urbanus vulgaris

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

Category: social adaptations

Retrofitting suburbia

by gailiute

This is quite an interesting talk on the possible futures of suburbia. I really liked her statement, which goes something like “urbanism does its job, we only have to make architecture to look better” :D

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!

Our future cities. Cradle to cradle design

by gailiute

 

For those, who have read Cradle to cradle, this talk will be a repetition of ideas from the book.

For those, who haven’t read it – please do so :)

Pedestrian friendly suburb without cars – Vauban, Germany

by gailiute

Recently I came across a nice example of working design that favours pedestrians and bicycles more than cars.

800px-Ecoquartier_Vauban_Freibourg3

The new (started mid 1990’s, construction finished in 2006) suburban development –  Vauban neighbourhood is based on a fused grid (first introduced in 2002, it offers the best of two widely known street patterns: grid and radburn) that favours active movement by foot or bike inside the neighbourhood and filters out the cars.

VaubanTraficNetwork-Schematic

Cars can enter local streets to access the houses, but the parking there is strictly forbidden. Car owners can park their vehicles only in two spots: the large garages at the end of location. In addition to that, residents of Vauban have to declare whether they own a car yearly  and in case they do, the are obliged to buy a parking space as well (which is not extremely cheap). However restrictions on car parking and such disfavouring of car ownership is compensated by a tram line which is within easy walking distance from every home.

Positive effect of this design is already visible in statistical data: “As of 2009 around 70% of the households had chosen to live without a private car. The level of car ownership has fallen over time. An earlier survey showed over 50% of households owned a car; of those who were living carfree, 81% had previously owned one and 57% gave up their cars on or immediately after moving to Vauban.” (Nobis, 2003, cited in wiki:)) 

And. Besides smart selection of pedestrians over cars, this neighbourhood is built according to low energy consumption standards: “100 units designed to the Passivhaus ultra-low energy building standard. Other buildings are heated by a combined heat and power station burning wood chips, while many of the buildings have Solar collectors or photovoltaic cells. Perhaps the best example of sustainable building is the Solar Settlement in Vauban, a 59 PlusEnergy home housing community. It is the first housing community world wide in which all the homes produce a positive energy balance. The solar energy surplus is then sold back into the city’s grid for a profit on every home.” (again, source: wiki). 

This project sounds great! Agree? ;)

 

Solarsiedlung_von_oben 327737739_b1bb1f8927 smart-urban-planning

 

Welcome to Lagos

by gailiute

I want to share with you great documentary series from BBC  that explore some of the most extreme urban environments in the world. The first one is about the dump in Lagos, city that hosts ~16 million people.

As the editors of the programme says:

“The dump became   symbolic of everything we were trying to achieve in the films. It looks at   first sight like a rough, lawless, dangerous place, and most people in this   country will be horrified to see people working there. But in actual fact,   through the eyes of the people who actually DO work there, it’s a   well-organised place where there’s good money to be earned. Decent, honest   people choose to work there, preferring a life of grime to a life of crime.   Some of them are university graduates. They are proud of   the fact that they earn an honest living, and are making a better life for   themselves and their families through sheer determination and hard work.”

The second documentary is about Makoko – the huge floating slum, a home to 100 000   people living on houses built on stilts. This video is the start of the second documentary set. Since I did not find the full one, the rest you can follow on youtube. Makoko is quite famous as I understood, it has a website, www.makoko.org,  where projects dealing with this environment, are presented. I did not know, thats new for me.

The last part is about the sandy beach in the city of Lagos. Sunny and nice, it is an attractive place – and actually ~1 000 people reside there. Well squat the area to be more precise. And not because of the attractiveness or suitability of the area, but because they have nowhere else to live. The video is also the first set of part 3.

In the end after watching all of this, I got confused. Not that I felt urgent need to change my life, or to be a good will ambassador, or to help the poor – I just got confused because it seems that we exaggerate all problems. We have none :)

Good watching!

 

Hong Kong’s claustrophobic appartments

by gailiute

The-Unseen-Tiny-Apartments-Of-Hong-Kong-3

Yesterday by accident I found one very interesting photo-report that shows us the reality of urban jungle in the city of Hong Kong. The photos are extremely beautiful though a bit sad. It is hard to imagine that these pockets of space are actually a home for so many people..

More photos you can find here.

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)

An Englishman’s Home is his Castle

by gailiute

Collaboration with Tim Brunsden looking at how Urban Regeneration affects the lives of the people it is supposed to help.

Urban Regeneration is about the people, not about the buildings, however this example proves it different.

I cannot find exact video where Liverpool Vision is explained on these specific sites, supposedly located in Merseyside, Liverpool but here is one of many show-offs on grand regeneration of the city.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Ey4UGkT8Jg]

Social Life of Small Urban Places – William H. Whyte

by gailiute

Fellow student from TuD, Ignas, recently showed entertaining movie from late 80s about open spaces and plazas. I had great time watching it, hope you will enjoy as well. It reveals obvious, yet sometimes forgettable principles about truly good spaces.

“This witty and original film is about the open spaces of cities and why some of them work for people while others don’t. Beginning at New York’s Seagram Plaza, one of the most used open areas in the city, the film proceeds to analyze why this space is so popular and how other urban oases, both in New York and elsewhere, measure up. Based on direct observation of what people actually do, the film presents a remarkably engaging and informative tour of the urban landscape and looks at how it can be made more hospitable to those who live in it.” – 

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