Pushing for changes to Mixed Use Development funding

The National Association of Home Builders in the USA has been enlisted by the Congress of New Urbanists to push Freddie and Fannie to change their lending standards to allow more funding for mixed-use development and raise the cap on commercial from 20% to 45%.

Read more at [Streetsblog]

Signage Guidelines can reduce clutter in the landscape

The image of US 280 in Michael Tomberlin’s post – Birmingham committee revisiting sign rules is very telling of the suburban landscape where signs breed like rabbits and litter the road side with retailers using the mantra ‘the bigger the better’ rather than ‘less is more’. Signage littering the urban landscape is not endemic to just Birmingham or the USA for that matter, all across the globe streetscapes are littered with A-Frames blackboard signs, bus stop advertising and billboards. But do they really urge passers by to go and shop or are they just landmarks to designate the location of the store? I think it is the latter and that all cities should have formulate signage guidelines (many already do) including the number of signs allowed and the size.

Guidelines should also go further to streetscape and city government signage & intepretation. Often towns and city landscapes becomes a minefield of directional, parking and place marking signs that have been added layer by layer by various departments and changes of staff who continually add more signage to the landscape. All cities should at the least evaluate their main streetscapes and see where they can reduce the clutter to provide a clean landscape that is visually easy to navigate and often more pedestrian friendly. Often city signage for an area can be easily amalgamated into one sign(or sign family) such as place marking and area parking restrictions.

Read more about what Birmingham is proposing at [al.com]

Toronto: Can it break free from the Sprawl

Christopher Hume, Architecture Critic for Toronto Star writes in Hume: Resisting the Call of Sprawl

Though suburbia has failed to live up to the promise, its appeal isn’t hard to understand. The damage inflicted on cities during the last 50 or 60 years went a long way to make them unlivable. Even now, the suburbanization of Toronto continues.

Hume looks at various players and how they are enabling each others behaviour.

Read more at [thestar.com]

WILLIAMS: ‘Cities for People’ – design guide but not for urban regeneration

Tim Williams recently posted Gehl warning : urban design can contribute to urban regeneration but is not in itself sufficient.  A review of Cities for People and how its a great design guide but its not an urban regeneration. Williams speaks about the role of CABE, the Urban Task Force and the 2007 commission into design he chaired for the Housing Corporation. Williams is direct and to the point in his post and gives some interesting view on urban regeneration.

Tim Williams is Regeneration & Renewal columnist Tim Williams is a managing director of Navigant Consulting and a former government adviser. [SOURCE: Tim Williams Blog]

IFTF publishes The Future of Cities, Information, and Inclusion

Institute  for the Future (IFTF) just published The Future of Cities, Information, and Inclusion – a ten year forecast map

charts the important intersections between urbanization and digitalization that will shape this global urban experiment, and the key tensions that will arise.

Its an interesting way to look at cities, technology, data and services.  The document lays out the elements of in a graphical map, however I found the titles used jargon or phrases that seem non-sensical such as ‘hyperlocal soapboxes’ and ‘pro-poor interfaces’ – I am all for presenting information in exciting and graphical way but wish organisations would spend more time thinking of ways to make it easy to understand for the average person not just educated professionals.

You can download the map and read more at The Future of Cities, Information, and Inclusion

Also there is an article at Fast Company – The Battle for Control of Smart Cities – through which I found out about The Future of Cities, Information, and Inclusion

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