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Cities: The Latest Architecture and News

Tech, Class, Cynicism, and Pandemic Real Estate

It didn’t take long for the coronavirus pandemic to inspire both cutting-edge architectural design solutions and broad speculation about future developments in the field. Many of the realized innovations have been contracted by or marketed to the real estate sector. But as firms compete to provide pandemic comforts to rich tenants, the COVID-19 technology that directly affects working-class communities is mostly limited to restrictive measures that fail to address already-urgent residential health hazards or administrative conveniences for developers that allow them to circumvent public scrutiny. These changes had been long-planned, but they have found a new license under the pretext of coronavirus precaution. In terms of “corona grifting,” this sort of thing takes the cake.

The Religion of the City: Cars, Mass Transit and Coronavirus

Religion is a uniquely human reality. As are cities. As we emerge from our burrows of sequestration, the silent cities and places of worship will become human again, versus the present sad memory of what they once were.

We will recover from another human reality, the pandemic and when we do we will be forced to address some questions. Before this century, the automobile was once seen as the way Americans could create a new reality: a huge middle class that could control its life by using the freedom that cars gave them to go where they wanted, when they wanted, and to live where they wanted. Before this latest change of sequestration, that vision of what cars meant to our culture was changing —especially in cities.

Social Urbanism: From the Medellín Model to a New Global Movement

Social Urbanism: Reframing Spatial Design – Discourses from Latin America, a new book by Maria Bellalta, ASLA, dean of the School of Landscape Architecture at the Boston Architectural College, is a welcome addition to the growing number of publications on the social justice-oriented form of urbanism, architecture, and public space emanating from Medellín and Colombia. The achievements of social urbanism have rightfully become synonymous with Medellín in the world of landscape architecture, urban planning and design, and architecture.

Kevin Lynch's Images of the City Through Aerial Photography

“There seems to be a public image of any given city which is the overlap of many individual images," American urban planner Kevin Lynch once said. "Or perhaps there is a series of public images, each held by some significant number of citizens,” he added.

Following this remark, in his book "The Image of the City" (1960), Lynch begins an analysis around the elements that constitute what he considers to be the image of the city. While introducing, describing, and illustrating these elements as physical, perceptible objects, Lynch considers that other non-physical factors such as history, function, or even the name of the city also play a significant role in the construction of this imageability.

Barcelona, Spain. Created by @benjaminrgrant. Source imagery: @digitalglobeLucca, Italy. Created by @overview. Source imagery: @maxartechnologiesMadrid, Spain. Created by @dailyoverview. Source imagery: @maxartechnologiesStatue of Liberty, New York. Copyright: @jeffreymilstein+ 12

Repairing the Urban Fabric Ruined by Highways

This article was originally published on Common Edge.

From the hills behind the City Hall in my adopted hometown of Ventura, California, it’s less than 1,000 yards southward to the Pacific Ocean. This constrained piece of topography creates a small urban gem of a downtown: streetscapes, restaurants, stores, offices, residences, parking garages, and a beachfront promenade, all within eight or so square blocks, creating a lively streetlife that connects a historic downtown to the beach.

Gentrification and Dystopia: The Future of Mexico City in the Aftermath of the Covid-19 Pandemic

'Territory and Housing' (2018). Image © Alberto KalachSanta Fe, Mexico City. Image © Johny MillerSolving the problem of crowding, drought, and flooding in Mexico City (June 2018). Image © Eduardo VerdugoMexico City During the COVID-19 Pandemic. Image © Santiago Arau+ 5

When looking at the population of the world's metropolises, in this case Mexico City, the reality is that the majority of the people living there have migrated from other regions of the country and, sometimes, from other countries as well. Of course, thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, companies and schools have gone virtual, and, with their work and studies no longer tied to urban centers, people have left in masse for the coast and other less populated areas in search of space and lower living costs.

Endless “Sustainable” Growth is an Oxymoron

This article was originally published on Common Edge

In a Common Edge article, I briefly discussed a concept that I call the “Triple Bottom Lie,” which posits that more people, plus more consumption by each person, plus an economic system completely dependent on the aforementioned items, can just keep working forever, without consequences. Historically, the United States has accepted the economic shibboleth of endless growth because it reduced class conflict; a rising tide (supposedly) lifted all boats, rafts and yachts included. We are, however, approaching the limits of growth, from both a resource standpoint (we’re running out of raw materials) and a technological standpoint (our inventions are progressively less revolutionary).

Mapping the City of the 21st Century: Desplans and KooZA/rch Open up the Discourse to Young Creatives

Desplans and KooZA/rch have revealed the three final winners of the #mycityscape competition. Inviting young creatives to this conversation, the open call questions the definition of the city, by asking “What establishes the identity of a city? What distinguishes one urban environment from the other? And What defines our relationship to the built landscape we inhabit?

Trying to find the tools to map the city of the 21st century, the competition encouraged young creatives to record the essence of their cityscape into one image. After selecting 12 shortlisted entries, the contest solicited a wider audience to decide the final winning designs, by voting for their favorites on social media. Following the release of the results, Christele Harrouk from ArchDaily had the chance to talk about the #mycityscape competition with both Desplans and KooZA/rch, discussing the theme and the whole process. Discover in this article the exchange as well as the final winning designs.

Urban Planning and Water Bodies: Florida’s Aquatic Land Cover

Delray Beach, Florida. Created by @dailyoverview, source imagery @maxartechnologiesBoynton Beach, Florida. Created by @dailyoverview, source imagery: @airbus_space © CNES 2020, Distribution Airbus DSIsland Walk, Naples, Florida. Created by @dailyoverview, source imagery: @nearmapVenetian Islands, Miami Beach, Florida. Created by @dailyoverview, source imagery @maxartechnologies+ 8

The state of Florida, in the United States, is bordered to the south, east, and west by the Atlantic Ocean, with a coastline of over two thousand kilometers in length, and is characterized by extensive areas of lakes, rivers, and ponds. Land booms during the early and mid-20th century resulted in the development of new communities and the expansion of low-density suburbia across many parts of the state, which frequently incorporated the abundant water resources, sometimes failing in their efforts.

Why Are Countries Building Their Cities From Scratch?

Imagine having a blank canvas on which to master-plan a brand new city; drawing its roads, homes, commerces, and public spaces on a fresh slate and crafting its unique urban identity. Every urban planner has fantasized about designing a city from scratch and luckily for some, this dream is morphing into concrete opportunities. 

Over the last two decades, new, master-planned cities have emerged from the ground up at an unprecedented scale, the majority of which have been created in Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America, with currently over 150 new cities in the making. This new type of urban development has shown to be particularly seductive in emerging markets, where they are sold as key parts of the strategy to leapfrog from agriculture and resource-based systems to knowledge economies by attracting foreign capital and boosting economic growth.

Terracotta façade of student dormitories in Masdar City, designed by Foster & Partners. Image © Tyler CaineThe Line project in Saudi Arabia. Image © NEOMOceanix City. Image © Bjarke Ingels GroupSongdo International Business District, South Korea. Image Courtesy of KPF+ 12

Serious Question: How Will Our Future Cities Look?

From climate crisis to How Will We Live Together, as we face the current and accentuated global challenges many of our ideas about the cities of tomorrow are changing. So how will the city of the future be?