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!
“If you Build It, Will They Come?” – The Architecture Foundation Discusses Cultural Centers’ Impact on Cities
The considerations regarding urban regeneration are far and wide. From the reuse of derelict infrastructure – like WORKac’s project in St. Petersburg’s New Holland Island - to the master-planning of cultural communities – like the design of Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi - to the development of an entire districts – like Foster + Partner’s master plan for the West Kowloon Cultural District in Hong Kong – the design of cultural centers that range in program, function and attraction have been a keystone in redeveloping the cultural impact of cities. The “Bilbao Effect” is still cited as proof that architecture has the capacity to revitalize cities centers and elevate their status in global design with these “architectural trophies“. If you Build it, Will They Come?: New Cultural Projects in Abu Dhabi, Hong Kong and St Petersburg is a talk, organized by The Architectural Foundation that explores the relationship between grand urban cultural projects and the developmental strategies that are unique to each city. The discussion focuses on presentations from designers of the aforementioned projects in an effort to find both the specific relationships that exist between development and the site as well as the general understanding of how cultural centers thrive and revive the urban environment.
More on each project after the break..
In an effort to “unlock people’s imaginations” about Penn Station and Madison Square Garden, the Municipal Art Society (MAS) of New York has challenged Santiago Calatrava, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, SHoP Architects and SOM to propose four new visions that exemplify the potential of the highly disregarded area.
The challenge comes amidst a heated debate on whether or not the city should restrict Madison Square’s recently expired special permit to 10 years, rather than in perpetuity as the arena’s owners – the Dolan family – has requested. This would allow time for the city to “get it right” and come up with a viable solution for the arena and station that, as NYTimes critic Michael Kimmelman states, would not only “improve the safety and quality of life for millions of people but also benefit the economy”. Think Kings Cross in London. With a thoughtful mix of public and private investments, the crime-ridden station was transformed into a thriving cultural destination that benefited all parties.
More after the break…
Arguably the biggest buzzword in urbanism right now is the ‘Smart City’. The idea, although certainly inclusive of eco-friendly practices, has even replaced “sustainability” as the major intent of cities planning for positive future development. Smart City thinking has been used successfully in countries as diverse as Brazil, the US, the UAE, South Korea, and Scotland (Glasgow just won a £24million grant to pioneer new schemes throughout the city).
But what exactly are Smart Cities? What benefit do they bring us? And, more importantly, how can we best implement them to secure our future?
The answer, in my opinion, lies in the hands of architects.
More on the potential of Smart Cities after the break…
In cities around the globe, change happens almost instantly. Buildings rise, buildings disappear, and skylines morph before one’s eyes. There is no better example of this, of course, than China. From Ordos to Shanghai, Chinese cities are in a constant state of flux, as the Chinese people willfully abandon signs of the past and embrace the new.
Of course, it’s one thing to know this fact; it’s quite another to witness it firsthand, to experience this urgent impetus to demolish and demolish in order to build, build, build, and build. In the face of such large-scale, exponential urban development, it’s easy to feel powerless to suggest another path.
However, in publishing Anatomy of a Chinese City, that is exactly what two young architects have done. By taking the time to observe the “urban artifacts” that make a Chinese city unique, compiling over 100 drawings of everything from buildings to bicycles, Thomas Batzenschlager and Clémence Pybaro have preserved a piece of Chinese history that is quickly going extinct.
In a world where, in the race for progress, quotidian realities are erased unthinkingly, Anatomy of a Chinese City is not just a resource, but a call-to-action, reminding us to slow down and observe the very human context that surrounds us.
Read more about Anatomy of a Chinese City, after the break…
This article, by Austin Williams, originally appeared in The Asian Age as “India, China: Talk of the Town.” Williams is the co-author of Lure of the City: From Slums to Suburbs and director of the Future Cities Project. He teaches architecture and urban studies at XJTL University in Suzhou, China. Email him at email@example.com
As an architect living in Suzhou, just outside Shanghai, I have become blasé about the skyline being transformed before my very eyes. The classic view of Shanghai’s towering waterfront may not represent great architecture, but it’s impressive all the same… and constantly improving. In most cities across China it is the same story: high-speed construction activity, modernisation, transformation and skyscrapers everywhere. There is a palpable sense of opportunity pending — what the émigrés to America must have felt when arriving in New York 100 years ago.
While many Western commentators point to the failures (the accidents, the pollution and the corruption) with an unremitting Schadenfreude, China marches on. Where else can you watch a modern city grow and change in real time? Where else, indeed?
Read more of Austin Williams’ account of the different kinds of urban development happening in China and India, after the break…
The Urban Land Institute (ULI) has selected the finalist teams in the eleventh annual ULI Gerald D. Hines Student Urban Design Competition. Graduate-level student teams representing Harvard University, Yale University, a joint team from Ball State University and Purdue University, as well as another join team from Kansas State University, the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and the University of Kansas are all advancing to the final round of competition, scheduled to take place in March and April. This year’s finalists were charged with proposing a long-term development plan for downtown Minneapolis that creates value for property owners, city residents, and the greater Twin Cities region.
A $50,000 prize will be awarded to the winning team; and each of the remaining three finalist teams will receive $10,000. This year, applications were submitted from 158 teams representing 70 universities in the United States and Canada, with 790 students participating in total.
The Smithsonian Institution has commissioned the innovative practice of Bjarke Ingels to reimagine the heart of its antiquated Washington D.C. campus. The Danish architect has agreed to an eight- to 12- month, $2.4 million contract to draft the first phase of a master plan that seeks to dissolve the notable impediments and discontinuous pathways that plague the area.
More on this news after the break…
As urban populations expand, people are migrating to city centers in search of economic opportunities, which promise social mobility and access to education, health resources, and jobs. Nations once considered in the “third world” are making leaps to accommodate growing populations with thoughtful considerations in designing these new urban capitals. Population trends have shifted considerably and have contributed to some of the densest urban cities never before seen in history. The rise in the classification of cities as “mega-cities” and the problems that such high population densities face speak to the fact that our cities have reached a saturation point that needs to addressing.
Singapore, an island nation in the Asian Pacific, is the third densest country in the world. Last year the Center for Livable Cities and the Urban Land Institute participated in a summit of leading planners and policy makers to discuss the steps that Singapore was taking in its development in response to its growing urban populations. The result of the conference was a list of ten points that contribute to making Singapore a livable high dense city.
Follow us after the break for more on the 10 Points for Singapore.
The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has appointed HOK’s green-building leader Mary Ann Lazarus, FAIA, to a consulting position as a Resident Fellow. In this position, Lazarus will help guide and influence a program heavily based in sustainability and health as the AIA implements its ten-year pledge to the Decade of Design: Global Urban Solutions Challenge, a Clinton Global Initiative Commitment to Action. The purpose of the commitment is to document, envision and implement solutions that leverage the design of urban environments through research, community participation, and design frameworks. It is a commitment based in the interest of public health with special attention to the use of natural, economic, and human resources.
More about Mary Ann Lazarus’s work and future at the AIA after the break.
It is estimated that by 2050, 75 percent of the worlds – then 9 billion strong – population will live in cities. Urban Sprawl is already problematic and planners are faced with new challenges as they aim to build towards the sky rather than the horizon. In addition, cities are increasingly faced with climate change, resource scarcity, rising energy costs, and the possibility of future natural or man-made disasters. In response to these issues, Arup has proposed their vision of an urban building and city of the future.
In their proposal, titled “It’s Alive!”, they imagine an urban ecosystem of connected ‘living’ buildings, that not only create space, but also craft the environment. According to Arup, buildings of the future will not only produce energy and food, but will also provide its occupants with clean air and water.
More info on Arup’s vision after the break…
AECOM has announced ‘Unslumming Kibera’ as winner of the fourth annual Urban SOS competition.
Read about the finalists and their projects after the break
Mumbai, like many populous modern cities, has a traffic problem that may be better be categorized as a traffic nightmare. At the Kala Nagar Junction, where five main traffic arteries merge to connect nearly 60,000 commuters per hour from the Island City to the western suburbs of Mumbai, the BMW Guggenheim Lab and Mumbai Environmental Social Network launched a competition to search for realistic solutions to the infrastructural tangle. Likely designed when traffic congestion was not as severe, the Kala Nagar Junction is no longer capable of accommodating the daily commuter demand. The competition, open to students and professionals, called on participants to consider solutions that not only resolved the traffic problems, but also produced public spaces and safe pedestrian routes. The six winning designs – 3 from the professional category, 2 from the student category and 1 people’s choice that was decided by community votes and visitors to the Guggenheim Design Lab.
In 2005, OLIN - a landscape architecture, urban design and planning studio – was selected to join HNTB Architects in the design of a master plan for University of California Berkley’s southeastern campus that aimed to unify its distinct elements and strengthen the social spaces of the campus. HNTB led the renovation of the California Memorial Stadium and worked with STUDIOS Architecture and OLIN to design the Simpson Center for Student-Athlete High Performance. These projects are unified by the design of the grounds which are just part of the transformation planned for the campus, which also includes the renovations and landscape design for the Haas School of Business, UC Berkley School of Law and the Piedmont Avenue.
Jonas Eliasson, Director of the Centre for Transport Studies at Sweden’s Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), takes a stab at one of the largest problems in big cities: traffic congestion. In this TEDx, Eliasson discusses techniques that urban planners and policy makers can use to help mediate the problems caused by rush hour commutes by car. Contrary to most other suggestions we see, Eliasson’s solution does not involve any plans to widen sidewalks, encourage public transportation and create bike lanes; rather, this suggestion is more policy oriented.
The project, known as “The Lens,” has hit speed-bumps due to local dissidents, who have been vocally wary of the new Pier’s price-tag/design and have called for a voter referendum. However, the architects have been sensitive to the process; since first winning the competition in January (beating out BIG and West 8), the firm has taken part in local workshops to get community input, making some significant changes to the original design.
After receiving local criticism that the Pier include more things “to do” and more shading, the firm has adjusted the design to include two restaurants, shaded balconies, and – in order to improve access – a road that can support service vehicles and a tram. Most noticeably, the plan for an underwater reef garden, the signature feature which gave the project its name, has had to be scratched: scientists have determined that a reef garden would be unrealistic with Tampa Bay’s dark water.
Last night’s 7-1 vote determined that the project will now receive funding in smaller, pre-approved increments in order to safeguard against potential legal complications. However, no mater the outcome, the closure and the demolition of the current Pier will take place between May and August 2013; if all goes to plan for Michael Maltzan Architecture, “The Lens” will open in summer 2015.
See updated Renderings for “The Lens,” and a really cool video, after the break…
Maybe Sandy, the colossal hurricane that has barreled across the East Coast this week, will finally get the message across: ”We are all from New Orleans Now.”
Thanks to climate change, America’s coastal cities, and particularly New York, have become increasingly vulnerable to nature’s wrath. Over two years ago, MOMA asked five architects to come up with a redesign of lower Manhattan that would prevent damage in the event of major flooding. Barry Bergdoll, the Curator of the “Rising Currents” exhibit, put it to the architects this way: “Your mission is to come up with images that are so compelling they can’t be forgotten and so realistic that they can’t be dismissed.”
Unfortunately, they were. As the many images from traditional news sources and social media users reveal, Sandy’s damage has been extensive – and perhaps, in many ways, preventable.
It often takes tragedy to instigate change. Let’s hope that Sandy will finally get the conversation of New York’s vulnerable urban landscape on to the table.
More images of Sandy’s damage, as well as plans from MOMA’s “Rising Currents” Exhibit, after the break…