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Urban Design Keys to Achieving Real Authenticity: 12 Principles

This article was originally published on Common Edge.

Authenticity seems impossible today, with places and the buildings in them assembled with products from the Industrial Development Complex that could be assembled almost anywhere else on Earth in a debauchery of placelessness, disharmony with nature, and meaninglessness that doesn’t age well. So how is authenticity in the built environment achieved?

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Regulations on Airbnbs Could Be Coming to A City Near You

Airbnb has long been a reliable way to find a homestay. Since its inception in 2008, the site has hosted more than 7 million homes around the world where travelers can stay in a room, or rent an entire house out for themselves. Recently, many cities have been cracking down on short-term stays, citing safety issues, false listings, and rising property prices which push people out of their homes when housing becomes used just for Airbnb rentals. What are cities doing about these issues? What is Airbnb doing to help remediate them? And will Airbnb be viable for much longer?

The Versatility of Reinforced Concrete in Five Architectural Uses

Fundamental for the development of large metropolises as we know them today, cement is a material used historically, whose technological advances have revolutionized construction technique and technology of civil construction, enabling the verticalization of construction and the densification of urban centers. Cement, both added to water and sand to make mortar and combined with steel and aggregate to form concrete, performs different functions in a work, from structure to finish.

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Questioning the Megalopolis in the Global South

As of today, over 50% of the world’s population lives in urban areas, and by 2050, this urban population will almost double in size, and 7 of 10 people in the world will live in cities. As cities have continued to grow and expand throughout history, a new vocabulary has also emerged, often to better communicate the scale of urban living in a relatively contemporary context. One such example is the term megalopolis – typically defined as a network of large cities that have been interconnected with surrounding metropolitan areas by infrastructure or transportation. In effect, it’s a region perceived as an encompassing urban area, within which there is a constant flow of commerce and migration.

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Blair Kamin: ‘Who Is the City For?’

This article was originally published on Common Edge.

Blair Kamin stepped down as architecture critic for the Chicago Tribune in January 2021, after a nearly 30-year run in the post. He won a Pulitzer Prize in 1999 for a body of work highlighted by a series on Chicago’s lakefront, including a story that documented the race- and class-based disparity between the city’s north and south lakefronts. He has previously published two collections of his work: Why Architecture Matters (2001) and Terror and Wonder (2010), both from the University of Chicago Press. His third collection, Who is the City For? Architecture, Equity, and the Public Realm in Chicago, was released last week. Recently I talked to Kamin about the new book, the state of post-pandemic Chicago, and the need for more mainstream architecture criticism. I will post the second of our conversations tomorrow, in which the critic pushes the need for a redefinition of the phrase “design equity.”

Queer Spaces: Why Are They Important in Architecture and the Public Realm?

The queer crowd has always been present, finding ways to exist, gather, and celebrate. Although their visibility hasn't always been highlighted throughout history due to the consciousness of having to submit to heteronormative and strict mass normality in the past, doesn't mean they previously didn't have their own spaces to call their own. Queer spaces, past and present, have been categorized as strong, vibrant, vigorous, and worthy of occupying their own place in history, filling in as safe places for identifying individuals, places of social gathering, entertainment, and even offering community housing; therefore, there will always be a need for queer spaces.

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What is Urban Gamification?

Everyone’s experience of a city is unique. Whether one is visiting a place for the first time or has lived there all their life, their experiences are shaped by their personal interactions with the built environment. Buildings, landscapes, and streets come together to offer an opportunity for sensory stimulation, however, most of them are unable to provide inspiration. While a city’s infrastructure accounts for livability, equal importance isn’t given to enjoyability. Play and games embedded in the city’s fabric can help improve user engagement with urban spaces.

PAU’s Vishaan Chakrabarti on How Progressives Ruin Cities in Uncertain Things Podcast

Adaam James Levin-Areddy and Vanessa M. Quirk, the hosts and producers of the Uncertain Things podcast, interview people from diverse backgrounds and a wide range of expertise to ask the question: “now what? What is happening and how did we get here?”. In this episode, they talk with urbanist, architect, and professor Vishaan Chakrabarti, founder of Practice for Architecture and Urbanism, to seek to understand how the cities got so expensive. Together they delve into the affordability crisis, the detrimental effect of progress, and what we need to do to have better cities.

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Nigeria’s Ambitious Climate Agenda and Its Misplaced Fixation on Carbon Footprint

This article was originally published on Common Edge.

A few days ago, the world gathered at Sharm El Sheik, Egypt, for its annual climate change summit: COP27. Like the rest of Africa, Nigeria is represented by its retinue of bureaucrats, climate advocates, and other interest groups. Since the last meeting in Scotland (COP26), Nigeria signed the Climate Change Act into law, setting a target of attaining net-zero greenhouse gas emissions between 2050 and 2070. In the interim, Nigeria has developed an ambitious energy plan that would see it transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy, using its vast reserve of natural gas as a hedge. The country is at the forefront of the African Carbon Markets Initiative and plans to raise at least $500 million from carbon crediting trading to offset emitted carbon.

The Main Problems in Landscape Design — And How to Avoid Them

Far beyond its decorative features, landscaping brings with it biological and cultural issues that need to be addressed in projects. However, what can be seen in most public, residential, condominium, commercial and business gardens is a series of approaches that distance landscaping from all its attributes, reducing it to a decorative layer in the construction. Next, we have put together strategies to avoid the main problems of landscape design, joining aesthetics with its environmental and cultural possibilities.

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What is Urban Resiliency?

At a historical moment when industrialization and urbanization are continuing at a fast and predatory pace, we need to design and produce spaces that can adapt to new realities. Based on this need, concepts that can guide the transformation and production of future cities emerge.

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How Will We Live With Livestock?

As populations continue to migrate from rural to urban areas, space is at a premium. Many settlements are becoming ever-more congested – with adequate, affordable housing in short supply and transport systems struggling to serve their respective residents. But as much the conversation about urbanization is about people, it is sometimes also about the animals that come with those people – urban livestock that play a key role at providing sustenance on an individual level, in addition to becoming an avenue for communal trade.

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URB Reveals Design for Africa’s Largest Sustainable City

URB has unveiled plans to develop Africa's most sustainable city, a development that can host 150,000 residents. Known as The Parks, the city plans to produce 100% of its energy, water & food on-site through biodomes, solar-powered air-to-water generators, and biogas production. The 1,700-hectare project will feature residential, medical, ecotourism, and educational hubs to become one of the significant contributors to the growing green and tech economy in South Africa.

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