Economics often drives city planning, expert warns

Ottawa residents who want to protect neighbourhoods from over-scaled and ugly development must roll up their sleeves and get involved in the political and planning process, says a longtime Montreal urban activist.

“Do not think that it is the city-employed planners who are going to negotiate with the developers a development project in the public interest,” says Dimitri Roussopoulos, founder and CEO of Urban Ecology, a think-tank on sustainable urban development.

“A lot of what happens in neighbourhoods and cities is driven by very influential and powerful economic interests,” he told a public meeting on intensification at City Hall last week.

SOURCE: canada.com – Ottawa Citizen – Economics often drives city planning, expert warns.

The battle of the skyscrapers – Salon News

For an entire century, New York was the city of skyscrapers, the epitome of the vertical city. It just kept growing into the sky, faster and faster. It was an exhilarating adventure in stone, steel and glass — and seemingly unsurpassable.

In “Delirious New York,” his legendary 1978 book about the giant city of skyscrapers and its magic, the young Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas raved about what he called the “colonization of the sky.”

Even the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center have not diminished the enthusiasm the now world-famous architect has for the skyscraper as a model of success. Despite the disaster, says Koolhaas, the skyscraper is still “about the only type of building that has survived the leap into the 21st century.”

From a Western perspective, at least, this is precisely the problem. Economically booming megacities — such as Beijing, Shanghai and Dubai — where extravagant skyscrapers are shooting up all over, mean that cities like New York are beginning to look old and outdated, despite attempts to modernize. In Europe, the eastern part is beginning to look more modern than the western part. Cities like Istanbul and Moscow are more dynamic than London, Paris or Milan.

SOURCE: Salon News – The battle of the skyscrapers .

City’s creativity relies on affordability, author says

Vancouver is poised to become one of the creative cities of the world, but that success could be eroded if it can’t find a way to provide affordable housing, says the current guru of urban planning.

“You are in the proverbial catbird seat,” said Richard Florida, the hugely popular author of The Rise of the Creative Class, whose work has generated headlines around North America and even appearances on The Colbert Report.

For one, he says, Vancouver has developed a new kind of urbanism that combines a beautiful built environment with a beautiful natural environment

Read more @ the SOURCE: Vancouver Sun – City’s creativity relies on affordability, author says.

Urban crush drives traffic woes – Jamaica Gleaner News

The failure of the state to implement an uncompromising transportation policy has contributed to the traffic mayhem unfolding on Jamaica’s streets.

Add that to unstructured urban planning, and commuters face a Pandora’s box of woes.

This is the view of Jacqueline Douglas-Brown, programme director of the Urban and Regional Planning Programme at the Faculty of the Built Environment at the University of Technology, Jamaica.

“My feeling is that governments have successively not addressed this issue of how you move people from one town to the next, one city to the next, on a daily and weekly basis,” she told The Gleaner recently.

SOURCE: Jamaica Gleaner News – Urban crush drives traffic woes

Reconstruction of infrastructure priority in quake-hit areas

China’s Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development (MHURD) stressed in a circular on Tuesday that infrastructure restoration was a priority in reconstruction after the May 12 earthquake.

The MHURD ordered governments at all levels to draw up construction plans by June 8, including building locations and materials.

It instructed officials to better manage construction of interim housing in quake-hit areas to ensure its safety.

The government is to assess all school buildings in quake zones, said a statement from the earthquake relief headquarters of the State Council.

Local governments must organize personnel to conduct safety appraisals of all school buildings as soon as possible to ensure the safety of students as they return to school, according to the statement.

SOURCE: Xinhua – Reconstruction of infrastructure priority in quake-hit areas.

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