Saving Lives with Smart Urban Design

THE DIRT

Cities Safer by Design, a report by the World Resources Institute Cities Safer by Design, a report by the World Resources Institute / WRI

Globally, 1.24 million people are killed in traffic accidents every year, with more than 90 percent of these deaths occurring in low and middle-income counties. Traffic-related incidents are the eighth-leading cause of death worldwide, and the number-one leading cause of death for those between the ages of 15-29. A response to the United Nations’ declaration to create a “Decade of Action” on improving traffic safety, Cities Safer by Design, a new report by the World Resources Institute (WRI) Ross Center for Sustainable Cities, offers urban design best practices and real-world case studies both developed and developing world cities can use to put an end to traffic deaths and injuries.

Cities Safer by Design presents five basic urban design elements that create safer travel environments: block size, connectivity, lane width, access, and population density.

View original post 663 more words

The Challenges of Providing Public Space with Private Funds

THE DIRT

central-park Central Park Conservancy sign in Central Park Park, NYC / Sallanscorner.wordpress.com

In an age of ample private wealth and an increasingly constrained public sector, a number of American cities have become dependent on privately funded conservancies to maintain and refurbish their public parks. A new report by Peter Harnik, Hon. ASLA, and Abby Martin from The Trust for Public Land’s Center for City Park Excellence explores the rise of such city park conservancies — private organizations that use donations to rebuild, renovate, and, in some cases, maintain some of the most iconic parks in the country. Interspersed with examples from 41 conservancy organizations that have a collective experience record of nearly 750 years, the study serves as a how-to guide for building successful relationships between city governments and urban park conservancies.

While many park-support organizations exist throughout the country, including friends-of-parks groups and business improvement districts, the study defines a…

View original post 781 more words

An End to Forgettable Stormwater Management?

THE DIRT

PennypackerCovers-FinalFront Artful Rainwater Design / Island Press

As our climate becomes more unpredictable, finding better ways to manage stormwater is crucial to reducing floods. However, traditional stormwater management strategies can be unforgettable at best and unsightly at worst. In the new book, Artful Rainwater Design: Creative Ways to Manage Stormwater, Pennsylvania State University professors Stuart Echols, ASLA, and Eliza Pennypacker, ASLA, prove that this doesn’t always have to be the case — it’s possible to effectively manage runoff without sacrificing aesthetics.

In this well-organized how-to guide for designers, Echols and Pennypacker highlight the benefits of Artful Rainwater Design (ARD), a term coined by Echols in 2005 to describe rainwater collection systems that are not only functional, but also attractive and engaging. These systems are usually designed to handle small rain events and the initial — and dirtiest — events, rather than major flooding from large storms. Given these smaller rain…

View original post 668 more words

Hypernatural: Architecture Evolves

THE DIRT

hypernatural Hypernatural / Princeton Architectural Press

All living creatures employ technologies to gain evolutionary advantage. For example, bats have evolved the use of echolocation to find their way as well as things to eat. A tortoise has evolved a shell to protect itself. There are countless examples. These technologies are tools for survival. Humans are equally a part of nature and now harness new “hypernatural” tools to “amplify, extend, or exceed natural capabilities.” Novel approaches are resulting in advances in the most essential technologies: shelter, or, in its cultural form, architecture. These new hypernatural forms be the “very aim of evolution itself,” write University of Minnesota architecture professors Blaine Brownell and Marc Swackhamer, in Hypernatural: Architecture’s New Relationship with Nature, their brilliant new book.

Although, they add that “evolution is a complex, messy process.” Hypernatural architecture, with all its technological advancements, is then subject to the same evolutionary development processes…

View original post 841 more words

Evolving cities

dzn_A-Rolling-Masterplan-by-Jagnefalt-Milton-3

I’ve heard the saying “a city is always moving”.  The movements they talk about involve people, cars, and living things that call a city home.  But the word ‘moving’ is seldom used to describe buildings; they are somehow seen as fixed objects.  But in Norway, a team of Swedish architects Jagnefalt Milton have created a system of moving buildings to combat seasonal changes and events.  From a landscape architecture point of view, it is immensely interesting because of the social implications a moving system would have on its surroundings.

I have been looking closely at the relationship between landscape architecture and gentrification, and researching into the impact it has on the bottom 20%.  The big question is how do we improve quality of life WITHOUT increasing social inequality?  This example of a moving system is really exciting because of its potential to become a way of providing equal amenities to everyone.  What if the seasonal movements somehow allowed for households of all kinds of demographic to access amenities that everyone should have?  If the landscape is fixed but the houses are moving, then we could have a system where the properties would have access to multiple parks and other public amenities.

dzn_A-Rolling-Masterplan-by-Jagnefalt-Milton-1

All images are sourced from Dezeen and are subject to Copyright.

A Different Kind of Tragedy of the Commons?

City Parks Blog

606lineThe new 606 is open in Chicago – a mix of 2.7 miles of elevated trail with four ground-level parks along the route. Amidst the excitement of this new linear park, which will bridge four neighborhoods historically underserved by parks, is the familiar cautionary tale about its potential gentrifying impact. Like New York’s High Line, the badly needed park amenity is being viewed partly in light of its negative effects on the neighborhood it was designed to serve. (The New Yorker art critic Peter Schjeldahl said about the High Line, “As a catalyst of neighborhood change, the High Line has been to usual gentrification what a bomb is to bottle rockets.”)

But the issue of the impact of a new park on property values – and the resulting displacement of longtime residents by the rising cost of housing – is worth a thoughtful analysis. Are we blaming parks for…

View original post 846 more words