The project for implementing a fourth metro line in the Greek capital began in 2021, with the purpose of reducing the need for automobiles in the crowded city. As the 15-station new line is estimated to transport 340,000 passengers a day, up to 53,000 cars could be taken off the roads each day. While the opening of the line may be five years away, work has now begun to refurbish seven urban squares which will become stations. Despite public support for the initiative, the project has also led to some controversy, with residents fearing gentrification.
Mobility: The Latest Architecture and News
"We are focused on creating a just public realm," said Chelina Odbert, Hon. ASLA, CEO and founding principal of Kounkuey Design Initiative (KDI), at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. And by just, "we mean free, inclusive, accessible, unbiased, and equitable". A "just public realm is open to everyone.” There is unlimited access to streets and public spaces so people can travel to school and work and be full members of their communities.
Unfortunately, the public realm is instead often “intimidating, exclusionary, inaccessible, unjust, and inequitable” for many women, LGBTQIA+ people, people with disabilities, and people of color. Landscape architects, planners, and others need to understand who feels safe and comfortable in public spaces or there is a risk of perpetuating inequalities, Odbert argued.
Los Angeles Plans to Implement the Park Block Pilot, a Car-Free Grid Inspired by Barcelona's Superblock Model
Los Angeles officials have voted on a motion to implement the first Park Block, a pilot project that creates a car-free grid of city streets to open up public space for pedestrians and cyclists, as reported by NBC Los Angeles. The plan takes inspiration from Barcelona’s Superblock program, which creates groups of nine blocks in the district of Eixample and restricts the traffic to the outside streets, freeing up the rest of the streets for pedestrian and local transit only. Implemented in 2016, the plan has led to reduced levels of air pollution, urban noise, and traffic fatalities. A similar program is now planned for Los Angeles, United States.
Last summer, Spain promoted cleaner transportation by offering free seasonal tickets for suburban and regional trains, which translated into roughly 48 million journeys per month. The initiative hoped to help citizens reduce fuel consumption and reduce the cost of living during the economic uncertainties and rising energy prices. In the summer of 2022, a 30% discount for municipal public transport was announced, with local governments in places like Catalonia topping up to a 60% discount. The program ran between the 1st of September and the 31st of December of last year.
Kengo Kuma & Associates Wins Competition to a New Design Visitor Center at Butrint, a UNESCO Site in Albania
Following an international competition, Kengo Kuma & Associates has been selected to design the new visitor center for Butrint National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site on Albania’s Ionian coastline. Through its placement in a nodal and strategic position, the project aims to establish a new connection between the local communities and the expected archeological site visitors, thus improving the accessibility of the site, which is recognized as one of Albania’s chef cultural attractions. The visitor center, developed with Albanian partners CHwB Albania, is scheduled to open to the public in 2025.
JAJA Architects won the competition organized by Metroselskabet, Denmark, to develop resource-efficient and climate-friendly metro stations. The winning team takes a comprehensive and holistic approach, looking at both material-optimized and sustainable design solutions and the character of the journey that passengers take to reach their destination. The proposal is centered around three core elements: Materials, Mobility Hub and Climate Campaign. While aiming to reduce CO2 emissions, the team also seeks to create an enjoyable and easy-to-navigate space for the many daily passengers. Snøhetta, 3XN/GXN, and Effekt also participated in the competition.
Ambitious technologists have claimed for decades that self-driving cars are the future. Yet, looking at recent years, the biggest revolution has come from vehicles on two wheels, not four. Fueled by the pandemic, increased oil prices, climate change and the desire for healthier lifestyles, we are now living in the midst of a bicycle renaissance. But to understand how we got here, it is crucial to look back. When the automobile became more widespread in the early 1900s, it quickly became a symbol of progress along with all it entailed: speed, privatisation and segregation. Adopting a car-centric approach, urban planners had to reorganise entire cities to separate traffic. Cars took over public spaces that used to host dynamic city life and parking lots, highways and gas stations became common landscapes. Pedestrians that once ruled the streets were herded into sidewalks and children relegated to fenced playgrounds. Ironically, cities were being designed for cars (not humans).
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the Department of Assets, Information and Services (AIS) has announced that by 2025, all city-owned buildings and facilities in the city will be fully operated with clean, renewable energy. At the moment, Chicago is one of the largest cities in the United States to reduce the city’s carbon footprint at such a scale, and has already began the process of transitioning its transportation busses and cars to all-electric vehicles by 2035. The agreement demonstrates the city's plans to "drive high-impact climate action, build the clean energy workforce of the future, and equitably distribute meaningful benefits to foster the local clean energy economy for all.”
MAD Architects Reveals Design for the Mobility and Logistic Hub, MOLO, a Gateway Complex near Milan, Italy
MAD Architects led by Ma Yansong, unveiled renderings of the MoLo, short for Mobility and Logistic hub, a new gateway situated along the western boundary of the Milano Innovation District (MIND). In collaboration with Architect Andrea Nonni, Open Project, and Progeca, the 28.5 meters high complex brings together several facilities across 68,700sqm of surfaces. Designed as an integration of nature and architecture, the MoLo “performs as a welcoming entrance and education space for issues related to mobility in which visitors can drop off their cars to explore the district on foot and see innovative transportation technology in person”.
“Let me tell you what I think of the bicycle. It has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives women a sense of freedom and self-confidence. I appreciate every time I see a woman cycling... an image of freedom”. Susan Anthony, one of the most important American suffragette leaders, said this at the beginning of the 20th century, praising the libertarian power represented by women and their bicycles at the time.
Lisbon city counsil almost unanimously approved the proposal of free public transport for young people up to 18 years old, higher education students up to 23 years old and people over 65 years old.
This free pass, which should encourage the use of public transport, is valid for residents of the city. The decision was announced by the mayor Carlos Moedas.
In 1854, the American writer Henry David Thoreau wrote the classic work “Walden”, recounting his experience of life in the woods and extolling the advantages of simple and self-sufficient life. Right at the beginning of the book, the author comments that, if someone wants to travel 48 km to visit the countryside, it would be faster to walk than to opt for a locomotive.
This article was originally published on Common Edge.
For frequent travelers to Europe, it is frustrating to see the increasingly different urban conditions on the other side of the Atlantic. In Europe, cities are largely appreciated and embraced, and have turned into high-quality environments for inclusive and sustainable living. Copenhagen’s bike lanes—and, not too far away, Oslo’s car-free downtown—elicit admiring blog posts and articles on this side of the pond at a steady clip. Holland’s pedestrian- and bike-friendly urban designs attract their own share of starry-eyed fans. Berlin is holding a referendum to exclude cars from its inner city, an area larger than Manhattan. In Madrid, the mayor who restricted cars from accessing the city center did lose reelection, but her successor was forced to halt his efforts to rescind those policies by a groundswell of popular fury.
Following California's Covid-19 health regulations in early 2020, Metro, the Los Angeles public transit agency stopped collecting fares on its busses as a safety precaution measure. However, the company's decision turned into the United States' biggest free-transit experiment, as ridership never dipped below 50 percent, even with the stay-at-home orders enforced by the government. Following 22 months of the decision and around 281 million fare-free transits, the company has decided to restart collecting fares, but is planning on using the information gathered throughout these two years to implement future improvements and introduce other free or reduced-fare programs in the city.
Volksentscheid Berlin Autofrei (People’s Decision for Auto-Free Berlin), has proposed a plan to limit cars within Berlin's Ringbahn, a long circle route around the inner city, making it the world's largest car-free area once approved. The citizen-initiative is aimed mostly at banning the use of private cars in central Berlin, with the exception of emergency vehicles, garbage trucks, taxis, delivery vehicles, and residents with limited mobility, who would all be given special access permits.
As part of Milan's ongoing vision of bicycle-friendly highways, the Metropolitan Council of Milan has approved its Biciplan “Cambio” project, a new transportation system that introduces "super-cycle" corridors across the urban fabric, prioritizing cycling, environmental protection, safety, and wellbeing. The project aims to compliment existing cycle paths with 750 kilometers of new corridors that will connect the city's 133 communes with its wider metropolitan area, and increase the amount of bicycle trips and reach by 10% internally and 20% on a greater scale.
Saunas are inseparable from the culture of Nordic countries and they are increasing in popularity as a result of their many physical and mental health benefits. Their projects are usually quite archetypal, combining efficiency and sobriety.
We spoke with Jakob Gate, co-founder of Native Narrative & Scandinavian Sauna, who has been developing sauna projects that combine the flexibility of being transported anywhere, with the expertise and tradition of Scandinavian design. They work without electricity, heated by wood, while LED lighting is provided by a rechargeable battery. Learn more in the following interview: