June 26 2015

French Train Service, SNCF, Appeals to Millennials with Crowdsourced Scheduling

There is no doubt that the SNCF (French National Train Service) is seeking to attract young people with its new marketing move, TGV pop. TGV pop is a 100% digital offer, with tariffs that vary between 25 and 35 euros; where the time of departure is entirely in the hands of Internet users. How does it work? The offer proposed by TGV pop runs in four phases: The SNCF publishes the destinations of departures and arrivals on the website two weeks before the potential departure. For example, the trip from Paris-Avignon, set for the 5th of July, is currently online. The hour of departure is not indicated, only general timeframes: "morning," "afternoon," and "evening." It is at[...]
June 25 2015

Quebec, Canada’s Limoilou District Surveys its Poorest Residents

As a study reveals, the craze about Quebec's Limoilou District over the last few years has not been without consequences for the less fortunate residents already living there. Still, the presence of many units of social housing limits tensions between the two groups. Titled "Limoilou: A Place of Many Faces," the study was carried out by the Integrated Territorial Approach (ATI) of Limoilou, a local organization that fights poverty. It is the product of a consultation held with 40 people; 38 percent of whom consider themselves poor. These people were brought together through the district's community organizations. The majority of respondents are between the ages of 5[...]
June 23 2015

Brussels, Belgium Launches Development of Pedestrian Boulevards

The future pedestrian boulevards of the Brussels City Center will be the stage for recreational and cultural activities throughout the summer. Officially, the date of pedestrianization of the space opened June 29th. The city kicked-off the launch with a series of events related to being a pedestrian, led by a performance by the “Standing Man,” a giant wicker marionette standing 8 meters (roughly 26 feet) tall. June 29th marked a period of three months of demonstrations and cultural and recreational activities facilitated by temporary street furniture. The definitive physical transformation of the boulevards will come later. From the 29th of June onward, the new traffic circu[...]
June 23 2015

Lyon, France’s 12th Century Grand Hospital Undergoing Adaptive Reuse

In April 2015, they were talking about a 250 million euro sale. Agricultural Credit Insurances announced the purchase of Lyon's Grand Hospital by Eiffage. No monetary amount was defined for the transaction. The BTP group will pursue the vast construction site for the conversion of the old hospital bought in 2010 by the Civil Hospices of Lyon (HCL). At the end of the construction in 2018, the site, registered as a UNESCO global heritage site of humanity, should accommodate 17,100 square meters (roughly 184,000 square feet) of businesses and restaurants as well as a tertiary hub of nearly 13,600 square meters (roughly 146,000 square feet), a five-star I[...]
June 22 2015

Call for All Artists! California’s Bay Bridge May Have a Life Beyond Demolition After All

It has been announced that salvaged steel from the old Bay Bridge will be recycled into public art and incorporated into various history projects throughout California. Supervised by the Oakland Museum of California (OMCA), the Bay Bridge Steel Program was created in response to the community’s growing concerns surrounding the fate of the pieces from the deconstructed bridge. A selection committee with expertise in structural engineering, public art, art administration, landscape architecture, and the history of the bay bridge will review proposals and then award out steel to winning projects. The steel will be taken from the second phase of the demolition process beginning [...]
June 19 2015

Negligent Landlords Targeted by Housing Aid Society in Saint-Quentin, France

In Saint-Quentin, France, the Family Allowances Fund (CAF) has been experimenting with a system that targets the landlords of rundown housing complexes and obligates them to do maintenance work. If they do not bring their buildings up to par, they will not be allocated financial assistance from the Family Allowances Fund. The department will no longer pour out housing aid if the building does not meet basic standards of decency. In this way, the Family Allowances Fund of Aisne hopes to compel neglectful landlords to do work on dilapidated or otherwise rundown buildings they rent out. The method has been in place for the past few weeks in Saint-Quentin, following a 2-year trial[...]
June 18 2015

How Paris, France’s Lovers’ Padlock Tradition Could Live On

While Paris City Hall begins to definitively remove the love padlocks that lovers from all over the world hang on the Arts Bridge (1st-4th arrondissement), an English architect says that he has found a way to rein in the problem. Colin Kovacs has come up with a project that targets the balustrade whose vertical bars would not completely connect top to bottom to prevent hanging padlocks. The remaining negative spaces would form a cross. "The cross is the original motif of the balustrade of the Arts Bridge," explains the fifty-something year old. "With this solution, the padlocks could be more easily removed each evening. And perhaps, the metal collected could [...]
June 17 2015

New Zoning Bill Aims to Decrease Number of Cars in Downtown São Paulo, Brazil

A bill to revise the zoning law in São Paulo, Brazil was presented on June 2nd by Mayor Fernando Haddad to the municipal house. The bill aims to decentivize the use of automobiles in the greater city center of São Paulo by opening more space for bicycles and constructing garages close to metro and train stations. The Municipal Secretary of Urban Development, Fernando de Mello Franco, stated that the idea is to relieve the flow of vehicles in the greater city center. Another proposal of the bill is to install commercial establishments in residential neighborhoods, such as the region of Jardins. The zoning law seeks to tailor the Strategic Master Plan in relation[...]
June 16 2015

Social Landlord Launches Coworking Facility in Saint-Leu-la-Forêt, France

Go to the office - in a social housing apartment building. Such is the original idea just launched by Val-d’Oise Habitat. The department’s social landlord inaugurated a coworking space in the middle of Saint-Leu-la-Forêt, France. “At the beginning, it was considered a bit of a silly idea,” smiles Raphaelle Gilabert, Director of Val-d’Oise Habitat. “But the city was willing to participate. We are targeting entrepreneurs, or people who have a company but are only two people: a boss and a secretary, for example. Coworking is ideal when one has a desire to create one’s own enterprise, but who doesn’t want to immediately invest in expensive office space.” In a former co[...]
June 15 2015

Welcome to Milan’s World Fair 2015: Big Expectations and First Impressions

Milan's Expo 2015 has been put under a lot of pressure over the course of the past few months. From the big question of whether or not it would be completed on time, to the protest that devastated the city of Milan, everyone had great expectations for how the Expo would look when it finally opened. I can say from my first visit, that going to Expo definitely feels like traveling to a different country, complete with its own international security check points. The entrance to the event is set up like an airport, with baggage control equipment and metal detectors. Everything from the full-security check-in to the beginning of actual fair activities resemble[...]
June 12 2015

Residents Debate Uses or Demolition of São Paulo, Brazil’s Minhocão Expressway

The elevated Costa and Silva highway, popularly called the Minhocão (literally the “giant worm”), has come back into discussion in the Municipal House of São Paulo. On May 28th they discussed the closing of the highway on Saturdays, in addition to its current Sunday closures. David Lacerda has lived in the area for three years and is in favor of the closing. “Since I moved here, I saw the transformation of the space on Sundays and also at night, and how it welcomes social interaction.The Minhocão is an elevated expressway that extends 3.4 kilometers and connects the city center to the west zone. It was built in the 1970’s with the objective of impro[...]
June 11 2015

Metelkova Mesto, the Autonomous Squat at the Heart of Ljubljana, Slovenia

“Metelkova is different,” says Ilina, a dreadlocked Macedonian art student living in Slovenia. “It’s not just an alternative cultural district in the capital – it’s the capital of alternative culture. Outside of Rome, where else can you find a city inside a city?” From the first-floor window of the art gallery she works in – the only legally-occupied building in this enormous former military base – it certainly looks like Metelkova Mesto is the answer. Twelve thousand five-hundred square metres of derelict buildings are tucked away behind the train station in the centre of the beautiful Slovenian capital Ljubljana. Over the course of two decades, squatters have con[...]
June 10 2015

Developer Foresaw the Untapped Potential of “The Delmar Loop” in St. Louis, Missouri

After graduating from Duke University in 1972, Joe Edwards returned home to St. Louis, Missouri. It was here that he opened Blueberry Hill, a restaurant, bar, and live music venue. Edwards specifically selected its location on Delmar Boulevard, a retail area locally known as “The Loop” that was named for the streetcar which used to turn around there. Throughout the 1920’s and 30’s, the Loop was a shopping and nightlife destination featuring stylish boutiques and theatres. The Loop fell into decline throughout the 1960’s when the emergence of the automobile pushed development further away from the city and resulted in the subsequent disuse of the trolley. By the ea[...]
June 10 2015

“Flower Factory” Tours Begin at the Municipal Garden of Curitiba, Brazil

Located in the Guabirotuba neighborhood, the Municipal Garden of Curitiba, Brazil received the first group of residents interested in learning about the production process of the flowers that decorate their local parks and city squares. Through the program “Flower Factory,” guided tours are offered in the nursery, where approximately 6 million seeds are produced annually -- a true factory. During the visits, which are scheduled to happen once a month, participants experience all of the production steps performed by the garden. The tour begins with a talk about the importance and the main development activities at the site. Next, the visitors advance through the stages of p[...]
June 09 2015

Bessieres, France Launches Twenty-Five Acres of Cogeneration Greenhouses

Ten hectares (108,000 square feet), thousands of cubic meters of displaced earth, enormous engines, intense activity. We are here: the construction site of the greenhouses that will be heated by the residual vapors of Bessieres, France's Incinerator has been launched. It's in the process of a few weeks of landscaping, after which the 7-meter-high (roughly 23 feet) glass cathedrals will emerge from the ground. A first module will be built, then a second, and finally a third. The project, carried out privately by Gilles Brifaud, is financially supported by Ademe, the Mid-Pyrenees region, Econotre and Suez. Gigantic, it stands on land sold by the city "at a special price for an exc[...]
June 09 2015

Re:Code LA Provides the First Update to Los Angeles’ Zoning Code in Sixty Years

The last time the City of Los Angeles updated its zoning code was when it was first adopted in 1946. Now, more than sixty years later, the zoning code has grown from an 84-page pamphlet to a book spanning more than 600 pages. The amendments, conditions, and overlays that have been added throughout the years have made it a burdensome, unclear, and complicated document for present day development of the City of Los Angeles. But what is a zoning code? Put simply, it is a set of rules that regulate what can be built, where it can be built, and how it is used. For example, it specifies how tall a building can be, what industries are allowed in what areas of a commu[...]
June 08 2015

Egypt’s New Capital Will be the Largest Planned City in History. But is it Possible?

Cairo’s thousand year reign as the capital of Egypt is under threat by a new capital. Set to rise from the desert sand just east of Cairo, the new capital is estimated to cover an astonishing 270 square miles and cost $45 billion. Already being dubbed as the “new New Cairo” of Egypt, not to be confused with existing “New Cairo,” the development will be the largest planned city in history. How long does it take to build a city? Egyptian Housing Minister, Mustafa Madbouley, is currently projecting the completion date in 2022. The masterplan, by architecture firm SOM (Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill LLP), is geared towards core concepts revolving around education[...]
June 05 2015

Opening This Year, Brazil’s Belo Monte Dam Will Be Fourth Largest in the World

The Belo Monte hydroelectric dam on the Xingu River, in the state of Pará, Brazil, is now 77% complete. In November 2015, it will begin minimal operations, at just 3% of its total capacity. The unit’s major machines will begin operation in March 2016. In the meantime, Altamira and other municipalities of Pará are already experiencing the positive effects brought by the enormous endeavor. The municipalities of the region will receive in total R$ 3.7 billion (1.17 billion USD) of investments for social and environmental areas. This is reciprocation for housing the fourth largest hydroelectric dam in the world, which has the ability to generate 11 megawatts of energy[...]
June 05 2015

Citizens of Laval, Quebec Propose Height Limits for New Development

Laval, Quebec's citizens movement “Pas de Tours dans Ma Cour,” (PTMC) or “No Towers in My Neighborhood,” is setting the tone for the upcoming public consultations that will be led by the Demers administration, beginning August 1, 2015, on the revision of the territorial development plan. The current plan has been in place for more than 25 years. According to the results of a survey that the organization conducted in March 2015, 64% of the 437 respondents are of the opinion that real estate developments should be limited to 4 stories in residential neighborhoods in order to assure architectural cohesion. One out of four respondents (26%) would be in favor of allowing for[...]
June 04 2015

Living in Montreal, Quebec’s Suburbs Without A Car: Is It Possible?

When families move to the suburbs, they don't always calculate in the cost of the second car they will need for travel - unless, they decide to go without. Charles-Antoine could not imagine his life without two cars when he decided to move to Chambly, Quebec, Canada with his family. "I faced the traffic day and night for four years. But when my partner lost her job, we were forced to give up one of our cars. I tried out mass transit, and it was a revelation." With the improvement of mass transit services in the suburbs, more and more workers are choosing to abandon their cars. This avenue, which is both economical and environmentally-friendly, offers new possibilitie[...]

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