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7 Rules for Designing Safer Cities

As a part of its EMBARQ Sustainable Urban Mobility initiative, the WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities has created a global reference guide called Cities Safer by Design “to help cities save lives from traffic fatalities through improved street design and smart urban development."

Causing over 1.24 million deaths annually, traffic fatalities are currently estimated to be the eighth leading cause of death worldwide, a ranking that is expected to rise to the fifth leading cause of death by 2030.

With these staggering numbers in mind, the Cities Safer by Design guide discusses ways to make cities less dangerous, particularly with its section entitled, “7 Proven Principles for Designing a Safer City.”  Learn what the 7 concepts are, after the break. 

Refresh the Greenery in your Renders with this Free Library of Plants for SketchUp

Are your animated shrubs looking a little tired? Has your digital flora dried up? Are you looking to remedy perennial render problems? Look no further: we've found a solution that will truly make your renders bloom. With the help of a botanist, OneCommunity, an open source software website, has released a list of the most realistic plants optimized for SketchUp. The archive includes everything from palm trees to an array of water and bog plants, bamboo shoots, and tropical evergreen trees. The best part? It's free.

It's time to breathe new life into your wilted renders. Find out how to make yours blossom after the break!

The 'Manhattan of the Desert': Shibam, Yemen's Ancient Skyscraper City

Walking through narrow chaotic alleys dwarfed by soaring towers, few would estimate the age of Yemen's city of Shibam at nearly 1,700 years. Located in Yemen's central Hadhramaut district, Shibam has roots in the pre-Islamic period, and evidence of construction dating from the 9th century.

Shibam is known as the first city on earth with a vertical masterplan. A protected UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1982, the city is home to densely packed buildings ranging from four to eight storeys, beginning in 300 AD but now mostly built after 1532. Thanks to a fortified ring wall, the city has survived nearly two thousand years despite its precarious position adjacent to the wadi floodplain. 

Enter the ancient walled world of Shibam after the break

© Wikimedia CC user Aiman titi Shibam rooftops. Image © Flickr CC user maartenF © Wikimedia CC user Jialiang Gao Haroon Alrashid Mosque in Shibam. Image © Flickr CC user Najeeb Musallam

Winners of Concordia Lighthouse Competition Announced

Open-idea competition platform matterbetter has announced the winners of its Concordia Lighthouse Competition, which sought to pay tribute to the Costa Concordia Disaster of 2012 when a cruise ship capsized off the coast of Tuscany, causing 33 deaths. Open to architectural students and young architectural professionals, participants were asked to “redefine contemporary lighthouse typology and take into consideration advances in technology, development of sustainable systems and its metaphorical value which has made it one of the most inspiring structures in the world.”

Out of 282 entries, first place was awarded to Gwizdala Andrzej and Adrien Mans for their Concordia Lightscape design, which disperses the idea of a lighthouse into thin lines that increase in density as they move closer to the sea.

CEMEX Announces Mexican Premio Obras Finalists

Held annually, the CEMEX Building Awards honor the best architecture and construction both in Mexico and abroad. The XXIV edition will recognize projects built in 2014 that stand out for their construction, conceptual, technical and aesthetic solutions. 

Through this award program CEMEX aims to foster continuous innovation in construction and encourage best practices to generate better spaces and buildings. 

See the Mexican finalists of the national edition of the XXIV Building Awards after the break.

Rafael Viñoly's “Walkie Talkie” Tower in London Leveled with Even More Complaints

Following the controversy over its curved façade, which focused the sun’s rays into dangerous beams, Rafael Viñoly Architects20 Fenchurch Street (dubbed the Walkie Talkie) has now been hit with more accusations -- this time of increasing the wind in the area, and of breaking agreements on its public sky garden, local press have reported

Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin 4 Lamp Now Available on Yamagiwa

Update: The product is available internationally, but has yet to be released in the US. 

You can now adorn your home with your very own Frank Lloyd Wright Taliesin 4 lamp. Lighting brand Yamagiwa and the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation have reached an agreement to sell reproductions of the wooden lamp.

Available in both cherry and walnut, the towering geometrical lamp was originally designed by Wright for the Hillside Home School theater that had burned and was reconstructed at Taliesin in 1952. It features an array of stacked boxes, embellished with red accents, that indirectly reflect off directional boards placed above and below each cube. 

© Yamagiwa © Yamagiwa © Yamagiwa © Yamagiwa

Inside Santiago Calatrava's WTC Transportation Hub in New York

© Michael Muraz
© Michael Muraz

Toronto-based architectural photographer Michael Muraz has shared with us some of the first images seen inside Santiago Calatrava's nearly complete World Trade Center Transportation Hub. Set to open this year, the "glorious" birdlike structure boasts a 355-foot-long operable "Oculus" - a "slice of the New York sky - that floods the hub's interior with natural light, all the way down 60-feet below street level to the PATH train platform. 

Though its been shamed for being years overdue and $2 billion over budget (making it the world's most expensive transit hub), the completed project is turning heads. Take a look for yourself after the break. 

© Michael Muraz © Michael Muraz © Michael Muraz © Michael Muraz

TU/e Students Design Stage for Extrema Outdoor Music Festival

Under the guidance of three teachers, four students from the Department of the Built Environment at Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) have designed and built a stage, “Ensuite,” for the 20th Extrema Outdoor, a music festival in Aquabest, Netherlands.

The structure is composed of 600 pallets, creating a stage that embraces visitors and provides an intimate environment within the crowded festival. By placing the DJ booth in the center of the structure, the stage is made tactile and experiential for visitors.

© Mattia Inselvini © Willeke Machiels © Mattia Inselvini © Mattia Inselvini

Universities from Barcelona and Zurich Selected to Create a New Design School in China

Through a competition limited to some of the most prestigious universities, The Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC) and the Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK) have been chosen to work with the Harbin Institute of Technology of China (HIT) to create a new school of design, architecture and urbanism in Shenzhen. The new centre will be built on HIT's campus and house up to 1,200 post-graduate and doctoral students, with facilities for research, education and production. Read more about this collaboration after the break.

Monocle 24 Take a Trip to Rio de Janeiro's Near-Complete Olympic Village

For this week's edition of Section DMonocle 24's weekly review of design, architecture and craft, the Monocle team take a trip to the near-complete Olympic Village in Rio de Janeiro, plus take a look at the history of the US Embassy in Havanna. The latest edition of The Urbanist explores etiquette and politeness in the metropolis, examining the unspoken rules of conduct that make our cities tick and delve into the psychology of 'urban etiquette'.

Listen to both episodes after the break.

Frank Lloyd Wright's Unity Temple Undergoes Massive Restoration

Frank Lloyd Wrights's Unity Temple is undergoing a much needed $23 million restoration. As the Chicago Tribune reports, the Oak Park temple's integrity was first called into question when a large piece of the ceiling fell above the pulpit in 2008 (thankfully no one was hurt).

The comprehensive overhaul is going beyond restoring the building's to its original beauty; a geothermal heating system and air conditioning will be integrated into the building and site for the first time, allowing the uninterrupted services year-round.

The refurbished temple will reopen in late 2016. 

Conservationists Speak Out Against David Chipperfield's London House for Tracey Emin

When news spread of Tracey Emin's plans to demolish a disused 1920s building in London's East End neighborhood, residents immediately objected. The artist, known for her conservation work in the area, has commissioned David Chipperfield to design a minimalist flat and studio on the site. However, despite the planning application's claim that the design will "greatly contribute to the character and appearance of the conservation area," the opposition isn't convinced.  

“Tracey Emin is at present the owner of a locally listed building that is part of a historic streetscape of variety and charm,” said Save Britain's Heritage director Clem Cecil, who labeled Chipperfield's design "angular and blank." “She has done great conservation work with her other buildings nearby and this building deserves the same treatment.

Milan Restores Famous Rainbow Tower Tiles

The Milan City Council, in partnership with the Rete Ferroviaria Italiana Gruppo FS Italiane railway authorities, has completed the restoration of the famous Torre Arcobaleno (Rainbow Tower) at Porto Garibaldi. 

Once an anonymous water reservoir in the 1960s, the tower was renovated for the 1990 World Cup as part of an initiative in Italy to “turn downtrodden public works into highly recognizable urban beacons.” At this time, the tower was a piece of the Wonderline project, which connected art and architectural initiatives to themes of color, designed to express “the desire to inhabit our planet intelligently, creating a harmony between technology, nature, innovation, and tradition.”

2015 London Design Festival to Open in September

The 2015 London Design Festival, an annual event held to celebrate and promote London as "the design capital of the world," will run this year between the 19th and 27th September. As a platform for some of the capital's major trade shows, the city-wide event aims to showcase exhibitors from across the world at a series of 'Design Destinations' — places at which established and emerging designers, manufacturers and brands can present their products and innovations.

Shigeru Ban's Nepalese Emergency Shelters to be Built from Rubble

© VAN, courtesy of Shigeru Ban Architects
© VAN, courtesy of Shigeru Ban Architects

Shigeru Ban Architects has released images of their first emergency shelter prototype designed for Nepal. Planned to be built by the end of August, the simple shelter is designed to be easily assembled by almost anyone. Using connecting modular wooden frames (3ft x 7ft or 90cm x 210cm), salvaged rubble bricks are used to infill the wall's cavities while paper tube trussing supports the roof. This, as Shigeru Ban says, will allow for "quick erection and nearly immediate inhabitation."

Daniel Libeskind to Build "Pyramid Tower" in Jerusalem

The Jerusalem Municipality has approved plans for mixed-use "Pyramid Tower" designed by Studio Libeskind. A collaboration with local architect Yigal Levi, the tapered tower will rise 105-meters in the heart of the city, adjacent to Mahane Yehuda market - commonly known as "The Shuk". Its form, said to reference "Jerusalem’s existing architectural language," is designed to allow maximum light to the public plaza below. A geometric pattern of Jerusalem stone and glass will adorn the facade, while its arched colonnade connects the tower's ground floor shopping arcade to the surrounding open space. 

London's ArcelorMittal Orbit Tower Will Soon Be the World's Tallest Slide

Anish Kapoor’s ArcelorMittal Orbit Tower in London will soon host the world's tallest and longest tunnel slide. The 114-meter-tall tower, already the UK's tallest sculpture, was originally built for the 2012 London Olympics. As the Metro reports, the semi-transparent stainless steel tube slide will start its descent 80-meters above ground within the structure's infamous lattice work, spiraling five times before embarking on a final 50-meter drop. Rides will last 37 seconds and cost just £5 a ride.