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Urbanism: The Latest Architecture and News

Idealism as the Impetus of American City Planning

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.

Robin Leroy's Timeless Photographs of New Créteil

© Robin Leroy © Robin Leroy © Robin Leroy © Robin Leroy + 16

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?

New York Pedrestian View. Image © NetCredit Chicago Aereal View. Image © NetCredit Los Ángeles Aereal View. Image © NetCredit Houston Aereal View. Image © NetCredit + 18

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.

8 Urban Elevators That Bring Connectivity and Continuity to Cities

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.

Ogmios City Public Space / DO ARCHITECTS

© Norbert Tukaj © Norbert Tukaj © Norbert Tukaj © Norbert Tukaj + 12

Public Space  · 
Vilnius, Lithuania

An Architecture of Turbulence

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.

Opinion: Manit Rastogi of Morphogenesis on Environment Sensitive Urbanism

Pearl Academy. Image by Morphogenesis © Edmund Sumner
Pearl Academy. Image by Morphogenesis © Edmund Sumner

Campus for Infosys. Image © Morphogenesis Pearl Academy. Image by Morphogenesis © Edmund Sumner Pearl Academy. Image © Andre Fanthome, by Morphogenesis Pearl Academy. Image © Andre Fanthome, by Morphogenesis + 14

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 Reveals Urban Vision to Revitalize the Post-Industrial Landscape of The Hague

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.

© KCAP and WAX © KCAP and WAX © KCAP and WAX © KCAP and WAX + 6

How Zena Howard Uses Design to Help Cities Heal

The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. Image© Brad Feinknopf
The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. Image© Brad Feinknopf

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.

What Urbanism Needs to Learn from Dubai

In the past three decades, Dubai has grown from a dusty desert town to a strategic hub for international business and tourism. As a result, several cities in the developing world have been competing to outdo one another in the race to replicate this development model—an urbanism largely built around the automobile, luxury villas, gleaming skyscrapers, massive shopping malls, and ambitious “smart” cities, designed and built from scratch. Across Africa, these new developments go by different names: Eko Atlantic City Nigeria, Vision City in Rwanda, Ebene Cyber City in Mauritius; Konza Technology City in Kenya; Safari City in Tanzania; Le Cite du Fleuve in DR Congo, and several others. All are mimicries of Dubai.

The First Complete Street in Sao Paulo has a 92% Approval Rating

The implementation of a Complete Street is something to be celebrated. A Complete Street initiative is a clear indication that a city is striving for urban mobility and seeking a more democratic and safer use of space. Nevertheless, it is vital to measure the impact of these interventions when implementing future actions.

Joel Carlos Borges Street, the first Complete Street in São Paulo, underwent an evaluation two months after it was completed. The study revealed that 92% of its users approved of the project and believed that the changes were beneficial.

Words on the Street: Art, Architecture, and the Public Protest

This article was originally published as "What Marchers Today Can Learn from the May 1968 Protests in Paris" on CommonEdge in May 2018. In the 50 years since the historic and worldwide protests of 1968, much has changed. But today's political climate seems equally volatile, with seismic changes threatening social and political establishments across the globe. Lessons from the past are, to borrow the phrase of the moment, more relevant than ever.

American friends recently sent an email: “What’s going on with the French political system? Why all the strikes? What about the endless protest marches? We’d like to visit you in Paris, but we’re a little wary.”

Serious Question: Should We Call Them Slums?

Slum. Shanty Town. Favela. Ghetto. Barrio Marginal. Bidonville. The list goes on. 

We have the foresight to understand and predict that demand for shelter in urban environments will continue to expand, perhaps indefinitely, but certainly until the highly-cited prediction that by 2050, more than two-thirds of the global population will live in cities. With this reality, is it time to reassess the way in which we talk about different forms of urbanization?

Urbanism that Forgot the Urban: John Portman's Legacy in Detroit

This article was originally published on Common Edge as "Will Detroit ever Fully Recover from John Portman's Renaissance Center?"

Last week I wrote about the anti-urban legacy of architect and developer John Portman. I think it’s worth going into a bit more detail about these projects, since we seem to have learned so little from their failures.

Let’s start with Detroit. The Renaissance Center was one of his largest and most celebrated projects. But this sprawling complex of seven-interconnected skyscrapers poses some difficult questions for urban planners today: can downtown Detroit ever fully recover from this mammoth and ill considered development? And, more importantly, why haven’t other cities learned from its clear and stark lessons?

Exploring Architecture Through Vertical Dance

What do dance and architecture have in common? It's difficult to explain how our experiences of dance are stored in our bodily memory, but central to our recollection of a performance is the architectural space that it inhabited. Although dance may have been the central focus, the site is integral to its experience. Both disciplines are fundamental when exploring the ways we navigate and create cities and urban spaces. 

It's no surprise that many choreographers explore both disciplines: dance and architecture. These pieces question how our bodies navigate through built environments. However, it is important to note that this experimentation is not merely contemplative but speaks to the way specific groups of peoples and cultures operate in their surroundings. In the words of the philosopher Marina Garcés: "The body is no longer what is and binds us to a place, but it is the condition for every place. It is the zero point of all the spatialities that we can experience, and at the same time, all the links that constitute us, materially and psychically."

Reinventing a Superblock in Central Seoul - Without the Gentrification

This article was originally published by Metropolis Magazine as "A Once-Maligned Concrete Megastructure in Seoul is Revitalized - Sans Gentrification".

Upon its completion in 1966, Sewoon Sangga, designed by prominent South Korean architect Kim Swoo-geun, was a groundbreaking residential and commercial megastructure consisting of eight multistory buildings covering a full kilometer in the heart of Seoul. Like other futuristic projects of the decade, it was conceived as a self-contained city, complete with amenities that included a park, an atrium, and a pedestrian deck. But construction realities crippled Kim’s utopian vision, compromising those features. By the late 1970s, Sewoon Sangga had shed residents and anchor retail outlets to newer, shinier developments in the wealthy Gangnam district across the river. Between Sewoon’s central location and plunging rents, the building became a hub for light industry—as well as illicit activity.

Mind the Gap: Minimizing Data Loss Between GIS and BIM

An unfortunate fact of the AEC (architecture, engineering, and construction) industry is that, between every stage of the process—from planning and design to construction and operations—critical data is lost.

The reality is, when you move data between phases of, say, the usable lifecycle of a bridge, you end up shuttling that data back and forth between software systems that recognize only their own data sets. The minute you translate that data, you reduce its richness and value. When a project stakeholder needs data from an earlier phase of the process, planners, designers, and engineers often have to manually re-create that information, resulting in unnecessary rework.