Posts tagged cities.
hello-linny asked: Hi! Denser city living now seems to be the best solution for the billions of people added to the earth. But many prefer to live in big houses in the suburbs (than in tiny apartments), and would rather drive long distances to their workplace (than experience overcrowding on public transports). What do you propose would be the best way in encouraging both denser city living whilst having good neighbourhood satisfaction? Thanks
This is incredibly complicated and I’m not really going to answer your question directly. There are a variety of design and urban planning techniques to help cities be more dense while being more livable. Form Based Code, Smart Growth, sustainable planning, etc., are very common, easily replicable, and very flexible solutions to this.
The problem with these solutions are that people are not staying in one place for very long. This trend of people moving to cities will slow a bit, and cities can adapt and absorb the influxes.
The real question, to my mind, is how to make them stay? These new people rarely participate in local government. They rarely stay or invest in a place, typically using the city as a catalyst to elevate their socioeconomic standing.
This is fine, but cities will suffer in the next demographic swing. As it stands, most cities are planning for the next 10-20 years using a stable or growing tax base. This is just not true. Tax receipts will not continue to grow, they’ll be more volatile, creating deeper dips and higher spikes in local economies.
Tax receipts, which are used for things like water, health, education, environment, security, business development, and transportation, will (probably) implode.
Detroit (or the entire country of Japan) is a good example of this. Both based their planning goals on false demographics.
So, while most cities are scrambling to provide design solutions, they really should be pivoting towards investing in the people. How? Diversity in education systems. Having a strong public school system is great, creating a system that includes charter, specialty, religious schooling options is even better. Assisting people with their health care options should include increased focus on mental health. Study after study has shown that when people improve their mental health, their physical health and relationships with communities greatly improves. Investment in parks, environmental quality, and conservation areas consistently (in nearly every country) show economic and health resiliency.
Here’s a sweet little report discussing some of these solutions: Demographic change in European cities: City practices for active inclusion.
There are tons of other things, like creating a Happiness Index, which measures how happy people are in the current situations. If there are dips and swings to this index, government can nudge the bar in one direction or the other.
Thanks for the interesting question!
‘Cities do not cause heatwaves,’ Stone writes, ‘they amplify them.’ At the peak of a heatwave in July 1999, Chicago was more than 6ºF warmer than rural Illinois. The urban heat island effect was first documented in 1818, when Luke Howard, an amateur meteorologist, took a series of temperature measurements in and around London which showed that the city was on average 4°F warmer than the surrounding countryside. It’s partly down to human activity (from driving to cooking to air-conditioning to breathing), partly because cities tend to be built from materials that are really bad at reflecting sunlight (tarmac’s especially terrible), and partly because of the lack of trees.How can we live with it?
colorlesscolor asked: Hi Michael, Im a 22 yo student living in Istanbul Turkey. Im sure you know about whats happening over here for more than 3 months about Gezi Parkı. Any thoughts on that?
Thanks for your note. I hadn’t heard about Gezi Park, actually. It seems there is a proposal to turn the park into a mall. And it seems there is a protest that is unfocused, leaderless, and has no clear demands. What is the goal? Who, exactly (by name), are the protestors protesting?
Other questions: Is turning parks into malls or other developments a regular occurrence in Turkey? Who “owns” the park, technically - the city, the country, a private person, a corporation?? Why wasn’t the public involved in the park management in the first place? For example, were any of the protestors on the review board that approved the mall plan? If not, why not?
I don’t know enough information to make a determination. But, if the city or the government body managing the park has the authority to turn parks into malls, then that is their prerogative. If the authority is corrupt, that is your prerogative to change it - not by protest, but by law. The pen (law) is always mightier than the sword (protest).
Candidates for mayor should promise to extend Bloomberg’s environmental record.
The candidate who succeeds him will have a lot of solid plans and ambitious goals to work with. The challenge will be to fulfill and expand them, despite the day-to-day emergencies and distractions that tend to blur and constrict worthy visions over the long term.
On this front, Christine Quinn looks good. Her tenure as City Council speaker entitles her to share credit for Bloomberg-era policies like the law requiring the city to reduce carbon emissions 30 percent by 2030 and the one requiring large buildings, vast emitters of greenhouse gas, to audit their energy use to increase efficiency. Expanding river ferry service, maintaining parks, curbing the use of sooty fuel oil — on these and other issues, she has a record to run on.
What happens when the power goes out in a big city? 19 photos of the Northeastern Blackout 2003.
The world’s tallest slum.
Welcome to the world’s tallest slum: poverty-ridden Venezuela’s Tower of David. Squatters took over this very unfinished 45-story skyscraper in the early 1990s, and they’ve been there ever since. The tower was originally intended to be a symbol of Caracas’ bright financial future, complete with a rooftop helipad, but construction stopped because of a banking crisis and the sudden death of the tower’s namesake, David Brillembourg.
Today, as the government is grappling with a citywide housing shortage, the tower is a stark monument to what could have been in the country’s crime-plagued capital. The tower is dogged by accusations of being a hotbed of crime, drugs and corruption. But to residents, many of whom have spent their entire lives there, it’s just home.
Watch as Vocativ climbs the tower and gains the rare in-depth access to residents’ daily lives inside this unique and sinister establishment.
Few cameras have been allowed into the depths of the tower. It is an experience not to be missed.
We answered some frequently asked questions about our Tower of David video here: http://voc.tv/15I8iPE
The Halligen Islands in the North Sea are one of many low-lying and island regions that are very concerned about climate change.
Not protected by dikes, the Halligens are a set of small islands (some as small as 17 acres) that have separated from the mainland after centuries of flooding and erosion. Because of the periodic storm flooding, homes on the Halligens are built atop small, artificial hills (Warften) that keep them above sea level.
Like large areas of the Netherlands, northeastern Germany, and Denmark, the Halligen Islands are keenly aware of the risk of sea level rise due to global warming and are investing in climate adaptation strategies.
Minnesota Public Radio - so underrated…
A disaster resilient planet means everyone must be part of the solution.
If you’re living with a disability, take this survey from the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) and share your thoughts.
Interesting conversation at the link. How do city planners, architects, engineers, researchers, etc., think about people living with disabilities?
This one hits close to home. A few years ago, my grandfather was confined to a wheel chair and moved in to live with my mother for care. Her house was about 80 years old and was quite small. Doorways and halls were narrow. One day, as an experiment, I decided to sit in his wheel chair and get a drink of water. I was curious about how difficult it must have been. I was also curious about if I could fit through the doorways.
The entire experiment was incredibly frustrating. Getting through the narrow doorways wasn’t the biggest issue, it was the sharp turns just after some of them. To get to the kitchen, I had to do an immediate 90 turn. It was craziness, sort of like the ultimate parallel parking situation, wheeling back and forth, one hand pushing a wheel, the other pulling. Inch by inch. But that wasn’t the worst part, it was trying to get a glass from the cupboard. I couldn’t reach up past the counter, which at 36 inches high, impeded my reach. There simply was no way for me to reach a glass. I could reach the bottom corner of the cupboard to open it. But I couldn’t reach in to get a glass, nor could I reach the nobs on the back of the sink without getting out of the chair.
Right then I realized that western style homes were only for the able bodied, and certainly not for the disabled. Further, there was no affordable way, to my mind, to retrofit or ‘adapt’, homes with ease to accommodate people with failing faculties. Old people are physically weakened, and across a counter and up to a cupboard is, seriously, a dangerous task. It’s no wonder elderly are always falling - it’s a design issue.
Right after that experience I donated a wheelchair to the Environmental Design and Urban Planning departments at the University of Massachusetts, where I earned two of my degrees.
I asked one of the professors to be in charge of the chair, and challenge her students (with supervision) to perform one task: get a cup of coffee and bring it back to class. The results, I’m sure, are perpetually hilarious. But these students will, it is my hope, think about design in the built environment with everyone in mind.
In the Netherlands, urban planners and engineers think about all users. They think about how children, parents, the able bodied, and the elderly can use and grow with their cities. They also think about the disabled (great video, I cannot watch this without, err, the room getting all dusty).
So, there is precedent to include the disabled into planning. If you’re a disaster manager of any sort, try to think about what it would be like confined to a wheelchair - how would you find elderly people in time to evacuate them? How can the leave the house? Who could they call? Who would be around to respond? Do the side walks and streets provide a reliable exit?
Officials in this Raritan Bayshore community are considering an ambitious flood-control measure in the wake of Superstorm Sandy: raising the entire downtown.
In their vision, not only would every residential or commercial front door go up at least 10 feet — a process that already has begun in many parts of the Jersey shore — but every curb, crosswalk and blade of grass would as well.
By their own estimates, the process would cost less than $200 million, take two years to complete and require millions of cubic yards of fill, consisting of either dredged material from Raritan Bay, chunks of concrete from construction sites or lots of barges full of gravel and dirt.
More forehead slapping fun, here.