Making San Francisco into a people-oriented city

Tim Holt of San Francisco Chronicle interviews urban planning guru, Jan Gehl about San Francisco and create urban spaces and a more pedestrain city(Ed– Maybe hard with those hills) and open air shopping.

Read more @ the SOURCE: SFGate.com – Making S.F. into a people-oriented city

Good design requires innovation – Seattlepi.com

GRAHAM BLACK AND BRAD KHOURI have written a comprehensive article about designing residential developments in Seattle.

Town homes don’t have to be ugly and dampen the human spirit. But so many of them are eyesores that town homes have become a lighting rod in the local debate over housing. They’ve been blamed for the decline of community and called a threat to single-family neighborhoods. Their rapid proliferation has even prompted recent City Council-led community forums.

Town homes aren’t the problem. A critical part of the housing stock, they allow the city to create more urban density, reduce our carbon footprint and provide an affordable housing option for local families.

Bad design and laziness are the real problem. Badly designed, shoddily built, cookie-cutter town homes that don’t fit or build the character of our city’s neighborhoods isolate residents from one another and discourage open space. Bad design is the result of a formula-driven approach, where generic plans are slapped onto every lot, regardless of site or neighborhood.

Seattle has an opportunity to shape neighborhoods for the future. The city needs to take charge of its permitting and design process, eliminate the loopholes that allow some builders to avoid design review and give an incentive for opting into that process. Design review, when done right, can ensure projects that make the city a more interesting place.

Read more @ the SOURCE: Seattlepi.com – Good design requires innovation.

Winners of IFLA2008 Student Competition

The head of the jury, Prof. Beverly Sandalack has announced the three winners of the IFLA Student Competition 2008.

The winners are (in random order):
- ‘Waving Mat’ by Li Jinhzhu, Zhao Yue, Yuan Shouyu, Ling Chunyang and Chen Jing of the School of Architecture, Tianjin University, China
- ‘Kemet’ by Philipp Urech, ETH Zurich, Switzerland
- ‘Landscape Architecture for needs/slums…’ by Tomas Degenaar, WUR, The Netherlands

The final results will be announced at the prize award on the 1st of July 2008 at the Congress.

SOURCE: IFLA2008 – Winners.

New green materials testing lab for Dubai – Xpress

Dubai Municipality has established a new laboratory for testing green materials. The new initiative will be used for assessing the characteristics of these materials as per the international approved standard specifications, said Eng. Hawa Abdullah Bastaki, Director of Dubai Central Laboratory Department.

She said the initiative is also in line with the Dubai Government’s directives on facing the current environmental challenges aimed at transforming Dubai to a hygienic and sustainable city adhering to all environment friendly standards, which will make it capable of providing safe and secure life for its citizens.

Read more at the SOURCE: Xpress: News – New green materials testing lab for Dubai.

Foriegn firms aren’t just in India for the cash

The Times of India looks at foreign firms in India and talks about

Be it a slum redevelopment project in congested Mumbai or Kolkata’s new museum of modern art, the global imprint on the country’s fast-changing urban landscape is evident. Made in India but designed by a clutch of foreign architects looking to cash in on the country’s real estate boom.

This is true of many developing nations (UAE, China, India, Vietnam, Tanzania,) that when the first major projects such as airports, museums, galleries, opera houses are slated for design and then construction many foreign firms are issued the contracts. And as the article speaks about it has a lot to do with star marketing power but often it has more to do with the experience of designing and building large scale projects and finalising them within a short time frame(eg Olympic, Commonwelath Games Venues).

The author refers to RMJM, Foster and Partners, HOK, who all have experience in large scale projects but also have offices all around the world so they understand what it takes to open a new office in a developing nation and to make it work.

Having international firms design infrastructure, civic and residential projects is not all bad, the country benefits from projects being seen on the world scale an example is the Olympic Stadium (bird’s nest) in Beijing many people have known about this building years in advance of the Olympics. The main benefit to the developing country is that many of these large firms employ local workers and train them in the international standard of design, engineering and detailing which they can then take to a local firm or move on and open their own firm. This is true of many of the major cities in China where over the last 15 years foreign firms have opened offices and worked on large scale projects and local firms have learnt from their successes and failures (in design and business) and now compete quite successfully against foreign firms.

Most of all it is up to local firms, schools and governments to educate the current and future designers of India so that they can compete and win against foreign firms not just from North America and Europe developed Asian countries but their developing neighbors such as China.

SOURCE of Original Article: Times of India – Foreign hands building India – Author: Neelam Raaj

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