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How Photography Helped to Dehumanize Our Cities

09:30 - 13 June, 2017
How Photography Helped to Dehumanize Our Cities, Singapore skyline at night. Image <a href='https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Singapore_Skyline_at_Night_with_Blue_Sky.JPG'>via Wikimedia</a> (public domain image taken by Wikimedia user Merlion444)
Singapore skyline at night. Image via Wikimedia (public domain image taken by Wikimedia user Merlion444)

This article was originally published on Common Edge as "How Photography Profoundly Reshaped Our Ideas About Cities."

Early in the 19th century, an invention arrived that would change the form and function of cities for generations.

Like all new technologies, it started out rudimentary, expensive, and nearly ineffectual. But it caught many imaginations and developed dramatically, eventually reaching the point of mass accessibility. Soon enough, it took aim at the public realm, with consequences that were indirect and unintended yet profound.

It reconfigured streets. It influenced the height of buildings. It altered foot traffic. It recast the relationship between buildings and streets. It changed how people felt about their cities and changed their points of reference. It turned cities into abstractions and, in some ways, turned city-dwellers against each other. Its influence nearly complete by the close of World War I, the invention has remained fundamentally unchanged, and is still universally celebrated, to this day.

All this with the press of a button.

Stood in Splendid Isolation, Questions Are Raised About Apple's Cupertino Campus

10:15 - 12 June, 2017
Stood in Splendid Isolation, Questions Are Raised About Apple's Cupertino Campus, © Apple
© Apple

The "Spaceship" has landed and the dust, it appears, is starting to settle. In an article by Adam Rogers, which follows Wired's exclusive breakdown of the new Apple Campus in Cupertino, Californiaa convincing case is put forward against its design and wider masterplan. "You can’t understand a building without looking at what’s around it," Rogers argues – and most, including its architects, Foster+Partners, would surely be inclined to agree.

Whether you call it the Ring (too JRR Tolkien), the Death Star (too George Lucas), or the Spaceship (too Buckminster Fuller), something has alighted in Cupertino. And no one could possibly question the elegance of its design and architecture. This building is $5 billion and 2.8 million square feet of Steve Jobsian-Jony Ivesian-Norman Fosterian genius.

Citymapper, World-Renowned Urban Mobility App, Launches London's First Pop-Up Bus Route

08:30 - 9 May, 2017
Citymapper's new buses in central London. Image Courtesy of Citymapper
Citymapper's new buses in central London. Image Courtesy of Citymapper

Citymapper, which is just over five years old, has become the go-to mobility app for the majority of the world's major cities. It's strength lies in its accuracy and integration: the app parses local data and always seems to deliver the fastest route, even in comparison to its leviathan, data-rich competitors – Google Maps and Apple Maps. Having always focused their attention on public transport, as opposed to cars and taxis, Citymapper has become embedded into the way large amounts of urbanites navigate cities both familiar and foreign. As of today, they are building buses—and bus routes—of their own.

Courtesy of Citymapper Courtesy of Citymapper The CMXI bus route. Image Courtesy of Citymapper The CMXI bus route. Image Courtesy of Citymapper +8

In the Swedish City of Järfälla, Ten Radical "Superbenches" Are Unveiled as Community Incubators

04:00 - 2 May, 2017
In the Swedish City of Järfälla, Ten Radical "Superbenches" Are Unveiled as Community Incubators, Core / Philippe Malouin, Ali Bar Chair / Max Lamb, and Spring Break / Soft Baroque. Image © Jezzica Sunmo
Core / Philippe Malouin, Ali Bar Chair / Max Lamb, and Spring Break / Soft Baroque. Image © Jezzica Sunmo

Sweden is home to the world’s longest public bench. At 240 feet (around 72 meters) in length, the Långa Soffan (“long sofa”) was installed by the citizens of Oskarshamn in 1867 to overlook its rather unspectacular harbour, which opens toward the Baltic Sea. The function of this bench was not for passing time and taking in the coastal views, however; in times gone by it was rhythmically occupied by the wives of sailors awaiting their husband’s return from sea voyages. It allowed people to gather under a sense of common melancholy and collectively recall the smiles of their distant spouses before the ocean’s broad, blue canvas.

Korean Curiosity: Is Seoul Experiencing a "Neo-Brutalist Revival"?

09:30 - 25 April, 2017
© Raphael Olivier
© Raphael Olivier

During his frequent travels to Seoul, Hong Kong- and Singapore-based photographer Raphael Olivier noticed a new trend taking the South Korean capital: a crop of geometric, concrete buildings of all genres. He calls the new style Neo-Brutalism, after the modernist movement that proliferated in the late 1950s to 1970s, in which raw concrete was meant to express a truth and honesty. Olivier's observation led him to capture the phenomenon in a personal photo series—a photographic treasure trove of these projects which, when taken as a whole, uncovers a cross-section of this trend in the city's architecture.

© Raphael Olivier © Raphael Olivier © Raphael Olivier © Raphael Olivier +19

What can Latin America Learn From WOHA's Green Skyscrapers?

16:00 - 22 April, 2017

WOHA's first exhibition in Latin America, Garden City Mega City: WOHA's Urban Ecosystems presents over two decades of WOHA's international designs. With its inauguration at the Museum of the City of Mexico during the MEXTRÓPOLI International Festival of Architecture and City, the exhibition proposes the introduction of biodiversity and lively public spaces into vertical, climate-sensitive highrises within megalopolises.

The exhibition features sixteen intricate architectural models, an immersive video installation and large-scale drawings and images that show WOHA's proposals for vertical communities in the tropical megacities. PLANE-SITE documented the exhibition's opening along with the points of view of various MEXTRÓPOLI contributors and city officials.

11 Architecture, Design and Urbanism Podcasts to Start Listening to Now

07:15 - 5 April, 2017
11 Architecture, Design and Urbanism Podcasts to Start Listening to Now

It can sometimes feel as if the world is divided into two camps: those who do not listen to podcasts (probably because they don’t know what a podcast is) and those who listen to podcasts, love podcasts, and keep badgering their friends for recommendations so they can start listening to even more.

Unlike other media, it’s notoriously difficult to discover and share podcasts – even more so if you’re looking for a podcast on a niche subject like architecture, design or urbanism. To help you in your hour of need, Metropolis’ Vanessa Quirk (author of Guide to Podcasting) and ArchDaily’s James Taylor-Foster (whose silvery tones you may have heard on various architecture and design audio stories) have come together to compile this list of eleven podcasts you should subscribe to.

Dominique Perrault Proposes "Island Monument" Plan For the Île de la Cité in Paris

09:30 - 14 March, 2017
© Dominique Perrault Architecture / ADAGP
© Dominique Perrault Architecture / ADAGP

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.

© Dominique Perrault Architecture / ADAGP © Dominique Perrault Architecture / ADAGP © Dominique Perrault Architecture / ADAGP © Dominique Perrault Architecture / ADAGP +18

Understanding the "Public Interior," From the Palace to the Garden

04:00 - 2 February, 2017
Understanding the "Public Interior," From the Palace to the Garden, Courtesy of Jap Sam Books
Courtesy of Jap Sam Books

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.

The Winter Palace. Image © Marius Grootveld The Winter Palace. Image © Marius Grootveld The Winter Palace. Image © Marius Grootveld Palazzo Ducale Urbino IV. Image © Marius Grootveld +6

Game of Thrones: The Politics and Foundations of Fictional Cities

08:00 - 20 January, 2017
Game of Thrones: The Politics and Foundations of Fictional Cities, Kingslanding- Game of Thrones (2011). Image © HBO
Kingslanding- Game of Thrones (2011). Image © HBO

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 (TAB) 2017 Vision Competition: "Re-metabolizing Paljassaare"

05:30 - 17 January, 2017
Tallinn Architecture Biennale (TAB) 2017 Vision Competition: "Re-metabolizing Paljassaare", satellite view of Paljassare Peninsula area
satellite view of Paljassare Peninsula area

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 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.”