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Google Timelapse Shows the Rapid Expansion of the World’s Cities over 32 Years

12:00 - 2 December, 2016

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 Street and an Avenue?

04:00 - 24 November, 2016

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.

Opinion: Why Our Cities Need Less Jane Jacobs

09:30 - 20 October, 2016
Opinion: Why Our Cities Need Less Jane Jacobs, Mrs. Jane Jacobs, chairman of the Comm. to save the West Village holds up documentary evidence at press conference at Lions Head Restaurant at Hudson & Charles Sts. (1961). Public Domain
Mrs. Jane Jacobs, chairman of the Comm. to save the West Village holds up documentary evidence at press conference at Lions Head Restaurant at Hudson & Charles Sts. (1961). Public Domain

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.

How Barcelona's "Superblocks" Pedestrian Plan Hopes to Return the Streets to the People

09:30 - 1 October, 2016

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."

Time for Play: Why Architecture Should Take Happiness Seriously

03:00 - 28 September, 2016
Time for Play: Why Architecture Should Take Happiness Seriously, Courtesy of Unknown
Courtesy of Unknown

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.

Moscow Has a New Standard for Street Design

04:00 - 25 August, 2016
Moscow Has a New Standard for Street Design, Street and Urban Public Space Design Standard. Image © KB Strelka Archive
Street and Urban Public Space Design Standard. Image © KB Strelka Archive

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.

Peter Cook, Patrik Schumacher Lead List of Speakers at WAF 2016

11:30 - 12 August, 2016
Peter Cook, Patrik Schumacher Lead List of Speakers at WAF 2016, via World Architecture Festival
via World Architecture Festival

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.”

Has "Terror" Been an Important Factor in Shaping Russian Cities?

04:00 - 26 July, 2016
Has "Terror" Been an Important Factor in Shaping Russian Cities?, Perspective view of the Zamoskvorechye district of Moscow. Image Courtesy of Strelka Magazine
Perspective view of the Zamoskvorechye district of Moscow. Image Courtesy of Strelka Magazine

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.

Perspective view of the Zamoskvorechye district of Moscow. Image Courtesy of Strelka Magazine Plan of Magnitogorsk. Image via New Town Institute Moskovskoe motorway, residential block. E. Levinson, I. Fomin, 1939-1940. Image Courtesy of Strelka Magazine Petrov's plan of St. Petersburg (1738). Image Courtesy of Strelka Magazine +7

Round-Up: Tall Stories From Monocle 24's 'The Urbanist'

07:30 - 8 July, 2016
Round-Up: Tall Stories From Monocle 24's 'The Urbanist', Courtesy of Monocle
Courtesy of Monocle

A new collection of five minute-long Tall Stories—developed by the team behind The UrbanistMonocle 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.

What Will Become of America's Big Box Stores?

16:00 - 29 June, 2016
© flickr user walmartmovie. Licensed under CC BY 2.0
© flickr user walmartmovie. Licensed under CC BY 2.0

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.

Alejandro Aravena's Downloadable Housing Plans and the Real Meaning of "Open-Source Urbanism"

08:00 - 5 June, 2016
Alejandro Aravena's Downloadable Housing Plans and the Real Meaning of "Open-Source Urbanism", Courtesy of Elemental
Courtesy of Elemental

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.

MVRDV Unveil Monumental Urban Staircase in the Center of Rotterdam

15:01 - 16 May, 2016
MVRDV Unveil Monumental Urban Staircase in the Center of Rotterdam, The Staircase on Stationsplein, Rotterdam by MVRDV.. Image © Laurian Ghinitoiu
The Staircase on Stationsplein, Rotterdam by MVRDV.. Image © Laurian Ghinitoiu

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.

What Do 16,000 Photographs Say About Moscow?

04:00 - 5 May, 2016
What Do 16,000 Photographs Say About Moscow?, Courtesy of Strelka Magazine, Alla Shvydkaya
Courtesy of Strelka Magazine, Alla Shvydkaya

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.

Monocle's 2016 Conference in Vienna to Debate "Quality of Life" and Urban Livability

04:00 - 8 April, 2016
Monocle's 2016 Conference in Vienna to Debate "Quality of Life" and Urban Livability, Coffee on the terrace of the Four Seasons Ritz Hotel, Lisbon (2015). Image © Rodrigo Cardoso
Coffee on the terrace of the Four Seasons Ritz Hotel, Lisbon (2015). Image © Rodrigo Cardoso

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.

MVRDV to Install a 180-Step Urban Staircase Outside Rotterdam's Central Station

12:15 - 7 April, 2016
MVRDV to Install a 180-Step Urban Staircase Outside Rotterdam's Central Station, The Staircase on Stationsplein, Rotterdam. Image © Frank van Dam/MVRDV
The Staircase on Stationsplein, Rotterdam. Image © Frank van Dam/MVRDV

Rotterdam—the original "tabula rasa" city—will soon become host to a giant staircase, ascending 180 steps from Stationsplein (outside Rotterdam Central Station’s iconic entrance) to the top of the world-renowned Groot Handelsgebouw building. According to MVRDV, the structure will "follow in the city's tradition of celebrating reconstruction milestones" and, as such, the scaffolding system used to construct the staircase will be "a nod" to the 75th anniversary of the rebuilding of the city following World War II.

Strelka Institute and ArchDaily Partner to Share Critical Commentary on Russian Urbanism

04:00 - 4 April, 2016
Strelka Institute and ArchDaily Partner to Share Critical Commentary on Russian Urbanism

We are pleased to announce a new content partnership between ArchDaily and Moscow's Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design in which we will share a collection of critical essays, interviews and articles on urban events, studies in urbanism, and urban technologies which are currently taking place in Russia. ArchDaily's Editors will be working closely with those of Strelka Magazine, which was launched in 2014, to translate and publish ideas and opinions from their expert team of local writers.

Call for Entries: The Challenges of Urbanisation

17:00 - 17 March, 2016
Call for Entries: The Challenges of Urbanisation

The Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies is proud to announce the 2016 edition of The Geneva Challenge - Advancing Development Goals international Contest for graduate students. This is a project funded by Swiss Ambassador Jenö Staehelin and is supported by Kofi Annan, the high-patron of the contest.

This year, Master students are invited to develop analysis-based proposals on "The Challenges of Urbanisation".

The competition invites teams of 3-5 master students to:

1. identify a challenge stemming from urbanization;

2. construct an interdisciplinary analysis on how it affects different aspects of development in a specific (but transposable) context;

Investigating the 'Scalelessness' of Contemporary Chinese Architecture and Urbanism

04:00 - 10 March, 2016
A traditional siheyuan in Pingyao (p. 389), now operating as a hostel. Image © Evan Chakroff
A traditional siheyuan in Pingyao (p. 389), now operating as a hostel. Image © Evan Chakroff

The Architectural Guide China is a travel book which covers cities primarily located on China’s eastern coast. These cities—such as Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong—have become centers for forward-thinking urban design and architecture. The guide offers maps, drawings, photographs, historical background, and essays describing Chinese architecture at all scales – ranging from small temples to the organization of major metropoli.

Based on the authors' experiences of directing study abroad trips throughout the country, Evan Chakroff, Addison Godel, and Jacqueline Gargus, have carefully curated a selection of contemporary architectural sites while also discussing significant historical structures. Each author has written an introductory essay, each of which contextualizes the historical and global socioeconomic influences, as well as the stylistic longevity of the chosen sites in this book. One such essay, by Chakroff, has been made available exclusively on ArchDaily.

CCTV New Headquarters (p.088) as iconic urban landmark. Image © Evan Chakroff Framed and layered spaces in a dense zone of Suzhou’s Lingering Garden (p. 244). Note rockery in the far distance.. Image © Evan Chakroff Ai Wei Wei’s Archaeological Archive (p. 283), from different vantage points. Image © Evan Chakroff Taihu stone on display in the Garden of the Humble Administrator (p. 218). Image © Evan Chakroff +17