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Green Cities: The Latest Architecture and News

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

A Space Transportation Hub in Japan and a Humanitarian Response in Egypt: 10 Unbuilt Projects Submitted by our Readers

This week’s curated selection of Best Unbuilt Architecture encompasses conceptual proposals submitted by our readers. It features diverse functions and tackles different scales, from a spiraling bridge in China to a transportation hub dedicated primarily to space travel in Japan.

Comprising uncommon design approaches, this article introduces a humanitarian architectural response to the needs of the residents in an informal Egyptian settlement. In the master plan category, a Green city proposal highlights how we should develop our cities and neighborhoods in the future, and the first net-zero energy airport in Mexico reinterprets holistic design approaches. Moreover, the roundup presents different cultural interventions, from a museum in Botswana, an installation at the Burning Man festival by AI Studio, and an observatory in Vietnam.

Archivo Grupo Arca. Image Courtesy of Esrawe StudioMaison ONF. Image Courtesy of Vincent Lavergne Architecture UrbanismeSPACEPORT CITY. Image Courtesy of Noiz ArchitectsThe Tower Flower . Image Courtesy of VHA Architects+ 56

BIG and WXY Propose Plans for Greener and Safer Downtown Brooklyn

Bjarke Ingels Group and WXY architecture + urban design, in collaboration with the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, imagined a new future for Downtown Brooklyn. The proposal introduces a greener, safer approach for a pedestrian-friendly neighborhood.

Courtesy of BIG and Downtown Brooklyn PartnershipCourtesy of BIG and Downtown Brooklyn PartnershipCourtesy of BIG and Downtown Brooklyn PartnershipCourtesy of BIG and Downtown Brooklyn Partnership+ 16

First Smart Forest City in Mexico Designed by Stefano Boeri Architetti

Commisionned by Grupo Karim's, and designed by Stefano Boeri Architetti, the first Smart Forest City in Mexico will focus on innovation and environmental quality. The city balances green and built spaces, and is completely food and energy self-sufficient.

Courtesy of The Big PictureCourtesy of Stefano Boeri ArchitettiCourtesy of Stefano Boeri ArchitettiCourtesy of The Big Picture+ 8

Comparing Tree Coverage in 10 Major Cities Around the World

New York. Image via flickr user "quintanomedia"licensed under CC BY 2.0
New York. Image via flickr user "quintanomedia"licensed under CC BY 2.0

Throughout the last two years, researchers at the MIT Senseable City Lab in Cambridge, Massachusetts have been using Google Street View data to study some of the world’s most prominent cities in terms of tree coverage. Developed in collaboration with the World Economic Forum, “Treepedia” seeks to promote awareness of the role of green canopies in urban life, and asks how citizens can be more integral to the process of greening their neighborhoods.

The ever-growing list studies cities both around and beyond the USA, using an innovative metric called the “Green View Index,” which uses Google Street View panoramas to evaluate and compare green canopy coverage in major cities. Through monitoring the urban tree coverage, citizens and planners can see which areas in their city are green and not green, compare their green canopy with other cities, and play a more active role in enhancing their local environment.

Why Ecosystem Services Will be the Next Frontier in Livable Cities

Land Sparing of Tokyo's Yoyogi Park. Image Courtesy of Flickr CC user spektrograf
Land Sparing of Tokyo's Yoyogi Park. Image Courtesy of Flickr CC user spektrograf

While the term “ecosystem services” may sound like a corporate antithesis to the course of natural order, it is actually an umbrella term for the ways in which the human experience is favorably altered and enhanced by the environment. Ecosystem services are therefore an important factor in creating cities which provide the maximum benefit to their residents with the minimal harm to their environment.

Aiming to find out how city planning can affect the provision of these ecosystem services, a new study published in Frontiers in Ecology and Environment by researchers at the University of Exeter's Environment and Sustainability Institute and Hokkaido University's Division of Environmental Resources evaluates the repercussions of rapid and fragmented urbanization and the possible detriment to ecosystem services and human well-being. In particular, the study is concerned with approaches to land-use and the outcomes they yield on the environment. Studied are two opposing tactics: a “land-sharing,” sprawl model (think Atlanta or Houston), or “land-sparing,” tight-knit urbanism (think New York or Tokyo).

Australia Plans for Greener Cities by 2020

As cities continue to attract more people, naturally vegetated areas slowly wither, leaving little to no green spaces for city dwellers to escape to, no trees to purify the air and enhance the environment. Australia plans to change this. The 202020 Vision is a concerted effort from the government, academic and private sectors to create twenty percent green areas in Australia's urban centers by 2020. “Urban heat islands, poor air quality, lack of enjoyable urban community areas are all poor outcomes when green spaces aren't incorporated into new developments and large scale building projects.” Read about the 202020 initiative here, "More green spaces in urban areas, says new national initiative."