This discussion on Quora, entitled "which is the most well planned city in the world?" certainly got us thinking; not only because of the interesting and diverse answers to the question, but also because of the different reasons which were used to support these answers.
Currently the most popular answer seems to be Zurich, on account of its excellent (and obsessively punctual) public transport, organized waste disposal and numerous public drinking fountains. Other cities which are commended for their public transport and cleanliness are Singapore and Seoul. But other contributors seem to have a very different idea of what makes a well-planned city - read on to find out more.
City Works: Provocations for Chicago’s Urban Future, an exhibition that debuted last year at the 13th International Architecture Biennale in Venice (2012), has returned to the city of its origin. Currently on display though September 29th at the City of Chicago’ Expo 72 Gallery, the exhibition re-envisions a series of typical Chicagoan urban environments in an effort to examine alternative ways in which architecture can engage the city.
The rumors are true: Jean Nouvel has been selected as the official winner of the highly acclaimed National Art Museum of China (NAMOC) competition in Beijing. According to Dezeen, the news has been confirmed by Nouvel’s adviser, Oliver Schmitt. Though little has been released about the winning design, earlier reports have described it as a “vast structure” based on the simplicity of a single line - “a single brush stroke.”
In an interview with Financial Times, Nouvel quoted the Chinese artist Shi Tao (1642-1707): “A single line is the source of everything in existence. [...] We started with calligraphy. [...] Pupils used to spend half a year just on that first line with a brush. That first line contains all of Chinese culture – painting, writing and the energy of Chi.”
The new dormitory at Gallaudet University exudes raw energy. Rough wood planks, exposed steel, polished concrete, and gleaming bamboo unite to provide architectural muscle. But the real power comes from a barely detectable dynamic. That energy doesn’t come from how the structure looks on its historic Washington D.C. campus, but how the building functions for the people inside. “It’s about how buildings structure and frame human interaction,” says David J. Lewis of LTL Architects. “The basic conditions of architecture were brought to the fore.”
The glass entry door slides open with a soft whoosh. Students ignore it as they crowd through the gap in a jumbled dance of elbows, hands, arms, and animated faces. Gallaudet is the preeminent liberal arts institution for youth who are deaf or hard of hearing, and most of its 1,821 students communicate with the expansive gestures and expressions of American Sign Language (ASL). That the students can make their way into the building without using their hands to open the door—thus halting the flow of the conversation—is cause for celebration. Here, at least, architecture has gotten out of their way.
While the rest of the world scoffs at Detroit’s recent announcement of bankruptcy (using it as an opportunity to bemoan how far the city - and the country - has fallen since its golden Motown days), many Detroiters themselves are embracing the move as a long overdue turning point.
Like Las Vegas, undergoing an urban patronage from Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, Detroit has similarly been the focus of its own CEO: native-Detroiter and Quicken founder Dan Gilbert. By channeling over $1 billion dollars into the city, and inspiring others to follow suit, Gilbert is helping Detroit attract young, tech-savvy entrepreneurs. Throw in the lure of cheap land/rental rates, and it’s no wonder the city’s is host to a burgeoning tech scene.
The only thing that’s been getting in these techies' way - is the city itself. Which is why many are hopeful that Detroit’s bankruptcy is just the beginning.