One of two islands in the Parisian Seine, the Île de la Cité is largely known to tourists as little more than the location of such popular destinations as the Notre Dame Cathedral and the Sainte Chapelle—a fate that belies the island's 2000-year history as the center of Paris. However, now there are plans underway to restore the whole island to its former importance: under Philippe Bélaval, the French Centre for National Monuments has selected Dominique Perrault Architecture to design a 25-year masterplan, titled Mission Île de la Cité, to bring back the island’s relevance as something more than a dissonant collection of tourist destinations.
In this article, which originally appeared on BD, Nicholas de Klerk (a London-based Associate Architect at Aukett Swanke) reviews The Public Interior as Idea and Project – a new publication by the Netherlands-based Canadian artist, architectural historian and educator Mark Pimlott.
Mark Pimlott's new book, The Public Interior as Idea and Project (2016), expands on prior publications, notably Without and Within (2007). In this earlier book, Pimlott explored the concept of a ‘continuous interior’—examining repetitive spaces which share characteristics—for example, shopping malls and airports, and which, collectively, set about the urbanisation of the American territory.
What makes a city different from a town? What is the distinction between these two seemingly similar collections of buildings and streets? Why can we trace towns back to the Stone Age, while the first city remains a mystery? Although a village and a city can be considered similar, the city has a unique and innovative element that makes it stand out: the citizens and civitas.
While villages were merely an efficient urban system for groups of people that live together, the foundation of a city entails the institution of a very concrete idea of society, of a commitment between individuals to organize the world based on shared criteria.
The civitas is precisely this idea of social order, the accumulation of traditions, laws, principles and beliefs that gave rise to the civil community. Urbs is the urban model especially dedicated to institutionalizing this idea of society. Be aware that we’re not talking about streets or houses here, but of the moment of the establishment, that is, of the foundation of the city. As Fustel de Coulanges would say, while the civitas is a time-honored inheritance accumulated over centuries, the urbs is founded in one day. Filling it with streets, houses, and shops as a consequence.
Tallinn Architecture Biennale 2017 have announced the TAB 2017 Vision Competition, offering architects, scientists and artists the chance to define a new urbanity of the Paljassaare Peninsula in Tallinn in the era when no ecosystem is unaffected by human action. The deadline for the one-stage international competition is 25th of April 2017.
Google Earth has released an update to its Timelapse feature, giving viewers a better look at the rapid expansion of the world’s urban areas between 1984 and 2016.
Originally released in 2013 in partnership with TIME and NASA, the update adds in four more years of data, as well as petabytes of imagery data from two new satellites, Landsat 8 and Sentinel-2, to provide clearer views of new developments and the recent effects of climate change on our natural environments.
What's the difference between a "road", a "drive" and a "way"? Or between a "street", a "boulevard" and an "avenue"? The naming conventions that we attribute to the networks that we use to move about are, in fact, a little more complex than you might imagine. In this film by Phil Edwards for Vox, the intricate world of road classification and definition is given a (long overdue) explanation – and one which might help you think a little deeper about urban mobility.
This article was originally published in the Literary Review of Canada as "Tunnel Vision: Why our cities need less Jane Jacobs." It has been partially re-published with permission.
My introduction to Jane Jacobs was completely ordinary. Like many, many architecture students since its publication in 1962, I read The Death and Life of Great American Cities for an introductory course in urbanism. Jacobs was a joy to read, whip-crack smart and caustically funny, and she wrote in impeccable, old-school sentences that convinced you with their unimpeded flow. She explained her ideas in utterly clear and simple language. Planners are “pavement pounding” or “Olympian.” There are “foot people and car people.”
Why were we reading her? I expect it was to encourage us to look harder at the city, and to imbibe some of her spirited advocacy for experience over expertise. It was a captivating message and delivered at the right time. Today it seems as though everybody interested in cities has read at least part of Death and Life and found personal affirmation in it. Michael Kimmelman wrote, “It said what I knew instinctively to be true.” For David Crombie, “she made it clear that the ideas that mattered were the ones which we understood intimately.”
This quality was important, and one of the reasons that Jacobs endures in our culture is the facility with which we can identify with her. She is one of “us,” whoever that is—not an expert, more like an aunt than a professor. Her speciality was the induction of rules from patterns discovered by individual observation, like a 19th-century gentleman scientist. Her work gave seriousness to reactions that might otherwise be dismissed as taste, ignorance or prejudice.
Cars have reshaped cities across the world, largely at the cost of everyone outside of a private vehicle. In recent years the "grid city" of Barcelona has been suffering from clogged roads and choked air quality, with urban traffic contributing to the 3500 premature deaths caused by air pollution each year. Beginning in the district of Eixample, proposals laid out in the 2014 Urban Mobility Plan aims to diffuse traffic congestion and reduce air pollution in the city. In a recent film Vox have picked up on one of a number of potential schemes: the Superblock concept (known as superilles in Catalan). According to Salvador Rueda, the Director of the Urban Ecology Agency of Barcelona who developed the plan, these are "grid[s] of nine blocks [in which] the main mobility happens on the roads around the outside, [...] and the roads within are for local transit only."
Over the last 15 years AZC’s architectural work has developed through a diverse range of experiences. This book, Time for Play, presents exhibition pavilions, temporary installations, and ideas competitions – a mix of built and unbuilt projects.
Earlier this year the development of a new Street Design Standard for Moscow was completed under a large-scale urban renovation program entitled My Street, and represents the city's first document featuring a complex approach to ecology, retail, green space, transportation, and wider urban planning. The creators of the manual set themselves the goal of making the city safer and cleaner and, ultimately, improving the quality of life. In this exclusive interview, Strelka Magazine speaks to the Street Design Standard's project manager and Strelka KB architect Yekaterina Maleeva about the infamous green fences of Moscow, how Leningradskoe Highway is being made suitable for people once again, and what the document itself means for the future of the Russian capital.
The program for the 2016 edition of the World Architecture Festival (WAF) has been announced. Being held from November 16-18 at the Arena Berlin, Germany, the festival will feature 3 days and 4 nights of events including conferences, lectures and seminars, architect-led city tours and networking opportunities, as well as live critiques of the 411 projects shortlisted for the 2016 WAF Awards. An all-star list of speakers will include leading architectural figures such as Patrik Schumacher, Ole Scheeren and Peter Cook.
This theme of this year’s festival is “Housing For Everyone.” Inspired by a variety of influences, markedly the condition of displaced communities of political and disaster refugees, lectures will focus on “the growing understanding of how demographics and global urbanization are forcing change; and the imperatives to create shelter at one end of the spectrum, and sufficiency for occupation and investment at the other.”
In this interview Nadya Nilina, a Russian architect, urban planner and educator specialising in large-scale masterplanning and historical preservation, traces the formation of Russian discourse on urbanism and discusses what goals might be set for the future of urbanisation in the country.
Alongside Prof. Dr. Ronald Wall, Nilina is curating the Urbanisation of Developing Countries course as part of the new Advanced Urban Design programme at Moscow's Strelka Institute, which will provide a detailed critical overview of Russian urban development over the last three hundred years. Urbanisation of Developing Countries is considered one of the key topics in urbanism today and represents a large and complex part of this discussion.
A new collection of five minute-long Tall Stories—developed by the team behind The Urbanist, Monocle 24's weekly "guide to making better cities—guide the listener through the condensed narratives of a series of architectural projects from around the globe, encompassing their conception, development, use and, in some cases, eventual demise. We've selected eight of our favorites from the ongoing series, ranging from London’s Casson Pavilion to Honolulu's Waikiki Natatorium War Memorial, and the Estadio Centenario stadium in Montevideo.
The Walmart Supercenter is generally considered one of the great antagonists of architecture around the world – the hulking behemoth who sold its integrity for the consumer convenience of having everything in one place. Though the first Walmart Supercenter didn’t open until 1988, big box stores have existed in some form since the 1960s, luring in shoppers with low prices and curbside loading lanes. For all the user psychology design that goes into them, the original designs of these buildings rarely pay much mind to their architectural or urban consequences, excluding a few notable exceptions.
Regardless, for the past 20 years big box stores have continued to prosper, prompting tenants to leave their homes and move on to even larger structures, leaving behind giant, open frameworks – for sale on the cheap. In a recent essay for 99% Invisible entitled Ghost Boxes: Reusing Abandoned Big-Box Superstores Across America, author Kurt Kohlstedt explores the architectural potential of these megastructures, drawing inspiration from the architects and communities that have successfully converted them into valuable assets.
Earlier this year, we reported that 2016 Pritzker Prize winner Alejandro Aravena announced that his practice, ELEMENTAL, released four of their social housing designs available to the public for open source use. A recent article published by Urbanisms in beta discusses what exactly “open source use” means to the architecture world, and how we may see these designs applied to projects in the future.
A little over a month since Rotterdam-based practice MVRDV announced a new temporary urban structure—a 180-step staircase, 29 meters tall and 57 meters long—for the heart of city of Rotterdam, the project has been officially opened. Those who ascend the staircase will find a temporary observation deck looking over Rotterdam Centraal, a rooftop bar, and the temporary reopening of the Kriterion cinema that was last active in the 1960s.
Once a photograph is uploaded to social media, it ceases to be part of one’s private archive and becomes public property – as well as an object of study for researchers. There have been many attempts to study photographs on the scale of "Big Data." Take, for example, the numerous and well-publicised projects by Lev Manovich’s Big Data Lab. Evidently, using the results of one study of the huge online archive of photographs to make conclusions about society at large, is not necessarily a good idea. It’s fair to say that our society is not evenly represented online: a 19-year old woman may be posting her selfies daily, but it doesn’t mean that same goes for a sixty-five year old man. That said, we can learn a lot about cities and their inhabitants from the results of studies such as these.
The 2016 Quality of Life Conference will bring together key voices from the worlds of architecture, business, design, urbanism and culture to discuss how to improve our nations, cities and workplaces. Welcoming 200 delegates and 20 speakers from around the world, the event will be hosted at the historic Palais Ferstel by Monocle’s Editor-in-Chief Tyler Brûlé, alongside the magazine’s editors and correspondents. The summit will also be broadcast live on Monocle 24 Radio and will featured in a series of films on the Monocle website.