The concepts of autonomy, collaboration, and participation have gained relevance in architecture and urbanism through collaborative actions involving the community, architects, urban planners, and designers. As the number of climate disasters has significantly increased - doubling in the last 40 years according to a report released in 2016 by CRED (Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters) - in addition to conflicts and other tragedies, the demand for the rebuilding of houses and infrastructure in affected areas has grown simultaneously. This has called for a major collaborative effort in architectural and urban reconstruction.
Urbanism: The Latest Architecture and News
Cities used to be hailed for cultural diversity, with thriving and resonating dynamism. But today, scenes of desperation reigns, as stores are closed, streets rendered lifelessly and -from our homes, we no longer enjoy urban economic vibrancy. As numerous businesses are facing bankruptcy, others realise that -with technology, working 100km or 5km away makes no difference. The coronavirus brought our urban economy to a standstill. The functioning of cities is being re-questioned. How we react to this crisis will shape the city for decades to come.
The disruption caused by the coronavirus may have opened doors that many have been waiting for. Preliminary studies support that we experienced a faster technological revolution during the last three months than ever before. Forced to adapt, and to ensure the liveability of urban fabrics, policymakers are reviewing data protocols and legislations, giving way to tech-powered urban health solutions. However, many of those amendments will stay post virus. The precedence gained as a legacy will offer cause for both wonder and worry for our urban future.
Yesterday, on the 20th of April, we passed the cap of 111 days of the pandemic. During this time, we’ve been busy fighting in supermarket aisles over toilet paper in Australia, lining up for marijuana purchases in Amsterdam and boosting gun demand in the USA. We are conscious none of those will help in fighting the virus, but we do it, nonetheless. Beyond the bizarre human psyche, this pandemic unveils interesting trends that will, whether we like it or not, impact on Architecture and Cities.
Big Data refers to data that, due to its quantity and complexity, requires specific applications in order to be processed. New trends in urbanism, data collection, and management, not to mention the development of new platforms and tools, have given rise to a new era in urban analysis, creating new resources to understand, evaluate, and manage the evolution of cities.
'Cities for Play' is a project whose main objective is to inspire architects and urban planners to create stimulating, respectful, and accessible cities for children.
Natalia Krysiak, its creator, is an Australian architect who believes that children's needs should be placed at the center of urban design to ensure resilient and sustainable communities. In 2017, she produced 'Cities for Play,' studying examples of cities that are concerned with providing environments that are capable of promoting the health and well-being – physical and emotional – of children through a focus on play and "active mobility” in public spaces.
Does the Coronavirus concern us? Yes, it does. Beyond the rush for health cures, cities are seen to react by using both architecture and urban strategic planning as tools for the virus’ containment, shattering our notions of city and resilience planning.
Along with the municipality of Larvik, Mad Arkitekter has proposed new development plans for Martineåsen, a future new district west of Larvik City Center. The project celebrates the natural context of the site while creating a small-town community with all required amenities, within walking distance.
The Truman Show is a 1998 dramedy starring Jim Carrey as Truman Burbank, the unwitting star of a 24-hour reality show that began at his birth. Set in Seahaven, a city-scale television studio designed to covertly record Truman's entire life, the show attempts to divert Truman from any potential suspicion that every single person he meets is an actor or actress.
The “New Créteil” was an urbanization program carried out in the seventies. It was intended to provide the city of Créteil, which is located around 6 km southeast of Paris, new apartment buildings and public facilities such as a town hall, prefecture, hospital, and courthouse. In a series called “See the New Créteil,” photographer Robin Leroy documents a city considered transcendent of the traditional clichés of modern architecture.
What Would 6 Cities of the United States be like if Frank Lloyd Wright or Robert Moses had Designed Them?
The United States of America has provided enormous opportunities to develop some of the most iconic buildings in the history of architecture, leaving the mark of important architects in urban, suburban, and rural areas around the country. However, ambitious ideas often come with a high price that cannot always be paid, causing some of the most exciting building, bridge, and tower designs to never evolve past archived plans.
When working in an urban area with a complex topography, one of the biggest challenges is urban integration. Worldwide, many socially deprived neighborhoods are situated in complicated geographical locations surrounded by steep slopes. Such areas complicate mobility for pedestrians, cyclists, and the elderly, with a lack of accessibility often excluding them from taking part in city life effectively.
In this context, urban elevators can be a novel solution which combine elements of both functional connectivity and sculpture. With some rising up to 30 meters in height, they become urban and touristic landmarks, creating new viewpoints and walkways. Additionally, in many cases, they can help to uphold the historic legacy of the city.
Below we have collected some interesting examples of urban elevators that have been key in the spatial planning of the urban environment.
A single family house may often have been considered as a very small pixel within any urban context, but the fact is, on average more than fifty percent of the urban fabric is being shaped by these tiny small pixels. It is well said by Tadao Ando: “The house is the building type that can change society.” Thus, this is how a client, a developer, a builder, an architect, or a designer could or should be responsible and willingly participate in a collective effort to shape a better urban context.
A recent report by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) report reveals that the health of our ecosystems on which we and all other species depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever. We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health, and quality of life worldwide. At this point, scientists believe that ecosystems untouched by human interventions no longer exist. Human civilization and technology have permanently altered our planet and some of the most tangible impacts include imploding population numbers, deforestation, pollution (air, water, soil, and industrial), ocean acidification, climate change, and invasive alien species.
KCAP has released images of their proposed HS Kwartier urban vision for The Hague in the Netherlands. As cities such as The Hague face the challenge of providing more inner-city housing, former industrial and port areas are increasingly being reimagined as attractive areas for living and working. KCAP’s HS Kwartier scheme, situated in the post-industrial Laakhavens region, seeks to “give an impulse to both the environment around Hollands Spoor station and the connections with the center of The Hague."
Under KCAP’s urban vision, the area around the Hollands Spoor station will be characterized by excellent accessibility and a mix of various functions. A mixed-use urban program of 245,000 square meters will include large amounts of housing, offices, education, student housing, hotels, culture, restaurants, and retail.
This article was originally published on Metropolis Magazine as "Game Changers: Architect Zena Howard is Using Design as Urban Healing." Metropolis' annual Game Changers series highlights those in design who are pushing the field forward.
Transforming urban centers can be slow going when the process is rooted in community engagement. But within the next five to ten years, historically African-American neighborhoods in Charlotte and Greenville, North Carolina; Miami; Vancouver; and Los Angeles will experience major change, thanks to architect Zena Howard, who leads Perkins+Will’s cultural practice in North Carolina.