Physics can help us model everything from cell growth to the movement of planets. Apparently it also understands how cities live and die.
A new photo and reporting series is documenting San Diego’s disturbing lack of street lights.
“In Mexico City, planners turn vacant space under freeways into places to work, dine, play
Nick Miroff. May 29, 2013
Mexico City — You can’t get something out of nothing. This is common sense, not to mention a principle of physics and mathematics.
Yet the amazing science of Mexico City’s real estate development obeys no such laws.
Urban planners here, in one of the world’s most populous and crowded cities, have found a way to add thousands of square feet of new commercial and recreational space. And it isn’t costing local government a cent.
Their gambit is called Under Bridges (“Bajo Puentes”), and it’s a simple idea: Convert the vacant, trash-strewn lots beneath Mexico City’s overpasses and freeways into shopping plazas, public playgrounds and outdoor cafes.”
Photo: Dominic Bracco II / Prime - A man rests on one of the new park benches in one of Mexico City overpass developments on May 27.
Want to be happy? Live near a park. Researchers at the University of Exeter found that people living in greener areas were consistently more satisfied, and experienced less distress.
An idea for Bangalore: a green infrastructure that is both sustainable and deeply rooted in the local culture.
Dubbed the “Urban Mosaic,” this idea for Vegas involves modular cubes can be combined in any number and configuration to turn the strip’s streetscape into a meaningful public space for events both big (i.e. New Year’s Eve) and small.
Would You Move To A Shrinking City If It Paid Off Your Loans?
That’s the plan of New York’s Niagra Falls. In the hopes of staunching its population decline and bringing a new generation of engaged youth, the city is accepting applications for urban pioneers willing to move in exchange for a little debt relief.
Niagara Falls is a poster child for population loss. The city had more than 100,000 people in 1950. Now they’re struggling to keep above 50,000, a number which carries more than just symbolic consequences: It’s the cut-off for HUD entitlement funding. “That’s a dollar loss right off the bat,” Niagara Falls director of community development Seth Piccirillo says. It means less money for everything from home repairs to police. But Piccirillo is worried about the private sector, too: “When was the last time an employer said, ‘I want to put 500 jobs in a shrinking city’? It doesn’t happen.”
A solution they came up with, literally on the back of a napkin, is called Live NF. It will reimburse up to $3,492 a year of your student loans for two years—if you move to downtown Niagara Falls. They had 42 applicants, and have just announced their first five winners, who range from an artist from Buffalo to a web designer with a Masters in Bible Studies.
Plant a Tree; Lower the Crime Rate
Does a greener neighborhood give criminals more places to hide, or do green spaces keep crime down? This was an actual debate that seems to now be resolved.
When it comes to controlling crime, police tend to favor more policing, while social scientists see the symptom of deeper, social problems. Urban planners, on the other hand, focus on the trees.
And it’s also why you’re not. Data shows that there is something as important as what you eat to your overall health: how where you live is laid out.
No discussion of the life and work of Oscar Niemeyer is complete without Brasília, the dazzling capital that sprung up in the Brazilian savanna in 1961. The Brazilian starchitect who passed away on Wednesday, was responsible for the project’s crowning achievement: the monumental government buildings that stood proudly as emblems of the power of Modernist architecture’s promise—and, later, unfortunate failure—to shape a utopian society.
What gets less attention is that, a decade earlier, another urban vision was taking form more than 8,000 miles away, in India, under the supervision of Le Corbusier. Chandigarh, like Brasília, was intended to be a sparkling new city, created from scratch as a way of shaking off the albatross of colonialism and instating a native, democratic government. And modern notions of urban planning and architecture were central to both new capitals, as the premier architectural photographer Iwan Baan documents in a recent book, “Brasília-Chandigarh”. Fifty years into existence, the two cities have evolved into examples of how grand utopian projects can both inspire and disappoint.
“I remember that very deeply in my soul back in 1986, we felt that was unfair,” says Kelley Lindquist, who became the president of a nonprofit called Artspace in 1987. “It was insulting for people to sometimes say, ‘Oh, artists like to move, they’re bohemians!’ Who likes to be on the street and renegotiate a lease and carry all their equipment and try to create a new community and basically start all over?”
It worked for St. Paul, Minnesota, where artists revived an old warehouse district—and got to stick around to reap the benefits of what they helped create.
What would happen if every city created an edible forest that was open to the public?
Coming To Seattle: The Country’s Biggest Public Food Forest
What’s a food forest, you ask? Just what it sounds like: a nature preserve full of edible plants, to help feed the city.
Combining a map, tourist information, and data about the city’s services, a new system is making Helsinki truly transparent.
Eric Fischer used geotagged tweets to create maps of the most highly trafficked thoroughfares in major cities.