Posts Tagged ‘Urbanism’

Traffic management and reinventing wheels



At Ecobuild Michael Sorkin talked about designing new cities in the US and in China, where walking radiuses of 10 minutes were being used as a defining characteristic of a healthy and sustainable neighbourhoods.

Elsewhere, Will Self keeps up his ‘psychogeography’ campaign, extolling the benefits and radicalism of travelling by foot:

We understand that to walk the city and its environs is, in a very powerful sense, to use it. The contemporary flâneur is by nature and inclination a democratising force who seeks equality of access, freedom of movement and the dissolution of corporate and state control.

Meanwhile, the economics of having to transport people and goods, and the small matter of pedestrian safety keep other discussions down to earth. (more…)


Ecobuild 2012 – External Works notes


As the dust settles after the 2012 Ecobuild event, here are few observations, in brief, from the External Works corner. (more…)

“Designing out crime”, street furniture and soft landscaping


Urban designers have the tricky task of balancing security with civic life. Creative product design can help. In the right hands, innovative products make public spaces safer by weighting them against antisocial behaviour and more serious crime. And they can do so without creating bristling, draconian, fortress towns.

Security versus liberty

In the process of reconciling urban planning theory with urban planning practice, “events” have a knack of interfering – a point made in our post looking at this summer’s riots in the UK.

Similarly, Vancouver’s Director of City Planning, Brett Toderian, recently explained how the events of 9/11 led at the time to a familiar urban planning dilemma, writ large:


The problem with tidiness: the Kindle and urban design


Summary: Scandalously breaking the rules of blog-writing best practice (make one point), this is a meandering post that touches on e-books, urbanism, lego, ESI product development and the poetry of Les Murray. An untidy post on tidiness and over-tidiness.

I’ve recently joined the ranks of Kindle users, and I was very excited to do so too.

I had run out of room for bookshelves, and never really got to grips with note-taking and ‘processing’ books. I like traveling light. I’ve been navigating the shift from print to digital content in construction information publishing at work. I was in the mood for a panacea.

I was looking forward to a simpler, more streamlined life.


More on urban ‘movement’


Following on from last week’s post on the mobility of trees, there’s more on ‘movement’ in the context of urbanism:

  • The movement of one commuter recorded and made visible using GPS and smart phone apps, by UrbanTick
  • The movement out from Jakarta of Indonesian civil servants, by
  • And the movement of hotels, swimming baths and concert halls on rails in a Norwegian city concept, by Web Urbanist

On urban trees moving, climbing and tidying up


There’s a thaw on in Central Scotland and it’s a relief to see a bit of greenery. Bring on the green shoots, literal and otherwise.

UrbanTick reviews a few books and articles that look at the ‘mobility’ of trees in urban design and landscape architecture. They test assumptions about trees’ rootedness, reporting on things like seed vaults, the international migration of plant species, and the industrialisation of tree production.

They include Dominique Ghiggi’s Tree Nurseries – Cultivating the Urban Jungle: Plant Production Worldwide:


Maps, walking and public spaces


After re-reading an earlier post of ours on walkability, I came across the Communities of Foot programme in Edmonton, Canada.

The authorities have sent a new walking map to 13,000 residents in the north of the city to encourage them to explore their local area on foot.


Stirling: walkability and civic tourism


A week and a half into my walkability lifestyle experiment, and so far so good. If nothing else, injecting the mystique of psychogeography into the daily commute sugars the pill, even if I’m still having to get from A to B fairly directly.


3 or 4 views on urban change


In a recent article about science fiction, philosopher John Gray says that the kind of books that used to be driven by a utopianism nowadays take a different tack:

During much of the 20th century, speculative fiction served an impulse of world transformation. Fantasy was understood as an exercise in which alternative worlds were imagined in order to create new possibilities of action. Today fantasy has the role of enabling us to see more clearly the elusive actualities. The question of action is left open. We debate what can be done to change the world, but no one expects an answer.

What’s interesting for us in this is the high profile of imagined cities and suburbs in the books he’s talking about: from the societies of Brave New World and Nineteen Eighty-Four to Ballard’s visions and China Miéville’s The City and the City.

So far, so abstract. So what?


Book review: Digital Culture in Architecture


Digital Culture in Architecture: An Introduction for the Design Professions, by Antoine Picon

There is something odd about a hard-copy book devoted to emergent technologies. It feels old before its time. Aren’t practicing architects’ methods more likely to be shaped on the job, or by the real-time peer reviews that social networks are starting to provide?

Either way, Antoine Picon is aware of the tension. As an historian, he charts a course between long-view philosophical musings on the one hand and the over-excitement of early-adopters on the other.

Digital Culture in Architecture does well in placing recent developments in their historical context, while still arguing that there is something unique about digitisation in society and culture.

Picon alternates slices of theory and practice, and clusters examples in three areas: the influence of digital technologies on architectural form, on the sensory experience of architecture, and on the relationship of individuals to urban environments.

This is not a crossover title. It makes few concessions to the non-academic reader. Nor does it go out of its way to be particularly fluent, and in this it’s not helped by laissez-faire copyediting. But it avoids obscurity thanks to the good measure of well-appointed illustrated examples that signpost the essays.

Digital Culture in Architecture: An Introduction for the Design Professions
Author: Antoine Picon
Format: Book
Pages: 225
Publisher: Birkhauser
Date Published: Apr 2010
Stock Code: 71709
ISBN: 9783034602594
Binding: Paperback