburbs by truck. In crowded areas these are sometimes raised up on metal stilts, right on top of another house – a phenomenon Cruz calls “club sandwich urbanisation". He was so captivated by this practice that at one point he collaborated with amaquiladora to cheaply manufacture space frames specifically for raising up old bungalows. It was a kit of parts for building club sandwiches.

The use of readymades like this has led Cruz to describe such neighbourhoods in Tijuana as purely productive, as opposed to the consumption-based model across the border. Here, San Diego’s waste is recycled to build new communities. Revealing this symbiotic relationship was one way of ascribing value to a type of settlement that is under-respected. “This level of activity needs to be amplified if we’re going to understand the sustainable city,” he says. But while Cruz celebrates such creativity, he is careful not to imply that such communities don’t still need help.

Most of Los Laureles is informal, technically an illegal squatter settlement, but many of the residents have begun the process of acquiring land titles. It is a slow process through which residents incrementally buy legal status and in exchange get the utility services and the political representation that come with it.

This is the kind of administrative process that Cruz has been at pains to engage with. For him, architectural design is far less important than the bureaucratic systems that determine whether communities are empowered or disempowered. And this is precisely one of those cases, where informal communities have the resourcefulness to build homes out of garage doors but not the bureaucratic tools – a legal address, for instance – to find employment outside of the informal sector."



"“This is the laboratory for me in the next five years,” says Cruz. “The first thing Oscar and I want to do is to build a community centre/scientific field station to work on the pollution and water issues.” The big question is whether he can get San Diego’s administration to invest in a place like Los Laureles, whose trash washes across the border into the estuary, as a way of protecting its own ecological interests. “Instead of spending millions on the wall, they could invest in this community so that the poor shanty town becomes the protector of the rich estuary.”

As the last informal settlement in Latin America, with its nose pressed against the window of the North, Los Laureles is already symbolic. But it is also significant as the nexus of three crucial issues. Firstly, it reveals the material flows across this border: San Diego’s waste flows south to be recycled into a barrio, while the barrio’s waste is washed north less productively. Secondly, by disrupting the watershed, the border is undermining the stability of an ecological system. And Cruz’s idea is that Los Laureles should be a micro case study in transnational collaboration, so that the barrio is seen not as a slum but effectively as the guardian of the local environment. Finally, the canyon is another potential testing ground for developing land cooperatively, much as Urban-Think Tank had imagined doing in San Agustín, so that the communal agenda is not lost in the formalisation process.

For Cruz, the collision of complex issues embodied by this easily overlooked community is of global significance. “Any discussion about the future of urbanisation will have to begin by understanding the coalition of geopolitical borders, marginal communities and natural resources,” he says. “That’s why this canyon is fundamental.”"



"Cruz recognises that social change and the creation of a more equitable city are not a question of good buildings. They are a question of civic imagination. And that is something that has been sorely eroded by the neo-liberal economic policies of recent decades. Cruz is a stern critic of America’s steady withdrawal from any notion of public responsibility. He talks of “the three slaps in the face of the American public” after the 2008 crash, namely: the Wall Street bailouts, the millions of foreclosures and the public spending cuts. “It wasn’t just an economic crisis but a cultural crisis, a failure of institutions,” he says. “A society that is anti-government, anti-taxes and anti-immigration only hurts the city.”

So what is to be done? For Cruz, the only way forward is not to play by the existing rules, but to start redesigning those institutions. In San Ysidro, he has been seeking to change the zoning laws to allow a richer and more empowering community life. And changing legislation means engaging with what has been called the “dark matter” – not just the physical fabric of the city, but its regulations.

This is the very definition of the activist architect, one who creates the conditions in which it is possible to make a meaningful difference. New social and political frameworks also need designing, and this i what Cruz has been doing in San Ysidro. “Designing the protocols or the interfaces between communities and spaces, this is what’s missing,” he says. It means giving people the tools they need to be economically productive, and giving them a voice in shaping how the community operates.

In one sense, this could be misinterpreted as just yet more deregulation. But this is not a form of deregulation that enables more privatisation. On the contrary, it would allow more collective productivity and a more social neighbourhood. Here, the architect and the NGO become developers not with a view to profit, but to improve the prospects of the community. “We need to hijack the knowledge embedded in a developer’s spreadsheet,” says Cruz.

In San Ysidro lies the seed of an idea, which is that the lessons of Latin America are gradually penetrating the border wall. What Cruz is trying to do is challenge the American conception of the city as a rigidly zoned thing servicing big business on the one hand and some quaint idea of the American dream on the other. Instead, the city could be more communal, more productive. And he’s drawing on the much more complex dynamics of informal economies, where no space goes to waste, where every inch belongs to a dense network of social and economic exchanges. That’s the model he’s using to try to transform policy in San Diego. The regulations need to be more flexible, more ambiguous, more easily adapted to people’s needs. This is not a Turneresque laissez-faire attitude, but an attempt to get the top-down to facilitate the bottom-up.

And while much of that may sound somewhat utopian, the San Ysidro project has had a stroke of luck that may soon make it a reality. Cruz is now the urban policy advisor to the mayor. As the director of the self-styled Civic Innovation Lab, he heads a think tank operating out of the fourth floor of City Hall, which means that San Diego now has a department modelled on the policy units that were so transformative in Bogotá and Medellín.

What we have here is a Latin American architect, steeped in the lessons of Curitiba, Medellín and Tijuana, embedded within the administration of a major US city. And it’s clear that Cruz is establishing a bridgehead for the lessons of Latin America to find new relevance across what was once an unbridgeable divide. It’s early days, but the implications may well be radical."
justinmcguirk  teddycruz  tijuana  border  borders  architecture  2014  mikedavis  politicalequator  loslaurelescanyon  sandiego  mexico  us  latinamerica  empowerment  bureaucracy  process  politics  geopolitics  squatters  oscarromo  infrastructure  medellín  curitiba  sanysidro  urbanism  urbanplanning  urban  cities  policy  economics  activism  medellin  colombia 
july 2014 by robertogreco
MultipliCITY | Molleindustria
"SimCity promises endless possibilities. You can create the city of your dreams. But in reality you always end up with Phoenix, Arizona. The only type of city you can create is the modernist, car centered, grid based, North American city (Although in some recent versions like SimCity Societies they tried to add variety).

And it’s not just a matter of appearances. Here I tried to build an alternative city based on Situationist principles of Unitary Urbanism. I mixed work places and recreational place, I invested in public transportation and green areas.

But the citizens hated it. It was not a thriving city.

Another issue is the relationship between urban settlements and nature. You can start from an existing city and try to improve it, but the game is really meant to start from a tabula rasa, with a city built from scratch. The natural environment comes up as a blank slate, uninhabited and pre-packaged in discreet square units, ready to conquer and exploit.

It’s very common in games to have a territory that comes already partitioned in units of lands. Civilization uses a grid system too. There are technical reasons for that. But still, it suggests a very specific vision of the nature and ecosystems.

SimCity is not just about planning, you have to take decisions like how to tax your citizens. In pretty much all the titles of the series if your tax rate is around 12% or higher citizens get upset. Typically with a 20% tax, wealthy citizens will simply leave regardless of the services you provide. Some players even managed to run cities with 0 taxes.

This is a pretty clear libertarian bias. In many countries people tolerate high taxation if they feel like they get valuable services from the state.

It’s true that SimCity doesn’t have a stated goal but there is an implied goal which is growth. You can play subversively in many different ways, you can destroy things by triggering disasters. But the only truly rewarding way to play is by trying to make a big, functional city.
SimCity encourages endless growth without ever confronting the player with scarcity of resources. In SimCity 2000 when the map is full you can build arcologies that are cities within cities. And when you fill the map with arcologies, they simply take off to some other planet and you start over. It perpetually postpones the issue of the limits to growth.

Race and class conflicts are also sanitized. Crime can usually be addressed by building more police stations. And you’ll never see racial riots or experience disruptive suburbanization – the White flight. These conflicts were crucial for the development and the decline of North American cities (Detroit being a textbook case). And yet they are not included in the SimCity model.

Probably the most fundamental problem with SimCity is the premise itself: that a single person, the mayor/city planner/dictator, can address the contradictions of contemporary capitalist cities though judicious planning. Seeing the city as organism that can be in good or bad health is denying that there are irreducible conflicting interests at play.

Moreover, there are some more general bias that make SimCity a problematic artifact. Some bias are related to the mathematical, computational nature of the medium: everything is reduced to quantity, to numbers, variables, flows. Some bias are related to the management genre: this top down cybernetic approach is inherently reductionist. It embodies the modernist paradigm of city planning “from above” ignoring the city as lived at street level. This is the approach that informed carefully planned but ultimately unlivable cities like Brasilia.

But most of the bias and the issues I just mentioned come from the fact that between a real city and a simulation of a city there are actual people. People with their own values, experiences, and beliefs that inevitably affect the design of the game."
simcity  modernism  frowth  urban  urbanism  cityplanning  planning  urbanplanning  libertarianism  taxes  brasilia  multiplicity  paolopedercini  2014  brasília 
june 2014 by robertogreco
Networks + New Towns
"NETWORKS + NEW TOWNS is an extended site study of Jonathan, Minnesota and related areas. The suburban neighborhood of Jonathan was one of the first "totally planned communities" in the Midwest, born during the short-lived "New Town" movement of the late 1960's. It grew up during an era characterized by great faith in the power of urban planning and the transformative potential of communications technology. This work uses Jonathan as a microcosm to understand the ways that we augment the earth with matter and data in an ongoing pursuit of better living."
newtowns  urbanism  slowerinternet  networks  samkronick  2013  video  urbanplanning  planning  suburbia  minnesota 
october 2013 by robertogreco
▶ TEDxMedellin - Alejandro Echeverri - Urbanismo Social Medellín - YouTube
"Alejandro Echeverri explica como los proyectos urbanos ayudan a ser inductores de muchos procesos definiendo tiempos, presupuestos y actores en el territorio. Tambien nos habla sobre el poder simbolico de la arquitectura, la belleza y la inclusion."
alehandroecheverri  urbanism  urban  urbanplanning  planning  architecture  2012  medellín  inclusion  colombia  medellin  cities  systemsthinking  publicspace  publictransit  mobility  transmobility  freedom  thechildinthecity  socialurbanism  inclusivity  inlcusivity 
october 2013 by robertogreco
Block by Block
"UN-Habitat and Mojang using Minecraft to involve young people in urban planning"

""Block by Block" is an innovative partnership between the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), the UN agency promoting sustainable towns and cities, and Mojang, the makers of Minecraft.Block by Block involves young people in the planning of urban public spaces. Minecraft has turned out to be the perfect tool to facilitate this process. The four-year partnership will support UN-Habitat’s Sustainable Urban Development Network to upgrade 300 public spaces by 2016. The first pilot project in Kibera, one of Nairobi’s informal settlements is already underway.More information about UN-Habitat can be found on www.unhabitat.org. More information about Mojang can be found at www.mojang.com."
minecraft  urbanplanning  un-habitat  mojang  kibera  nairobi  kenya 
august 2013 by robertogreco
Scientific Proof That Cities Are Like Nothing Else in Nature - Emily Badger - The Atlantic Cities
"The idea that cities are governed by some universal rules of math may make it sound like the urban planner has little control. But, in fact, Bettencourt sees the planner’s job to try to steer cities toward that optimal point (G*) on the above graph. Beyond that point, the number of social interactions in a city can still grow, but the cost of them rises faster than the benefit.

Ideally, as cities grow, all of this means that they should become even more productive, even more powerful. And in this way, at least, they are like one thing in nature. As stars compress matter, they burn brighter and faster the bigger they are. But stars can eventually run out of energy. They’re not open-ended. And they’re isolated systems, where cities rely on food and other resources from beyond their borders.

If the idea of a city as “social reactor” is still a bit too abstract for you, perhaps try this hybrid: “It’s part star, part network,” Bettencourt says. “But it’s really it’s own new thing, for which we don’t have a strict analogy anywhere else in nature.”"

[See also: http://esciencenews.com/articles/2013/06/20/cities.are.a.new.kind.complex.system.part.social.reactor.part.network ]
cities  rules  growth  metaphors  luisbettencourt  2013  urban  urbanplanning  urbanism  networks  stars  analogies  nature  emilybadger 
june 2013 by robertogreco
My Right Turn at the Intersection of Good Ideas | PlaceMakers
"Setting the context, this is what Bill Fulton, preeminent planner / writer / Mayor of Ventura, writes and thinks about the state of California planning today:
The entire planning business in California is changing, and I cannot quite predict where we are headed. So many of the conditions we have lived with for the past generation or two are changing. Real estate development is flat and we can’t predict when the market’s coming back, meaning we can’t use development to leverage needed change in our communities – nor use developer money to fund our practices. Local government revenue is flat and probably going down – meaning advance planning in California is extremely dependent right now on state and federal money, which could dry up anytime. And, of course, nobody knows what’s going to happen with redevelopment in the long run. Cities are on the verge of bankruptcy, planning departments are being rolled up, and planners are out on the street.
In the short run, all these things are harmful to the profession and to California’s communities as well. But it’s possible that some kind of shakeout and rethinking of how planning works in this state is long overdue. Maybe we’ve become too dependent on the same ol’-same ol’ – tax-increment funds, developer impact fees, and so forth. Maybe it’s time to find a new model – one where the local governments play a smaller or at least different role, and developers and nonprofit organizations play a bigger one.

No argument there. And look where it fits with this NGO model presented by architect Teddy Cruz:
Our projects primarily engage the micro scale of the neighborhood, transforming it into the urban laboratory of the 21st century. The forces of control at play across the most trafficked checkpoint in the world has provoked the small border neighborhoods that surround it to construct alternative urbanisms of transgression that infiltrate themselves beyond the property line in the form of non-conforming spatial and entrepreneurial practices. A migrant, small scale activism that alters the rigidity of discriminatory urban planning of the American metropolis, and search for new modes of social sustainability and affordability. The political and economic processes behind this social activism bring new meaning to the role of the informal in the contemporary city. What is interesting here is not the ‘image’ of the informal but the instrumentality of its operational socio-economic and political procedures. The counter economic and social organizational practices produced by non-profit social service organizations (turned micro-developers of alternative housing prototypes and public infrastructure at the scale of the parcel) within these neighborhoods are creating alternative sites of negotiation and collaboration. They effectively search to transform top-down legislature and lending structures, in order to generate a new brand of bottom-up social and economic justice that can bridge the political equator.

An interesting convergence. Now allow me to add my ‘Community Character Corner‘ synopsis, which heroically attempts to bridge the brilliant points of both these perspectives together…"
2011  teddcruz  billfulton  california  sandiego  planning  urbanplanning  urbanism  neighborhoods  small  border  borders  transgression  migration  socialactivism  informal  affordability  sustainability  policy  politics  economics  cities  housing  collaboration  bottom-up  top-down  politicalequator  entrepreneurship  change  covernment  redevelopment  ventura  socal  howardblackson 
june 2013 by robertogreco
In Conversation | Perry Chen and Theaster Gates on Community-Driven Creativity - NYTimes.com
"The Kickstarter co-founder Perry Chen understands how communities can fuel creativity. The artist Theaster Gates knows how creativity can invigorate a community. What happens when they put their heads together?"



"Perry Chen: But everything comes from somewhere. I didn’t even know this till later on, but we found out that Mozart and Beethoven and Whitman and a lot of 19th-century authors used pre-Internet models like Kickstarter — you know, not just going to rich patrons or the Medici or the Church to get the big check, but people going to dozens or even hundreds of people to fund a creative work, a book where their names might be inscribed in the first edition or a concerto. And the Internet, as it can do, can scale things up and make this same model accessible to millions and billions of people."



"Gates: Your point about purposeful infrastructure is right, but I’m not the community do-gooder. I rehabbed my building, and the building across the street was jacked up, so I cleaned it up, because I didn’t want to look at it. I was really just being a good neighbor. I wasn’t trying to be like Mr. Community Builder Man."



"Gates: People try to create the box that defines the work that we do. I know a bunch of capitalists who put a spin on their hunger for a particular kind of capitalist end: they call it “social do-gooding.” But in fact, I want to kind of resist that and say, “Look, if there’s anything that ends up looking like an activist notion, it’s secondary to just doing the thing that I wanted to do.” The reality in the neighborhood that I live in is: if I don’t constantly reconcile what I have against what other people don’t, either I need to leave and be around other people who have what I have, or I’m constantly engaged in this kind of dynamic flow of opportunity and sharing. And that just feels like smart living. Like if my mom made too much food, she’d send a plate down the street. She doesn’t know how to cook greens for two people. She knew how to cook a pot."



"Gates: But happiness is funny. There are days that are really heavy and complicated and dark. And I think that if I were to look at the trajectory of life, what has been consistent is that there are highs and lows. I mean at the moment I found out that I was accepted into Documenta, my mom died. In a way I felt like, in late 2010, my mom’s death was the thing that somehow actually activated these other future opportunities. But there was tremendous sadness. So, there was a way in which these valences live next to each other all the time."
perrychen  teastergates  2013  creativity  art  socialpracticeart  purpose  neighbors  community  urbanplanning  janejacobs  urban  urbanism  neighborhoods  platforms  funding  crowdfunding  kickstarter  infrastructure  socialgood 
june 2013 by robertogreco
a brief history of participation
"These activities were not always congenial to the program of government reform towards democratization. Many of them used participatory methods instead to net poor peoples into networks of debt and reliance on hierarchical authorities.

The reasons for the failures of participatory technology are actually quite specific.

Participation was appropriated during the 1970s as a means of cheap development without commitment of resources from above. The theme of participatory ownership of the city, pioneered in discussions about urban planning in the West, remained strong in the context of the developing world, and even grew in a context of spiraling urbanization. In India, the Philippines, and much of Africa and Latin America, postwar economies pushed peasants off of the land into cities, where the poor availability of housing required the poor to squat on land and build their own homes out of cheap building materials. At first, the governments of these towns collaborated with the World Bank to take out loans to provide expensive, high-rise public housing units. But increasingly, the World Bank drew upon the advice of western advocates of squatter settlements, who saw in western squats the potential benefits of self-governance without interference from the state. In the hands of the World Bank, this theory of self-directed, self-built, self-governed housing projects became a justification for defunding public housing. From 1972 forward, World Bank reports commended squatters for their ingenuity and resourcefulness and recommended giving squatters titles to their properties, which would allow them to raise credit and participate in the economy as consumers and borrowers.

Participatory mechanisms installed by the Indian government to deal with water tanks after nationalization depend on principles of accountability at the local level that were invented under colonial rule. They install the duty of the locality to take care of people without necessarily providing the means with which to do so.

We need developers who can learn from the history of futility, and historians who have the courage to constructively encourage a more informed kind of development. "
peertopeer  web2.0  joguldi  2013  conviviality  participation  participatory  government  centralization  centralizedgovernment  self-rule  history  1960s  democracy  democratization  reform  networks  mutualaid  peterkropotkin  politics  activism  banks  banking  patrickgeddes  urban  urbanism  urbanplanning  planning  self-governance  worldbank  dudleyseers  gandhi  robertchambers  neelamukherjee  india  thailand  philippines  gis  geography  latinamerica  1970s  squatters  economics  development  africa  cities  resources  mapmaking  cartography  maps  mapping  googlemaps  openstreetmap  osm  ushahidi  crowdsourcing  infrastructure 
march 2013 by robertogreco
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