urbanus vulgaris

urban life & culture / ideas & insights / innovation & development

Category: politics

E.Howard’s garden city vs. URBED’s garden city: spot the difference

by gailiute

540c47c5c07a808f0a0000bc_urbed-s-bold-proposal-to-reinvigorate-the-garden-city-movement_uxcester_-_snowflake_diagram-530x530

The Wolfson Prize, initiated in 2012, this year asked competitors to explore “the best delivery plan for a new garden city”. This years winning entry from British urban design consultancy URBED (Urbanism, Environment, Design) proposed to reenergise the Garden City (GC) movement, first conceived by Sir Ebenezer Howard in 1898.

“David Rudlin and Nicholas Falk’s submission argues that forty cities in England, including Northampton, Norwich, Oxford, Rugby, Reading and Stafford, could benefit from ‘GC status’. The award comes in the wake of polling conducted for the prize showing that 68% of the 6,166 Britons polled thought that  would protect more countryside than the alternatives for delivering the housing we need.” (quote from here).

If you read URBED’s proposal (can find it here) it seems that their are not really trying to re-invent a wheel, instead just merely adapt what was once written and drawn by E.Howard.

So my question that arose while checking this award and winning entry is this: why competition asks to revitalise Garden Cities idea? wasn’t it long ago rejected as romantic utopia?

As Richard Rogers, strong opponent to this movement points out: (this) “ridiculous concept” risks “emptying out existing cities and that is a ridiculous idea.” One of his arguments is that GC idea – the play toy of major political parties  in recent years, would bring benefit first and foremost to the developers, as greenfield is much easier and cheaper to develop in comparison to numerous brown-fields within existing cities and their centres. R.Rogers says ““We have 61,000 hectares of brownfield land in England and the government has approved half of it as potentially suitable for development. That would allow 1.3 million dwellings to be built even at a low density.” (You can read more here or full article here)

So again, even this one argument (not to mention revitalisation benefits of inner cities, cost for traveling from new suburban cities to city centres, benefits of existing social, spatial and economic tissue in the inner cities, etc) gives me a strong feeling that something becomes fundamentally wrong in UK if they want to revitalise GC idea.

 

Or do I miss something?

 

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Die Zeit: New life on the Stalin Allee in Berlin

by jiookrednav

henselmann

“Berlin, this post-war rubble. Today it is mangy and sexy, cheap and showy, brash and noble. A city of contrasts, which is converting towards the most exciting city in Europe. The signs are everywhere. And especially in one particular street. A street whose history reflects the post-war history of Berlin.

The Karl -Marx -Allee begins near the TV tower at Alexanderplatz, extends nearly three kilometres to Friedrichshain and is wider than the Champs- Élysées with 90 meters. “The last great European boulevard built”, said the Italian architect Aldo Rossi about it.

Built as the Stalin Avenue in the early fifties in “Soviet-pastry-house style”, Germany’s first socialist main road should impress the rest of the world. The workers of the GDR should be awed and delighted. A few months later these workers lit the popular uprising of the 17th June 1953 on the Parkway . The Red Army had to help quell the launching revolution.

More than two decades after the street was renamed Karl -Marx -Allee, East Berliners again demonstrated on their boulevard, now for the fall of the wall. Then: the German unification, euphoria, disappointment, unemployment, the rediscovery and Gentrification of the avenue.

There are still people living here, who have experienced it all. And many newcomers. We have visited them. For the portrait of a road.”

Beautiful website by the influential German newspaper “Die Zeit” presenting the Karl-Marx-Allee in Berlin:

http://www.zeit.de/kultur/karl-marx-allee/index.html#prolog

Tip: Google Chrome offers automatic translation!

Taking back the city – One of the most recent inspiring talks

by gailiute

At the beginning of this talk I was a bit sceptical hearing the claims such as “the colours decreased the crime rate”, “citizens started belonging to the place”, etc. Because I thought it’s a bit nonsense. Nonetheless, the more I heard, the more I am convinced that every word from this politician and a man is 100% true. Of course it is not only the colours that changed the situation in the city; he managed to do some pretty incredible things for citizens well-being in the last twenty years too: clearing riverbanks and giving back to public, creating lots of parks, planting trees, demolishing illegal constructions, diminishing corruption in the administration level, bringing green tax in action (and what is more important – achieving that everybody pays it) and as I understood many others.

I highly recommend to view this talk to get a good dose of optimism and inspiration. And I really want Kaunas would have at least half of this politician! Imagine, then it finally would become a real city! :D

Here are some images of painted Tirana:

http://blog.ted.com/2013/02/08/9-views-of-tirana-albania-with-its-bright-multicolored-building/

We could argue that it looks odd, childish, stupid, etc. However I think that it is better like this, then like nothing is done.

Cheers!

Doug Saunders: Arrival City

by vytasvulgaris

About nothing new-urban and rural relationship:  about often unnoticed and undervalued potentials of immigrant neighourhoods, social traps of  restrictive zoning  policies, planning and design. (Once again a great journalist appears to be an even greater urbanist. )

Jeremy Rifkin: A New Era of Capitalism

by vytasvulgaris

Jeremy Rifkin about the current global development trends and “the third  industrial revolution”. About the emerging new political order, about the new generations of social entrepreneurs, about survival of human race etc.

Some more of Rifkin’s quite fascinating anthropological concept – Empathic Civilization (RSA Animate)

SpontaneousInterventions: design actions for the common good

by vytasvulgaris

“SpontaneousInterventions: design actions for the common good is the theme of the U.S. Pavilion at the 13th International Venice Architecture Biennale (Fall 2012). In recent years, there has been a nascent movement of designers acting on their own initiative to solve problematic urban situations, creating new opportunities and amenities for the public. Provisional, improvisational, guerrilla, unsolicited, tactical, temporary, informal, DIY, unplanned, participatory, opensource—these are just a few of the words that have been used to describe this growing body of work.” http://www.spontaneousinterventions.org/about

Picture: http://www.envelopead.com/proj_octaviakl.html
http://www.spontaneousinterventions.org/project/proxy

Mapping stereotypes 2.0

by gailiute

Following recent post about the satirical mapping from Alphadesigner, here comes the older maps with the same concept. One of my favourite ones is this one:

Designed and drawn by A. Belloquet; published in Brussels by Vincent in 1882

Image source: University of Amsterdam

Here are the links with a few more similar old satirical maps:

http://bibliodyssey.blogspot.nl/2009/06/satirical-maps.html

http://geographer-at-large.blogspot.nl/2011/06/anthropomorphic-and-zoomorphic_16.html

Mapping stereotypes

by gailiute

 

One of the better blogs that made my day. Though some of the mappings are older, they are still very inspiring and entertaining. The rule that it is better to see it once than to hear it for 100 times applies here definitely. So enjoy!

mapping-stereotypes

Lithuanian Leaders’ Forum (Lietuvos Lyderiu Forumas)

by gailiute

I do not know if many of you are interested in politics. I was not but realised that not knowing what is happening there is not very fulfilling. One of the ways to get clearer image what is going on is provided by lrytas tv, which I found quite interesting.

The information provided on this post is in lithuanian language as it concerning  the upcoming election in Lithuania. Lrytas tv invited 5 leaders of 5 the most popular parties in Lithuania to give their opinion on various topics including economics, society, etc. The purpose of the show is to help common person to form a clear view of the proposed election programmes and intentions of the politicians. There will be a show every week until the election on the 14th of October.

This is the second show, part 1:

http://tv.lrytas.lt/?id=13466122011345516040

part 2:

http://tv.lrytas.lt/?id=13466123061346465152

part 3:

http://tv.lrytas.lt/?id=13466136391344759661

part 4:

http://tv.lrytas.lt/?id=13466125311346028675

part 5:

http://tv.lrytas.lt/?id=13466136571344678161

The first show can be found on the same website.

Detroit: Requiem for the City on the Move

by vytasvulgaris

Michigan Theatre (now parking garage), Detroit. Photography by Sean Doerr

Here is a great story of Detroit revealing itself through two wonderful films. The first one is “Requiem for Detroit?”, a 2010 BBC Two documentary by Julien Temple. The second one is  “Detroit: City on the Move”, a  1965 promo film narrated by then-mayor Jerome P. Cavanaugh.  The promo film could be a perfect intro into this tragically fascinating story, however, to make it even more grotesque my suggestion is to watch it in non-chronological order, so first Requiem for Detroit, then Detroit: City on the Move. Enjoy!

video link a: “Requiem for Detroit?” (2010)

“Julien Temple’s new film is a vivid evocation of an apocalyptic vision: a slow-motion Katrina that has had many more victims. Detroit was once America’s fourth largest city. Built by the car for the car, with its groundbreaking suburbs, freeways and shopping centres, it was the embodiment of the American dream. But its intense race riots brought the army into the city. With violent union struggles against the fierce resistance of Henry Ford and the Big Three, it was also the scene of American nightmares. Now it is truly a dystopic post-industrial city, in which 40 per cent of the land in the centre is returning to prairie. Greenery grows up through abandoned office blocks, houses and collapsing car plants, and swallows up street lights. Police stations and post offices have been left with papers on the desks like the Marie Celeste. There is no more rush hour on what were the first freeways in America. Crime, vandalism, arson and dog fighting are the main activities in once the largest building in North America. But it’s also a source of hope. Streets are being turned to art. Farming is coming back to the centre of the city. Young people are flocking to help. The burgeoning urban agricultural movement is the fastest growing movement in the US. Detroit leads the way again but in a very different direction.” http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00rkm3y

 

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