Today citizens, artists and activists are "reclaiming their city" by transforming hundreds of metered parking spaces worldwide into temporary public parks and installations in an effort to call attention to the need for more open space. The yearly occurrence, known as PARK(ing) Day, has become an international phenomenon since its establishment in 2005 by the San Francisco art and design studio Rebar. Check out the official PARK(ing) Day Map to see if there are any pop-up parks happening in your area.
While the term “ecosystem services” may sound like a corporate antithesis to the course of natural order, it is actually an umbrella term for the ways in which the human experience is favorably altered and enhanced by the environment. Ecosystem services are therefore an important factor in creating cities which provide the maximum benefit to their residents with the minimal harm to their environment.
Aiming to find out how city planning can affect the provision of these ecosystem services, a new study published in Frontiers in Ecology and Environment by researchers at the University of Exeter's Environment and Sustainability Institute and Hokkaido University's Division of Environmental Resources evaluates the repercussions of rapid and fragmented urbanization and the possible detriment to ecosystem services and human well-being. In particular, the study is concerned with approaches to land-use and the outcomes they yield on the environment. Studied are two opposing tactics: a “land-sharing,” sprawl model (think Atlanta or Houston), or “land-sparing,” tight-knit urbanism (think New York or Tokyo).
Danish architect and urban planning expert Jan Gehl has weighed in on New York Mayor Bill de Blasio's threat to remove Times Square as a"kneejerk reaction" to aggressive panhandling. Recounting beloved square's evolution, Gehl argues that public spaces need more than just to exist: "Civic culture needs cultivating and curating... Public spaces like Times Square are the great equalizer in cities: Improvements in the public realm benefit everyone. The city should view the challenge of Times Square’s pedestrian plaza not as a reason for retreat, but as a call to create a diverse, dense, intense experience of public life that we can all enjoy." Read Gehl's remarks, here.
Providing more public space for pedestrians is one of the main goals of urban renewal projects taking place in cities around the world.
By planting more trees, implementing more sidewalks and bike paths and establishing new seating areas, it is possible to design more welcoming places with less traffic congestion and that promote sustainable methods of transportation, such as walking or biking.
With the aim of publicizing urban renewal projects that have made cities more pedestrian friendly, Brazilian group Urb-I launched the “Before/After” project, which compiles before and after photos that show how cities have redistributed their public space.
The project is collaborative so that anyone can use Google Street View, or another similar tool, to raise awareness of the changes taking place in their cities.
Read on to see the transformed spaces.
Frustrated with the congestion of panhandlers, Mayor Bill de Blasio has shocked New York City dwellers by threatening to remove their beloved Times Square. As New York Times' architecture critic Michael Kimmelman reports, this comes at a time when dwellers fear that quality of life is declining in the city: "Entertaining the demolition of the plazas, the mayor sends a message that New York can’t support the sort of great pedestrian hubs that thrive in competing cities around the globe." Blasio said he will look into the "pros and cons" of returning Times Square to traffic. Read Kimmelman's full report on Blasio's threats, here.
By 2020, almost one million electric vehicles are expected on the road. "It seems to be clear," says David Nelson, head of design at Foster + Partners, "that electric vehicles will be a major feature of the urban landscape." Thus, Foster + Partners has teamed up with Nissan to develop the Fuel Station of the Future.
Imagining how zero emissions technology will influence our cities, the innovative brands are centering their design on the understanding that "connected communities, autonomous drive and the Internet of things" are drastically changing our infrastructure models. Their concept is expected to showcase the benefits of a "smart electric vehicle (EV) ecosystem," harnessing the potential of battery storage and vehicle-to-grid systems.
In the 20th century, urban planning went through some big changes, creating much of our current urban environment in a mold that is now widely seen as anti-human. Fortunately, in recent decades urban planning has changed again - partly revising and partly reverting the theories espoused by the 20th century. In this article, originally published on Line//Shape//Space as "What the Future of Cities Can Learn From Ancient Cities," James A Moore looks at why old models for creating cities have proved so timeless, and the role that they will play in creating 21st century cities.
As legend has it, upon leaving Carnegie Hall after a dissatisfying rehearsal, violinist Mischa Elman ran into two tourists looking for the hall’s entrance. They asked, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?”
Without missing a beat, Elman said, “Practice.”
It’s an old and simple joke, but it points to an important reason why people are drawn to cities. Why do people move to Hollywood? They want to be in movies. Why do they move to Wall Street? They want to be in finance. In the best cases, cities enable citizens to pursue their aspirations.
Google has announced a major overhaul - the launch of their new parent company, Alphabet Inc. The new structure makes Google Inc. a holding company in an effort to provide more transparency to its investors and flexibility for its research endeavors. Thus, "G" will now stand for Google. The rest of the Alphabet will be a collection of companies that has yet to be entirely unveiled.
With a goal to double the amount of its renewable energy power sources by 2030, Japan has begun to transform abandoned golf courses into massive solar energy plants. As Quartz reports, Kyocera, a company known for its floating solar plants, has started construction on a 23-megawatt solar plant on an old golf course in the Kyoto prefecture (scheduled to open in 2017). The company also plans to break ground on a similar, 92-megawatt plant in the Kagoshima prefecture next year. Pacifico Energy is also jumping on the trend; with the help of GE Energy Financial Services, the company is overseeing two solar plant golf course projects in the Okayama prefecture. The idea is spreading too; plans to transform gold courses into solar fields are underway in New York, Minnesota and other US states as well.
"Directors are like the architects of cinema," says Federico Babina, an Italian architect known for his imaginative architecture-inspired illustrations. In his latest, Babina envisions a fictional city of 27 houses inspired by film's most celebrated directors, including George Lucas, Charles Chaplin, Alfred Hitchcock, Wim Wenders and many others.
"The architecture is like a scene from a movie where the story is the life, the script is dictated by the use of the building and where the actors are the residents. A labyrinth where all - characters, director, audience –are lost and found in the intensity of their emotions," Babina adds.
Tour through the entire city, after the break.
Spanish designer and photographer A.L. Crego has brought street art to life in his latest project, adding movement to murals from the around the world. In order to maintain the original artwork, Crego first photographed the sites and then digitally intervened to convert them into animations.
All the murals selected by the designer convey messages about dependence on technology and its effects on personal interactions.
View his urban GIFs after the break.
The latest in his high-altitude "AIR" series, Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Vincent Laforet has captured the sprawling city of Los Angeles at night from a dizzying 10,000 feet. First starting this "dream project" in his hometown of New York then Las Vegas and San Francisco, AIR is taking Laforet worldwide with upcoming visits planned for London, Paris, Tokyo and more.
Preview a stunning selection of Laforet's Los Angeles series, after the break.
Monocle, a briefing on global affairs, business, culture and design, was founded by in 2007 by Tyler Brûlé, the former Editor-in-Chief of Wallpaper*. With over thirty correspondents working around the world, the magazine also has local bureaux in Tokyo, New York City, Hong Kong, Zürich, Toronto, Istanbul and Singapore. This month saw the publication host their inaugural international conference, centering on the enduring theme that has preoccupied the magazine since launch: Quality of Life.
Set against the backdrop of Portugal's capital, Lisbon, the event was hosted by Brûlé alongside editors Andrew Tuck, Robert Bound, Sophie Grove and Steve Bloomfield. The opinions of twenty-three internationally renowned speakers―including Martin Roth (Director of London's Victoria & Albert Museum), Taco Dibbits (of Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum) and Brazilian architect Isay Weinfeld, alongside the Mayors of Oslo and Porto―were keenly listened to by 160 delegates who had traveled from across the world. The points for discussion allowed for a breadth of discourse that spanned housing and urbanism, to explorations of the 'high street' and the significance of the museum in the contemporary city. The thematic scope of these conversations made them accessible, inspirational and, more importantly, both relevant and widely applicable.
New London Architecture (NLA), an independent resource and forum for debate about the city's built environment, have unveiled a new, large-scale interactive model of the UK capital. Designed to provide a visual history of the city, NLA also intend for it to spark questions about its future. This model replaces an earlier one, which was revealed on the day that it was announced that London's bid to host the 2012 Olympic Games has been successful. Now, a decade later, the present projection of the city's built future has been mapped across the model, highlighting the locations of the 263 tall buildings planned or under construction. Visitors are also able to track the route and impact of new transport links, such as HS2 and Crossrail.
"We as a species assign value to people based on the environments we ask them to live in. And I think most people are worth more than a lot of the environments that we ask them to live, work, attend school and shop in."
As cities worldwide are plagued with increasingly congested streets, more people are turning to bicycles to ease their commute. To accommodate the trend, bike lanes have been popping up around cities, yet often in a disjointed manner. A series of maps compiled by the Washington Post illustrates this surprisingly sporadic cycle infrastructure in several US cities.
Cropping up as afterthoughts in the existing urban fabric, many US bicycle networks consist of fragmented stretches of bike lanes and “sharrows” (shared car and bike lanes) loosely bound together by their proximity. In the case of Washington D.C., most of these are under a mile in length. A lack of cohesion and continuity leads to commuter chaos, forcing cyclists onto unprotected shoulders or into traffic when their designated lanes pull a disappearing act. Take a look at the maps after the break.
Thirty-two projects have been announced as the winners of the Inaugural Knight Cities Challenge, sharing in a prize pool of $USD5 million. An initiative of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the challenge received an overwhelming number of entries, with winners selected from a pool of over 7000 submissions. Each of the projects proposed strategies for the civic and economic development of one of the 26 cities in which the Knight Foundation invests, including Detroit, Akron Ohio, San Jose California, Lexington Kentucky, and Biloxi Mississippi.
The winning proposals each addressed one or more of the Knight Foundation’s “three drivers of city success”: (1) Talent: Ideas that help cities attract and keep the best and brightest, (2) Opportunity: Ideas that create economic prospects and break down divides, (3) Engagement: Ideas that spur connection and civic involvement.
Witness the urban life of five stunning metropolises through the lens of Rob Whitworth with these "Vimeo Staff Pick" hyperlapse videos. From the unexplored urban life of the North Korean capital Pyongyang to the towering skyline of Dubai, each video explores an incredible sequence of daily living in cities across the planet. See more, including video from Kuala Lumpur and Shanghai, after the break.