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Jan Gehl: "The Modern Movement Put an End to the Human Scale"

08:00 - 21 July, 2017

On Thursday 29 of June, Jan Gehl the Danish architect and urban planner, spoke at the Conference “Thinking urban: cities for people” organised by UN-Habitat and the Official Architects College of Madrid (COAM as it is abbreviated in Spanish) about the urban transformations that have occurred in Copenhagen as a result of the errors of the modernist movement and the challenges facing the cities in the 21st century.

In a prior discussion with José María Ezquiaga (dean of COAM), and José Manuel Calvo (councilor of the Sustainable Development Area at the Madrid city council) at the Conference, Gehl highlighted the urban paradigm at the time of his student years, which is referred to as the Brasilia syndrome. 

Three Principles of Architecture as Revealed by Italo Calvino's 'Invisible Cities'

08:00 - 15 July, 2017
Three Principles of Architecture as Revealed by Italo Calvino's 'Invisible Cities', Fedora. Image © Karina Puente Frantzen
Fedora. Image © Karina Puente Frantzen

Ah, Invisible Cities. For many of us, Italo Calvino’s 1972 novel reserves a dear place in our libraries, architectural or otherwise, for its vivid recollections of cities and their curiosities, courtesy of a certain Marco Polo as he narrates to Kublai Khan. And while the book doesn’t specifically fit the bill in terms of conventional architectural writing, it resists an overall categorisation at all, instead superseding the distillation of the cities it contains into distinct boundaries and purposes.

For though there is a certain kind of sensory appeal that is captured in the details of places, the real beauty of Invisible Cities lies in the masking of underlying notions of time, identity and language within these details – a feat that is skillfully accomplished by both Marco and Calvino. With this in mind, here are three of many such principles, as revealed by the layered narrative of Invisible Cities.

Striking Overhead Images That Reveal the Inequality of Modern Cities

06:00 - 13 July, 2017
Striking Overhead Images That Reveal the Inequality of Modern Cities, Via macacovelho.com.br. ImageVilla 31, Buenos Aires - Argentina
Via macacovelho.com.br. ImageVilla 31, Buenos Aires - Argentina

It is said that the world is increasingly developed when in fact it is, undeniably, more technological and globalized. However, it seems risky to talk about development when the advances do not appear everywhere or for all inhabitants.

In such an uneven picture, a select few of the global population enjoy these advances, while a huge number live below the poverty line.

Such contrasts often go unnoticed in the city's daily life, however, are set forth on a diptych relationship with the urban layout, being, at the same time the cause and consequence of deep marks in city design. In Brazil, for example, we have the slums and poor communities that contrast with the buildings and upper-middle-class homes architecture, designed and built with all the necessary resources. 

Competition Seeks Progressive Ideas that Reflect on Emerging Themes.

17:42 - 11 July, 2017
Competition Seeks Progressive Ideas that Reflect on Emerging Themes., Ct´s
Ct´s

Ideasforward wants to give young creative people from around the world the opportunity to express their views on the future of societies through their innovative and visionary proposals. We are an experimental platform seeking progressive ideas that reflect on emerging themes.

Norman Foster Stresses the Importance of Interdisciplinary Architecture in Creating Future Cities

16:00 - 8 July, 2017

Architecture, as both a profession and the built environment, currently finds itself at a crossroads in trying to adapt to a world in constant flux. Cities and its people face continuous socio-economic, political and environmental change on a daily basis, prompting a necessary rethink in the evolution of sustainable urbanization. With a focus on housing, society and cultural heritage, RIBA’s International Conference, Change in the City, aims to offer insight into the “New Urban Agenda” and how architects can play an interdisciplinary role in future urban development.

Speaking in an interview ahead of the conference, Norman Foster is a strong advocate for a careful consideration of what aspects of urban life need to be prioritized when designing cities of the future. For an increasingly global society, Foster stresses the need for architecture to surpass buildings and tackle its greatest obstacle – global warming, honing in on its roots and factors involved to create viable urban solutions.

Philadelphia International Airport "Image Maker" Landscape Design Competition

09:45 - 3 July, 2017
Philadelphia International Airport "Image Maker" Landscape Design Competition, Philadelphia International Airport Main Terminal
Philadelphia International Airport Main Terminal

Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) and the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) are hosting a design competition to create an “Image Maker” landscape at the Airport. The competition is an opportunity to demonstrate Philadelphia’s position as America’s Garden Capital and create a welcoming image for the Greater Philadelphia region.

CBT Unveils Community-Oriented Phase 2 Masterplan for Masdar City

15:10 - 15 June, 2017
CBT Unveils Community-Oriented Phase 2 Masterplan for Masdar City, Masdar City Phase 2. Image Courtesy of CBT
Masdar City Phase 2. Image Courtesy of CBT

“The world’s most sustainable eco-city,” Masdar City, is preparing for its next phase of development, as unveiled in the award-winning detailed master plan (DMP) by CBT. Depicted in a comprehensive masterplan by Foster + Partners, Masdar was originally envisioned as a carbon-neutral elevated city without cars, instead featuring pod-based transportation located below the podium. As the first phase was constructed, including the Masdar Institute of Technology, a new vision for the city began to emerge, eventually leading to CBT’s pedestrian-oriented innovation community plan for Phase 2. 

Masdar City Phase 2. Image Courtesy of CBT Masdar City Phase 2. Image Courtesy of CBT Masdar City Phase 2. Image Courtesy of CBT Masdar City Phase 2. Image Courtesy of CBT +9

How Photography Helped to Dehumanize Our Cities

09:30 - 13 June, 2017
How Photography Helped to Dehumanize Our Cities, Singapore skyline at night. Image <a href='https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Singapore_Skyline_at_Night_with_Blue_Sky.JPG'>via Wikimedia</a> (public domain image taken by Wikimedia user Merlion444)
Singapore skyline at night. Image via Wikimedia (public domain image taken by Wikimedia user Merlion444)

This article was originally published on Common Edge as "How Photography Profoundly Reshaped Our Ideas About Cities."

Early in the 19th century, an invention arrived that would change the form and function of cities for generations.

Like all new technologies, it started out rudimentary, expensive, and nearly ineffectual. But it caught many imaginations and developed dramatically, eventually reaching the point of mass accessibility. Soon enough, it took aim at the public realm, with consequences that were indirect and unintended yet profound.

It reconfigured streets. It influenced the height of buildings. It altered foot traffic. It recast the relationship between buildings and streets. It changed how people felt about their cities and changed their points of reference. It turned cities into abstractions and, in some ways, turned city-dwellers against each other. Its influence nearly complete by the close of World War I, the invention has remained fundamentally unchanged, and is still universally celebrated, to this day.

All this with the press of a button.

86% of the Most Dangerous Cities are in This Part of the World

08:00 - 11 May, 2017
86% of the Most Dangerous Cities are in This Part of the World, © <a href='https://500px.com/photo/211107851/untitled-by-magdalena-Roeseler'>500px user Magdalena Roesler</a> licensed under <a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/'>CC BY 3.0</a>
© 500px user Magdalena Roesler licensed under CC BY 3.0

For the past fifteen years, global headlines have depicted, through harrowing imagery, the effects of war on cities across the Middle East. An inevitable fracturing of law and order leads to an explosion of crime which we imagine could not be tolerated in a region at peace. However, when cities in war zones are set aside, an overwhelming yet underreported narrative emerges – 86% of the world’s most dangerous cities are in Latin America and the Caribbean. 

Citymapper, World-Renowned Urban Mobility App, Launches London's First Pop-Up Bus Route

08:30 - 9 May, 2017
Citymapper's new buses in central London. Image Courtesy of Citymapper
Citymapper's new buses in central London. Image Courtesy of Citymapper

Citymapper, which is just over five years old, has become the go-to mobility app for the majority of the world's major cities. It's strength lies in its accuracy and integration: the app parses local data and always seems to deliver the fastest route, even in comparison to its leviathan, data-rich competitors – Google Maps and Apple Maps. Having always focused their attention on public transport, as opposed to cars and taxis, Citymapper has become embedded into the way large amounts of urbanites navigate cities both familiar and foreign. As of today, they are building buses—and bus routes—of their own.

Courtesy of Citymapper Courtesy of Citymapper The CMXI bus route. Image Courtesy of Citymapper The CMXI bus route. Image Courtesy of Citymapper +8

The Architecture of Some of the World's Oldest Continuously Inhabited Cities

09:30 - 1 May, 2017
The Architecture of Some of the World's Oldest Continuously Inhabited Cities

What’s so great about the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world? Probably the fact that their societies have been evolving in one unbroken series of eras, with ever-changing values and styles that have, among other things, given rise to architectural memories of their long histories. These cities aren’t like the archeological sites we visit to see how people lived thousands of years ago; they are the exact places people lived thousands of years ago, places where people are still living today, with their rich histories buried under layers of paint and concrete instead of earth.

With ancient cities found in regions around the world, the variety of architectural treasures that can be found in these cities is vast. To give you a taste of their diversity, here is a selection of 18 of the oldest continually inhabited cities from various regions of the world, ranging from youngest to oldest, with a small snippet of their various architectural puzzles. 

© <a href='https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Berat.jpg'>Wikimedia user Joonas Lytinen</a> licensed under <a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en'>CC BY 2.0</a> © <a href='https://www.flickr.com/photos/dziecienocy/5039948774'>Flickr user dziecienocy</a> licensed under <a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/'>CC BY-SA 2.0</a> © <a href='https://www.flickr.com/photos/worak/907175079'>Flickr user worak</a> licensed under <a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/'>CC BY 2.0</a> © <a href='https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Gopuram-madurai.jpg'>Wikimedia user Nataraja</a> licensed under <a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/1.0/deed.en'>CC BY-SA 1.0</a> +20

Doggerel Writing Contest: Undercelebrated Ideas for Cities

18:00 - 20 April, 2017
Doggerel Writing Contest: Undercelebrated Ideas for Cities

Doggerel, the online magazine of Arup in the Americas, is pleased to announce its 2017 Writing Contest! The topic: Describe an undercelebrated idea with great potential to shape better cities. Participation is open to design professionals, journalists, students, and anyone with an interest in the built environment. The grand prize winner will be awarded US$1,000, with up to two runners-up winning US$250 each. Winning submissions will also be published on Doggerel.

Call for Submissions: Vol. 24: Spaces of Struggle

07:00 - 17 April, 2017
Call for Submissions: Vol. 24: Spaces of Struggle, Spaces of Struggle
Spaces of Struggle

Urban regions are catalysts of change. They foster pragmatic politics that enables more progressive governance. “Progress,” however, has to contend with histories and structures that grew from exclusionary logic, uneven development, and the systematic exploitation of labor. Progress does not happen on its own; it emerges from the continued efforts of activists, engaged citizens, intellectuals, and professionals that strive for a more just city. It requires developing common platforms to facilitate the conflicts that inevitably come with differences. Spaces of Struggle is about creating spaces that harness differences and transforms them into momentum for progressive change.

Download High Resolution World City Maps for CAD

12:00 - 12 April, 2017

Mapacad is a website that offers downloads of .dwgs of dozens of cities. With 200 metropolises in their database, the founders have shared a set of their most-downloaded cities.  

The files contain closed polyline layers for buildings, streets, highways, city limits, and geographical data--all ready for use in CAD programs like Autocad, Rhino, BricsCad and SketchUp. 

Three Key Elements Needed to Revitalize Public Spaces and Promote Urban Life

08:00 - 24 March, 2017
Three Key Elements Needed to Revitalize Public Spaces and Promote Urban Life, Cheonggyecheon Park in Seoul, South Korea © longzijun, via Flickr
Cheonggyecheon Park in Seoul, South Korea © longzijun, via Flickr

The importance of public spaces in urban life is an issue that has been apparent since ancient Greece and is still with us today. Opportunities to meet and exchange ideas in these spaces are able to influence how the inhabitants participate in the development of their city, and occur in greater instances when public spaces are accessible to everyone.

However, in modern societies, the strategic role of these spaces has been limited. According to The City Fix, a blog on sustainable urban planning, one of the main reasons for this is the overabundance of automobiles. In fact, according to one study by the Brazilian Institute for Energy and the Environment, 70% of public spaces in urban centers are taken up by roadways and other spaces for cars, while car owners make up only around 20 to 40 percent of the city’s population.

How can public spaces be recovered to promote urban life? We discuss three important factors below.

6 Reasons Cities Are Located Where They Are

08:00 - 10 March, 2017
 6 Reasons Cities Are Located Where They Are, New York Skyline © Flickr user nehle. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
New York Skyline © Flickr user nehle. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Frank Lloyd Wright once described cities as both ‘our glory and our menace’. With more than half of the world’s population now living in cities, architects are becoming increasingly interested in their origins. Many fields of historical, geographical, and spatial research are devoted to exploring the evolution of cities, revealing a set of similarities across the globe. In a recent video, Wendover Productions described a common set of characteristics linking some of our largest cities, six of which we have outlined below. 

Taking the six factors below into account, where is the perfect ‘world city’? Watch the video after the break:

Knight Cities Challenge Names 2017 Finalists

16:30 - 17 January, 2017

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation has announced the names of the 144 finalists in the 2017 edition of the Knight Cities Challenge, a nationwide call for innovative ideas aimed at transforming the organizations’ 26 member communities into more vibrant places to live and work. Open to innovators and designers from any field, the challenge requested submissions that responded to a simple prompt: What’s your best idea to make cities more successful?

These Are the 3 Bus Stop Types Needed For Sustainable Transit Solutions

08:00 - 7 December, 2016
These Are the 3 Bus Stop Types Needed For Sustainable Transit Solutions, © NACTO
© NACTO

The latest publication of the National Association of City Transportation Officials, NACTO, is the "Transit Street Design Guide" in which tips and proposals are presented on how to improve streets through urban design.

The ideas are centered on prioritizing sustainable mobility so that both the member cities of the organization and those that have access to this document can improve their practices in relation to public spaces, mobility, and transportation.