As urban areas develop, each city forms a unique structural logic. With this structure usually conceived on an ad-hoc basis, political terms such as “metropolitan area” and “neighborhood” are not always useful when analyzing and comparing the performance of cities. In a quest for new analytical tools, Robin Renner has devised an anatomically-based classification system in his new book Urban Being: Anatomy & Identity of the City. Through a thoughtful investigation of existing urban areas from around the globe using satellite images and personal experiences, Urban Being offers an insight into how transportation networks and streetscapes can be best organized to promote a healthy metropolitan environment.
Renner’s analysis ranges from macro-regions that can even cross country borders to the defined spaces between arterial roads in cities, which he calls "urban cells." As the neighborhoods and units in which inhabitants reside, urban cells are important when examining the identity and efficiency of a city. They are defined by both their physical properties and the actions that take place inside of them. Below is a small sample of how Renner analyzes urban cells from the book.
Riksbyggen and Sweco Architects were announced as the winners of a government-led competition to create a cross-laminatedtimber framed housing development for the Johanneberg district of Gothenburg, Sweden. The proposal, called “Slå rot” (Swedish for “put down roots”), was chosen for its response to its existing environment with nods to tradition, while still providing an innovative structural system and modern living to the neighborhood.
Dmytro Aranchii Architects have started construction on a large interactive green roof in Kyiv,Ukraine. Called the Signature Garden, the 6000 square meter park sits on top of a shopping center and provides a space for visitors to dine, play, and enjoy both vegetation and water features.
LAVA introduces a multi-layered facade that features 11,000 diamond shaped stainless-steel plates attached to a steel cable network that can rotate 45 degrees in the wind. According to the architects, a number of plates correlate to the number of households that will be beneficiaries of the energy. The geometries of the facade are inspired by forms found in nature.
Orange Architects have been selected as winners of a competition to create a new mixed-use residential building situated at the port of IJburg in Amsterdam. The neighborhood of IJburg is comprised of a series of artificial islands developed to address the growing need for housing and lack of available land near Amsterdam's city center. Commissioned by Amvest, the 29,000 square meter development aims to provide a sustainable, inviting heart for the area.
10 Design were announced as the winners of a competition to build an incubation center for start-up companies in the Jinwan Aviation District in Zhuhai, China. The Research & Development Center will accompany 10 Design’s other winning schemes for an International Commerce Center (twin tower with 127,000 square meters of office and hotel space) and Cultural Center (performance and exhibition space house in a 27,500 square meters building). The projects will be a part of Jinwan Aviation City, an ambitious development initiative to create a hub for major industry in Zhuhai, a city that is currently experiencing unprecedented growth.
Two teams have been announced as the finalists of a competition to rebuild Norway’s government headquarters after it was bombed in 2011 during the country’s worst terrorist attack in modern history. The state building agency Statsbygg selected G8+, comprised of A-Lab and LPO Architects, and Team Urbis, which includes the firms Haptic and Nordic, out of a group of seven teams to create a safe, inviting hub of ministry buildings for central Oslo.
To celebrate the 150th Anniversary of Brooklyn’sProspect Park, AREA4 and Suchi Reddy of Readymade Architecture and Design collaborated with the Prospect Park Alliance to create a public art exhibition that features more than 7,000 pinwheels. Called The Connective Project, the installation covers the Rose Garden in the northeast corner of the park with yellow pinwheels that include art and written work submitted by the public. Influenced by the vision of the park’s 1867 designers Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, Reddy's aspiration for the project was to create a playful urban retreat that sparks a conversation about the value of public spaces.
Eight minutes. That is the length of time UK-based company Ten Fold Engineering’s self-deploying structures can transform itself from a portable rectangular container into a fully habitable space that can be used for either the residential or service sector. Transported by truck, the company offers a shelter that is energy efficient, eliminates labor costs, and is highly customizable in an effort to revolutionize the possibilities of prefabrication and construction.
Atelier FCJZ and Coldefy & Associates Architects Urban Planners (CAAU) were announced last month as the winners of the Fondation de Chine Competition that will add another residential facility to the historic Cité Internationale Universitaire de Paris (CIUP). The project is part of #Cite2020, an initiative by the Cite Internationale to develop 1,800 new housing units by 2020. Adding to the existing 40 residential buildings, the Fondation de Chine will introduce a contemporary interpretation of student housing to the campus.
Released this month, the website Hoodmaps offers a crowd-sourced mapping platform that gives users the ability to walk through a city like a local. By “painting” parts of the city using a palette of six colors that represent “uni”, “hipsters”, “tourists”, “rich”, “suits”, and “normies”, Hoodmaps aims to provide a quick visual representation of a city.
The website features a thousand of the largest cities from around the world and is constantly being edited with new user content that flags Google Maps with information about touristed zones of cities among other information. Creator Pieter Levels noted the need for such a service when traveling and being frustrated by the difficulty in finding culture-rich zones of a city as opposed to its commercialized ones.
Situated at the intersection of a forest-scape and harbor, Helen & Hard’s winning museum competition entry, Navet, offers the Norwegian island of Odderøya a place to reflect on the area’s heritage and naval history. Located in the city of Kristiansand, Navet will join a group of institutions in the region called the Vest Agder Museums that celebrate Norway’s past. Developed through careful consideration of its surrounding landscape, the form of the building situates itself to activate both the water and existing mountain front.
As one of the most prominent examples of the De Stijl movement, the 1925 Rietveld Schroder House represents a radical moment in modern architecture. Categorized by refining components to their geometric forms and primary paint hues, characteristics of the movement are evident in the architect Gerrit Rietveld's approach to residential design. Located in Utrecht, the house experiments with modular elements such as collapsible walls that provide a transformable way of living that still influences design to this day.
Because of its significance, the Schroder House has been the subject of study for many architects, artists, and historians. Inspired by its revolutionary design, aspiring architect and visual artist Yun Frank Zhang created a series of analytical diagrams and an accompanying video in order to understand the functionality, dimensions, and programmatic elements of the house. Below is a sample of Zhang’s exploration.
In their winning competition entry, French architecture firm Ilimelgo reimagines the future of urban agriculture with a vertical farming complex in the Parisian suburb of Romainville. The project integrates production of produce into the city through a 1000 square meter greenhouse that maximizes sunlight and natural ventilation. Recognizing the developing world’s diminishing agricultural space, the project aims to meet the growing demands for crop cultivation in urban environments.
In LEVS Architecten’s newest development Forum City, the firm reinterprets Russian urban life in the center of its fourth-largest city, Yekaterinburg. The nine-building complex, developed by the Forum Group, curates its own metropolitan microcosm inside the larger urban area by combining residential, leisure facilities, and retail inside an archetypal city block.
FaulknerBrowns Architects have released plans for a revitalization of Queens Parade, a waterfront site in Bangor, Northern Ireland that has long been left underutilized. Situated next to the Bangor Marina, the mixed-used development will include residential, entertainment, and retail buildings in an effort to secure the site as a destination for both locals and tourists to connect with the water.