Video: Ole Scheeren on Height and Density

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In this interview, conducted by the Council for Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, Ole Scheeren discusses the ideal height for sustainable buildings. Drawing reference from two of his projects, MahaNakhon and The Interlace, he speaks to the difference between height and density, and how those two interplay when creating livable spaces in urban areas. He goes on to talk about how large buildings such as skyscrapers can be made more open to the surrounding city, both visually through programming. Watch the full clip above!

Typological to Evolutionary: A New Theory of Cities

Champs Elysees – Paris, France. Image © Flickr User justininsd

Why do cities exist and how will they grow and change? As more than half of the world’s population now lives in cities it is becoming increasingly important for urban designers and planners to seek answers to these questions. This article by Laura Bliss from City Lab presents the “science of cities,” and the ways in which the urban-planning world is moving away from traditional methods of simply putting cities into categories, in favor of a more evolutionary theory. Benefiting from the vast amounts of data available today on statistics such as crime and voting patterns across cities, researchers have worked to establish the quantifiable characteristics of urban areas as a whole, and recent studies in this area reveal how the shapes of cities themselves could be connected to internal economic and social processes. Learn more about these radical developments in the full article from City Lab.

The Race to Save Architecture in Myanmar’s Biggest City

View from Golden Hill Towers in Yangon, Myanmar (2010). Image © Flickr CC User Soe Lin

Preservationists are in a race to document and preserve some of Yangon’s most admired cultural icons. Myanmar’s largest city, Yangon is experiencing an all to familiar story: rapid development taking precedence over . As the reports, “Hulking monoliths of concrete and blue-plated glass are replacing fine old residential and government buildings…Although much has already been lost, many architecturally or esthetically significant structures have hung on. The question now is  how long they will last.” Read the complete story, here.

TED Talk: How to Reinvent the Apartment Building / Moshe Safdie

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Nearly 50 years after realizing Habitat ’67, when the need for high quality affordable housing is at an all time high, is expanding on his ideas first explored in the stacked Montreal utopia to discover just how natural light and the feeling openness can be achieved in today’s megalopolises. Watch as Safdie makes a case to do away with the high-rise in the short TED Talk above.

Enter the Mesmerizing World of Rainbow Coloured Maps with “Crayon the Grids”

New York City. Image Courtesy of Stephen Von Worley

A new series of maps by California-based artist-scientist Stephen Von Worley give colour coding an entirely new meaning. With his latest algorithm-generated project, “Crayon the Grids,” Von Worley has taken maps of ten major metropolitan areas and coloured them based on geographical orientation of the urban grid. Each street is assigned a colour specific to its orientation, varying in hue and weight depending on its cardinal direction and length. The result is a dizzying technicolor of , creating completely new demarcations for some of the world’s most recognizable cities.

Enter the chromatic world of coloured city grids after the break

Eight Ideas for the Future of Cities

Courtesy of

In 2012, the TED Prize was awarded to an idea: The City2.0, a place to celebrate actions taken by citizens around the world to make their cities more livable, beautiful and sustainable. Now, on the newly relaunched TED City2.org website, you can find inspiring and informative talks on topics like , education and food, and how they relate to city life. Preview a sampling of these city centric talks, featuring eight ideas for the future of cities, here.

Towards a New Urbanism (Or Three)

Tokyo. Image © Flickr CC User Les Taylor

If you read a lot of articles about cities and urbanism, you’re probably familiar with the words “half of the world’s population now lives in cities.” For a number of years, these words have been frequently used in the opening sentences of articles, hoping to convince readers in just a few seconds of the importance of the subject at hand. In fact, according to the World Health Organization these words are no longer even true: in 2014 the urban portion of the world’s population has already reached 54%. In other words, every nine months the world adds enough new urbanites to fill a city the size of Tokyo, with an increase of nearly 300 million new urban dwellers since we reached the tipping-point in 2008.

The rise of cities has been so dramatic that UN Habitat has declared today, October 31st 2014, as the first annual World Cities Day.

Of course, all of this means that there has never been a better time to be an urbanist than right now. Or does it?

ArchDaily Celebrates World Cities Day: 23 Unmissable Articles on Cities and Urbanism

Last year the UN General Assembly issued a resolution to “designate 31 October, beginning in 2014, as .” A legacy of the Expo 2010 Shanghai, the first World Cities day is being hosted today in Shanghai, with the aim of focusing on global urbanization and encouraging cooperation among countries to solve and promote sustainable worldwide.

“In a world where already over half the population lives in urban areas, the human future is largely an urban future, said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, on the importance of World Cities Day. “We must get urbanization right, which means reducing greenhouse emissions, strengthening resilience, ensuring basic services such as water and sanitation and designing safe public streets and spaces for all to share.  Liveable cities are crucial not only for city-dwellers but also for providing solutions to some of the key aspects of sustainable development.”

To celebrate World Cities day, we’ve rounded up 23 articles that you can’t miss on critical issues relating to our cities, ranging from sustainability to addressing equality and creative solutions for integrating cycling into our cities.

Think we’ve missed something? Let us know in the comments below.

Guardian Invites Readers to Submit the Best City Ideas for World Cities Day

© NLÉ architects

With the first ever World Cities Day taking place on Friday, is partnering with UN Habitat for the Cities Day Challenge, a day-long competition where representatives of 36 cities around the world will present their best city ideas, with the winner being selected for an in-depth article in the Guardian. Judged by Ivan Harbour of Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, Toronto City Planner Jennifer Keesmaat; Anna Minton, Dan Hill, Usman Haque and Adam Greenfield, the Guardian will be live-tweeting the entire day.

They are also reaching out to readers to “share your photos, videos and stories of something brilliant that your city does better than any other,” some of which they will feature throughout the day. You can follow this link to contribute - or read on after the break as we take the opportunity to round up some of the biggest city ideas that have passed through the pages of ArchDaily.

Icsid Launches Bid for 2018 World Design Capital

© ICSID

The International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (Icsid) has announced the launch of the World Design Capital® (WDC) application cycle for the 2018 designation, which will mark the sixth cycle for this global initiative. Icsid invites effective from around the globe to submit bids that showcase the impact of design in their city and demonstrate examples of design as a development tool.

Architects Envision Buoyant “Thames Deckway” for London Cyclists

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On the heels of Mayor Boris Johnson’s announced plan to construct an 18-mile protected bike lane by March 2016, architect David Nixon and artist Anna Hill have released their vision for relieving London’s congested streets with a floating “ Deckway” for cyclists. The proposal, though just in its preliminary design phase, claims the river is currently a missed opportunity that could serve as a major travel artery for cyclists. If constructed, the £600 million project would run east-west for seven miles along the river’s southern bank, from Battersea to Canary Wharf, and harness it’s own energy through solar, tidal and wind power. Nixon and Hill have founded the River Cycleway Consortium in support of the project, which includes Arup and Hugh Broughton Architects.

Reinier de Graaf: Mayors Should Not Rule The World

City Hall, centre of operations for Mayor Boris Johnson. Image © Flickr CC User alh1

This weekend, the first planning session of the Global Parliament of Mayors took place in Amsterdam: a platform for from across the world, triggered by Benjamin Barber’s book: If Mayors Ruled the World: Dysfunctional Nations, Rising Cities.

In this book the current political system and its leaders is dismissed as dysfunctional. Defined by borders and with an inevitable focus on national interests, they are not an effective vehicle to govern a world defined by interdependence. Mayors, presiding over cities with their more open, networked structure and cosmopolitan demographics, so the book argues, could do it better.

It is of no surprise that this book has been welcomed by the same political class as the one it praises: mayors. As was apparent during the first planning session of the GPM: a conference about mayors, for mayors, attended by mayors, moderated by mayors and hosted by a mayor, all triggered by a book about mayors.

I recognize many of the book’s observations. Many mayors are impressive figures and time appears to be on their side. Nation states (particularly the large ones) have an increasingly hard time and, in the context of a process of globalization, cities, and particularly small city-states, increasingly emerge victorious. Cities have first-hand experience with many of the things that occur in globalization’s wake, such as immigration and cultural and religious diversity, and are generally less dogmatic and more practical in dealing with them.

So far so good.

Los Angeles Rids Itself of Helipad Requirement, Opens City to “Bolder” Skyline

Los Angeles, California. Image © Wikimedia Commons / Pintaric

Helicopter landing pads will no longer be required atop new buildings in Los Angeles, California. The rule’s elimination, which was announced yesterday by the city’s mayor and fire chief, allows architects the freedom to break away from LA’s “boxy” skyline. “I want to see innovative design,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said. “I want to see good design, but we’re going to take the handcuffs off of you when we ask you to do that. I want neighborhoods to look good, and I want our buildings to look iconic.” You can read more about the change, here.

Finalists for 2014 Buckminster Fuller Challenge Announced

Makoko/Iwaya Waterfront Restoration Plan. Image Courtesy of BFI

Seven humanitarian initiatives have been nominated for “Socially-Responsible ’s Highest Award,” the 2014 Buckminster Fuller Challenge. Presented by the Buckminster Fuller Institute, the $100,000 prize is awarded each year to scientists, students, designers, architects, activists, entrepreneurs, artists and planners from all over the world using innovative solutions to solve some of humanity’s most pressing problems.

Among this year’s finalists are a floating health clinic in Lake Tanganyika, a comprehensive coastal resiliency plan for the Northeastern Seaboard, and a waterfront regeneration plan for the Makoko/Iwaya community. 

The 2014 Buckminster Fuller Challenge Finalists are…

Madrid to Eliminate Cars from City Center

© Flickr CC User Jesus Solana

Starting January, the City of Madrid will close off 190 hectares of its central core to traffic, expanding its restricted vehicular areas to 352 hectares. Vehicles not belonging to residents within the city’s four most central barrios will be restricted to large avenues. If a vehicle enters the car-less zone, and does not have access to one of the 13 official parking lots, the owner will be automatically ticketed €90 ($115 U.S). The new legislation is part of a larger goal to completely pedestrianization central Madrid by 2020. 

Architects Design Cardboard Carrier to Improve City Cycling

Courtesy of Packtasche

There’s no denying that biking is one of the biggest trends in right now, with many touting cycling as the solution to reducing pollution and congestion – not to mention its health benefits. As cities are focusing on what they can do to encourage cycling and make their streets bike-friendly, architects have played a critical role in ushering bikes into the city, designing everything from  protected cycle lanes to elaborate elevated cycletracks. Yet after cycling in Vienna for eight years, two architecture students decided to take a different – and simpler – approach to improving biking conditions. Focusing on the often cumbersome task of trying to run errands while on a bike, Philipp Moherndl and Matthias Lechner have designed a lightweight, recyclable cardboard pannier that can seamlessly go from store to bike.

“Due to the mass appeal of the bike, conventional cycling accessories do not fit the lifestyle of many urban cyclists,” Moherndl and Lechner told ArchDaily. “The limited transport capacity of usual bicycles makes shopping difficult and inflexible. People often do their shopping spontaneously, on their way home or whilst cycling in the city. Therefore we wanted to come up with a more flexible solution: a multi-use bag for bicycles, which is low priced and environmentally-friendly.”

Learn more about the Packtasche after the break.

Are Property Developers “Ruining Our Cities”?

Phase 3, Battersea Power Station redevelopment (London). Image Courtesy of Foster + Partners / Gehry Partners

Alongside a number of recent articles that explore the rise of the urban property developer and the subsequent “threat” to the built environment, Oliver Wainwright of The Guardian explores at length how developers are “exploiting planning authorities and ruining our .” In discussion with Peter Rees, former Chief Planning Officer for the City of London and responsible for the financial district’s monuments of today, Wainwright discusses the lack of accountability of the vast majority of urban developers. While local councils attempt to secure the next iconic development for their area many planners, authorities and developers are locked in a battle over the built fabric of our cities. Read the article in full here.

World Architecture Festival to Kick-Off in One Month

With only one month to go before the 2014 World Architecture Festival (WAF) begins in Singapore, WAF has unveiled new additions to the Festival Program, including a keynote speech by Ole Scheeren of Buro Ole Scheeren. With “Architects and the City” as WAF’s overarching theme this year, Scheeren’s talk will be on the relationship between architects, architecture and urbanism.

Other keynote speakers include Rocco Yim of Rocco Design Associates who will speak on his involvement in the West Kowloon Cultural District, the largest arts and cultural project in Hong Kong to date, and Richard Rogers who will speak candidly about his life as one of the most influential global figures in architecture and his future agenda. Moshe Safdie will close the Festival, looking back over his extensive career to talk exclusively about the defining moments that shaped its path.

Read on after the break for more information on WAF’s three days of fascinating talks, networking opportunities and its annual awards.