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Call for Entries: Superscape 2016 - Future Urban Living

The Superscape 2016 title Future Urban Living – Functional Reduction with Maximum Space Gain opens a field for visionary design suggestions and space concepts which focus on building the urban residential space of the future. Innovative solutions are sought, combining high-quality residences with great space efficiency and the greatest functional flexibility possible. In this context, the changing needs and requirements of urban dwellers for their residences during the next 50 years shall be taken into consideration. The goal is to formulate forward-thinking concepts, to question familiar residential patterns and to risk experiments in design, but also to consider their feasibility, and to check the possibility of realising them within existing building substance and existing urban structures. Furthermore, the subject is highly relevant with regard to increasing mobility and urban traffic flow within the context of urban planning.

Using Big Data to Determine the Extent of China's Ghost Cities

In recent decades, China has undergone the most dramatic urban migration in the history of the world, so you might be forgiven for thinking all that is required from urban planners is to "build it and they will come," so to speak. However, as the Western media often reports with much schadenfreude, China's unprecedented urban explosion has not come without a few missteps, and many new cities are widely claimed to be "ghost cities," empty of residents even as more gigantic apartment blocks are being built. Such stories are usually accompanied by anecdotes of empty public spaces and a rough count of the number of homes left in the dark at night, but little further empirical data. So exactly how underpopulated does a city have to be to be a "ghost city," and just how rife are such places in China?

As reported by MIT Technology Review, one Chinese web company has started looking for answers to just such questions. Baidu, effectively a Chinese version of Google, has used their "Big Data Lab" to investigate the commuting patterns of their 700 million users, establishing exactly which cities are dramatically underpopulated.

'A New Charter of Athens': a lecture by Professor Richard Sennett

'Next year sees the opening of Habitat III, the environmental congress held every twenty years by the United Nations. For this event, a manifesto is being prepared about the design of cities. It aims to replace the guidance given by Le Corbusier and others nearly a century ago, in document they called "The Charter of Athens." The new Charter of Athens addresses issues emerging in the 21st Century about environmental crises, the uses of technology and big data, and the challenge of social inclusion. The lecture serves as an introduction to this modest proposal.'

Why Ecosystem Services Will be the Next Frontier in Livable Cities

Land Sparing of Tokyo's Yoyogi Park. Image Courtesy of Flickr CC user spektrograf
Land Sparing of Tokyo's Yoyogi Park. Image Courtesy of Flickr CC user spektrograf

While the term “ecosystem services” may sound like a corporate antithesis to the course of natural order, it is actually an umbrella term for the ways in which the human experience is favorably altered and enhanced by the environment. Ecosystem services are therefore an important factor in creating cities which provide the maximum benefit to their residents with the minimal harm to their environment.

Aiming to find out how city planning can affect the provision of these ecosystem services, a new study published in Frontiers in Ecology and Environment by researchers at the University of Exeter's Environment and Sustainability Institute and Hokkaido University's Division of Environmental Resources evaluates the repercussions of rapid and fragmented urbanization and the possible detriment to ecosystem services and human well-being. In particular, the study is concerned with approaches to land-use and the outcomes they yield on the environment. Studied are two opposing tactics: a “land-sharing,” sprawl model (think Atlanta or Houston), or “land-sparing,” tight-knit urbanism (think New York or Tokyo).

5 Strategies to Improve the Urban Appeal of Port Cities

Restricted. Vast. Harsh. The image of a port calls to mind many words, but pedestrian-friendly and aesthetically-pleasing are rarely among them. With their precarious stacks of shipping containers and large pieces of machinery, ports are places that people tend to want to avoid. Yet for logistic and historical reasons, ports are often located near the heart of cities, taking away valuable urban space and desirable waterfront land from residents. This does not need to be the case.

A new report released by The Worldwide Network of Port Cities titled “Plan the City with the Port: Guide of Good Practices” offers strategies for cities to optimize the effectiveness of their harbors while reclaiming as much of the land as possible for the people. The guide uses case studies from urban designs in various stages of completeness to illustrate different techniques available to improve the environment of a port within its city. Although these approaches are designed with a specific program in mind, many architectural and urbanistic ideals can be derived from them to be used in variety of circumstances. Read on for our summary of the report’s recommendations.

Robert Moses: The Master Builder of New York City / Pierre Christin and Olivier Balez

Robert Moses, the planner-politician-architect who infamously built overpasses too low for buses to bring New York’s urban poor to his beaches, is the subject of a new graphic novel by Pierre Christin and Olivier Balez titled Robert Moses: The Master Builder of New York City. Admirable for its candid rawness, their profile of perhaps the most polarizing and important figure in American planning history is no lionizing eulogy. The impressive triumphs of Moses’ tenure are juxtaposed with unsparing accounts of his regrettable social policies and the often-shortsighted consequences of his public infrastructure. For each groundbreaking feat of structural engineering and political mobilization, there is another story told of his callous social engineering, the consequences of which reshaped the lives of New Yorkers as much as his architecture.

Media Round-Up: Hurricane Katrina, 10 Years On

Today marks 10 years since Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, setting off what was among the most significant catastrophes to strike the United States in the 21st Century. New Orleans' flood defenses failed, causing the loss of over 1,400 lives and billions of dollars in property damage.

Naturally, such a disaster takes some time to recover from, for individuals but also for a city as a whole, and so for the past decade New Orleans has been a case study for cities to show them how to recover, rebuild and move on - at certain times serving as both an example of good practice and a warning of "what not to do." On the ten-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, here's a round-up of stories about the rebuilding of a city from around the web.

Open Call: Redesign the Burning Man City Plan

Correction Update: This article was first published on Sunday 16th August, and originally stated that "the Burning Man management team will ultimately select a winner" and that "the final design plan will be implemented for the 2017 event." However, since then it has been brought to our attention that this is not an official competition, and the Burning Man organization is not planning to update their current design.

ArchDaily would like to apologize for this grave error, which arose because we did not realize that the Black Rock City Ministry of Urban Planning (BRCMUP) had no official ties to the organizers behind Burning Man, and is therefore not a part of Burning Man's management team. For their part, Burning Man have stated "we love the ingenuity of Burners and are curious to see what they come up with through this competition. We will certainly take a look at all the top designs in this competition, not just the winner, out of curiosity and admiration... But there are no plans to redesign Black Rock City."

The article has been updated to correct our errors. If you wish to find out more, you can do so at the competition website or Burning Man's blog post about the competition.

Jan Gehl on the Global Need for Liveable Cities

As a founding partner of Gehl Architects and a consultant to cities such as Copenhagen, London and New York, Jan Gehl has been one of the most influential figures in the drive towards more liveable and healthier cities for over four decades. In this interview, first published by Metropolis Magazine as "Q&A: Jan Gehl on Making Cities Healthier and the Real Meaning of Architecture," Gehl discusses what makes a city healthy and why the need for healthy cities is a unifying worldwide phenomenon.

Mikki Brammer: You're often associated with the idea of making cities "healthier." What do you mean by the term?

Jan Gehl: I’m neither the first, nor the only one, to point out that in the past 50 years we have practiced city planning that invites people to be inactive in their lives. You can spend your entire life behind steering wheels, or computers, or on sofas, and in many cases you don’t have to move a muscle from morning to night. This, of course, has been identified as something that is very dangerous for mankind.

PORT Urbanism and R2 Companies Propose Plan to Revitalize Chicago’s Goose Island

Hoping to reverse the fortunes of this small but distinctive area of Chicago, real estate development firm R2 Companies and urban planning group PORT Urbanism have teamed up to devise a plan to renew Goose Island. A man-made island with a long history of manufacturing, Goose Island lacks the revenue stream of many other Chicago regions, but the development team hopes to improve conditions by 2025 by enabling it to develop into a sustainable, high-tech neighborhood connected to Chicago’s urban grid.

Diagram of existing conditions on Goose Island. Image Courtesy of PORT Diagram of proposed transportation improvements for Goose Island. Image Courtesy of PORT Rendered plan of the Goose Island proposal. Image Courtesy of PORT Diagram of the Goose Island proposal. Image Courtesy of PORT

Gino Valle Square / Valle Architetti Associati

© Giuseppe Dall'Arche (courtesy Valle Architetti Associati) © Hanns Joostens (courtesy Topotek 1) © Giuseppe Dall'Arche (courtesy Valle Architetti Associati) Courtesy of Valle Architetti Associati

San Diego's Idea District Takes the Best of Urban Planning and Puts It in One Place

A group of architects, designers and urban planners are working together in San Diego's Upper East Village to produce the Idea District. Started over four years ago, the project was introduced by Pete Garcia and David Malmuth as a way of revitalizing the area and creating a place for the convergence of innovative people. The Idea District, comprising an area surrounded by 11th St, C Street, Market St and Interstate-5, was originally an undeveloped parcel of land, “the last of its kind” in San Diego. Creators began gathering, seeing this no-man’s land as an opportunity to develop good urban planning. 

Through Bankruptcy and Boom: What's Really Happening in Detroit?

After exiting bankruptcy at the end of last year, Detroit has suddenly become something of a boomtown in the eyes of the media. Discourse now talks about Detroit Rising, the "Post-Post-Apocalyptic Detroit". Rents are rising, private investment is flowing into the city, and institutions that left the city for the affluent suburbs are now relocating back into Detroit proper. Too long used only as a cautionary tale, the new focus on the reality of Detroit and free flowing money opens the door for architects and urban planners, not to mention the wider community, to begin thinking about how they want to rebuild Detroit, and who they want to rebuild it for.

It’s the perfect opportunity to formulate plans that will genuinely aid Detroit, involve the community and create a revival that really achieves something. But as it stands, the "revival" forming in Detroit, aided and abetted by media coverage, will not improve conditions for the vast majority of Detroiters and will not create a sustainable platform for future growth, instead benefiting only the private investors and those rich enough to benefit from what is currently classic, by-the-book gentrification.

Renaissance Centre, a previous attempt to revitalise Detroit. Image © Flickr user paul bica An abandoned Detroit house. Image © Wikimedia user Notorious4life Detroit's Brush Park neighbourhood in Midtown. Image ©  Flickr user Stephen Harlan Detroit's ExpressTram. Image © Wikimedia user Danleo

How Hector Vigliecca's São Paulo Housing Shows the Challenges of Social Architecture

São Paulo is the financial center and largest city of Brazil, and victim to a seemingly unending water crisis. The situation stems from over-populated neighborhoods lacking in a regulated infrastructure, with buildings that are uncoordinated in their development and maintenance leading to pollution in nearby water reservoirs. In 2009, the government of São Paulo sought to address this issue by expropriating the homes of 200 families, who were then moved back in 2012 to a new construction designed by Hector Vigliecca; the Novo Santo Amaro V Park Housing.

In this video from The Architectural Review - which supports their full building study - Vigliecca and current residents of the complex reflect on what the valley of unregulated infrastructure used to be like, and how it has developed to the present day.

How EPM Group Is Reclaiming Medellín's Infrastructure as Public Space

With a high-density population and a history of internal armed conflict, the city of Medellín in Colombia lacked substantial public space, but had an overwhelming amount of industrial infrastructure in place. But as profiled by The Architectural Review, recently architects and urban planners of the EPM group saw this imbalance as an opportunity, and so in the uninhabited patches of land surrounding over one hundred fenced industrial lots, the UVA or Unidades de Vida Articulada (Units of Articulated Life) program was born. Including initiatives to build public classrooms, launderettes and cafés, the UVA projects were conceived together with the local population through a series of workshops, where every resident was invited to express their vision for the new public square through writing and drawing. Medellín, existing at the convergence of several hills, provides a wide variety of unique landscapes for architects to experiment on - and through the UVA projects, EPM Group demonstrates how architecture can empower a community from the first day of design. Read more about how this project will continue to instigate positive change at The Architectural Review.

D. Diogo de Menezes Square / Miguel Arruda Arquitectos Associados

© Fernando Guerra | FG+SG © Fernando Guerra | FG+SG © Fernando Guerra | FG+SG © Fernando Guerra | FG+SG

Geopark / Helen & Hard

  • Architects: Helen & Hard
  • Location: Stavanger, Norway
  • Project Year: 2008
  • Photographs: Courtesy of Helen & Hard, Tom Haga

Courtesy of Helen & Hard Courtesy of Helen & Hard Courtesy of Helen & Hard Courtesy of Helen & Hard

5 Architectural Secrets of the Badjao: 21st Century Sea People

Thousands of years ago, a small civilization of hunter gatherers migrated to the coastal regions of Southeast Asia. These people progressed into a widespread tribe of travelling sea dwellers. To this day, they remain a stateless people with no nationality and no consistent infrastructure, sometimes living miles away from land. Yet these people are one of the few civilizations whose collective life practices have survived so long through human history. They are called the Badjao, and they have a surprising amount to teach us about architecture.

Badjao community off the coast of Sabah, Malaysia. Image © Dolly MJ via Shutterstock Badjao woman rowing boat. Image © Dolly MJ via Shutterstock Temporary construction in Southeast Asian ocean. Image © asnida via Shutterstock Badjao child rowing near coast. Image © idome via Shutterstock