ArchiWEB Explorer: Urbanism

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Universal Design: Creating Better Buildings & Cities for All

[ By SA Rogers in Architecture & Cities & Urbanism. ]

Conventional design only welcomes a certain type of person: the one arbitrarily deemed “normal.” It’s easy for designers, or even the casual observer, to define the most typical user of a space as one who requires no modifications in order to access it. But “normal” doesn’t really exist, and you can’t necessarily tell by looking at someone whether they’re having a lot of trouble heaving open a heavy door, struggling to mount stairs, feeling confused by a complex access system or excluded from using it altogether. In that sense, the appearance of being “typical” is useless, just like the space you’ve created is to a large segment of people who might otherwise want or need to participate. That’s where Universal Design comes in.

43 Cities Hosting the 2019 Open House Festival

Dublin, Ireland. Image © Shutterstock Dublin, Ireland. Image © Shutterstock

Open House Worldwide has published their 2019 calendar, detailing the 43 cities set to take part in the international event. The festival, founded in 1992, is the world’s longest-established, largest, and fastest-growing network of urban architecture festivals for the public. Open House offers a simple yet powerful concept: to democratize urban architecture through free access to public and private buildings over a 48-hour period.

Newcomers to the 2019 family include Brno (Czech Republic), Tallinn (Estonia), Valencia (Spain), and Naples (Italy). By 2020, it is anticipated that 50 cities will take part in the event, which reaches nearly one million people globally each year. Previously, ArchDaily has attended and covered Open House events in London, Dublin, and Belfast, all of which are returning for the 2019 edition.

Reading the Road: River of 11,000 Glowing Books Flows Down City Street

[ By WebUrbanist in Art & Installation & Sound. ]

Thousands of books spanned from sidewalk to sidewalk in Ann Arbor’s Literature vs Traffic installation, creating a space for quiet reflection on the value of pedestrian-friendly public spaces and the absence of noise pollution. The intersection of Liberty and State, a major juncture in this college town, was closed down for a day and night to allow the work to be deployed and enjoyed.

Volunteers attached small lights to the books, which were gifted back out to the community when the project was wrapped up — visitors were encouraged to take books with them when they left, leaving the streets clean and empty by midnight.

Luzinterruptus is a Spanish design collective that is traveling the world, collecting volumes in each location for these city-specific installations. The proximity to Motor City was particularly apt in this case, too.

City Unseen

City Unseen: New Visions of an Urban Planet
Karen C. Seto, Meredith Reba
Yale University Press, September 2018

Hardcover | 9 x 10 inches | 268 pages | 188 illustrations | English | ISBN: 978-0300221695 | $35.00

Publisher Description:
Seeing cities around the globe in their larger environmental contexts, we begin to understand how the world shapes urban landscapes and how urban landscapes shape the world. Authors Karen Seto and Meredith Reba provide these revealing views to enhance readers’ understanding of the shape, growth, and life of urban settlements of all sizes—from the remote town of Namche Bazaar in Nepal to the vast metropolitan prefecture of Tokyo, Japan.

Using satellite data, the authors show urban landscapes in new perspectives. The book’s beautiful and surprising images pull back the veil on familiar scenes to highlight the growth of cities over time, the symbiosis between urban form and natural landscapes, and the vulnerabilities of cities to the effects of climate change. We see the growth of Las Vegas and Lagos, the importance of rivers to both connecting and dividing cities like Seoul and London, and the vulnerability of Fukushima and San Juan to floods from tsunami or hurricanes. The result is a compelling book that shows cities’ relationships with geography, food, and society.
dDAB Commentary:

Adapting Cities to Sea Level Rise

Adapting Cities to Sea Level Rise: Green and Gray Strategies
Stefan Al
Island Press, November 2018

Paperback | 8 x 9 inches | 160 pages | 150 illustrations | English | ISBN: 9781610919074 | $35.00

Publisher Description:
In 2012, Hurricane Sandy floods devastated coastal areas in New York and New Jersey. In 2017, Harvey flooded Houston. Today in Miami, even on sunny days, king tides bring fish swimming through the streets in low-lying areas. These types of events are typically called natural disasters. But overwhelming scientific consensus says they are actually the result of human-induced climate change and irresponsible construction inside floodplains.

As cities build more flood-management infrastructure to adapt to the effects of a changing climate, they must go beyond short-term flood protection and consider the long-term effects on the community, its environment, economy, and relationship with the water.

Come Hell or High Water: Cities Must Evolve in the Face of Climate Change

[ By SA Rogers in Architecture & Cities & Urbanism. ]

The time to talk about climate change as if it’s merely a hazy possibility that won’t occur in our lifetime anyway has long passed. Multiple recent reports have made it clear that it’s already happening, and its effects will be much worse than previously expected.

In 2016, the Paris climate accords set a goal of limiting global warming to two degrees Celsius (at which it’s already failing); the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change now says two degrees is both inevitable by the year 2040 and genocidal, set to cause the death of all coral reefs, extreme wildfires, heat waves and other weather events that will subsequently threaten the world’s food supply and transform the global economy.

UNStudio Designs a City of the Future for The Hague

City of the Future. Image Courtesy of Plompmozes City of the Future. Image Courtesy of Plompmozes

Dutch architectural practice UNStudio have created a new urban vision for the City of the Future, a Central Innovation District (CID) test site in The Hague. Dubbed the "Socio-Technical City", the design covers a 1 square km area in the center of the city. The proposal aims to transform the site into a green, self-sufficient district of housing, offices, urban mobility and public spaces over the existing train track infrastructure.

From Pompeii to Gaza: The History of Street Art as a Voice for the People

[ By SA Rogers in Art & Street Art & Graffiti. ]

Over the past half-century, street art has evolved from squiggled lettering on subway cars to a cultural force practiced in virtually every corner of the globe. It began unsanctioned and disdained, and though some prominent street artists now sell their work for millions behind gallery doors, it remains firmly rooted in counterculture, simultaneously celebrated and dismissed. What separates it from merely decorative murals is its message, even if it doesn’t appear to be saying anything at all: its very existence empowers people with little to no voice in society.

Boston Publishes Radical SCAPE Plans to Combat Climate Change

Downtown Boston Vision. Image © SCAPE / City of Boston Downtown Boston Vision. Image © SCAPE / City of Boston

global warming. The scheme lays out strategies which will “increase access and open space along the waterfront while better protecting the city during a major flooding event.”

The vision forms part of the Imagine Boston 2030 initiative while using the city’s Climate Ready Boston 2070 flood maps, targeting infrastructure along Boston’s most vulnerable flood pathways.

The SCAPE vision calls for the creation of elevated landscapes, enhanced waterfront parks, flood resilient buildings, and revitalized connections to the waterfront. The scheme focuses on four areas: East Boston and Charlestown, North End and Downtown, South Boston and Fort Point, and Dorchester Waterfront.

Yo-Yo Pedestrian Zones: What Makes Urban Walkability Flourish or Fail?

[ By SA Rogers in Architecture & Cities & Urbanism. ]

A bustling car-filled street by day and a 1,500-foot pedestrian promenade on weekend nights, Sai Yeung Choi Street South in the dense neighborhood of Mong Kok was the stage upon which urban life in Hong Kong played out – markets, music, dancing, protests, parties. Clashes with police. Noise. So much noise, in fact, that after 1,200 complaints in a single year, the district council decided to end the street’s 18-year run as a part time pedestrian zone and reopen it to vehicular traffic 24/7. What will this mean for a city where public transit accounts for 90 percent of daily passenger trips, yet infrastructure revolves around cars?