“Moskva: Urban Space” Investigates the Future of Moscow’s Public Realm at the 2014 Venice Biennale

© Patricia Parinejad

In their collateral event for the debut of the Moscow pavilion at the Venice Biennale, the exhibition “Moskva: urban space“ explores the historic development of public spaces and examines the city’s progress in the context of Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s winning proposal for Zaryadye Park. Curated by Sergey Kuznetsov, Chief Architect of Moscow together with Kristin Kristin Feireiss from AEDES, and organized by MCA – Moscow Committee of Architecture and Urban Development, the exhibition comes at a pivotal moment in determining the future of urban development in Moscow. As Kuznetsov states, “While the face of Moscow in the past 100 years was largely determined by the architecture of its buildings, representing political and economic developments, today’s urban singularity is based on the “connective fabric” of its public spaces that have become equally important identity-makers and contributes significantly to improving the quality of urban life for its citizens.” To see photos of the exhibition by Patricia Parinejad and learn more about the story behind it, continue reading after the break.

What Happened to Manhattan’s Lowline Project?

Courtesy of and Dan Barasch

In 2011, the Tribeca-based design duo of James Ramsey and Dan Barasch proposed a radical project to transform an abandoned subterranean trolley terminal in Manhattan‘s Lower East Side into an underground park filled with natural light and vegetation, eventually proving their design with a full size mock-up of their design for light-capturing fiber-optic tubes. Since then, they haven’t had nearly the same level of publicity – but that doesn’t mean they aren’t still working. This article by The Architects’ Newspaper catches up with Ramsey and Barasch as they attempt to make their $50 million project a reality by 2018. Read the full article here.

Syrian Refugee Camp Becoming Impromptu City

Aerial View of Zaatari Refugee Camp. Image Courtesy of Wikimedia

As the Syrian civil war continues to rage, more and more Syrian citizens are emigrating across the border to refugee camps in Jordan.  While these camps were intended to be temporary, the sheer number of people they support and the uncertainty of when the Syrian crisis will end has leant them a sense of permanence.  This article from the New York Times takes a look at how Syrian refugees are prompting urban development and what this means for the future of refugee camp design.

Video: A 3-Minute History of Chicago’s Millenium Park

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Did you know Millenium Park in ChicagoIllinois was actually a desolate industrial wasteland until the turn of the century? The 24.5 acre public park, host to a state-of-the-art collection of architecture, landscape design, and art, is now a popular destination for residents and tourists alike — all thanks to an unprecedented public-private partnership pioneered by former Mayor Richard Daley. To learn more about how Daley made Millenium Park a reality, with the help of famous designers like Frank Gehry, check out the video above.

Four Freedoms Park: Louis Kahn’s “Ancient Temple Precinct” in NYC

Aerial Rendering Prior to Completion. Image Courtesy of Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park, LLC

Built four decades after Louis Kahn’s death, New York City’s Four Freedoms Park - the architect’s posthumous memorial to Franklin D. Roosevelt and his policies – is becoming one of the architect’s most popular urban spaces. In a recent article for the GuardianOliver Wainwright investigates what he describes as perhaps Kahn’s ”best project”. Wainwright’s spatial description of the monument is interweaved by fragments of Kahn’s personal , building up a picture of a space with “the feel of an ancient temple precinct” and “a finely nuanced landscape”. Although Gina Pollara, who ultimately realised the plans in 2005, argues that Four Freedoms Park ”stands as a memorial not only to FDR and the New Deal, but to Kahn himself”, can a posthumous project ever be considered as an architect’s best? Read the article in full here.

Urban Design for an Urban Century: Shaping More Livable, Equitable, and Resilient Cities

Courtesy of Wiley

In for an Urban Century: Shaping More Livable, Equitable, and Resilient (2nd Edition), by Lance Jay Brown, David Dixon, historical trends and practices are used to explain current theories of urbanism. The following excerpt illustrates one such historical trend, detailing exactly how the advent of railroads and skyscrapers following the Industrial Revolution radically changed the urban landscape.

Before the Industrial Revolution, forces such as trade, agriculture, and defense determined the shape of cities in North America and Europe, whether planned or unplanned. How far a person could reasonably walk and the requirements of carts, wagons, and herds of animals heavily influenced the layout and dimensions of city streets regardless of the form the larger city took. Defensive strategy and technology also dictated form, but the resulting walls — and the need to guard them — often imposed smaller footprints than cities might otherwise have produced.

Happy Cities and Stranger Danger: An Interview with DIALOG’s Bruce Haden

© Trevor Brady

In this article, first published by Indochino as “What makes some buildings happy?” architect Bruce Haden, principal at DIALOG in Vancouver, discusses why some places feel good to be in and why some just have that awkward, quiet feeling.

Award-winning architect and urban planner. Dad. Researcher on happy vs. lonely . We talked to Bruce Haden about why some places feel good to be in, and some just have that awwwkward, quiet feeling.

Bruce Haden has only been an architect and a bartender. So ask him what he likes about it, and his answer is he doesn’t really know anything else. In high school, he didn’t want to pick between calculus and woodshop, so he ended up in a profession that’s part art, part engineering (and a fair amount of ). Now, he works on a lot of large, public buildings. But he also spends a lot of time thinking about happy and lonely cities. He talks about how working with a client is like dating, why some buildings are worth being in and others are just empty, and whether adventure or luxury wins.

Cape Town Adopts Re-Blocking Strategy for Informal Settlements

In Kuku Town, dwellings were rearranged to face a communal courtyard – where people can gather for activities and keep an eye on their neighbors and shared facitilies.. Image Courtesy of Future Cape Town

The city of Cape Town has adopted a new strategy for improving informal settlements – re-blocking, “the reconfiguration and repositioning of shacks in very dense informal settlements in accordance to a -drafted spatial framework.” Re-blocking serves to create communal spaces, make neighborhoods safer, and improve dwelling structures – among many other things. To see how it has been implemented and where, head to Future Cape Town and continue reading here.

2014 Canadian Urban Design Award Winners

Jiigew – By the Water, Thunder Bay, Ontario, by Brook McIllroy Architects and SPMB. Image © David Whittaker

The winners of the 2014 Canadian Urban Design Awards, a biennial competition recognizing projects that contribute to the vitality and sustainability of Canadian cities, were recently announced by the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC), Canadian Institute of Planners, and Canadian Society of Landscape Architects. Eight individuals, organizations, and firms – including Perkins + Will for a masterplan in Edmonton - were recognized for their efforts in categories such as Initiatives and Civic Design. For information and images on the winning entries, read on after the break.

The Architecture of Kowloon Walled City: An Excerpt from ‘City of Darkness Revisited’

Courtesy of ‘City of Darkness Revisited’

In light of the release of a second, revised edition of City of Darkness – the authoritative text on Kowloon Walled City, which you can help Kickstart here — authors Greg Girard and Ian Lambot have shared an excerpt from City of Darkness Revisited

The early phases of the Walled City were characterised by predictable building typologies and the buildings were constructed on the principle of squatters’ rights, with random construction on spots of available land by whoever got there first. Alleyways and passages evolved – unplanned – into the established ‘map’ of the City, which would remain until it came down. A basic electric supply existed, increasingly burdened by illegal connections that frequently overloaded the system, and the few standpipes supplied the only water. As the need to accommodate the ever growing residential and commercial populations forced it to in the 1960s, the building typology of the Walled City made the leap from two- to three-storey residential structures to taller, six- to seven-storey ones. This represented an important threshold, because at these greater heights the buildings unavoidably became more complex and required greater labour to realise, reinforced concrete, more investment, and so on. They also required a different way of living. Water had to be transported up to the higher floors by hand. Likewise the propane gas canisters that furnished fuel to cook or heat water.

Construction Begins on the Vast Platform for New York’s Hudson Yards

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The construction of Hudson Yards, the biggest private real estate development in the of the United States and currently the largest development in New York City since the Rockefeller Center, is gaining momentum. The vast infrastructural project in the heart of the city is set to enclose an active rail yard with an expansive platform, paving the way for 28 acres (and 17 million square feet) of commercial and residential space. Housing over 100 commercial units, 5000 residences, 14 acres of open public space, an enormous school and luxury hotel all on top of a working train depot, the project will directly connect to a new subway station and meet with the High Line.

Playfully Reimagining Madrid’s Urban Realm

Courtesy of Andrés Carretero, Carolina Klocker

How often are spontaneous, primitive, radical actions implemented in large urban centres? Siempre Fiesta (or Always Party) by Andrés Carretero and Carolina Klocker was recently voted by the We-Traders  as their favourite in the recent Open Call Madrid competition. Viewing the city through children’s eyes, where the order of the day is primarily playing or making, and using the concept of “free movement of our body in space” as a key driver, Carretero and Klocker developed a playful scheme that proposed filling a niche in ’s urban grid with sand as a way of managing the environment to create “comfortable space.”

How to Design Out Democracy from Your City (A Dictator’s Guide)

Tahrir Square during the Egyptian revolution of 2011. Image

In this tongue-in-cheek “Dictator’s Guide to Urban Planning“, the Atlantic explores the various ways that public spaces, and as a whole, have been used to suppress uprisings and bolster the control of authoritarian governments. Covering everything from Baron Haussmann‘s 19th Century Paris to the recent revolution in the Ukraine, the article reveals the fundamental relationship between public space and democracy. You can read the full article here.

Interview with Vicente Guallart, Chief Architect of Barcelona

© Ewa Szymczyk

In the following article, originally published in Polish in theDecember 2013 issue of A&B, Ewa Szymczyk interviews Vicente Guallart, the Chief Architect of since 2011 as well as the founder of Guallart Architects and IAAC (Institute of Advanced Architecture in Catalunya). Szymczyk questions Guallart about his experience in , asking: how can you measure a city’s success?

Ewa Szymczyk: When measuring the contemporary city’s success we typically use economic measures. In this sense Barcelona ranks very high, being a top tourist destination and managing its budget in times of global crisis. But there are many other ways to measure its success. What in your opinion makes a city a good city? Isn’t it much more than economic prosperity?

Vincente Guallart: A good city is a place where the citizens live well. So the best measure for a good city is how the citizens live. The truth is that the city is a physical representation of a social agreement. If you think for instance about Phoenix in Arizona, maybe people live there the way they want and the way they like to live. Obviously there are also questions related to cost. I mean, questions related to environmental and economic costs. Therefore the cost of a city like Phoenix is very different from the cost of a city like Hong Kong, which is the densest city and probably the most efficient urban structure in the world. So the question is the economic efficiency and also the quality of life of the citizens. And the best way to know is to ask citizens how happy they are to live in a place like this. The truth is that if you are a citizen of Barcelona you are quite happy. We have been evaluating this over the past few years and the average rating is seven out of ten. So that is in general very good! The people are proud to live in a place like this.

Light Matters: 7 Ways Daylight Can Make Design More Sustainable

Kaap Skil, Maritime and Beachcombers’ Museum, Winner of the Award 2012. Image Courtesy of Mecanoo Architecten

Daylight is a highly cost-effective means of reducing the energy for electrical lighting and cooling. But architectural education often reduces the aspect of daylight to eye-catching effects on facades and scarcely discusses its potential effects – not just on cost, but on health, well-being and energy.

This will explore the often unexplored aspects of daylight and introduce key strategies for you to better incorporate daylight into design: from optimizing building orientations to choosing interior surface qualities that achieve the right reflectance. These steps can significantly reduce your investment as well as operating costs. And while these strategies will certainly catch the interest of economically orientated clients, you will soon discover that daylight can do so much more.

More Light Matters with daylight, after the break…

Hamburg’s Plan to Eliminate Cars in 20 Years

About 40% of the area of , the second largest city in Germany, is made up of green areas, cemeteries, sports facilities, gardens, and squares. For the first time ever, the city has decided to unite them together via pedestrian and cycle routes. It’s all part of the “Green Network Plan,” which aims to eliminate the need for vehicles in Hamburg over the next 20 years.

According to city spokeswoman Angelika Fritsch, the project will help to turn the city into a one-of-a-kind, integrated system: “Other cities, including London, have green rings, but the green network will be unique in covering an area from the outskirts to the city centre. In 15 to 20 years you’ll be able to explore the city exclusively on bike and foot.”

More details, after the break.

MAD Envisions More ‘Natural’ Chinese Cities in the Future

Courtesy of MAD Architects

Ma Yansong of MAD recently presented a 600,000 square meter urban design proposal for the city of Nanjing titled, “Shanshui Experiment Complex,” at the 2013 Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism / Architecture in Shenzhen, China. The concept takes into account the culture, nature and of Nanjing while reconsidering the methodology in which Chinese cities are built.

Urban Living Award Winners Announced

Metropol Parasol; J. Mayer H. Architekten. Image © Javier Orive

The winners of 2013 Urban Living , a joint effort between the Senate Department of Urban Development and the Deutsche Wohnen AG, have been announced.

The aims to inspire architects to improve the quality of urban life through design, while also stimulating urban cooperation. Though it was only founded in 2010, it has already become one of the most respected competitions in the world. Indeed, the 240 contributions in 2013 hailed from over 20 European countries – a huge expansion from previous years.

Read more for the winners…