October 31 2014

In Kenya, Nairobi National Park Faces Development Encroachment

Nairobi National Park consists of 117 km2 (approximately 45 square miles) of wild flora and fauna within the city boundaries. Established in 1947, it has over a hundred mammal species including lions, leopards, hyenas and cheetahs, plus over four hundred migratory birds. The park also has various picnic sites, restaurants, and facilities for family and corporate events. Like the Mokolodi Nature Reserve in Gaborone, Botswana, it offers a rare opportunity to see the wild, only a few minutes away from the busy urban centre. The park is located on the south side of the city that forms the Kapiti Plains. Due to altitude differences, much of Nairobi’s run-off to drains towards the [...]
October 31 2014

Des Moines, Iowa’s East Village: Unique Storefronts Cultivating Sense of Place

While Des Moines, Iowa is a city with a population density of only 2,527 people per square mile and rapidly expanding suburbs, one neighborhood in the downtown core has managed to maintain some urban character. With its many boutique shops and noticeable lack of national chains, The East Village contributes a unique charm to Des Moines. However, whether this neighborhood can maintain this small business culture is another matter. The East Village is a neighborhood in Des Moines that encompasses the State Capitol and lies on the banks of the Des Moines River. Much of the historic architecture in the district has been protected against demolition, with eight of of the area’s buildings[...]
October 31 2014

Villeneuve-d’Ascq, France: The Vegetable Garden City?

The idea has been floating in people’s heads for a while now. It could be, for the ecologists of Villeneuve-d’Ascq, France, a way of occupying the land in the absence of the municipality’s authorization. It could also be a way of demonstrating that one can be involved in politics with a mere spade and a rake. Sandrine Rousseau and the ecologists of Villeneuve-d’Ascq want to occupy the land, in all senses of the term. In order to reach their goal, they want to put in place a new and revolutionary idea: Incredible Edibles. For the national spokesperson of Europe Écologie - Les Verts (EELV, France’s Green party), developing this idea in Villeneuve-d’Ascq is the obv[...]
October 30 2014

Edison Student Residence Pays Homage to Cinematic Innovation in Montreal

On a vacant site located in the epicenter of student life in Montreal, north of McGill University in the Milton Gates district, stands the Edison Residence, the latest architectural conception of the architecture collective KANVA. Its doors were opened on Aug. 30, 2014. It's an "animated architecture" that pays homage to Thomas Edison, one of the inventors of cinema. At the beginning of the 20th century, the site experienced a major fire, which destroyed a 19th-century historic house made of stone; this tragedy represents one of the numerous episodes that took place in this district. The historical context of the site is the primary source of inspiration for this urban renewal project, [...]
October 30 2014

Technology Giants Google and Microsoft Invest in Rio de Janeiro Favela Mapping

Technology giants have finally realized the existing market in the steep alleys where cars barely pass, and where electric power, water, sewage pipes, even cable TV, arrives by spontaneous generation - through the creative improvisation of its residents. In Rio de Janeiro, one quarter of the population lives in one of the 763 slums across the city. Favela residents total 1.5 million people, of which about 1.3 million have cell phones, half of them smartphones. Being connected, however, does not guarantee that these people can find the street where they live in Google Maps or Bing, programs from the respective tech companies, Google and Microsoft. Remember that, until earlier th[...]
October 30 2014

Kansas City, Missouri to be Home to Most Dense Art District in the Nation

Kansas City has a rich history of art. Take the Plaza Fair for example, a local tradition for the past 83 years. The fair started as a small art show during the Great Depression, and has since become a national attraction, with more than 240 artists from across the country displaying their talents to around 250,000 visitors annually. Over the course of the past few weeks, local and traveling artists with thousands of paintings, sculptures, jewelry and other forms of art were setting up their tents and displays for the big weekend. The fair takes place at the Country Club Plaza, an area within walking distance of the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art[...]
October 29 2014

A City Without Zoning? Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s Development Runs Wild

As the capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh is the largest and fastest growing city in the country with over two million inhabitants. In recent years it has seen unprecedented rates of growth in the economy, population and urbanization, however there is yet to be any regulations to ensure sustainable development. Without a comprehensive master plan for the capital city, there is no official zoning or building code requirements, which puts the future of the city in the hands of the private sector instead of the residents who are at risk of losing their city of water. Zoning plans usually regulate land use, form, design or attempt to control development to maximize o[...]
October 28 2014

In Basse-Terre, Guadeloupe, School Expands with High Quality Environmental Project

In addition to the twenty-four spots that it already has, Raoul-Georges-Nicolo High School will be able to house fifty additional high school students in its new buildings set to be ready by the beginning of the next school year. Raoul-Georges-Nicolo High School is known for being a school that prepares students for careers in construction and applied arts. It has two unique post-high school tracks, known as the BTS building and the BTS EEC (Studies and the Economy of Construction). In attempt to accommodate some of its 641 students, the establishment has a twenty-four bed dorm. It also has the same number of spots proposed to them by Gerville-Réache High[...]
October 28 2014

The Minhocão Highway Demolision and the Parks of São Paulo, Brazil

Since the approval of the new Urban Master Plan, the debates on the future of Minhocão Highway of Sao Paulo, Brazil have intensified. That's because the plan provides "a gradual restriction of motorized individual transport on elevated highways" and "its complete deactivation as a traffic lane, including its demolition or a partial or full transformation into a park." The Minhocão, a highway built for cars, is now expected to be demolished in the upcoming days. The debate has focused on whether to demolish or renovate the aging highway by transforming it into an elevated park? Unfortunately, this is not the main dilemma that Minhocão, its users and the po[...]
October 28 2014

Rue Saint-Merri, Paris Considers Pedestrian-Only Corridor

During the last Council meeting of the Saint-Merri neighborhood, in Paris, France, Julien Landel, the Assistant to the Mayor who oversees neighborhood councils announced the following regarding Rue Saint-Merri, at the location of the school by the same name: "Parallel to the option we retained in June (the overhang of the roadway underpass, widening of the sidewalk in front of the school, inversion of circulation patterns on Rue Saint-Merri, putting a red light at the Renard intersection), the Mayor's office has also asked City services to study the feasibility of completely putting an end to automobile circulation on Rue Saint-Merri, an option that will be proposed to the neighborhood coun[...]
October 27 2014

San Francisco’s Road to Zero-Waste: An Unthinkable Goal by 2020?

San Francisco is a catalyst for change, leading the nation by becoming the first major U.S. city to reach a “zero-waste” goal. The city recognized that the recycling of bottles and paper could no longer remedy the amount of waste being produced, so they initiated the program. They have already set an example for cities across the nation by eliminating waste by 80%, but the goal is still 100% by the year 2020. What does it take to be a zero-waste city?      Sending nothing to the landfill or incinerator.      Recycling materials.      Composting biodegradable foods and packaging.      Preventing waste before it happens. Sou[...]
October 27 2014

The Food Deserts of Des Moines, Iowa: Limited Access in the Breadbasket of America

In a state often referred to as "America’s Breadbasket," it seems counterintuitive to think that food security would pose much of a problem. But in Des Moines, Iowa, however, it does. The city’s low population density and inability to attract chain grocers has made it so that great swaths of the downtown core are designated as food deserts. Food deserts are areas in which there is limited access to healthy, affordable food. The USDA identifies a census tract as being a food desert if it qualifies as a low-income community and a low-access community. In an urban area, a significant share of the people in the census tract in an urban area must live more than one mile fro[...]
October 24 2014

The City of Paris’ New Bike Plan Focuses on Infrastructure Projects for 2014-2020

More parking spots for bikes, new bike paths on major streets, extension of zones with 30km/h speed limits, and perhaps wider bike paths or the prohibition of cars at temporary markets. These are just some of the measures that are a part of the new “Bike Plan” put forth by the Mayor of Paris. The draft, which should be finalized in the beginning of December after being fully discussed, was presented on Tuesday, September 16th. An engineer presented the draft during a meeting of the “bike committee” of the 11th district of Paris, which took place under the gilded ceilings of the district’s city hall. Objective 15% “We are still in the stage where we are considering the overall prin[...]
October 23 2014

Archipel Habitat Receives the “HLM, Partners of the Aging” Prize in Rennes, France

The aging of a population raises multiple stakes. Home care service for the elderly is one of them. For HLM (rent-controlled) housing, it's a matter of bringing solutions to their tenants, so that they can then live at home autonomously for the longest time possible. For several years, the Archipel Habitat has been following a universal and collaborative policy on this topic. In this capacity, the social landlord came to receive the "HLM, Partners of the Aging" Prize at the National Congress of the Social Union for Habitats - a nice recognition of the building complex and its extensive work with partner organizations. The "HLM, Partners of the Aging" Prize: A Reward [...]
October 23 2014

A Farewell to The Grid from Alexandra Serbana in Milan, Italy

It's been more than a year since I started writing for The Grid, three years since I moved to Milan, and one year since I finally started living the true Milanese life. Attending university at Politecnico di Milano and living on campus with all my international friends gave me a rather limited view of what this city is and could be. Campus life and all that comes with it was very different from the reality of how most people in Milan live. If you are comfortable just enjoying university life and having coffee with your friends, like I was, you may be less likely to go out and explore the social jungle of the city. When I graduated, I moved from the quiet, residen[...]
October 23 2014

Traffic Fatalities Kill More than Disease in Brazil

If you are afraid of being killed by a thug on the street, do not worry. Well, not quite. Data shows that it is more likely to die in traffic accidents than by murder or cancer in Brazil. Traffic fatalities are an epidemic, claiming the lives of 1.24 million people per year - equivalent to over three thousand Boeing 747 aircraft crashes, making it the ninth leading cause of death in the world. But if we consider the total amount of injuries from traffic fatalities, the numbers rise to 50 million. The new generation is also being victimized by it. Recent research presented at a congress of pediatrics reported that Brazilian children die from traffic accidents more often than from di[...]
October 22 2014

Transportation Options Underserving Residents in Towson, Maryland

Towson, Maryland is an urban-adjacent town just north of Baltimore City, with a mix of young families, retirees, and young professionals and a growing population of college students. As of 2014, Towson University’s undergraduate population totaled over 18,000 students, with on-campus housing available for fewer than 5,000 students. This means that up to 13,000 students are contributing to the traffic on Towson’s roads during the school year. As of 2012, Census data estimates that nearly 60% of Towson’s household population is college-enrolled, compared to 33% in other Baltimore suburbs. This presents challenges for maintaining a steady flow of traffic, but Towson’s students have fr[...]
October 22 2014

Issues of Access Arise for Disabled and Elderly People in Galway, Ireland

When architects or engineers set out to design a building, a critical element that they should think about, along with what the building will be used for, is access.  This doesn't mean access for only fit, healthy, and able-bodied people. This also means access for the elderly, people in wheelchairs, or potentially those with baby buggies or other restrictive limitations. The Government does its part to promote this goal by constantly reviewing legislation to improve the lives of people with disabilities. The Disability Act 2005 was created to support the social inclusion of those with disabilities. It states that "a public body shall ensure that its public buildings are[...]
October 21 2014

Urban Revitalization Seems Close Enough to Touch in Saint-Maixent l’École, France

Elected officials have validated Saint-Maixent l’École’s application for candidature for a national project to revitalize downtown areas across the country. While opening the municipal council debates on Thursday evening, Léopold Moreau announced that the city of Saint-Maixent L’École was pre-selected from three hundred communes in France to become a candidate for the revitalization of town centers. The representatives would have decided whether or not to take this opportunity, except for that only fifty communes will be selected during a yet-to-come final round of judging. According to the application, being chosen would allow the town to benefit from a f[...]
October 21 2014

São Paulo, Brazil Street Markets Celebrate 100 Years

On August 25th, 2014 we celebrated 100 years of the formal existence of street markets in São Paulo, a true cultural heritage of the city. The date refers to the first regulation of this activity in the capital, Act 710, signed by Mayor Washington Luis in 1914. The first official market in the city took place at Largo General Osório. Today we have 880 markets scattered in thirty-two subdistricts of the city. Generally, the marketplace is filled with family businesses, working in a different market every day of the week except for Monday. Today there are over 16,000 market stalls throughout the capital, in all regions of the city, according to inform[...]

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