China to reach 50% urban population by 2015

Recently Li Shouxin, director of the Development Planning Department stated that China’s urban population had reached 622 million by the end of 2009, with the urbanization rate standing at nearly 47 percent with the urban population growing by just under 1% annually over the last five years.

Zhang Qin, deputy director of the Urban-Rural Planning Department under the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development (MOHURD), said the rapid urbanization of China will continue for 15 to 20 years and China will become an urban society during the “12th Five-Year Plan” period (between 2011 and 2015 ).

The process will create a market of at least 1 trillion yuan ($146 billion) in the coming 20 years, according to a report by the Xinhua News Agency.

[SOURCES: People’s Daily Online and Global Times]

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New ‘Future Cities Laboratory’ for Singapore

ETH Zurich, a Swiss University and the National Research Foundation of Singapore have signed an agreement for the “Future Cities Laboratory”. This set the seal on the structure of the new platform for urban development in Singapore.

In this project, it is collaborating closely with scientists from the National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University. An agreement was signed in Singapore on 19 March 2010 forms an important link between the NRF and ETH Zurich as they build up their joint research activities. The plan is for the interdisciplinary research platform for sustainable urban development in Singapore to be staffed by September 2010.

The research focuses on three key scales: sustainable building technologies, the city as an urban system, and the relationship between urban and rural environments. The new strategy of the “Future Cities Laboratory” consists of combining these key points in an appropriate way and researching their interactions. The architects, planners and scientists see and design the city as a dynamic system in which people interact and in which resources such as energy, water, space, capital, materials or information are constantly in flux.

[SOURCE: ETH Zurich]

NBBJ and Chan Krieger Sieniewicz to merge

NBBJ, a global architecture and design firm, and Chan Krieger Sieniewicz, internationally-known for urban design and architecture excellence, announced today a merger of the two firms that will create an integrated team of over 700 architects, landscape architects, urban designers, planners and interior designers.

The Chan Krieger Sieniewicz team, including its five principals, will continue in their current roles. As part of the transition to the NBBJ name, the Cambridge office will operate as Chan Krieger NBBJ.

The merger gives NBBJ, which already operates a project office in Boston, a larger presence in New England. The Seattle-based firm has offices in several U.S. cities, including Columbus, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Seattle. Overseas offices include London, Beijing, Shanghai and Dubai.

SOURCE: NBBJ.com

Britain’s tallest sculpture to grace Wales-England border

Waking the Dragon (SOURCE: Creative Wales)

Wales may soon have its own landmark to mark the Wales and England border called ‘Waking the Dragon’. The  sculpture would stand at 210ft is planned to grace the A5 road at Chirk.

The bronze dragon would be 75ft tall on a 135ft glass and steel tower and have a wingspan of more than 150ft – bigger than a Boeing 737. The bronze sculpture will sit on a tower that will include cultural centre, 100 seat cafe, 125 seat restaurant and a museum.

The project is estimated to cost £6 million with some of fund being raised from selling 206 steps that will be inscribed with the name of the donor. Each step will cost £2000.

SOURCE: Wales Online – Huge ‘Dragon of the North’ planned

IMAGE SOURCE: Creative Wales

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Will there be a shortage of landscape architects after the Crisis is over?

Over the past two years with the Global Financial Crisis hit nearly every nation across the globe and as a result landscape architects where laid off in large numbers. This was hardest felt in the USA due to lack of work and collapse of the home building market.

Governments from USA, UK, Canada, Australia, China and many other countries kick-started their economies with Financial Stimulus packages which has given some firms more work but has created just enough work to sustain the staff they had kept on.

At World Landscape Architect, however I have noticed in recent weeks that results for tenders and competitions seems to appear on the web more and more frequently.

Will there be a shortage of landscape architect with economies picking up and more work coming into companies? Well if we go back to late 1990’s to mid 2000’s there were many reports of shortages of experience staff at landscape architecture firms in UK, Australia, New Zealand, UAE, North East Africa and some parts of Asia which was driving up salaries and as a recent article by Mark Smulian at Planning Resource raised the issue that CABE has fears that a shortage will occur again….

Like planning, landscape architecture has never really recovered from the 1990s recession. People left the profession or chose not to enter it, leaving a gap in experience. CABE fears a repeat in this recession and say a minimum of 550 new entrants a year are needed on landscape courses.
[SOURCE: Planning Resource]

Will there be a shortage remains to be seen but the outlook looks good for landscape architects currently unemployed with more work and projects appearing daily and the growth in sustainable design and trend of developments and cities incorporating ratings systems such as LEED ND and Sustainable Sites. Also there is a large amount of work that will be generated with the explosion on new cities in Asia and North Africa and the renewal of many towns and cities throughout the UK and USA. Therefore, if your unemployed there is hope yet and if your employed help push your local Universities and Professional Institutions to keep promoting the profession even more so during the current times of stagnant or slight growth to encourage more students to go into the profession and encourage those thinking of leaving to rethink their long term careers.

By Damian Holmes

SIDENOTE: The article by Mark Smulian at Planning Resource titled ‘Greening our cities is a great article that looks at the role of landscape architects, our strengths and weaknesses.

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