Amsterdam neoliberal city?

Amsterdam is investing hundreds of millions of euros in the Zuidas, the new business district south of the city (corporations will also invest in the project, but if it fails, their losses will be compensated with taxpayers’ money). Despite the scale of the project, there has been almost no public debate. Decision-making is an opaque process dominated by government officials, banks and other potential investors.

Nieuws uit Amsterdam.

Face-lifting Beijing stops to retrieve its ancient flavor

How to protect Beijing as an ancient city, or is it necessary to protect it at all, has been under debate by officials and experts for over 60 years, during which fancy buildings mushroomed in the 62.5-square-kilometer area, while gray brick residential houses collapsed before bulldozers in a facelift frenzy, along with the memories they carried down through generations.

According to a report by the official People’s Daily in January2007, about 500 Hutongs still survived, in comparison to the more than 3,000 in early 1980s.

Local officials marked out 25 areas in the inner city in 2002 where traditional houses and alleys will be preserved, and later expanded to 33, accounting for 29 percent of the inner city.

Although real estate developers built some courtyard-styled houses, the sale goes very slow.

“Those ‘fake cultural heritages’ are too costly for local residents,” said Xu Pingfang, 77-year-old renowned professor of archaeology and director of the China Archaeological Society, “while Beijingers are forced out and the houses are purchased by new-riches, Beijing is losing its flavor.”

Feature: Face-lifting Beijing stops to retrieve its ancient flavor _English_Xinhua.

Creating Inspirational Spaces: A Guide to Quality Public Realm in the Northwest

Creating Inspirational Spaces: A Guide for Quality Public Realm in the Northwest has been produced by Gillespies on behalf of the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA) and RENEW Northwest, and forms part of the wider Places Matter! programme co-ordinated by RENEW Northwest.

Creating Inspirational Spaces: A Guide to Quality Public Realm in the Northwest – Landscape Institute– UK

Moscow rises to Foster’s space-age vision approved

Moscow planners have approved Lord Foster’s design for the world’s biggest building – likened by critics to an alien spacecraft and a “dahlia stuck in a string bag”. The British architect’s £2bn “city within a city”, Crystal Island, will be built on the banks of the Moscow river, with a total floor area of 2.5m square metres, making it the largest enclosed space ever to be constructed.

Crystal Island’s steel mega frame is to feature a “smart skin” to buffer against extreme temperatures and is expected to contain 3,000 hotel rooms, 900 apartments and a school for 500 pupils. Its 620m-wide base will taper to a spire almost 500 metres high, giving it the form of a vast transparent wigwam.

Moscow rises to Foster’s space-age vision | Art & Architecture | Guardian Unlimited Arts.

A Borrowed Place on Borrowed Time

In Hong Kong, where land for construction is scarce and commerce has long ruled, preservation has usually given way to a tide of urban development. Few of the British expatriates and Chinese immigrants who came to the city with the moniker “borrowed place, borrowed time” saw it as a permanent home. But since the territory was returned to Chinese rule from Britain in 1997, its local identity has come to the forefront and heritage conservation has taken on the overtones of a populist struggle.
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Rendering of the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s proposal for the Central Police Station (inset) and Victoria Prison

Recently battles have been waged over buildings that in most cities would have little historical appeal. In the past year, the demolition of two 1950s ferry terminals to make way for a highway and commercial property developments spurred demonstrations, hunger strikes and arrests.

“These recent heritage battles represent a desperate search for a cultural anchor,” says Lee Ho Yin, director of the architectural conservation program at the University of Hong Kong. “It’s part of Hong Kong people seeking their own identity and roots.”

A Borrowed Place on Borrowed Time – WallStreetJournal.com.

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