Time to stop building cities without souls – China Daily

At his first sight of Las Vegas, a Chinese student of community participation in urban development remarked, “I feel as if I am back in Beijing’s second ring road!”

Indeed, the shadow of the American casino capital looms large over Beijing and many other Chinese cities, which vie with one another in copying the model of Las Vegas to become a mixture of something of everything.

With a messy combination of bits from New York City, Paris, Italy, Egypt and others, Las Vegas could satisfy a fancy of the wonderland.

Yet the city in the wild desert is a nightmare for urban planners, as it has developed with little planning. Even though Las Vegas hosted the centennial convention of the American Planning Association (APA) in late April, many American planners dismiss it as a good example of urban development.

To their regret, however, Las Vegas becomes a role model for too many Chinese cities in their drive for urban development. Like Las Vegas, these cities with entirely different cultural and socioeconomic contexts are sprawling ever wider with ever more and taller high-rises, until they become jungles of cement.

Perhaps the decision-makers and designers of Chinese cities should come to such a consensus. They should learn from the culture and traditions of their own cities before they set out to borrow others’ experiences. If they fail to develop a taste for the treasures under their eyes, it is doubtful that they can pick out something valuable elsewhere.

Read more at the Source: China Daily – to stop building cities without souls by Xiong Lei

For Urban Tree Planters, Concrete Is the Easy Part – New York Times

“It’s not unusual for people to say they don’t want it,” said Mr. Simpson, the “it” referring to whatever tree the city has resolved to plant in a swatch of sidewalk or other public space. Mr. Simpson is privy to some of those objections because he works for the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, one of 40 or so foresters helping to execute Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s million-tree initiative, a plan the mayor announced (one year ago this week) to blitz the city’s five boroughs with a million trees by the year 2017.

Sometimes the residents or homeowners are worried about their allergies (though the trees are intended to help alleviate asthma and allergy rates citywide); sometimes they’re worried that a branch will fall on their car (a call to 311 will procure a free pruning). Sometimes they’re worried about the extensive construction required to plant a tree in a patch of concrete.

Read more at the SOURCE: New York Times – For Urban Tree Planters, Concrete Is the Easy Part – .

Hungry Mile wasteland warning

THE man advising New York on how to revamp its public spaces has slammed the NSW Government’s plan for the former Hungry Mile site, warning it will become “fearsome at night” and a “wasteland” on weekends and public holidays.

The Government wants to transform the historic wharves at East Darling Harbour in what it describes as the biggest urban renewal project in a generation.

Half of the 22-hectare site would become a waterside wedge of parkland and public open space. The other half would consist of residential and commercial buildings.

But the Danish urban planner Jan Gehl, who is visiting Sydney, said a lack of nearby residents, a parkland too large for its own good and a location too difficult to reach, would make the area, known as Barangaroo, dangerous and deserted.

Read more @ the Source: smh.com.au Hungry Mile wasteland warning

SNRE students contribute to winning paper on climate change

Global climate change and coastal brownfield redevelopment are two subjects that on the surface don’t play well together.

But a group of University of Michigan graduate students, including four from its School of Natural Resources and Environment ( SNRE ), have come up with an award-winning strategy. Their proposal calls for linking the subjects with a glue: a planning and design concept known as “resilience.”

The students’ interdisciplinary work was produced in the fall for the course “NRE 576/UP 576: Applying Landscape Ecological Design to Brownfield Redevelopment.” Joan Nassauer, a professor of Landscape Architecture at SNRE, developed and taught the course, which received significant support in 2007 from the Graham Environmental Sustainability Institute, Lubert-Adler, Antares Real Estate and their partners in Stamford, Conn. Each interdisciplinary team in the course developed its own focus for proposing an alternative scenario for a 220-acre brownfield redevelopment site on the South End of Stamford.

Members of the winning team are: Jeffrey Carey, College of Engineering; M’Lis Bartlett, Amy Beltamacchi and Amy Kludt, landscape architecture ( SNRE ); Sarah Levy, environmental policy ( SNRE ); and Stacey Braverman, Law School.  The title of their winning project is “Building Resilience:  Remediation Options for Minimizing Risk on Coastal Brownfield Development in light of Global Climate Change.”

Source: SNRE Press Release

CABE – Designing streets for people – not traffic

Most streets in this country are failing pedestrians, and need to become destinations again, and not simply ways of getting traffic from A to B.

Radical new thinking in urban street design may point the way forward. Civilised streets, a new report from CABE, sets out the opportunities and challenges of new design approaches. It argues that the car still dominates and our streets will only become more civilised places if the needs of pedestrians are prioritised over cars.

CABE argues that streets which are designed to give all users more freedom of movement are ultimately slower, safer and more social places. These civilised streets are places where people of all ages can walk, cycle, play, talk and shop more easily. Civilised streets explores the contentious concept of shared space, which advocates removing signs and guard rails, obliging drivers and pedestrians to become more alert to each other, which in turn leads to more responsible driving.

Shared space is one way of rescuing our streets from the car. Director of CABE Space, Sarah Gaventa, highlights New Road in Brighton as one example of how redesigning a street can reinvent it. If the country is to get more streets of such quality, local authorities, highway engineers and planners must both understand and consider shared spaces as a means of delivering more civilised streets.

Go to CABE.org.uk now to download the series of publications

Source: CABE – Designing streets for people – not traffic | News | .

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