June 17 2015
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
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 12 2015
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 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
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
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
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
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 $45 billion. Already being dubbed as the “new New Cairo” of Egypt, not to be confused with existing “New Cairo,” the development will be the largest planned city in history.
How long does it take to build a city? Egyptian Housing Minister, Mustafa Madbouley, is currently projecting the completion date in 2022. The masterplan, by architecture firm SOM (Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill LLP), is geared towards core concepts revolving around education[...]
June 05 2015
The Belo Monte hydroelectric dam on the Xingu River, in the state of Pará, Brazil, is now 77% complete. In November 2015, it will begin minimal operations, at just 3% of its total capacity. The unit’s major machines will begin operation in March 2016. In the meantime, Altamira and other municipalities of Pará are already experiencing the positive effects brought by the enormous endeavor.
The municipalities of the region will receive in total R$ 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
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 03 2015
In 2008, residents united to found the community of Vila Esperança where over one thousand families live today. Located in the district of Pau da Lima, in Salvador Brazil, the hilly region divides the residents between an upper and lower area.
The upper part has the only paved road in the community, with the majority of houses built from stone, and is the location of Association of the Residents of Vila Esperança. Descending the steps to the lower area, one will encounter makeshift dwellings made of wood, plastic, and other materials.
Deprived of nearly all public services, just a few houses have regular electricity. The absence of basic sanitation, treated water, [...]
June 03 2015
Good urban planning requires forward thinking as well as learning from past successes and failures. Urban planning ideals are steadily evolving, and past practices have created dicey results that today’s planners are still grappling with. In particular, decades of parking policy are increasingly being questioned in many cities, including Baltimore, Maryland. Baltimore’s zoning code, including requirements for off-street parking, went largely unchanged since 1971. In 2008, parking and other requirements were reworked as part of a comprehensive zoning code rewrite. In 2015, Baltimore still suffers from plenty of parking-related issues, including the follo[...]
June 02 2015
Beginning June 1st, 2015, electric mobility scooters, trikes, and other motorized wheelchairs will be subject to the laws governing driving, the same as other users of the road in Magog, Quebec, Canada. Transport Quebec just publicly revealed its pilot project aimed at supervising the conduct of these vehicles that together are labelled as AAM (from the French for “Motorized Mobility Aid”).
In addition to submitting users to regulation, the project gives police officers the power to legally intervene and to give out tickets to rule violators when necessary. “With this bill, the role of AAMs is now much clearer to everyone. Now we just have to inform AAM d[...]
May 29 2015
In Versailles, contemporary architecture is making timid forays into the city under the omnipresent eye of Louis XIV. This is an exercise with high risk for the city which is constrained by its imposing heritage. In some places, matte steel and sculpted concrete sit side by side with 300-year old gilded stone ... a complicated marriage that began a few years ago in this city which was created in its entirety by André Le Nôtre for Louis XIV. “We are in the largest preserved 18th-century sector of France. The city is marked by a powerful history, and urban planning rules are strict. The smallest faux-pas is taken as a catastrophe,” summarizes François de Mazières, a Mayor who often v[...]
May 29 2015
In Manaus, Brazil, on May 19th, the level of the Rio Negro exceeded the minimum emergency quota of 28.94 meters (94.95 feet) with a level of 28.97 meters (95.05 feet). The volume of the water, aided by recent heavy rains, caused much flooding in the streets of Central Manaus.
In accordance with the measuring system of the Port of Manaus, the level was recorded on the morning of the 19th and was five centimeters (0.2 feet) greater than the previous week’s reading.
The number exceeded the minimum quota determining an emergency, which was published by the Geological Service of Brazil (CPRM). The agency provides that a level of 29.62 meters ([...]
May 29 2015
Baltimore City, Maryland’s school-age population is roughly 90,000, with about 185 public or charter schools that enroll based on neighborhood, academic criteria, school choice, lottery, or specialization. The mix of school types and enrollment practices in Baltimore City means greater opportunities for students regardless of their home address or lack thereof. However, much of the opportunity brought on by school choice is diminished by persistent shortfalls in transportation options for students. Yellow bus service may be provided to students of certain elementary schools, while others receive an S-Pass for public transit or taxi vouchers. Others receive nothing.
On any g[...]
May 28 2015
In June of 2013, former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa released the Health Atlas for the City of Los Angeles. The document was the first step to better understanding the areas within the City of Los Angeles that are currently burdened with the most adverse health-related conditions. The Health Atlas analyses how demographic conditions, social and economic factors, the physical environment, access to health care, and health behavior play a role in the overall health of city residents. Specifically, more than 100 health indicators including asthma, coronary disease, and obesity were studied within Los Angeles neighborhoods. Some of the key findings in the Health Atlas include:
May 27 2015
As we know very well here in the Inland Empire, California, there is value in undeveloped land. It can provide a blank slate for development, can host renewable energy systems such as large-scale solar or wind power, or can be preserved to let the natural systems thrive. But while we focus on the possibilities of a vacant lot, we sometimes miss the value of our older, more mature neighborhoods. These neighborhoods have established infrastructure, central locations, mature trees, and community pride. Sometimes however, they appear run down and undesirable, a phenomenon that hides the neighborhoods’ true potential and can also indicate hidden problems. Take Riverside’s Eastside neighborho[...]
May 27 2015
The marshland in Rio de Janeiro State is about to have a new building constructed and certified by the Green Building Council Brazil. The structure, designed by an NGO called Onda Viva, will house the Center for Ecology and Education for a Creative Economy.
The project proposes to unite citizenship and sustainability. “The idea is to have sustainability issues open, inclusive, and instructive for all. We want to inform the public perception about sustainable construction and how an energy efficient building works. For example: reducing the use of potable water, using new renewable energy technologies, and materials & equipment that meet environme[...]
May 26 2015
Have you heard of the UK's Center Parcs? They are a network of vacation villages that require you to do only one thing: leave your car outside the park and get around the village by foot or bike. This is a bit of the philosophy that has been adopted by the Matexi group, developer of a new project of 114 housing units on the Poteresse Plateau in Bouge, Namur, Belgium. The project will be brought to completion by the Arbre d’Or Studio. The neighborhood will contain 68 houses (115 to 150 m2 / 1,237 to 1,615 square feet), 46 apartments, and an estimated 250 new residents. This will, in all likelihood, add up to a lot of vehicles whose parking must be considered.
“In 2011, when the fi[...]