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Urban Planning: The Latest Architecture and News

New Short Film Explores The Urban Landscapes of Ukraine’s Socialist Era

The built manifestation of an ideology, the urban landscape left behind by the socialist regimes around Europe are removed from the aspirations of contemporary urban living, thus trigger a unique process of re-appropriation of the post-soviet landscapes. The short film Landscape Architecture: Rethinking The Future out of a Totalitarian Past created by Minimal Movie invites a conversation around urban planning, cultural identity, and community building relating to the urbanism and architecture of Ukraine's Socialist Era.

Courtesy of Minimal MovieCourtesy of Minimal MovieCourtesy of Minimal MovieCourtesy of Minimal Movie+ 8

Urban Design in a Time of Anti-Space

This article was originally published on Common Edge.

In the mid-1990s, when I was an editor at Progressive Architecture, jurors for the magazine’s awards program gave an Urban Design Award to Peterson Littenberg Architects for a plan the small New York firm had devised for then-stagnant Lower Manhattan.

At the time, the southern tip of Manhattan ranked as the third-largest downtown business district in the United States. The tightly packed 1 square mile contained a bevy of venerable buildings, among them the New York Stock Exchange, the former headquarters of J.P. Morgan, and the fortress-like, neo-Renaissance Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Though the vast majority of Americans regarded the district as a powerful financial hub, people close to the scene saw it as a place with grim prospects. More than a quarter of its commercial space stood vacant. Companies were leaving Lower Manhattan for Midtown and more distant locales. Many of the office buildings were regarded as obsolete.

When the American Dream Became the Urban Planning Nightmare

For nearly a century, the areas of urban sprawl where every single-family home has its own yard, garage, and white picket fence represented the peak of life aspiration. Homeownership and the idea of claiming space away from the hustle and bustle of the city core was once considered the ideal lifestyle and the pinnacle of the American Dream. But as time went on, and socio-economic conditions shifted, cities that were once filled with these single-family homes realized that perhaps these zoning regulations were outdated, and new solutions needed to be created to prevent the current housing crisis from growing even more out of control.

Public Spaces and Urban Areas: 12 Squares Viewed from Above

Some of the most characteristic features of city squares are related to the presence of people in the space and the purposes they are given, such as places for socializing, sports, tourism, and demonstrations. These different uses, often not foreseen in the project, are closely associated with the ground level, where people can walk around and experience the space. Viewed from an aerial perspective, on the other hand, squares can reveal other aspects related to their architectural design and their placement in the urban context.

St. Peter's Basilica Square, Vatican City. Created by @benjaminrgrant, source imagery: @digitalglobeChicago, United States. Image created by @dailyoverview, source imagery: @nearmapGrammichele, Italy. Created by @benjaminrgrant, source imagery: @digitalglobeBarcelona, Spain. © Daily Overview+ 13

Laurel Canyon: The Classic California Urban Ecosystem

This article was originally published on Common Edge.

The most arresting image, among many, in the documentary Laurel Canyon: A Place in Time, directed by Alison Ellwood, is a black-and-white photograph of Eric Clapton visiting Los Angeles for the first time on tour with Cream. He sits a few feet from Joni Mitchell, who is playing guitar, with a visibly stoned David Crosby in the background on the backyard lawn of Cass Elliot’s house. Clapton observes Mitchell with such a smoldering intensity you think he’s going to blow an amp. He is transfixed by Mitchell not because she was striking—and she was—but because of her musicianship.

MVRDV and Delft University of Technology Release "Le Grand Puzzle", an Urban Study of Marseille in the South of France

MVRDV and The Why Factory (Delft University of Technology) revealed “Le Grand Puzzle”, a book that holds ambitious ideas for Marseille, in the south of France. In fact, the study, made from 2018 to the start of 2020, “proposes a methodology, an agenda, and an analysis to portray today’s Marseille”.

Courtesy of Olivier Sarrazin, VOST collectif, Hans LucasCourtesy of MVRDVCourtesy of Olivier Sarrazin, VOST collectif, Hans LucasCourtesy of HÇläne Bossy, Manifesta+ 12

Why Climate Change Planning Will Be Cultural as Well as Physical

This article was originally published on Common Edge.

There is nothing like a crisis to bring people together. After Hurricane Katrina, more than 9,000 citizens participated in the development of the Unified New Orleans Plan that our firm Concordia coordinated in collaboration with 12 other planning teams. Now we’re working with another stellar group on a project called LA Safe, with the goal of creating a plan for residents of south Louisiana who will be among the first to experience the devastating impacts of sea-level rise.

Designers and Planners Take Note: People’s Fondest Memories Rarely Involve Technology

This article was originally published on Common Edge.

As planners who regularly engage everyday citizens in the planning process, we like to start by having people build their favorite childhood memories with found objects. Most often, these memories are joy-infused tales of the out-of-doors, nature, friends, family, exploration, freedom. Rarely do these memories have much to do with technology, shopping, driving, watching television, and so many of the other things that seem to clutter up our daily lives. But then again, these are folks who have known a world that has been—at least for part of their lives—screen- and smartphone-free. 

The UK Speeds Up Planning Approvals for Developments

The UK government has released a document that proposes reforms in the planning system, such as speeding up the process of approvals for development. Entitled Planning for the Future, the report suggests “to streamline and modernize the planning process, bring a new focus to design and sustainability, improve the system of developer contributions to infrastructure, and ensure more land is available for development where it is needed”.

Letter From Nigeria: Coronavirus and the African City

This article was originally published on Common Edge.

Since the outbreak of Covid-19, I, like most of the world, have spent the last few months quarantined at home, perturbed and uncertain about the ramifications of it all. I will spare you my predictions for the Post-Pandemic Future of the African City (there’s presently no shortage of those), but instead, I want to offer up some observations about our current situation. As an African, my perspective is both unique to our continent and universal to everyone. It is, afterall, a global pandemic. 

Designing Smart Cities: A Human-Centered Approach

By 2025, Frost and Sullivan, a market research company, has predicted that there will be at least 26 fully-fledged major smart cities around the world. While some still think that as our cities get more intelligent, they will resemble sci-fi futuristic movies, the reality is that the quality of life in these cities will drastically improve. Cities are set to become more efficient with better services. Nevertheless, before reaching these ideals, let us go back on the process itself, and evaluate the challenges that we might face.

Because the concept of smart cities is still very new, with rare finalized and implemented projects, the topic is still unclear. Although big titles and strategies are well defined, the on-ground application is still uncertain, giving us the opportunity to question its planning process. In fact, how can we go wrong when designing smart cities? What key element are we failing to address in the planning phase?  

How to Increase a City’s Affordable Rental Housing Units? The case of Barcelona

City officials in Barcelona have found an incentive to help increase the city’s available rental housing units. Authorities are threatening to forcefully buy empty properties to create more affordable housing if landlords don’t manage to fill their vacant rental assets within a certain time frame.

Canada's City of the Future Moves Forward with Central Train Station Approved

A new train station by Toronto-based architecture studio PARTISANS has been approved for The Orbit, Canada's city of the future project. Designed to be a new central neighborhood for the Canadian town of Innisfil, the station was made in response to the potential arrival of high-speed mass transit that connects to downtown Toronto. The Transit Hub aims for rapid and responsible growth, fostering sustainable development and preserving the core attributes of Innisfil's landscape and community.

Courtesy of Norm LiCourtesy of Norm LiCourtesy of Norm LiCourtesy of Norm Li+ 5