UPDATE: The video detailing Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s winning proposal for Moscow’s Zaryadye Park has just been released. In it the three partners discuss the central idea behind the proposal – “Wild Urbanism” – in which plants and people are of equal importance and “nature and architecture are merged into a seamless whole.” They explain how each of Russia’s varied landscapes – its tundra, steppe, forest, and wetland – will be imported to the park and overlapped into ”enfolded nodes” that will house sustainable, artificial micro-climates that will allow for year-round use of the park.
The Strelka Institute has announced the winner of the two-stage international competition to design Zaryadye park, Moscow’s first park in over 50 years: Diller Scofidio + Renfro.
Zaryadye Park, 13 acres of land just a minute’s walk from the Kremlin and the Red Square, is hoped to “project a new image of Moscow and Russia to the world.” See the renderings from Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s winning proposal for Moscow’s new and most important public space, after the break…
For years, rivers were a source of transport and power, upon whose banks our cities were born. But as cities industrialized, many of them clogged with filth and disease – making them not only ugly, but dangerous. Unless they were useful, rivers were often diverted, covered, pushed underground, and forgotten.
Not anymore. Reclaiming rivers seems to be the newest trend in urban design, and cities across the world are hopping on the bandwagon. In the UK, the Environment Council is working to restore 9,500 miles of river; in Los Angeles, the eponymous river is about to undergo a complete transformation.
It begins with a fundamental premise: Buildings occupy only a fraction of land in cities. Just as important as physical structures, are the public spaces in between.
In many cities these spaces have long been disregarded. Today, however, we are witnessing bold experimentation and innovation coming forth from cities across the globe: cities re-using and re-imagining previously underused spaces in order to uplift communities and transform lives.
In mid autumn, when the nights get longer in the northern hemisphere, we encounter numerous light festivals. And indeed, within the last ten years, more and more light festivals have globally emerged. The reason for the success of light festivals is simple, as the German curator Bettina Pelz concludes: “It’s actually fairly easy, because whenever you do something with light in cities in the night, then people do come. If you do it good, they come twice.”
As Pelz points out, light is an apt medium for evening events, since it easily attracts people. Communities have discovered the potential of lighting for city marketing, and the closer they plan their date to Christmas, the more they merge their illumination with the festive blinking lights of commercial Christmas markets.
Join us on a tour through some of the leading light festivals in Europe. Read more about their different backgrounds, artistic concepts and future trends after the break…
With its current total population over 1.2 billion people, India is the second most populous nation in the world. What’s more, current demographics show that, rather than being concentrated, India’s population is spread throughout its states. In demographic and statistical terms, then, India is ideally situated to provide architecture students with new insights into Ekistics, or the science of human settlements.
Founded in 2001 in response to the ongoing shifts in the urban landscape, the Faculty of Architecture and Ekistics at Jamia Millia Islamia, a Central University, grounds students in the ways that nature interacts with human needs/ethics in order to produce professionals instrumental in advancing a better built environment.
“People tend to forget that play is serious.” – David Hockney
PLAYscapes, an international design competition launched earlier this year asking people to “submit a plan or proposal to turn a neglected forgotten part of your city into a playscape,” has announced their winning entries. Set up by Building Trust International, the competition called for “professional and student architects and designers from cities around the world to propose ideas which encouraged public interaction and turned redundant city spaces into fun creative places.”
Find out more about the winning professional entry from the City of Cape Town, entitled Cape Town Gardens Skatepark, along with the winning student entry from the Lusiada University of Lisbon, entitled Bring a Pal and Have Fun, after the break…
Architecture researchers in Edinburgh have completed a breakthrough study on brain activity recorded in situ by using mobile electroencephalography (EEG) technology, which records live neural impressions of subjects moving through a city. Excitingly, this technology could help us define how different urban environments affect us, a discovery that could have provocative implications for architecture. Read the full story on Salon. Also, check out this article from Fast Company about how a similar mobile technology could show us the effects of urban design – not on our brains, but on our bodies.
Dutch duo Haas and Hahn gained fame in 2005 for painting a few houses of Rio Janeiro’s favelas in a palate of bright hues. Now they’re back again, this time with a Kickstarter Campaign to raise the funds to paint the rest of the favela in the hopes of further transforming this crime-ridden community.
Powerful video projectors at an affordable price have opened the path for a young, impressive art form: 3D video mapping, a means of projection that uses the architecture itself as the screen. Artists and researchers initiated the movement, developing a new visual language to interpret architecture. Later, marketing adopted this technique for branding, with large-scale projections on skyscrapers; political activists have also initiated dialogues, turning ephemeral light interventions into eye-catching ways to point out and address urban design issues.
More on the ways artists and groups develop this visual language for urban storytelling, after the break…
In this article, originally published in Metropolis Magazine as “A Time-Out,” Carl Robinson reminisces about the architecture of the Ho Chi Minh City he remembers from the 1960s and discusses how the urban landscape has changed in subsequent years. As Vietnam grapples with economic downturn, he asks, how might the city to develop?
Over the past 15 years, as Vietnam ﬁnally left its long years of war behind, the former capital of South Vietnam—Saigon—became the country’s economic powerhouse. Until fairly recently, Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) was a boomtown. Even before touching down at its busy international airport, I see new buildings rising up through the sprawling and tightly packed suburbs, splayed across the city’s surrounding delta landscape and muddy meandering rivers.
Off in the distance along the wide Saigon River, where the spires of the city’s French Colonial Roman Catholic cathedral once dominated downtown, an impressive silhouette of high-rises reach to the tropical sky. The city’s twenty-ﬁrst-century feel continues through its sweeping new terminal (designed by GWA) and then down a wide boulevard past contemporary ofﬁce buildings and shops. Eventually I reach the intimate tree-lined streets of old Saigon, the residential quarter created by the French more than 150 years ago.
Last monday, Columbia University’s Avery Hall was buzzing.
The Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP) hosted a highly attended event that welcomed respected academics and professionals from architecture and real estate to what the dean, Mark Wigley, warned might take the form a a celebrity roast. Vishaan Chakrabarti, a partner at SHoP Architects and director of the Center for Urban Real Estate at Columbia, was on deck to deliver an abridged, more “urban version” of a longer lecture on his new book, A Country of Cities: A Manifesto for an Urban America. Proceeding the twenty minute lecture, an “A-list” panel of architects and historians - that included Kenneth Frampton, Gwendolyn Wright, Bernard Tschumi, Laurie Hawkinson and Reinhold Martin – lined up to discuss Chakrabarti’s work.
Cricklewood, a North London suburb devoid of public space, is finding a new lease of life through a series of pop-up interventions - including a mobile town square designed by Studio Hato and Studio Kieren Jones - put together by civic design agency Spacemakers. While the project might have a bit further to go before any benefits are truly felt by the local residents, the project is part of a wider scheme financed by the Mayor’s Outer London Fund which will hopefully lead to the rejuvenation of more of the capital’s suburbs. Read Liam O’Brien’s full article in The Independent here.
In this article, originally published in Metropolis Magazine’s Point of View blog as “The Real Problem with China’s Ghost Towns” , author Peter Calthorpe explains the problems of these cities, predicts their grim future, and explores how the thoughtful planning behind the city of Chenggong could provide a more sustainable alternative.
We’ve all seen the reports on “ghost town” developments in China, showing acres of empty high-rise apartments and vacant shopping malls. These barren towns seem particularly ironic in a country planning to move 250 million people from the countryside to cities in the next 20 years. But this massive, unprecedented demand has been distorted by a number of factors unique to China. Flawed financial incentives for cities and developers, along with the poor phasing of services, amenities, and jobs create most of the problems. In addition, China’s emerging middle class is very comfortable (perhaps too comfortable) investing in real estate, so people often buy apartments in incomplete communities but don’t move in, expecting that values will rise, or that they will live there someday. The result is a string of large, empty developments that remain speculative investments rather than real homes and communities. [See-through buildings are the worry now, but the real problems may come when they are full.]
While it’s hard to get data on vacancy levels in China, there are certainly many anecdotal examples across the country. An all-too-typical example is Chenggong, the new town planned for 1.5 million just outside of Kunming in the west. This freshly minted city boasts the growing Yunnan University, currently with 170,000 students and faculty; a new government center; and an emerging light industrial area. Under construction are the city’s new high-speed rail station and two metro lines connecting the historic city center.
Did you know that there are more bicycles than residents in The Netherlands? And, up to 70% of all commutes are made by bike in cities like Amsterdam and The Hague. To accommodate such a huge number of bike-enthusiasts, bike parking facilities can be found everywhere – outside schools, office buildings and shops. Not to mention the fact that many Dutch cities even have special bike paths that are completely segregated from motorized traffic with signs that read “Bike Street: Cars are guests.” Read this BBC article to learn why the Dutch are so bike crazy and find out Why Cycle Cities Are the Future here on ArchDaily.
“We found images with trash in it, and took the trash out, and we noticed a 30 percent increase in perception of safety. It’s surprising that something that easy had that large an effect.” So Phil Salesses, one of the authors of a PLOS ONE paper studying the perception of safety, class and uniqueness in city streets tells The Atlantic Cities. By comparing images from Google Street View of Boston and New York in the US and Linz and Salzburg in Austria, and photoshopping out individual elements (such as trash or graffiti) to fine tune the results, Salesses and his collaborators have gathered quantitative evidence to answer an often subjective question: what makes citizens feel safe? Learn more about Salesses’ research at The Atlantic Cities and read the paper here.
Stretching beyond the natural constraints of Presqu’ile de Caen and into the neighboring towns of Mondeville and Hérouville Saint Clair, MVRDV’s competition-winning vision will transform 600ha of industrial brown fields into a collection of gardens punctuated by a mosaic of urban settlements. This ambition, titled ‘La Grande Mosaique’, is strongly based on respect for the existing structures and defined by small scale interventions that will result in a large scale structure vision for Greater Caen.
The proposal was selected from three submittals by the public development agency SPLA for being, as Caen Mayor Philippe Duron describes, the “most impressive plan”. It was commended by the jury for its “fresh view” on urbanism.
With a vision to create the “workplace of the future”, developer Danica Pension has teamed up with Henning Larsen Architects, COWI and Alectia to design a state-of-the-art, yet modest Microsoft headquarters in the new urban district of Lyngby, Copenhagen. Unlike many of the recent corporate headquarters making headlines in Silicon Valley, this Danish complex is unique for it’s central urban site and primary goal of serving the community.
In 2011, UN-HABITAT and Project for Public Spaces (PPS) signed a 5-year cooperative agreement to aspire to raise international awareness of the importance of public space in cities, to foster a lively exchange of ideas among partners and to educate a new generation of planners, designers, community activists and other civic leaders about the benefits of what they call the “Placemaking methodology.” Their partnership is helping to advance the development of cities where people of all income groups, social classes and ages can live safely, happily and in economic security and in order to reach these ambitious goals, the duo recently released 10 informative steps that cities and communities can take to improve the quality of their public spaces.
To find out what these steps are, read on!