The dark side of this surreality is that the places far from these hallowed urban cores are experiencing unprecedented decline and, according to some experts, threaten to become tomorrow’s slums.
We’re not talking about mean inner city streets getting meaner, we’re talking about the pristine, newly built developments of four-bedroom, three-bath dream homes produced in the last housing boom becoming ghettos for the poor and the disenfranchised.
Slumburbia? After decades of middle class flight from the cities in search of safe neighborhoods and good schools — a flight that continues today even from gentrified cities like San Francisco — it’s hard to conjure the image of a truly derelict suburbia. Will all those manicured lawns sprout weeds and broken bottles like a Baltimore back alley? Will drug dealers take over the local cul-de-sac? Will squatters set up camp in the neighbor’s McMansion?
Source: SFgate.com – Is Suburbia Turning Into Slumburbia?.
Urban planning a factor in rising obesity rates, says new report
By Isabela C. Varela, ExpressNews Staff
Kim Raine, director of the University of Alberta’s Centre for Health Promotion Studies
March 13, 2008 – Edmonton – If you and your family are fighting the battle of the bulge, look around you: your environment may be partly to blame. Research led by the University of Alberta and funded by the Canadian Institute for Health Information confirms there are links between our urban surroundings and how likely we are to struggle with overweight or obesity
Source: ExpressNews – University of Alberta – Urban planning a factor in rising obesity rates, says new report –
Foster + Partners reveals finalised designs for the Abu Dhabi World Trade Center, the principal building at Al Raha Beach, following two years development of the project. The design strategy is a highly specific response to the climate and topography of this dramatic coastal site and the building has evolved through a process of sophisticated environmental computer analysis. The resulting scheme provides shade while also admitting light; is cooled by a natural flow of air but is buffered against the strong desert wind; is asymmetrical and sculptural yet is environmentally and functionally coherent.
The site is in the precinct of Al Dana, forming the signature element of a new waterfront city east of Abu Dhabi. Located at the eastern end of the vast semi-circular marina of Al Raha Beach, the building extends into the centre of the marina to create a peninsula that completes the lively waterside promenade.
The Abu Dhabi World Trade Center is a multi-use building that brings together offices, apartments, a hotel and shops to encourage a constant pattern of economic and social activity throughout the day.
Wrapped in a shimmering skin, the building’s sinuous form rises up to a tower at its eastern tip. This distinctive envelope is a reactive louvered shading system that is angled to minimize solar gain depending on orientation. The main entrance to the south connects to a soaring central atrium, which is buffered from the climatic extremes by the apartments and offices that line the perimeter.
The form of the building is rooted in a sustainable environmental strategy that relies on a series of passive controls. To the south, the building is indented to reduce the external area most vulnerable to direct sunlight. The services and circulation cores occupy most of the remaining exposed areas. At ground level, the overhang of the roof creates a shaded walkway that wraps around the building, and the roof is streamlined according to the prevailing winds to encourage cooling air currents around and through the building.
The project is due to start on site this summer.
Source: Foster + Partners
Rural towns – even places like Alice Springs, Tennant Creek, Kalgoorlie and Wadeye – are urban time bombs. Their fast-growing indigenous communities represent the biggest challenge facing policymakers in Canberra, Sydney and Darwin.
They discovered that the influx of Aborigines into rural towns has been matched by an exodus of non-indigenous Australians who have moved out, taking skills, wealth and in some cases businesses with them.
In Broken Hill the non-indigenous population dropped 5.9 per cent. In South Australia’s Port Augusta the decline was 6.8 per cent………..
Source: smh.com.au – Caught out by an urban time bomb
BusinessWeek and Architectural Record will honor building and planning projects that are reshaping modern China at the second biannual “Good Design Is Good Business” China Awards in Shanghai on May 23, 2008. A jury of editors has selected 13 projects, as well as this year’s “Best Client,” innovative real-estate developer China Vanke Co., Ltd., from more than 100 entries from mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, based on their use of design to achieve strategic business and civic objectives.
“This year’s winning projects reflect the growing sophistication of architecture and construction in China,” said Robert Ivy, FAIA, vice president and editorial director for McGraw-Hill Construction and editor in chief of Architectural Record, “and this year’s business winners demonstrate that good design is changing the face of China in complex larger projects and individual buildings.”
“The degree to which design projects make sense from both a functional and aesthetic perspective dictates their success,” said David Rocks, international senior editor of BusinessWeek. “These architects and clients have developed innovative venues with measureable results, spaces that yield benefits beyond being useful, but that positively affect the businesses, organizations and visitors on a daily basis.”
Winners include the architects and clients of projects that range from major new additions to a city’s urban fabric (Shanghai South Station and Beijing Finance Street), to important cultural facilities (Liangzhu Culture Museum, Dafen Art Museum, Suzhou Museum, and the Sino-French Center at Tongji University).
Source: McGraw Hill Construction