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The Driverless Future Challenge's Winning Entry Uses Plug-and-Play System to Reclaim Public Space for Pedestrians

12:00 - 22 July, 2017

Of the four finalists selected for Blank Space’s “Driverless Future Challenge”, which was announced last month, “Public Square” has emerged as the winning entry, with a plug-and-play scheme to transform New York’s public realm for its streets and pedestrians. Designed by FXFOWLE and Sam Schwartz Engineering, the proposal was selected by a panel of New York City commissioners, for its response to the competition brief with a flexible system that accommodates a variety of public space typologies, while creating a harmonious coexistence between pedestrians, cyclists, and vehicles.

Courtesy of Blank Space Courtesy of Blank Space Courtesy of Blank Space Courtesy of Blank Space +17

The Bench 2017 - International Design Competition

19:30 - 12 July, 2017
The Bench 2017 - International Design Competition

THE BENCH is an idea based design competition open to all ages and backgrounds. The challenge of the competition is to design and install a temporary structure on a street to transform the street environment to a form of public space. The challenge of THE BENCH 2017 is to design a seasonal seating- space along the street edge(s) defined by the competition. The competition will unfold in two phases: selection by jury and installation for seasonal use. Multiple entries will be chosen as winning entries and will be constructed for public use during the 2017 WINNIPEG DESIGN FESTIVAL.

8 Ways We Can Improve the Design of Our Streets for Protest

09:30 - 14 June, 2017
8 Ways We Can Improve the Design of Our Streets for Protest, © Gina Ford and Martin Zogran
© Gina Ford and Martin Zogran

Once largely viewed as a fringe activity belonging to passionate extremists, protest is now—in the wake of a controversial new administration’s ascension to power in the US and a heightened interest in politics globally—a commonplace occurrence, with a much broader participant base in need of places to gather and move en masse. This revitalized interest in protest was perhaps most visible on one particularly historic occasion: on January 21st, 2017, a record-breaking 4.2 million people took to the streets across the US to exercise their first-amendment rights.

Women’s marches took place on the frozen tundra (we have photographic evidence from a scientist in the Arctic Circle) and even in a Los Angeles cancer ward. But for the most part, these protests happened in the streets. In the first few months of 2017, the streets of our cities suddenly took center stage on screens across the world. From Washington to Seattle, Sydney to San Antonio, Paris to Fairbanks, broad boulevards and small town main streets were transformed from spaces for movement to places of resistance. From the Women’s March on Washington to April’s People’s Climate March, protestors are looking for space to convene and advocate for the issues that matter most to them.

Curry Stone Design Prize Celebrates 11 Practitioners For Valuable Approaches to Public Space

08:00 - 8 June, 2017
Curry Stone Design Prize Celebrates 11 Practitioners For Valuable Approaches to Public Space, Courtesy of Curry Stone Design Prize
Courtesy of Curry Stone Design Prize

The Curry Stone Design Prize has selected 11 honorees as part of June’s Social Design Circle, whose work responds to the question: Can Design Reclaim Public Space? From NGOs to design collectives across the globe, each winner addresses notions of usage, organization, and amenities within the realm of public space, and is featured on the prize’s website. In addition to a new circle of monthly winners, the prize hosts a weekly podcast, Social Design Insights, complimenting the featured work and expanding on the monthly themes with leading practitioners in social design.

Here are the 11 members of June’s Social Design Circle:

Open Call for Emergent Practices of Social Architecture

14:10 - 2 June, 2017
Open Call for Emergent Practices of Social Architecture , poster of the open call
poster of the open call

Emergent Practices - a joint project joint between XXI Architecture and Design Magazine and Faculty of Architecture, campus Sint-Lucas Brussels/Ghent, KU Leuven- launches an open call in search of everyday life impact of spatial practices. The open call is the first step of the research that aims to collect and generate critical content on the emergent practices of social architecture.

A selection of submitted projects will be used as case studies, observed and intervened during their implementation processes to generate a grounded discourse on social architecture and its impacts. A wider selection among submitted projects will be published accompanying the research entitled "Understanding the Emergent Practices of Social Architecture".

Call for Submissions: City Cook Book – Enhancing Public Spaces Through Food Culture

14:05 - 2 June, 2017
Call for Submissions: City Cook Book – Enhancing Public Spaces Through Food Culture, City Cook Book - Open Call
City Cook Book - Open Call

City Cook Book invites projects and initiatives worldwide that work with food dynamics and culture to enhance public space and foster social interaction to be part of its platform.

If you have developed or are actively engaged in any such initiatives we would like you to share your experience in our open repository. The projects will be presented both in a digital platform and a publication.

II International Ideas Competition Chair CIMC

08:30 - 23 May, 2017
II International Ideas Competition Chair CIMC

The Chair of Innovative Construction Materials (CIMC) with the Higher School of Architecture of Málaga and Financiera y Minera S.A. announce the II International Ideas Competition for architects and students of architecture in their graduation project.

London to Follow in New York’s Footsteps With Camden High Line

06:00 - 23 May, 2017
London to Follow in New York’s Footsteps With Camden High Line, via Camden Town Unlimited
via Camden Town Unlimited

The New York High Line is set to receive a new British sibling, in the form the Camden High Line – a conversion of the defunct railway line connecting Camden Town and King’s Cross, into an elevated public space and commuting route. The invited competition for the project was won by London-based practices Studio Weave and Architecture 00, whose proposal is one of three international designs that have followed the success of the High Line in New York, with the other two situated in Bangkok and Mexico City.

“We think the re-use of this railway line for the Camden High Line outweighs the benefits and costs of leaving it vacant,” said Simon Pitkeathley, Chief Executive at Camden Town Unlimited. “This new transport link can reduce overcrowding and journey times on the existing, cycling and pedestrian routes nearby like Regent’s Canal.” 

via Camden Town Unlimited via Camden Town Unlimited via Camden Town Unlimited via Camden Town Unlimited +6

DELVA Landscape Architects to Revive The Hague’s Historic Centre With Interconnected Urban Greens

14:00 - 21 May, 2017
DELVA Landscape Architects to Revive The Hague’s Historic Centre With Interconnected Urban Greens , via DELVA Landscape Architects / Urbanism
via DELVA Landscape Architects / Urbanism

Serving as a new gateway to the city through the connection of various green spaces and public programs, The Green Entrance is DELVA Landscape Architects’ masterplan for a historic district of The Hague. Given The Hague’s future inner-city densification, which involves the creation of 50,000 new houses, the Dutch firm’s aim is to aid these developments through sustainable and green urban strategies, manifested “through an integral approach between landscape design, cultural heritage, mobility, programming and technology.”

Commenting on the project’s primary function, the architects state: “’The Green Entrance’ connects areas that have been isolated over the years. It starts in the spacious and open ‘City Hall' that connects to the train station and continues to the ‘Koningin Julianaplein’. No narrow doors or gates, but a wide view over the green and lively surrounding public space.”

via DELVA Landscape Architects / Urbanism via DELVA Landscape Architects / Urbanism via DELVA Landscape Architects / Urbanism via DELVA Landscape Architects / Urbanism +18

James Corner Field Operations To Lead Much Needed Revitalization of Hong Kong’s Waterfront

16:00 - 14 May, 2017
James Corner Field Operations To Lead Much Needed Revitalization of Hong Kong’s Waterfront , Courtesy of James Corner Field Operations
Courtesy of James Corner Field Operations

With decaying infrastructure and a lack of viable public amenities, Hong Kong’s popular yet problematic waterfront is the focus of the latest undertaking by James Corner Field Operations, aiming to transform the site into an attractive tourist and local destination. Home to Hong Kong’s Avenue of Stars (the equivalent of Hollywood’s Walk of Fame), the Tsim Sha Tsui (TST) waterfront is in need of severe revitalization, with areas requiring demolition if not reinforced within the decade.

Part of a larger project known as Victoria Dockside, the landscape architecture firm’s vision incorporates new seating, shading and green space to reinvigorate the promenade while offering panoramic views of the city’s skyline as it guides visitors towards the harbor, allowing visitors to get closer to the harbor than ever before. Trellises will provide 800 times more shade than what is currently offered, while seating will increase 325-fold to encourage public engagement and interaction with each other and the space.

TOPOTEK 1’s Martin Rein-Cano On Superkilen’s Translation of Cultural Objects

14:00 - 14 May, 2017

Founded in 1996 by Buenos Aires-born Martin Rein-Cano, TOPOTEK 1 has quickly developed a reputation as a multidisciplinary landscape architecture firm, focussing on the re-contextualization of objects and spaces and the interdisciplinary approaches to design, framed within contemporary cultural and societal discourse.

The award-winning Berlin-based firm has completed a range of public spaces, from sports complexes and gardens to public squares and international installations. Significant projects include the green rooftop Railway Cover in Munich, Zurich’s hybrid Heerenschürli Sports Complex and the German Embassy in Warsaw. The firm has also recently completed the Schöningen Spears Research and Recreation Centre near Hannover, working with contrasting typologies of the open meadow and the dense forest on a historic site. 

Industrialized Ceramic Elements That Create a Variety of Urban Furnishings

08:00 - 7 May, 2017
Industrialized Ceramic Elements That Create a Variety of Urban Furnishings, © Javier de Paz García
© Javier de Paz García

In 1855 the German machinery manufacturer Carl Schlickeysen issued the patent he had recently created, the "Universal Patent Brickmaking machine", the first machine created to manufacture bricks by extrusión as an industrial process. 

SCHLICKEYSEN is a modular furniture system based on two types of modular metal supports and standard-sized ceramic curved vaults. All kinds of settings can be configured from the combination of these three elements; picnic tables, continuous benches, grandstands, topographies, and many more typologies can be achieved by just stacking the metal supports and using the ceramic vaults as a horizontal supporting surface. 

© Javier de Paz García © Javier de Paz García © Javier de Paz García © Javier de Paz García +22

Watch Construction Begin on Heatherwick's Vessel at Hudson Yards

12:00 - 24 April, 2017

Construction has officially begun on Vessel, the 15-story tall staircase sculpture designed by Heatherwick Studio that will serve as the centerpiece of New York’s massive new Hudson Yards development. To build the structure, 75 individual units are being prefabricated by Cimolai S.p.A. in their Monfalcone, Italy facility, then shipped to New York where they will be assembled on site. These first 10 of these pieces have now completed their 15-day overseas journey, with the remaining pieces scheduled to arrive on-site and put into place over the coming year.

Outdoor assembly at Cimolai's Monfalcone facility. Image © Related-Oxford The first piece in transit. Image © Related-Oxford Stephen Ross and Thomas Heatherwick on the 3rd Level of the Vessel in Monfalcone, Italy. Image © Related-Oxford Assembly at the Monfalcone Workshop. Image © Related-Oxford +16

Topio7’s Revitalisation of Former Cemetery Merges Urban Park and City in Athens

12:00 - 22 April, 2017
Topio7’s Revitalisation of Former Cemetery Merges Urban Park and City in Athens, Courtesy of Topio7 Architects
Courtesy of Topio7 Architects

A competition for the transformation of a former cemetery in Nikea, just west of central Athens, has been won by Greek firm Topio7, with a proposal that creates a revitalized public park as a result of “a mutual osmosis between the park and the city”. A number of green buffer zones – “the elastic limit” – are utilized to frame a procession-like journey from the bustle of the city to the calm of the park’s landscape.

Highlighting the importance of the site’s previous use, the architects explain that the “main objective of the project is the creation of an open, accessible public space, a contemporary urban park with ecological-bioclimatic character, with special emphasis on the social dimension and the site’s memory.”

Courtesy of Topio7 Architects Courtesy of Topio7 Architects Courtesy of Topio7 Architects Courtesy of Topio7 Architects +14

Call for Entries: Future Public Space, Malmö

03:00 - 17 April, 2017
Call for Entries: Future Public Space, Malmö

The way we spend time and the things we spend time doing are constantly changing. New technologies enable us to interact in different ways. They also tend to replace older forms of social interaction for better or worse. How can future public spaces facilitate new forms of social interactions?

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.

4 Important Things to Consider When Designing Streets For People, Not Just Cars

09:30 - 17 March, 2017
4 Important Things to Consider When Designing Streets For People, Not Just Cars, Perkins+Will's proposed plan for Mission Rock in San Francisco. Image © Steelblue/Perkins+Will/San Francisco Giants
Perkins+Will's proposed plan for Mission Rock in San Francisco. Image © Steelblue/Perkins+Will/San Francisco Giants

Go to any medieval European city and you will see what streets looked like before the advent of the car: lovely, small narrow lanes, intimate, and undisputedly human-scale. We have very few cities in the US where you can find streets like this. For the most part what you see is streets that have been designed with the car in mind—at a large scale for a fast speed. In my native San Francisco, we are making the streets safer for walking and biking by widening sidewalks, turning car lanes into bike lanes, and slowing down the cars. We are working with the streets we have; a typical San Francisco street is anywhere from 60 to 80 feet (18 to 24 meters) wide, as compared with a medieval, pre-car street which is more like 10 to 20 feet (3 to 6 meters) wide.

As an urban designer, I work on lots of projects where we take large parcels of land and subdivide them into blocks by introducing new streets. These new streets are a rare opportunity to take a fresh look at the kinds of car-oriented roads that we are used to, and instead try to design streets that prioritize the safety and comfort of pedestrians. These projects give us a chance to design streets that are just for people. Imagine that we made these people-only streets into narrow, medieval-style lanes that are intimate and human-scaled. But even as we try to design streets that might not ever see a single car, we find that the modern street design has become so much more than just places for walking or driving. There are therefore a number of things for socially-minded designers to consider, beyond the commonly talked about pedestrian-car dichotomy.

3 Success Stories Show How to Apply Road Safety Through Public Health Plans

06:00 - 1 March, 2017
3 Success Stories Show How to Apply Road Safety Through Public Health Plans, © Flickr User: NYCDOT. Licence CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
© Flickr User: NYCDOT. Licence CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Vision Zero is an initiative that started in Sweden in 1997 when the country began implementing a series of road safety measures to reach their goal of zero deaths from traffic accidents. As a result, the country managed to reduce the number of deaths to 3 people per 100 thousand inhabitants.

Since then the plan has been adopted by different cities and has inspired the creation of various organizations that are looking to make our streets a safer places. One of them being the Vision Zero Network that brings together traffic engineers, health professionals, local leaders, and policy makers.