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Cities: The Latest Architecture and News

Mariela Ajras: “I Think of the City as a Large Canvas Loaded With Morphological and Historical Stories”

Addressing themes involving memory, oblivion and gender, the Argentinean visual artist and muralist, Mariela Ajras, displays her art on the walls of numerous cities around the world such as Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Diego, Barcelona, Valencia, Salamanca, Mexico City, Bogota, Montevideo, Buenos Aires, among many others. With a background in psychology, she has participated in different urban art festivals, exhibitions, fairs and public art projects, one of the largest murals in the city of Buenos Aires being the one she developed for the project "Corredor de la Memoria", commemorating the 25th anniversary of the AMIA bombing.

How Mixed-Use Neighborhoods Can Reduce Crime Rates

The planning and design of mixed-use neighborhoods and individual mixed-use developments are on the rise. Many of the places we frequent most feature a variety of programs, bringing many of life's daily conveniences to one place. But mixed-use spaces do more than just create a diverse array of experiences in cities- they might also help contribute to lower crime rates.

A View From the Top: The History of Observation Towers

There’s something magical about seeing a city from the very top. To have a new vantage point, and look across a skyline instead of looking up at it is one of the most powerful and awe-inspiring feelings. Observation decks are not just architectural marvels, but also a sort of civic icon and sense of pride for a city. In the present day, it’s not just their height that draws people in, but the additional programming of sky-high bars, rides, and bungee jumping as well.

Architecture and Aid: Reframing Research on Informal Settlements

Almost seven kilometers from the green of Uhuru Park in central Nairobi, lies the informal settlement of Kibera. It is an area whose urban character consists of corrugated iron roofs, mud walls, and a complicated network of utility poles. Kibera, at this point in time, is a well-known place. Much has been written and researched on this “city within a city,” from its infrastructural issues to its navigation of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Informal settlements in Arequipa, Perú. Image © Silvia Pascual via ShutterstockInformal settlements in San Juan de Lurigancho, Lima, Perú. Image © Marco Rosales via ShutterstockKhayelitsha Township - Cape Town. Image © Olga Ernst under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.Kuku Town - Cape Town, South Africa. Image © Future Cape Town+ 12

Cities are Experimenting with Free Public Transit to Promote Sustainable Mobility

Photo by Uno Raamat on Unsplash. ImageTallinn
Photo by Uno Raamat on Unsplash. ImageTallinn

Various cities have been experimenting with wavering fees for public transport in an effort to promote sustainable mobility, alleviate traffic congestion and decrease social inequality. This past February, Salt Lake City has paused fare collection for a month to reduce carbon emissions in the region. At the end of March, the Italian city of Genoa extended free access to some of its public transport networks, following a successful experiment which began at the end of 2021 and in an ambitious plan to become the first Italian city with free transportation. Meanwhile, the small duchy of Luxembourg became the world’s first country with free public transit in 2020.

Luxembourg Tram. Image © Creative CommonsKansas Tram. Image via Flickr User Jim MaurerPhoto by Folco Masi on Unsplash. ImageGenoaMetro Transit - LA. Image © 2019 LACMTA Metro+ 5

Tactical Urbanism: What are its Limits in the Public Realm?

Today, one of the most popular initiatives regarding public space, participatory design and activism in the city is the so-called citizen urbanism or tactical urbanism. The approach proposes to trigger, through limited and low-cost interventions, long-term changes in public space, i.e. short-term action, long-term change (Street Plans, 2013).

The strategy used is to create temporary scenarios that make visible a specific problem and the formation of specific interventions to solve it, seeking to incorporate the community to give it relevance and promote its sustainability over time and, in this way, raise the discussion about the benefits of the projects for the quality of life in the context in which they are inserted.

Did a Highway Kill the City of Hartford?

This article was originally published on Common Edge.

Can a piece of infrastructure literally kill a city? This is the question that writer Jim Krueger poses in his recent podcast, The Road That Killed a City. The place in question is Krueger’s current hometown—Hartford, Connecticut—which he grew up next to in the leafy suburb of West Hartford. Kruerger has lived in both towns, and that helps to balance the amazing story he uncovers about how Connecticut’s capital was impaled by a roadway (actually, two: east/west I-84 and north/south I-91 converge in Hartford in a sort of arterial highway ground zero). I spoke with Krueger about what prompted the podcast, some of what he uncovered about the history of this ill-fated urban “improvement,” and the legacy of a highway that continues to thwart Hartford’s rebirth—an inheritance shared by many cities across North America.

Spatial Education and the Future of African Cities: An Interview with Matri-Archi

Led by architectural designers Khensani de Klerk and Solange Mbanefo, Matri-Archi is a collective based between Switzerland and South Africa that aims to bring African women together for the development of spatial education in African cities. Through design practice, writing, podcasts, and other initiatives, Matri-Archi — one of ArchDaily's Best New Practices of 2021 — focuses on the recognition and empowerment of women in the spatial field and architectural industry.

ArchDaily had the opportunity to talk to the co-directors of the collective on hegemonic space, informal architecture, technology, local idiosyncrasies, and the future of African and global cities. Read the full interview below.

New York City Plans to Convert Underutilized Hotels Into Affordable Housing to Combat the Homelessness Crisis

© Iwan Baan
© Iwan Baan

Mayor of New York, Eric Adams, expressed his support for a state bill that would make it easier for the city to convert underutilized or vacant hotels into affordable and supportive housing. The mayor urges New York state legislators to unlock a critical tool in combating the affordable housing crisis and tackling homelessness in the process. The conversion framework proposed by the bill would allow authorities to create affordable housing units at two-thirds of the cost and one-third of the time necessary for ground-up construction.

Situationist Funhouse: Art’s Complicated Role in Redeveloping Cities

Courtesy of Stephen Zacks. ImageHovagimyan collaborated with Gordon Matta-Clark on Day’s End, in which Matta-Clark illegally cut a half-moon through the Navy Pier at the end of Gansevoort Street in 1975
Courtesy of Stephen Zacks. ImageHovagimyan collaborated with Gordon Matta-Clark on Day’s End, in which Matta-Clark illegally cut a half-moon through the Navy Pier at the end of Gansevoort Street in 1975

This article was originally published on Common Edge.

While Stephen Zacks’ new book, G.H. Hovagimyan: Situationist Funhouse, is ostensibly about the life and work of the artist, there’s an intriguing and seemingly topical subtext looming in the background: the role of art and culture on the development and redevelopment of cities. It’s a complicated and sometimes fraught issue, prone sometimes to simplistic, even binary thinking. Zacks, a friend and former colleague at Metropolis, has always had a more nuanced view of the issue. Last week I reached out to him to talk about the work of Hovagimyan, the historic lessons of 1970s New York, and why “gentrification” needs a new name.

UN-Habitat and Oceanix Reveal Prototype for the World's First Sustainable Floating City

Courtesy of Oceanix and BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group
Courtesy of Oceanix and BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group

UN-Habitat and blue tech firm OCEANIX unveiled the design of the world’s first prototype for a sustainable floating city, to be hosted by Busan. The project is intended to provide a scalable framework of development for coastal cities facing land shortages and rising sea levels. With a population of 3.4 million people, Busan is the second-largest city in the Republic of Korea and, at the same time, one of the most important maritime cities, making it a suitable environment for deploying the floating city prototype.

Courtesy of Oceanix and BIG-Bjarke Ingels GroupCourtesy of Oceanix and BIG-Bjarke Ingels GroupCourtesy of Oceanix and BIG-Bjarke Ingels GroupCourtesy of Oceanix and BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group+ 20

Built to Not Last: The Japanese Trend of Replacing Homes Every 30 Years

In most countries around the world, value is placed on older buildings. There’s something about the history, originality, and charm of an older home that causes their value to sometimes be higher than newly constructed projects. But in Japan, the opposite is almost always the preference. Newly-built homes are the crux of a housing market where homes are almost never sold and the obsession with razing and rebuilding is as much a cultural thing as it is a safety concern, bringing 30-year-old homes to a valueless market.

© Takawo© Tatiana KnorozCourtesy of NKS ArchitectsCourtesy of designboom+ 5

Architecture in Animation: Exploring Hayao Miyazaki’s Fictional Worlds

Writers in film and animation, specifically pertaining to the genre of anime, endeavor to incorporate varied architectural backdrops to assist them in telling their stories, with influences ranging from medieval villages to futuristic metropolises. Architecture as a subject includes a wide array of elements to study, with each architectural era further inferring its context and history through its design alone. However, in film and anime, all of the contexts behind a building’s design can be condensed into a single frame, powerful enough to tell a thousand stories.

Still from 'Howl's Moving Castle' (2004). Image Courtesy of Studio GhibliStill from 'Spirited Away' (2001). Image Courtesy of Studio GhibliStill from 'Howl's Moving Castle' (2004). Image Courtesy of Studio GhibliStill from 'My Neighbor Totoro' (1988). Image Courtesy of Studio Ghibli+ 13

A Remarkably Comprehensive New Guide to the Architecture of Sub-Saharan Africa

This article was originally published on Common Edge.

Compared to that of the West and East, awareness and knowledge of the architecture of sub-Saharan Africa—Africa south of the Sahara Desert—is scant. A new book intends to mitigate this oversight, and it’s a significant accomplishment. Architectural Guide Sub-Saharan Africa (DOM publishers, 2021), edited by Philipp Meuser, Adil Dalbai, and Livingstone Mukasa, was more than six years in the making. The seven-volume guide presents architecture in the continent’s 49 sub-Saharan nation-states, includes contributions by nearly 340 authors, 5,000 photos, more than 850 buildings, and 49 articles expressly devoted to theorizing African architecture in its social, economic, historical, and cultural context. I interviewed two of the editors—Adil Dalbai, an architectural researcher and practitioner specializing in sub-Saharan Africa, and Livingstone Mukasa, a native Ugandan architect interested in the intersections of architectural history and cultural anthropology—about the challenges of creating the guide, some of its revelations about the architecture of Africa, and its potential impact.

William H. Whyte: Still Relevant After All These Years

Courtesy of Common Edge
Courtesy of Common Edge

This article was originally published on Common Edge.

In the early 1980s, when I first saw the film The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces and then read the book, both by William H. Whyte, I was enthralled. I had met Holly, as he was affectionately known, while I was still a reporter at the New York Post in the 1970s, and we had great discussions about New York City, what planners got wrong, what developers didn’t care about. By the 1980s I was at work on my first book, The Living City: Thinking Small in a Big Way, and having conversations with Jane Jacobs, who would become my good friend and mentor. Jacobs had validated the small, bottom-up community efforts around New York City that I was observing and that would be the too-often-unacknowledged sparks to jumpstart the slow, steady rebirth of the city. My observations were resoundingly dismissed—even laughed at—by professional planners and urban designers, but they were cheered and encouraged by both Whyte and Jacobs, and today they are mainstream.