Marco Castroni

A New Infrastructure, Los Angeles

is often portrayed as the example of the car-friendly city. The traditional image of the town is an endless pattern of single family dwellings, interconnected by traffic-clogged freeways, where transit is undeveloped and the air is choked with smog.

However, Los Angeles is changing. The city’s Transport Authority has planned in the last years a series of measures aiming to improve quality of life through improving transit and walking and providing alternative to car commuting.

Learning from the slums (2/2): the rediscovery

The model #1: Napoli, quartieri Spagnoli (image: flickr)

If the mainstream view on the slums describes them as places to escape from and as to destroy as soon as possible, more and more people look at slums in a different way.

The first glances at slums were from some of the architects involved in urban renewal projects, who started to integrate in their projects some elements of the slums. Some of the recurrent features are:

  • narrow courtyards and alleys
  • division of the building into small blocks
  • use of different colors and materials within the same building.

(part 1/2)

Swiss contemporary architecture week

From april 18 to april 26, 2009, Swiss Association of Engineers and Architects (SIA) organizes the Contemporary Architecture Week. All along the week, visits to more than 100 contemporary buildings will be organized and led by each building’s author. In the same days, a series of conferences will be held in Geneva, Lausanne, Fribourg and . The list of all visits and conferences can be downloaded here and here.

Designing the 21st century street

In June 2008, Transportation Alternatives launched the competition 21st Century Street. Partecipants to the competition should redesign the intersection between 9th Street and 4th Avenue in Brooklyn, in order to allow more space for pedestrians, cyclists and public transports.

On December 9, 2008, the results of the competition have been announced, and you can see the winners after the break.

CV08, the suburb-eating robot

Peak oil is approaching. In the next future, most of the oil-dependent suburbs in which we live now will be abandoned and decay, turning into ruins, inhabited only by the few ones who where too fat and too car-dependent to escape back to the city. Little by little, nature will take over suburbs, but this process will be extremely slowly.

In order to give Mother Nature a hand, Andrew Maynard Architects have designed CV08, the suburb-eating robot.

Learning from the slums (1/2):literature and urban renewal

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“Slumdog Millionaire” is the movie of the year. Its story of a young guy from Mumbai’s slum of Dharavi, who manages to change its destiny through the “Who wants to be a Millionaire” game has charmed many people, including the Oscars’ jury, who awarded the movie with 8 prizes.

At the same time, the movie has created a debate around slums and how the movie portrays them. “Slumdog Millionaire” follows the mainstream vision of slums, described in the XIX century by writers like Daniel Defoe or Charles Dickens: dark, dirty places, with people packed in small rooms with no water facilities. In slums, riots are frequents, and police can hardly enter: the perfect place for criminals to hide and plan their threats to the society, and the perfect incubator for all sort of diseases.

Refurbishing the 60′s masterpieces: La Rinascente and Corviale, Rome

The city within a building – Mario Fiorentino

In the last 50 years, we have built a massive amount of buildings, experimenting techniques and philosophies as never before. Reinforced , cheap energy and allowed us a freedom to build that we never experienced before.

Mercier House, Lausanne

Architects:  Francis Isoz
Location: Rue du Grand Chêne 8, ,
Project Year: 1898-1900
Client: Jean-Jacques Mercier