Mercer released their annual list of the Most Livable Cities in the World last month. The list ranks 231 cities based on factors such as crime rates, sanitation, education and health standards, with Vienna at #1 and Baghdad at #231. There’s always some furor over the results, as there ought to be when a city we love does not make the top 20, or when we see a city rank highly but remember that one time we visited and couldn’t wait to leave.
To be clear, Mercer is a global HR consultancy, and their rankings are meant to serve the multinational corporations that are their clients. The list helps with relocation packages and remuneration for their employees. But a company’s first choice on where to send their workers is not always the same place you’d choose to send yourself to.
And these rankings, calculated as they are, also vary depending on who’s calculating. Monocle publishes their own list, as does The Economist, so the editors at ArchDaily decided to throw our hat in as well. Here we discuss what we think makes cities livable, and what we’d hope to see more of in the future.
There's an old, weary tune that people sing to caution against being an architect: the long years of academic training, the studio work that takes away from sleep, and the small job market in which too many people are vying for the same positions. When you finally get going, the work is trying as well. Many spend months or even years working on the computer and doing models before seeing any of the designs become concrete. If you're talking about the grind, architects know this well enough from their training, and this time of ceaseless endeavor in the workplace only adds to that despair.
Which is why more and more architects are branching out. Better hours, more interesting opportunities, and a chance to do more than just build models. Furthermore, the skills you learn as an architect, such as being sensitive to space, and being able to grasp the cultural and societal demands of a place, can be put to use in rather interesting ways. Here, 3 editors at ArchDaily talk about being an architect, why they stopped designing buildings, and what they do in their work now.
Perhaps as a form of "abstract urbanism," artist Benjamin Sack uses pen and paper to build cities and worlds that come to life as he draws. Towers and low-rise buildings merge together to form familiar yet unimaginably intricate cityscapes with complex spatial arrangements, and, in some cases, in human form. This brand of "abstract urbanism" introduces a provocative perspective on urban context and its relation to those who inhabit it.
Proyectos 9, a Monterrey real estate developer, announced Sordo Madaleno Arquitectos as the winners of the international architectural design competition for the construction of Constitución 999, a new mixed-use complex to be erected in the downtown area of Monterrey.
Recently, long-standing architecture critic for the LA Times Christopher Hawthorne announced that he was stepping down to take up the position of chief design officer for the City of Los Angeles in Mayor Eric Garcetti’s administration. According to Hawthorne, the role will involve raising “the quality of public architecture and urban design across the city — and the level of civic conversation about those subjects.” This dramatic shift from the question: what is the role of the critic and architecture criticism in shaping civic architecture?
As part of our 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale coverage we present the proposal for the UAE Pavilion. Below, the participants describe their contribution in their own words.
The National PavilionUAE will present “Lifescapes Beyond Bigness,” an exhibition exploring human-scale architectural landscapes, at the 2018 Venice Biennale. The exhibition aims to highlight the role of architecture and urban design in forming the choreography of people’s daily routines. It particularly investigates the role of ‘quotidian’ (every day) landscapes in accommodating, enhancing, and facilitating social activities across different places in the UAE.
Despite being heralded as services that will reduce congestion on our streets, ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft actually are making traffic problems worse, a new study from Boston’s Northeastern University has revealed.
Zaha Hadid Architects has revealed a proposal for the pedestrianization of their home city, London, that would gradually transform the city into an interconnected system of walkable roads.
Named Walkable London, the research proposal has identified the arteries and areas of the city that would most benefit from pedestrianization. The transformation would be implemented over three phases: primary avenues, secondary avenues, and finally, entire districts. Notable avenues marked for alteration include Upper Street, Oxford Street and Regent Street.
The protective fortress, winding cobblestone streets, and medieval urban layout are all characteristics of many coastal European towns. But when exploring the French town of Saint-Malo, it is difficult to believe that this is hardly the original city. What separates Saint-Malo from many other European towns located by the sea—aside from its striking location jutting out from the coastline—is the complex history of how it was heavily destroyed in World War II, but rebuilt to its original aesthetic.
Ranking cities is a risky endeavor. How can one be objective and fair when this great earth and its 7.6 billion inhabitants would never come to anything close to a consensus? And yet global consulting firm Resonance Consultancy has taken on the challenge based on the opinions of the people they claim matter most: "a city's visitors and its residents."
Surveying the inhabitants and tourists about 23 different factors (that are then grouped into six key categories—Place, Product, Programming, People, Prosperity and Promotion), the methodology aims to be comprehensive in the ranking of quality of place and reputation. In the people category, for example, the surveyors looked at things like the immigration rate and diversity of a city, including number of Foreign-born Residents. Also taken into consideration was the amount of "stories" or "mentions" a city generates on web platforms like Facebook, Google and even TripAdvisor. And, most relevant to us architects, cities were scored on their quality of neighborhoods, landmarks and parks.
https://www.archdaily.com/886150/the-worlds-best-cities-2018AD Editorial Team
To speak of Paul Rudolph’s illustrious career is to trace a grand arc stretching from the 1940s to the 1990s. More often than not, the popular narrative begins with his student days at Harvard under the tutelage of Walter Gropius, touches upon his earliest, much-loved Florida beach houses, circles around his eventual break from the rigidity of both the Sarasota School and the International Style, and finally races towards the apex: his chairmanship of the Yale School of Architecture, and the concurrent shift to a Brutalist architectural style characterized by monumental forms, rugged concrete, and interwoven, multilevelled spaces awash with a remarkable interplay of light. Then comes the fall from grace: the beloved Yale Art and Architecture Building went up in flames just as the architecture profession began to question modernist ideals, and eventually Postmodernism was ushered in. Flickering, sputtering, Rudolph's grand narrative arc lurched towards Southeast Asia, bearing away the “martyred saint.” Save for several scattered commissions in the United States, Rudolph spent the last two decades of his life building abroad, mostly across Hong Kong, Indonesia, and Singapore, until his death in 1997.
But of course, time and again, historians have sought to challenge the myth of the failed architect by rereading his understudied work from the late years. Adding to this growing corpus of fresh research and alternate perspectives is architectural photographer Darren Soh’s ongoing project documenting—so far—three of Rudolph’s major works in Southeast Asia: The Colonnade (1986) and The Concourse (1994) in Singapore, and the Intiland Tower (1997) in Surabaya, Indonesia.
Today, November 8, we celebrate World Urbanism Day. Created in 1949 by Carlos Maria della Paolera, a professor at the University of Buenos Aires, the day was meant to increase professional and public interest in planning, both locally and internationally. Paolera is also responsible for designing the symbol of World Urbanism Day, representing the trilogy of natural elements essential to life: the sun (in yellow), vegetation (in green) and air (in blue), referring to the balance between the natural environment and humans. Currently, the event is celebrated in thirty countries on four continents.
Amazon’s open call for bids for its new headquarters, HQ2, closed last month, but in the months leading up to the final decision in 2018, analysts will continue to flood the internet with detailed studies evaluating who they believe should be the winner. In other words, the mirror-mirror-on-the-wall game for cities is just starting to warm up.
Earlier, ArchDailyreported on the data-driven approach adopted by Moody’s Analytics which projected Austin, TX as the winner. But another study by IT education company Thinkful now points towards Washington DC as the city most likely to make the cut. So what makes Washington DC the fairest of them all? Read on to see how data science techniques helped analysts at Thinkful with this prediction, what kind of approach they adopted, and how it differed from that of Moody’s Analytics.
https://www.archdaily.com/882976/amazon-hq2-study-by-data-science-experts-names-washington-dc-as-ideal-host-cityZoya Gul Hasan
Jah Gehl is recognized as a follower of Jane Jacobs, the “grandmother” of urbanism and humanist planning. He has been a professor at the Danish Real Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen and visiting professor in Canada, the United States, New Zealand, Mexico, Australia, Belgium, Germany, Poland, and Norway. In 2000, he created his own consultancy along with Helle Søholt, Gehl Architects, in Denmark, where he completed diverse urban projects from around the world using data and strategic analysis.
The below text comes from an interview with the Danish architect, theorist and world leader in urban development, and promoter, following Jane Jacobs, of the human scale in the design of public spaces.
The bidding process for HQ2, Amazon's second headquarters in North America, reached a crescendo last week as the submission deadline drew close. While 238 American cities scrambled to submit proposals and run campaigns in the hope to woo Amazon—or as Slate witheringly described the process, "The Bachelor: Corporate America Edition"—the internet abounded with all sorts of discussions on the project. Does our city have what it takes to house the second headquarters? How would HQ2 affect the selected city? Why are smaller cities submitting proposals when they clearly don’t meet the criteria? Can we predict which cities are more likely to make the cut?
https://www.archdaily.com/882078/the-top-10-predicted-cities-for-amazons-hq2-and-why-hq2-will-be-a-major-urban-catalyst-for-the-winnerZoya Gul Hasan
Tristram Hunt—director of London's Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A)—has expressed concern about one of the city's most successful semi-pedestrianized zones: Exhibition Road in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. As reported by The Art Newspaper, Hunt has argued that the traffic arrangements are “confusing, dangerous and unsatisfactory”. His answer, following a traffic collision on October 7, 2017, which injured 11 people, is to fully pedestrianize the area.
https://www.archdaily.com/881299/are-part-pedestrianized-zones-in-dense-urban-environments-dangerousAD Editorial Team
After winning a recent international design competition, EID Architecture out of Shanghai aims to redefine high-density mixed-use development in Asia through their design for the OCT Xi’an International Center (OXIC) in Xi’an, China. The architects consider their approach an exploration of vertical urbanism; the project consists of a 320-meter tall tower for offices and a boutique hotel, a 220-meter tall apartment tower, and a 12-floor podium full of retail and entertainment spaces. Visualized as an icon and cultural landmark, the design is strategically organized horizontally and vertically to create a vibrant, permeable urban center.