November 18 2014

Peace Footbridge in Geneva: A Flagship Element of the Secheron Neighborhood

Officially inaugurated on Sept. 22, 2014, the Peace Footbridge constitutes a key element in Geneva's Secheron neighborhood. Designed by the architect Pierre-Alain Dupraz (in partnership with Laurent Chablais, CP civil engineers SA), it crosses over the railroad pathways, in such a way offering a new connection between the Place des Nations and the lakefront. The Secheron neighborhood is in full swing of change. Located near the city center, the international organizations, and a belt of important circulation routes that are well-served by public transportation, this site offers exceptional development potential, notably because of its industrial past, which has left behind impo[...]
November 17 2014

Nour Aoude Says Farewell to The Grid from Ottawa, Canada

Over the last six months, The Grid has become a place to record my ever-evolving understanding of Ottawa’s urban fabric and functions. When I started blogging in May, I had just moved here. This bestowed upon me the advantage of fresh eyes on the city, but also meant that I had to educate myself on the urban planning issues of an entirely new place. Ottawa’s nature as a small-big city came in handy while writing my blog posts. As the national capital, the city boasted abundant urban planning projects and resources, on par with any large metropolis. Current projects included the construction on a new LRT system, a recently completed football stadium, and the transformation of the ci[...]
November 17 2014

When Will Baltimore City’s Water Wheel Be Shut Down?

Baltimore City’s newest Water Wheel has received a lot of positive attention in recent months, but it is just one solution to the Inner Harbor’s serious trash problem. A two-minute video from Healthy Harbors shows hundreds, if not thousands, of bottles, cans, cigarettes, styrofoam and plastic bags floating from Jones Falls and into the Inner Harbor. In a video on NBC, Adam Linquist of the Healthy Harbor Initiative stated that “our goal is to actually put the water wheel out of business … it’s great because it’s immediate, it’s innovative, but the real solution is that people need to change their behavior.” This sentiment has been expressed since at least 2008 when Bal[...]
November 14 2014

Nairobi, Kenya Solving Traffic Congestion by Increasing Capacity?

Urban areas experience a lot of vehicular congestion and traffic jams cost us millions of dollars every day through wasted time, environmental pollution, and increased stress. The City of Nairobi is no exception and due to this a “Transport and Urban Decongestion Committee” was set up by Governor Evans Kidero to look into the best solutions to deal with Nairobi’s congestion. The Committee released their interim Report in June 2014. It acknowledges the two approaches of reducing traffic flow: Increasing road capacity (supply) or reducing traffic (demand). During a forum with the public, the Chairperson of the committee, Prof. Marion Mutungi, reminded attendants that [...]
November 14 2014

Benefits and Challenges of Walking & Biking in Riverside County, California

In August, the California Department of Transportation announced funding awards for the first round of the Active Transportation Program (ATP). The ATP funds walking and biking projects, illustrating that active transportation can be a significant component of a more efficient transportation future. Health benefits of active transportation are obvious – less driving, less stress, more physical activity, etc. Some see walking and biking as something that works best in dense urban areas, but about 20 of ATP funded projects, representing about $30 million, are in Riverside County, where low density and a more car-centric lifestyle present a challenge when prioritizing bike lanes and pedestrian i[...]
November 14 2014

Centre Hospitalier & Schaeffler Factory Set for Deconstruction in Calais, France

Closed since the beginning of summer 2012, the former hospital in Calais, France will be destroyed in 2015. The deconstruction work will last approximately 18 months and should be finished at the end of 2017. Green spaces and townhouses are set to replace the existing structure on this site of 2.5 hectares. The cost of the operation is set at 4.8 million euros. For more than two years, no activity has been registered at the former hospital on the street Quai du Commerce. In order to keep out intruders the site was walled in, adding a somber detail to the decor of this part of downtown. “A Deconstruction, Not a Demolition” The 2.5 hec[...]
November 13 2014

“Reclaiming Our Food” Will Change the Way You Eat: A Book Review

Tanya Denckla Cobb’s latest book, Reclaiming Our Food: How the Grassroots Food Movement Is Changing the Way We Eat, provides a practical guide for anyone looking to get involved in the local foods movement. Cobb uses her experience with food systems planning and public planning mediation to break down case studies and provide readers with suggestions and lessons that can be applied to their situation. The book begins with a look at backyard gardening and progressively moves into studying entire food systems. Many of the stories presented in Reclaiming Our Food focus on how food can be a catalyst to alleviating poverty for many neighborhoods. For example, Gat[...]
November 12 2014

Silos and Signage Reflect Industrial Heritage in Old Port of Montreal, Quebec

The heyday of industrial activity in the Old Port of Montreal lasted between 1896 and 1930, when the city became a bustling center for the grain trade. To meet the demands of the million tonnes of merchandise passing through the city, the port modernized its facilities. Massive grain elevators, sheds and higher quays were built along the port where grain and wheat could be stored, weighed, and sorted. The most recognized of these structures is the expansive complex of grain elevator no. 5, more commonly referred to as Silo no. 5. It was constructed on the Point[...]
November 12 2014

LA2050 Spurs Conversations for a Better Los Angeles, California

As a newcomer to Los Angeles, I am beginning to see that people here are hungry for change. Initiatives that exist to better L.A. are numerous, most falling within the realm of the non-profit. The scope of these initiatives varies greatly – some groups are advocating for better transportation options (ie. Move LA), while others hope to address urban poverty (ie. LA Food Policy Council, Hunger Action LA). Just recently, LA2050, an organization funded by the private family foundation, the Goldshire Foundation, launched a $1,000,000 campaign to better L.A. An astonishing 267 organizations applied, with 10 finalists who shared the prize money. In the photo above, va[...]
November 11 2014

Herzog & De Meuron’s Triangle Tower Faces Opposition in Paris, France

Jacques Herzog found himself in an uncomfortable situation at Paris, France’s Pavillion de l’Arsenal on October 30th. The Swiss architect was presenting the plans for the sculptural building that his firm, Herzog & De Meuron, had conceived for Paris’ Porte de Versailles (the location of one of the original gates into Paris and now an exposition park). This presentation comes only shortly before a decisive vote by the Council of Paris that threatens to block the project. Triangle Tower Project: Key Figures Size of plot of land: 7,500 m2 Height: 180 m Width at the base: 35 m Width at the summit: 17 m Floor area: 92,204 m2 Offi[...]
November 11 2014

Non-Diversified Economic Markets in Detroit, Michigan: Autos and Now Agriculture

Detroit, Michigan's urban agriculture has been enjoying stunning popularity for several years. From a city in exponential decline since the national financial crisis of the end of the last decade, the city's citizens and organisms are eager to promote a new paradigm that could help save the city from inevitable bankruptcy. The politicians, intellectuals and specialists are in agreement in saying that this method, which could be adapted in other great North American metropolises, is probably the path to giving a new life to Detroit. What if the Motor City took the green road? From Motor City to a Dead City Since the second half of the 20th century, Detroit, the [...]
November 10 2014

Coworking in San Francisco: Redefining Our Everyday Workspace

Say goodbye to the worn out 9-to-5 cattle barn of work cubicles. A new movement of alternative workspaces is beginning to take hold across the United States, especially in San Francisco. The number of telecommuters, a.k.a. remote and home worker types, are rapidly growing with the technology age. According to the Global Workplace Analytics, around 25 million people in the United States telecommute. Our perceptions of how, when, and where we work are becoming unhinged by an emerging community of remote workers through what is called coworking. Coworking is where the remote worker or self-employed can work in a shared working environment with similar professionals without being[...]
November 10 2014

“Green Home” Boom in Galway, Ireland Connected to Increase of Urban Farms?

Galway, Ireland has seen an increase in the number of buildings, especially homes, that are designed to be environmentally friendly. These homes can be termed "green homes." However, they are more often called "passive homes." The Irish government is committed to increasing the number of homes that have little or no carbon footprint. Numerous schemes including the Greener Homes Scheme and the Better Energy Warmer Homes Scheme have been launched in the past ten years. An increase in oil prices has encouraged people to look for cheaper and more environmentally friendly ways of building their homes and reducing operating costs, all through efficient <[...]
November 07 2014

Environmental Activists Push for a Grenelle Environment Round Table in Marseille

Polluted Marseille, congested Marseille, Marseille the concrete jungle. Ecological activists in the French city are calling out to elected officials. They have also called for citizens to protest and have used social media to send out web propaganda. The offensive has been launched! Ecologists are up in arms. Marseille is at the top of the least honorable ranking of cities. "[Marseille is] the sixth-most congested city in the world and the most congested commune in France ... It is total chaos," complains Victor-Hugo Espinosa, the president of Ecoforum, an environmental non-profit. He expresses his wish to organize a Grenelle Environment Round Table for the PAC[...]
November 06 2014

In Tokyo, Japan, the Metabolist Nagakin Capsule Tower Faces Demolition

Boxes blackened by the passage of time, piled one on top of the other: the "Nagakin Capsule Tower" sticks out in Tokyo's Shimabshi business district, but a handful of ardent supporters have mobilized themselves in order to prevent the possible demolition of this example of Japanese Metabolist architecture. One of its owners, Masato Abe, is fighting to save this building of 140 rooms with large portholes, futurist in its time, designed in 1972 by the architect Kisho Kurokawa. And so, he has launched a participatory financing campaign - "crowdfunding" - and hopes to "receive donations from the entire world." "We are trying to buy the capsules one by one," explains this[...]
November 06 2014

Motorcycle Taxis and Buses Duke it out in Rio de Janiero’s Rochinha Favela

Only three bus lines (537, 538, 539) serve the residents of Rocinha, in Rio's South Zone, one of the largest favelas in Latin America. While the IBGE says the favela had 70,000 inhabitants in the 2010 census, the residents who live there say there are 200,000 people, while the Data Favela census estimates the population at 150,000. What is certain, however, is that these three lines are not enough to bring workers, students and other residents to other neighborhoods in the city. The Rocinha slum is extremely populous and continues to grow in a disorderly manner on a high hill, full of narrow streets and alleys where buses or vans can not pass. Because of this, residents are forced [...]
November 05 2014

Guerilla Planning in Baltimore City Creates a Mix of Inclusive and Exclusive Spaces

In 2012, Baltimore City’s population grew for the first time in over six decades only to face a disappointing decline in population in 2013. The residents who remain are not blind to the city’s flaws, but choose to work through changes that come to pass in their neighborhoods. Conversely, new residents are bringing in new perspectives in urban design to make the city what they want it to be. While most residents file 311 complaints, use wishful thinking, or relying on city government for change, a handful of residents practice more of a "do-it-yourself" approach to city planning. The following are recent guerrilla or DIY planning [...]
November 04 2014

Southern Brazilian City Canoas Builds Aeromóvel

After the inauguration of the first aeromóvel (elevated train) in Porto Alegre, Brazil in 2013, Canoas is the first city to count the vehicle as an alternative form of public transport. Earlier this month, the city of Canoas and the Ministry of Cities signed a contract that allows bidding for section 1 of the aeromóvel, which will link the Mathias Train station to the April 17 Avenue in the Guajuviras neighborhood. The start of construction is planned for the first half of 2015, with completion in 2016. The first step will be completing the 5.9 km track that should serve about 60 thousand passengers per day. The cost of section 1 will be $287 million. Of this total, US$272 [...]
November 04 2014

First Nations Ousted from Construction Site in Gatineau, Quebec

The occupation of the construction site on the Rue Jacques-Cartier by First Nations protesters lasted forty three days. Now, the teepees have disappeared, the fire is extinguished, and the protesters have been ousted. On September 4, 2014, the City of Gatineau did not skimp on the means for putting an end to this saga: the expanded police intervention ended in the arrest of six people, among them the Chief of the off-reservation Algonquins from Fort-Coulonge, Roger Fleury, who still promises to continue his fight. "It's a sacred archeological site older than 6,000 years! We must keep going, we will return tomorrow," he said in front of doze[...]
November 04 2014

In the Commune of Montans, France, Citizens Speak out Against Methanation Plant

Air Pastel. This is the self-given name of the association of French citizens opposed to the building of a methanation plant in the development area of Guardige-Longue. This development area is located in the commune of Montans, in France's department of Tarn. The association hopes to preserve the quality of life for citizens in the inter-communal area. According to the members, the methanation plant, called the Vinométha project, will have a negative impact on the local environment. Christian Sirgue, president of Air Pastel, explains: "We are not against methanation, but are rather against the size of this industrial methanation plant." He adds, "There are already two agricultu[...]

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