The creation of the new headquarters of Gide, the top French international business law firm, is one of the most important redevelopments in Paris in recent years. Situated on Place Saint-Augustin, the headquarters embody the “metabolic” reconstruction of Paris within itself, as well as the creation of new corporate spaces for fostering collective intelligence.
The 96,000m2 office development for the state-owned Shenzhen Energy Company is designed to look and feel at home in the cultural, political and business center of Shenzhen, while standing out as a new social and sustainable landmark at the main axis of the city.
Currently the world’s largest residential building in modular timber construction, “Woodie” offers micro-appartments for 371 students. The building is part of a new residential district in the Wilhelmsburg area of Hamburg, which builds on the experimental character of the 2013 International Building Exhibition and embodies the principles of universal design: sustainable, simple and inclusive.
KAAN Architecten has designed “CUBE”, the new Education and Self Study Center at Tilburg University (Netherlands). This compact and ostensibly low structure blends into its surrounding green landscape and into the larger architectural ensemble of the Dutch educational campus, which includes the quintessential Cobbenhagen building of the Catholic College of Economics, constructed back in the 1960s.
If the United Nations are right and Finland is the happiest nation in the world, architecture plays at least a small part in that. In Finland, architecture and design are considered every person’s right, a means for creating wellbeing. New libraries, museums and schools are places for learning, relaxing and meeting. Finns have always improved their society with new ideas and innovations.
Visitors to Tilburg’s newly modernized station district will notice an exciting addition to the city: the new public library which was officially opened in January 2019. A former locomotive shed – the ‘LocHal’ – has undergone an intensive redesign to become the beating heart of the district. It has been transformed into a public meeting place with a distinct railway theme. Its rugged steel structure provides the perfect backdrop for all manner of events and exhibitions. Much of the elegant industrial building has been conserved. With the addition of robust new architecture and huge textile screens, it has been transformed to showcase the new concept of Midden Brabant Libraries. It is a place in which knowledge is not only ‘consumed’ but produced by partners such as the arts organization Kunstloc, Brabant C and the co-working facilities of Seats2Meet. The building’s design is the result of close collaboration between Civic Architects, Braaksma & Roos Architectenbureau and Inside Outside/Petra Blaisse, while the engineering consultancy Arup advised on aspects such as sustainability, re-use and acoustic design. The furnishings of the library, the various ‘laboratories’, the café and offices are by Mecanoo.
The site chosen for this small addition of a children’s library to a school in rural Maharashtra was a sliver between existing buildings and the school boundary, a site that almost implied a linear building footprint to adjust the program to the chosen site. Alluding to the impetus that children have towards landscape over a building, we imagined the library building to be a formal extension of the ground plane: a place inside for study and a place above for play. With the limited teaching resources available in the larger vicinity, we needed the inspiring spatial experience to be a magnet to attract students, and hopefully other residents from the nearby settlements, after school hours.
What is the ontology of architecture? One way to understand this question is to take it as asking after the basic elements of architectural practice. Another is to take the question as directed at the being of architecture, its proper limits and grounds. It is in this latter sense that I wish to put the question here. When taken in this sense, it seems there can be only one answer: more so than any other mode of human activity, architecture has its being in the human engagement with place, and more specifically, in the engagement with place as opened through building.
Mapleton Crescent SW18 neighbours Wandsworth’s River Wandle and was completed in 2018. This distinctive slender tower is clad in 3 profiles of beautiful turquoise terracotta. Metropolitan Workshop collaborated with local artist Loraine Rutt to develop the special glazing and colour.
Wohnen ohne Auto (or “Living without a car” in English) is a co-housing project, developed in a process of participatory design with a community of future residents. The project features a series of strategies intended to minimize the superfluous, establish a collective attitude towards sharing, and facilitate more sustainable behavior in general.
The aims of Greencity are set very high. With the completion of the cooperative housing development a basic part of the foundations for the project of creating a communally-oriented district in the sense of the ‘2000 Watt Society’ will be laid. The building regulations and the specific challenges of the building plots (traffic noise, distances to street and train) leave only limited room for manoeuvre in terms of urban planning. This made it seem all the more important to us to develop a powerful building figure that can give the new quarter a definite face. The elongated plot A forms the start to the new urban district Greencity and is strongly influenced by the neighbouring infrastructure elements of the street and the Sihltal railway line.
On Avenue de Clichy Avenue, at the corner with rue Bernard Buffet, the architects Stéphane Bigoni and Antoine Mortemard recently completed a social housing project that points toward one of the entrances to Martin Luther King park.
Architects: Studio Gang
Location: Chicago, USA
Area: 1,8 million m2
Photography: Steve Hall / Hedrich Blessing
Totaling over 1.9 million sf, Aqua Tower is an 82-story mixed-use high-rise that includes a hotel, apartments, condominiums, parking and offices. Unlike a tower in an open field, new towers in urban environments must negotiate small view corridors between existing buildings. In response to this, the Aqua Tower is designed to capture particular views that would otherwise be unattainable. Among the building’s notable features is the green roof terrace atop its plinth—which at 80,000 sf is one of Chicago’s largest—that contains an outdoor pool, running track, gardens, fire pits and yoga terrace.
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
Year: Commissioned in 2013, completed in 2017
Programme: Residential apartments and public functions
Size: 10,000 m2
Photographer: Rasmus Hjortshøj – COAST
As the centrepiece of Copenhagen’s redeveloped Nordhavn (North Harbour), Danish architects COBE and clients Klaus Kastbjerg and NRE Denmark unveil the completed transformation of The Silo. The former industrial silo was originally used as a storage container for grain. Fifty years later, the 17-storey silo has been converted for new use as a residential apartment building with 38 unique units, ranging from 106 m2 to 401 m2 in size, and with public functions such as event and dining facilities on the upper and lower levels.
Wafra Vertical Housing introduces a new concept in urban living that adapts to the evolving lifestyle of 21st-century Kuwait. Considering the increasing demand for land in the city, the transformation of single-family dwelling typologies becomes a must, where tenants should be able to enjoy privacy as well as benefit from vertical solution amenities and prime locations.
I think the starting point is that technologies are not neutral. Technologies are systems, instructions, algorithms that are based on certain assumptions, and we have to talk about these assumptions within these systems. If we talk about these principles our technologies can become more inclusive, open, societal and accountable.
In Buddhist mythology, Jetvana is the name of one the Buddha’s most important spatial edifices which, when literally translated, means: the grove of Jeta, land donated to the sangha for founding a monastery. It was of semiotic significance that the site offered by Samir Somaiya, owner of the neighboring sugar factory in rural Maharashtra for the Buddhist Learning Center, was thickly forested – an idyllic grove of sorts.
Renderings by Gary di Silvio (CRA) with Carlo Turati and Marco Conte (Makr Shakr)
International design and innovation office CRA presents GUIDO, a concept for a driverless robotic cafe. GUIDO has been developed for Makr Shakr, the world’s leading producer of robotic bartenders, and aims to propose new on-demand ways to enjoy leisure in cities. It is made of a unit featuring two mechanical arms that can precisely prepare and serve any drink combination in seconds, mounted over a self-driving vehicle platform.
In “Fragment on Machines,” Marx made the case that with investment in automated technology, which he called fixed capital, capitalism is able to reduce necessary labor time and increase both surplus labor and value. Marx then speaks of the possibility of sublating surplus labor to free time, which he understood as “both idle time and time for higher activity.” This speculation, in which the type of labor corresponding to a capitalist mode of production disappears, is predicated on new technological developments. Within the concept of free time, Marx envisions a communist emancipation of the subject, since free time “[transforms] its possessor into a different subject, [who] then enters into the direct production process as this different subject.” This idea resonates with Marx and Engels’s famous lines in The German Ideology in which they state that within a communist society, it is “possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticize after dinner, just as I have a mind, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, herdsman or critic.” With this utopian image in mind, however, we should not, as Marx himself emphasized, confuse “free time” with “play” in the sense of Charles Fourier. Instead, free time needs to be understood as productive, as for allowing individual interests and desires to be developed while contributing to societal and scientific progress at large. The will for free time requires its organization against constant valorization, which is to say, alienation. One hundred and sixty years after the Grundrisse was written, Marx’s question of how to effectively sublate surplus labor has yet to be fully resolved. Yet in the recent past, there have been three main responses, which can be summarized as follows:
1) Seize the means of production, such as in various socialist collective projects.
2) Transform surplus labor into a form of resistance and the general intellect into a multitude, as outlined in the work of thinkers like Toni Negri, Paolo Virno, and others.
3) Accelerate towards full automation, implement universal income and an ethic of “working less,” as in the Situationists and, more recently, accelerationists.
Most of the projects within which engineers and programmers prioritize ethics in their works are UK and US based and led by smalls groups of researchers in Western countries. Also, studies to date just have samples of individuals with not enough variety in age, race, or social condition.
Just from 2016 the “Ethically Aligned Design” IEEE document (association, 2016) includes feedback from people and citizens in East Asia, Middle East, etc. Some has translated the document in their native languages and have submitted reports about the state of AI ethics in their regions. Samples incorporate concepts of Buddhism, like reminding AI designers that nothing exist in isolation, so that enhancing responsibilities of systems they create on communities; concepts of Confucianism, etc. remembering the designers to work closely with ethicist but also with their targeted audience (Woyke, 2017).
Challenge will be to deal with unpredictability and cognitive ethics being the safety of the system the main challenge. When AI machines dealing with social-cognitive dimensions previously dealt through human-decision making, transparency of the algorithm as well as it analysis easiness in situations of un-appropriate behaviour become main issues.
Added to that challenge, as Architects and Urban Designers we have a pretty important and very particular challenge to add to the already mentioned one:
Dealing with the process of changing from the Digital Gap to the AI Barrier for our built environment inhabitants.
Systemic design can mean many things. The main idea is of a system, that encompasses everything from the body to the environment, working simultaneously with its constituent components. Systemic design means to first identify and describe the system components then analyse their strengths and problems. Later on, we look for what we call opportunities and threats or negative externalities, that arise within the system.
The new European School Copenhagen adds vibrant spaces to the historic brewery site Carlsberg City in Copenhagen.
Tucked between Copenhagen’s historic Carlsberg buildings, a new public school recently opened for around 900 students with international backgrounds. Designed by NORD Architects and Vilhelm Lauritzen Architects, the European School Copenhagen is a new international school that promotes modern learning landscapes whilst merging school and city together through open public spaces.
At the end of the 19th century, Paris became the cradle of the automobile revolution. The rapid and spectacular rise of the “car” was accompanied by the appearance of a new built archetype specifically designed for this unique technical object: the hotel for automobiles, later commonly called a garage or parking structure.
In the golden age of Parisian garages between the wars, after the Glorious Thirties, came the era of mass parking areas built to accompany the democratization of the automobile. The archetype evolved towards a form of architectural and urban structure that was rationalized to the extreme, elementary, technically and economically optimized, potentially repetitive and duplicable to infinity. Like factories, supermarkets or warehouses, parking structures were a standardized built figure centered on a single function – in this case to park motorized vehicles.
Amos Rex, formerly known as Amos Anderson Art Museum, brings contemporary architecture to the modernist Lasipalatsi. The connection between the past and the present creates an interesting starting point for the design of the new museum.
Architects: Interval architects
Location: Hengshui, China
Area: 2065 m²
Photography: Zhi Geng
The project began with an abandoned Hoffman brick kiln, which was located between Hengshui wetland park and the city proper of Hengshui. It was formerly a place where nearby factories used to drain their sewage water. As the only building on a wetland site, the brick kiln was highly recognizable with its chimney. However, the Hoffman kiln was gradually abandoned due to the national policy that banned the burning of bricks out of clay as an environmental protection measure. The building was eventually demolished by the government due to its collapsing condition. With the new governmental plan to convert the wetland into a botanic park, the project called for the design of a botanic art center on the site of the former kiln. We decided that the memory and history of the demolished kiln has to be recalled and remembered with the new architecture. We hope to connect the past and the present of the place with this project.
The Red Cross Volunteer House gives 34,000 volunteers a setting for the continuous development of their work in Denmark. The building is designed by COBE in cooperation with the volunteers as a celebration of volunteer work and commitment and as a meeting place for the volunteers, the city and anyone wishing to contribute to the work the Red Cross does for marginalized citizens.
Oodi occupies a hugely significant site in central Helsinki: facing the steps of the Finnish parliament building, the Eduskuntatalo across the Kansalaistori square, a public space flanked by major civic institutions.
The siting of Oodi opposite the Eduskuntatalo was chosen to be symbolic of the relationship between the government and the populace, and act as a reminder of the Finnish Library Act’s mandate for libraries to promote lifelong learning, active citizenship, democracy and freedom of expression. It also places the new library in the heart of Helsinki’s cultural district, close to many of the capital’s great institutions.
Schiltigheim is the third largest town in the Bas-Rhin département (eastern France) in terms of population and the most densely populated town in the Strasbourg metropolis. It developed in the 19th century, centred on brewing and related industrial activities. These activities declined in the late 20th century, leaving much industrial land abandoned and unused. The rehabilitation of the butchers’ cooperative is part of a process initiated by the municipality with the aim of regenerating the town’s urban fabric.
Consciousness is the way we connect the changing role of architecture, the presence of economies in transforming our environments, the way communities work together and the way we use our bodies in relation to the space.
Rock. Nail. Time. A puzzle can be as simple as three seemingly unrelated words placed side by side. Their adjacency signals a veiled connection, capturing our attention. Bed is here the linking word—riddle solved. Puzzles throw a net of mystery over everyday stuff. Consider the corny images typically printed on jigsaws—Kittens! Lighthouses! Santa!—that often disguise a sophisticated network of pieces. To get to the heart of the challenge, many jigsaw aficionados prefer to work on blank puzzles or puzzles with pieces so interchangeable that their assembly points toward thousands of incorrect solutions.
The courtyard of the Palazzo Litta historically has mediated between public streets and private lives; this fusion of collectivity and individuality animates the elegant space, rendering it a vital setting for design discourse. For DAMN’s Salone del Mobile events, Diller Scofidio + Renfro engaged Palazzo Litta’s courtyard with the most basic architectural element—the roof—to filter the sky and capture the space.
These materials and methods were developed at the Tufts University Living Materials Silklab, led by Dr. Fiorenzo Omenetto, and are part of a current effort to bridge science, technology, and art with design and the fabrication of living material everyday products. They were commissioned and supported in part by the Art and Science seed fund from the Office of the President at Tufts and by the U.S. Office of Naval Research and were performed in collaboration with the Center for Applied Brain and Cognitive Sciences.
The world of advanced materials is a highly competitive arena, but there is one company that could never fail. (…) That company is Life, and its materials the most advanced on the planet. — Phillip Ball 
Where the Riverfront Park recreational space extends onto the waterway, Form of Wander is situated to host new outdoor activities and new memories of the Tampa’s active waterfront. As an inverted mangrove, the green-hued aluminum canopy announces itself among palms as a signal on the Hillsborough River. The tree-like structure appears to float between water and land.
Architects: LUO studio
Location: Luotuowan Village, Hebei Province, China
Photography: Jin Weiqi
Located at Longquanguan Town, Fuping County, Hebei, Luotuowan Village borders Shanxi Province, at the foot of the north side of the Taihang Mountains. The surrounding mountains resulted in poor transportation to the village, which held back the village’s economic development and caused an increasing number of dilapidated houses. In recent years, however, the local government has allocated plenty of financial and material resources to renovate and construct houses in the village and help it shake off poverty. After unremitting efforts, the quality of villagers’ lives has been gradually improved. Before the renovation, villagers were allowed to choose a traditional wooden roof or a roof made of cast-in-situ concrete for their houses. The latter solution was more preferred because it was easier to implement, and most of the residents are middle-aged and elderly people. During the village revamping process, a large number of wooden beams and rafters were dismantled and set aside. Previously, this type of wood waste was used to make fires for heating and cooking. But in these days, due to the call for environmental protection and forest fire prevention, as well as the fact that air source heat pumps and gas equipment for cooking have been introduced into the village, the dismantled wood of various sizes is left unused.
Architects: Studio Anna Heringer
Location: Baoxi, region of Longquan, China
Area: 1153 m2
Photography: studio Anna Heringer and Jenny JI
In just three years (2011-2014), China consumed more cement than the US during the last century. Most of those people who now live in concrete housing blocks used to live in houses made of natural materials. This trend has been happening all over the world. Alternatives are needed to reduce CO2 emissions.
These three hostels show that traditional, natural materials can be used in contemporary ways: unlike many traditional houses that hide mud behind fake façades, this project celebrates the beauty of natural materials. Using non-standardized, local materials will lead to more diversity in urban and rural regions, foster fair economics – through the creation of jobs – and preserve our planet’s ecosystem.
Fanzini & Celaschi discuss the importance of adopting an anticipatory approach to design as well as the need to think beyond the ‘words’ of the urban vocabulary, stressing the importance of materialising the vocabulary through imaginings and models of the future city.
This essay is a version of a post previously published at dobooku.com.
For some time now, footbridges have been a contemporary design phenomenon due to both the unimaginable proposals born from a structural expressionist approach and the radical slenderness of some footbridges constructed through exquisite structural analysis. But what comes after visual and structural languages? And what lies beyond slenderness?
In physics, sublimation refers to the transition of a substance directly from the solid state to the gaseous state without passing through the intermediate liquid phase. In psychology, sublimation is the transformation of unwanted impulses into something less harmful. In footbridge design, sublimation might be described as the transition toward visual dissolution, a preliminary step in moving forward from visual beauty and from slender structures.
Beit Issie Shapiro’s award winning Friendship Park, Israel’s first inclusive playground, provides children with and without disabilities with the opportunity to play together, while creating a more inclusive society. The unique model has been scaled up and replicated across Israel in more than 30 municipalities, as well as internationally.
In the storefront window of an otherwise unremarkable real estate office a few blocks from our office in Downtown Brooklyn, one can witness—amid the clutter of posters advertising eye-poppingly-priced triple-mint brownstones, full-service starters, Newswalk duplexes, and other “picturesque Park Slope gems”.
Cities across Africa reveal a pressing need for more inclusive approaches to urban development. Despite growth rates averaging 5 per cent for much of the past 15 years, African cities are confronted by expanding slums, persistent poverty and expanding unemployment and informality. Sub-Saharan Africa has the world’s highest rate of informal employment, accounting for 77 per cent of the non-agricultural labour force, and even in the era of ‘Africa Rising’, the International Labour Organization notes continued increases in working poverty. Underlying growth dynamics, based on natural resource dependence, dwindling access to land and decades of infrastructural neglect and deindustrialisation, fail to generate adequate levels of employment or basic services for rapidly expanding urban populations. ‘Jobless growth’ and urbanisation without industrialisation have forced policymakers to grapple with the challenge of how to ensure that economic growth and urbanisation generate viable livelihoods and adequate service provision for the vast urban populations living and working informally in African cities.
Exploring the potentials and drawbacks of a new vocabulary with Mathijs de Bruin, we discussed over-rationalization, the value of nonhierarchical structures and how being aware of our own privileges could help us limit inequalities.
For a casual observer, one who blithely follows the news, the mere mention of the city of Detroit evokes images of a post-industrial landscape. Detroit, the familiar story goes, was the backbone of the U.S. industrial age, the home to the nascent automobile industry, and the celebrated ‘arsenal of democracy’ during World War II. Fifty years later, the city was the graveyard of a declining industrial era, a symbol of urban crisis. Indeed, over the last several years, the national and international press has taken interest in the tragic fate of the Motor City. While some detail the deteriorated landscape and illustrate its fall from grace with photographs of a seemingly deserted city, others have suggested it to be a space uniquely poised for reinvention and open to new investments.
In Detroit’s historic North End, local studio Akoaki, led by Anya Sirota and the French designer Jean Louis Farges, is working with the Oakland Avenue Urban Farm, founded by Jerry and Billy Hebron, to set up a civic commons site. Detroit Cultivator is a six-acre urban plan with food production, cultural activities, and civic assets that aim to empower the social and economic fabric of the community. The unique effort is grounded in its respect for cultural heritage and social integrity.
In his curatorial text for the Shrinking Cities conference in 2004, Kyong Park used Detroit as the main case study for the phenomenon, and concluded with one open question: do shrinking cities grant greater power to global capitalism, or are they the places where post-capitalist economic models will form?
Building on a ten-year initiative led by the Detroit RiverFront Conservancy, in collaboration with the City of Detroit Planning & Development Department and the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation (DEGC), architects and urban planners Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM), developed a framework plan for Detroit’s East Riverfront District. The plan is designed to preserve more riverfront land for public use, generate greater community access to the Detroit River, and spur investment along the East Riverfront.
Villani discusses the need to avoid a dualistic vocabulary, the shifting nature of public space and the notion of the peripheral as the location for forging new connections and relationships for the future city.
Hybrid infrastructure. Sport and cultural platforms.
This Project takes part on a series of interventions on urban reengineering, focalized into consolidate a network of cultural, sport and assistance spaces as new urban models of collective nature for the popular areas of Caracas. The Project establishes a hybrid alternative to public management, based on microsurgery operations upon the territorial mesh; through active and collective protocols for the physical and organizational rehabilitation of self-constructed and organic growth areas of the city.
The School Grows is a project launched at the Madrid School of Design [Escuela Superior de Diseño de Madrid] during the academic year 2013-14, in response to the urgent need for space. Since its opening in 2011, the school imparts degrees in Graphic Design, Fashion Design, Product Design and Interior Design.
Currently, the school hosts more than 700 students in a 1965 building, originally intended for 172. Considering the building had never been extended since its construction, it is not difficult to imagine how much it was in need of extra space.
Jahangirpuri Marsh typifies the landscape that used to make up Delhi’s floodplain before these natural ecologies gave way to urban expansion. Today, the marsh is one of the critical ecosystems that remains in Delhi but it is facing serious issues such as waste dumping, marsh drying, and decreased water quality. In recent decades, informal settlements have encroached upon the marsh, resulting in a dramatic decrease of its land area. The marsh is separated from the surrounding communities by a 2.5 meter wall in an effort to “protect the marsh.” In reality, this wall removes the marsh from the city and public consciousness, turning it into a backyard for which no one is responsible. As a result, the marsh is disconnected from the area’s natural watersheds, its edges are used as dumping grounds, and its interior has be claimed to dump excess from the sewage treatment process.
Originally published at evolo.us as the 2018 Skyscraper Competition first place.
More and more natural disasters happen annually across the world. When dealing with forces so powerful, standard means of crisis-management often prove to be inefficient. Whether certain region is struck by earthquake, flood or hurricane – help needs to arrive quickly. This is often easier to be said than done, as damages to transportation infrastructure or remote localization can make it extremely difficult. The Skyshelter.zip tries to address these issues by proposing structure that while offering large floor surface is compact, easy to transport anywhere and can be deployed with minimum amount of time and manpower requirements. It is meant to serve as multi-purpose hub for any relief operation.
Architects: LUO studio
Location: Henan Province, China
Area: 1588 m2
Photography: Jin Weiqi
1. Use vs space
Real estate sales centers are a kind of temporary architecture that can only last several months, or a few years at most, as they are usually dismantled after houses are sold out. Even if they are preserved in some cases, their uses are completely transformed. Interior decoration of real estate sales centers is generally complex, causing problems and a waste of resources in the process of functional repurposement.
When people inquire about my profession, I say that I am an architect who studies how digital strategies are applied to the build environment. Though, no one quite understands my meaning. For this reason, I began to use an analogy to explain my area of interest; and, above all, its utility.
Imagine a forest where its inhabitants can only see in black and white. If a predator were to suddenly mutate, adopting the ability to see in color, this animal would grow, develop, and reproduce, surpassing what used to be his peers, and becoming a threat to them instead. The other animals could sense this threat, aware that their camouflages, their techniques, and tools for protection are no longer working. They would begin a frantic study of their environment to see what changed; but, as their sight remained limited to black and white, they would lack the skills to see anything new.
Filmed at Amazon Radical Urban Transportation Salon
Diane Davis and Andres Sevtsuk, from the Department of Urban Planning and Design at GSD Harvard University, talk about rethinking the territorial aims of transportation innovation and how city form contributes to smart mobility.
Design of the built environment – the spatial arrangement of buildings, blocks, streets, public spaces and the socio-economic functions they house – produces a variety of influences on urban mobility patterns and mode choices. Sprawling developments, where destinations are far apart and routes between them wide and fast, incentivize motorized trips. High density, mixed-use environments, with diverse destinations connected through a network of quality sidewalks, incentivize walking, biking and face-to-face encounter. City form and land-use patterns influence whether, how often and along which paths people choose to walk.
The project is set within the broader scheme of the Igualada Green Ring, the aim of which is to generate a series of itineraries for pedestrians and bicycles in the form of a green belt around the city’s perimeter. This new sustainable mobility infrastructure sets out to design a system of parks and peri-urban open spaces that function as a network suitable for environmentally friendly leisure activities, adapting and recovering, to a large extent, spaces that are currently run-down or underused. In this context, Camí de les Guixeres, the track leading to the mines, represents the recovery of a stretch of 1.65 kilometres, out of which the first 800 metres have now been completed.
This essay is a condensed version of the NCE Paper 03, “Accessibility in Cities: Transport and Urban Form,” which was an output of the New Climate Economy project of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate (www.newclimateeconomy.net).
Access to people, goods, services, and information is the basis of economic development in cities. The better and more efficient this access, the greater the economic benefits through economies of scale, agglomeration effects, and networking advantages. Cities with higher levels of agglomeration tend to have higher GDP per capita and higher levels of productivity. The way in which cities facilitate accessibility through their urban forms and transport systems also impacts directly on other measures of human development and well-being. Urban travel currently constitutes more than 60% of all kilometres travelled globally (van Audenhove, Korniychuk et al. 2014) and, as a result, urban transport is currently the largest single source of global transport-related carbon emissions and the largest local source of urban air pollution.
Architects: Lendager Group
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
Area: 3909 m²
Photography: Morten Nielsen, Rasmus Hjortsjøj and Lendager Group
Modern cities stand as proof of mankind’s great achievements. Raised and expanded in a time of seemingly infinite resources and production possibilities. And they are still growing. In just one week from now, 3 million people will have completed their move from rural to urban areas.
In general the living conditions of poor families, especially in developing countries, are traditionally sustainable. It is the step from low-income status to the middle class that often causes a major shift in direction. With higher incomes, values and lifestyles begin to change – from production and self-sufficiency towards consumption. What is uncommon, special and exotic is more attractive than what already exists locally; the invigorating dream and pursuit is the Western lifestyle, not the local tradition.
In 2011, Shareable, the nonprofit media outlet I co-founded two years earlier, hosted a daylong conference called Share San Francisco. We brought together 130 leaders from city government, nonprofits, and social enterprises to explore one key question: How can we amplify the city of San Francisco as a platform for sharing? After all, cities are fundamentally shared enterprises. We aimed to catalyze positive change from a set of sharing-related opportunities coalescing around cities — some particularly evident in San Francisco.
Dissonance is the overwhelming condition of the current era. At a time when formal politics in multiparty democracies seem interminably stuck, over the past few years a supposedly ineffectual United Nations has been able to broker a series of path-breaking development agreements, of which the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the New Urban Agenda adopted in 2016 are the most ambitious. These agreements represent a fundamentally different political landscape within which tough social justice questions can be confronted more easily. It also means that the opportunity for the pursuit of urban justice is unprecedented, even if not always activated. Yet, even a cursory review of dominant political processes and priorities across the OECD and Global South is enough to deflate hope.
Architects: LaCol cooperativa
Location: Can Batlló, Barcelona
Photography: LaCol, Joan Andreu and Usue Belandia
La Borda defines itself as the first housing cooperative following the model of cession of use to be developed in Barcelona and built on public land. The initiative emerged in the context of the urban renewal of Can Batlló, a former industrial site located in the district of Sants-Monjuïc (Barcelona).
In June 2011, after 30 years of waiting for the transformation of Can Batlló, the neighborhood of Sants took the initiative and occupied the site with the aim of organizing it themselves.
In searching for a new vocabulary Frank Keizer calls for not divorcing terms from practice – from actual struggles. In doing so, he has identified terms that roughly relate to four terrains of struggle and spoke to us about the political relevance of culture and its language.
Too many people worldwide subsist in undeserving living conditions, and their ranks are growing by the day. As representatives of the professions collectively shaping the built environment, it is our responsibility to resist this intolerable situation. We are speaking out to define an alternative position. We must produce spaces that counter exploitation, control and alienation, whether in urban or rural landscapes. With all our expertise, creativity and power, we need to contribute more dynamically and consequentially to the global quest for equality. Across a range of pilot projects, we have begun to initiate a more humane design culture, working with a robust network of communities, craftsmen, planners, builders and organizations. These alternative practices demand not only further development, but also substantial scaling-up. Guided by a deeper understanding of individual needs and aspirations as our fundamental concern, we must urgently multiply our efforts to improve the ecological, social, and aesthetic quality of the built environment, while developing more effective design strategies to anticipate predicted future growth on a global scale.
Location: Shu’afat Refugee Camp, East Jerusalem
Palestinian refugee camps house the world’s largest and oldest refugee population. Following the 1948 Nakba, about a million Palestinians were expelled from what became Israel. In the 1967 Naqsa (the Six-Day War), Jerusalem, along with the Syrian Golan Heights and Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, came under Israeli occupation. These annexations were never recognized by the UN and created a million more refugees and internally displaced Palestinians. One of these camps, more than 50 years old, is Shu’afat, whose residents come mainly from the old cities of Jerusalem and Hebron. Following the Oslo Accords, all camps in the West Bank and Gaza came under the control of the PA except for this one, which stayed in a limbo, sort of ruled by UNRWA.
Shu’afat RC is located in East Jerusalem, surrounded by illegal Israeli settlements and by a wall that separates them. The area is about 0.2 km2 with around 50,000 refugees who are stateless citizens. It is a dense concrete jungle, a non-place left behind in a permanent temporariness.
Due to the age of these refugee camps, the lack of public space is more tangible. At the same time the need for it is more pressing. The refugees came from different locations, and they were forced to live together at a certain point, whether they liked it or not. There was much tension as a result, but at the same time new communities emerged. New alliances arose with specific needs, but the architectural solutions that responded to these needs were generally cumbersome. The limited space available does not allow much leeway, presenting a challenge for architectural practice.