December 16 2014

Social Media & Digital Media Marketing Spurs The City of Quebec’s Rebranding

The City of Quebec is beginning a vast overhaul of its visual identity in order to refresh its image and stay up to date with social media. But there will be no alteration of the famous little boat on the city’s logo. “In no case will the logo be modified or altered,” confirms representative David O’Brien. “The city has recently contacted four design firms to help revise its visual identity. But the boat is a symbol of the city, and therefore it is clear that it is here to stay.” But everything that surrounds the logo is apt to change, he says. “This is truly a complete makeover. The graphic design elements of the city’s banners and st[...]
December 15 2014

“Main Street Movement” Spurs the Revitalization of Small Towns in Iowa

Small towns in Iowa all seem to have one thing in common: historic Main Streets. The Main Streets of Iowa are typically composed of a few blocks of low-slung brick buildings. They are simplistic and unimposing, with small businesses on the ground level and housing or office space above. While the historic significance of these Main Streets is appreciated and protected, many of the buildings have fallen into states of disrepair. However, there have been recent efforts to revitalize these downtowns while maintaining the character of Main Street. Iowa was dealt a huge blow by the farm crisis of the 1980’s, when crop prices were driven down by a bad economy and many farmers c[...]
December 15 2014

The Architectural Paradox: SOM’s Oakland Cathedral of Christ the Light

Derived from the Greek word Katholicos, the word catholic means “universal” or “all-embracing.” This is an interesting paradox for a religion with an often authoritative past and history of exclusion. A paradox is a statement which contradicts itself but may be true. Unlike “drowning in a the fountain of eternal life” or “jumbo shrimp” the paradoxes in this post serve as more subjective contradictions. It can even be argued that the city of Oakland is a paradox itself. As a city branded by a reputation of being rough and non-inclusive, it is dramatically transforming into a destination point and unique community. While San Francisco becomes the playground [...]
December 12 2014

Recognition of Slum Dwellers is Essential for Urban Development in Nairobi, Kenya

Access to safe, sanitary, affordable housing and basic infrastructure is a basic human right. In colonial Africa, Africans were limited to living in segregated, poorly planned areas. After independence, in cities like Accra, (Ghana), Lusaka (Zambia), and Harare (Zimbabwe) rich Africans moved to European and Asian residential areas, while the poor (and increasing urban migrants) were in the crowded former reserves. This is no exception in Nairobi, Kenya where the increased urban populace has caused a major challenge to the authorities to keep up with the demand for affordable housing. This has led to the proliferation of informal settlements. Today,over 50% of the popu[...]
December 12 2014

Learning to Ride a Bike Isn’t Child’s Play: Montreuil, France’s Six-Level Bike School

Is there a perfect age for learning to ride a bike? Not necessarily. Because not everyone learns to ride a bike at the same time, there are now numerous bike schools where one can learn to sit atop a two-wheeler with the help of specialized teachers. This is precisely the case with the bike school in Montreuil, France. The school is “a pioneering organization, entirely run by volunteers” that allows everyone, but above all, adults, to familiarize themselves with the practice of riding a bike in the urban environment. In existence for twelve years, Montreuil’s bike school has helped more than 2,000 students learn to become real, tough cyclists. This is thanks to using simple, yet[...]
December 11 2014

Discussion of Restoring Urban Waterways in Montreal, Quebec Picks up Momentum

Is it realistic to think about exhuming or recreating the streams and rivers that have disappeared in the wake of urbanization in the city of Montreal? Over the last few years, this idea has gained traction, even becoming the topic of a documentary in 2012 - with "Lost Rivers," by Caroline Bacle. Projet Montreal put the subject on the agenda for their most recent session of municipal council, which took place Nov. 24. The opposition party at City Hall will present a motion for Montreal to engage in the protection of the existing streams and evaluate the possibility of creating others within the framework of development projects. The rivers and streams of M[...]
December 11 2014

Gentrification and Dislocation of Los Angeles’ Urban Poor Leading to Homelessness

Known for being a city of extremes, Los Angeles has an extremely high homeless population. In 2013, it was estimated that 54,000 individuals were homeless within Los Angeles County. Government officials are still uncertain as to whether that number is an accurate estimate due to the difficulty of conducting a complete survey of the population. Many homeless individuals were missed in the survey as there are not enough shelters to count, and many homeless individuals are located in inconspicuous places. From an urban planning perspective, accounting for the homeless population has been a struggle for many years. Beginning in the 1970’s, organizations like SRO Housing C[...]
December 09 2014

Folding Bikes Allowed on Trams & Buses for the First Time in Caen, France

Up until now, bikes have not been allowed on public transportation in the Caen agglomeration in Caen, France. They have recently started to find their place, but only folding bikes will be allowed on buses and trams. Beginning on Dec. 1, 2014, the rules concerning bikes on public transportation evolved. “Following users’ requests and a period of reflection on the Caen agglomeration bike policies, it seemed necessary to alter the rules in order to allow folding bikes on board. When folded, they barely take up any space.” Viacités, the public transportation union who is in charge of making this decision, insists, however, that the bikes be fold[...]
December 08 2014

The Tomorrow Plan: Des Moines, Iowa’s Attempt at Regional Planning

In 2011, the Des Moines Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) initiated an attempt at regional planning for the Greater Des Moines area, the goal being to coordinate planning efforts among municipalities in order to promote sustainability in the region. This project is known as the Tomorrow Plan, a title that looks to the future. While this substantial effort was generally successful in garnering support from the cities and counties within the region, residents have been disappointed in the implementation of the plan thus far. The Tomorrow Plan is meant to encourage people to consider their needs from a regional perspective instead of just within the context of their own[...]
December 08 2014

Connecticut Since the Abolition of County Government in 1959

Most of New England is made up of counties that predate the Declaration of Independence. However, these counties exist largely as geographical regions, with few reminders of their former county governments besides old courthouses, maps, and online administrative forms. The neighboring state of Rhode Island abandoned their county governance over 100 years earlier than Connecticut. Vermont and Massachusetts maintain a weak county government similar to what Connecticut once had, but theirs, too, is growing weaker. At its height, Connecticut's county government was responsible for liquor licenses, and services such as roads, jails, and courts. At the time county level government was abolish[...]
December 08 2014

Trial and Error of CSAs and Farm Co-Ops is About to Pay Off in Baltimore City

The United States has lost over four million farms since 1930, which was around the time the economics and sustainability of farming was changed by factory farming and other challenges. Baltimore County has lost nearly 150 farms between 2002 and 2012. Data for Baltimore City was not available; however, the Farm Alliance of Baltimore City estimates there are around twelve urban farms in the city. Baltimore City residents have thus relied on supermarkets’ mass-produced food, though for many, even this option is not available, as 20% of city residents live in what the city’s planning department calls food deserts. Certain characteristics defin[...]
December 05 2014

No Credit Card Needed for Community Access Bikeshare in Ontario, Canada

Summer 2013 saw the birth of a new breed of bikesharing: Community Access Bikeshare or CAB, located in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. Now just a year down the line, this modest bikeshare has countless ambitions to put community-based cycling infrastructure on the map. With seven stations already installed and a membership 125 strong and growing, the Community Access Bikeshare project might redefine what it means “to take the CAB.” Community Access Bikeshare is an example of a growing cycling trend being put into action as a tool to support the local community. Like other bikeshares, it is a project aimed at promoting green design and cycling culture in an automotive dependent[...]
December 05 2014

Gentrification is Hurting Neighborhoods in Downtown Kitchener, Canada

In the last few years, gentrification has been causing problems in downtown areas around North America, and now Kitchener (in Ontario, Canada) is no exception. While developments downtown can be good for intensification and improving urban design, current developments are beginning to marginalize long-term residents. [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y_cZ7oACwTc] In the last three decades, many North American cities have been following a pattern of unsustainable sub-urban growth. This pattern of suburbanization has been not only environmentally unsound, but has also has also worsened problems around social isolation. Planning took a turn in the 1990s after which the "down[...]
December 05 2014

Malpassé Neighborhood in Marseille, France Faces Redevelopment and Evictions

Among the fourteen urban redevelopment projects in Marseille, France, the one in the Malpassé neighborhood has been the most sizeable since it was launched in 2010 by the City of Marseille, the National Agency of Urban Renovation (ARNU), and public sponsors. However, the neighborhood’s urban redevelopment project has been built on a foundation of anger, with renters accusing officials of unfairly forcing relocations. On November 17th a guided visit was held in this neighborhood of the 13th district in order to show off the previous four years of work and the numerous buildings that were finished during this time, or are still underway. The area saw the restoration of social hous[...]
December 05 2014

Reinventing Industrial Milan: Old Factories Brought Back to Life in a Cultural Context

Milan is a city with a strong industrial background that is an economically influential business, financial, and design center in Europe and beyond. By the late 12th century, Milan was one of Italy's most wealthy and industrious hubs due to its large production of armour and wool that increased the Lombary region's wealth. During the Renaissance era, Milan was part of the chain of cities (Venice, Rome, and Florence) that were producing luxury goods, textiles, and fabrics. At the end of the 19th and early 20th centuries, Milan became a major European industrial center due to its automobile, chemical, and heavy machinery production industries. It[...]
December 04 2014

Four Families Discuss Their Departure From Montreal, To Greenfield Park

Portraits of young families, which after having lived in some of Montreal's trendiest neighborhoods, have decided to cross the bridges and establish themselves in Longueuil, in the Greenfield Park arrondisement. "I like the vintage style of our split-level house." At first, Iveth Morales, 36, and Alex Farias, 35, both of Mexican origin, wanted to buy a house in Montreal "in order to have more space and privacy for my work," confides Iveth, a designer of jewelry, under The Angry Weather brand. "But it was really too expensive. Therefore we turned to the suburbs, Greenfield Park, which is near Montreal. At the end of August, we left our building in the Rosemont-La-Petite-Patrie ar[...]
December 03 2014

Verdun’s First Microbrewery Reflects Gentrification of Montreal Neighbourhood

Often thought of as an impoverished working class neighbourhood, the borough of Verdun in Montreal, Quebec has been experiencing a renewal since the early 2000's. This eclectic area sandwiched between the Montreal Aqueduct Canal and the St. Lawrence River contains ample waterfront property with bike paths, parks and recreational facilities. Coupled with its proximity to downtown and the convenience of having three metro stations span the entire neighbourhood, it is becoming an increasingly attractive location for new immigrants, young families, and students wishing to pay lower rents than trendier central areas. This change in demographics has also resulted in[...]
December 03 2014

Architectural Heritage Loses Ground in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Among the aged temples and deteriorating colonial buildings in Phnom Penh, rise a new architecture of an international contemporary style that could be located anywhere in the world. Everyday new developments erase part of the city’s past, and without a strong effort to preserve some of the meaningful structures, Phnom Penh’s current construction boom could destroy the city’s architectural heritage. Phnom Penh has a unique and diverse architectural history that ranges from ancient Khmer culture to French influenced city planning and residential villas, to Corbusier’s modernist ideas with a Cambodian twist. Of course, none of[...]
December 02 2014

In Paris’ 14th District, Former Shelter is Transformed into Social Housing

The migrant shelter on the Rue des Arbustes in Paris’ 14th district has been completely transformed into social housing. The building is owned by the COALLIA group, and its transformation has been a part of the Plan for the Treatment of Migrant Workers’ Shelters. This metamorphosis is thanks to plans by Calq Architecture and construction by the BATEG enterprise (an affiliate of VINCI Construction France). The project combines great attention to design (including the modification of the building’s façade and a new layout) with technical prowess (including asbestos removal and thermal insulation and solar energy). New Spaces Link Privacy with Convivi[...]
December 02 2014

Modification of Lighting in Magog, Quebec to Reduce Light Pollution & Energy Use

Currently, the city of Magog, Quebec has a policy regarding street lighting within its boundaries that will allow it to save nearly $175,000 per year while also reducing light pollution. Before the adoption of its policy on street lighting, the City of Magog carried out pilot projects in 2013 and 2014 in order to test the new approaches. It reduced the number of fixtures and specific sites and began using light-emitting diodes and LEDs in place of traditional bulbs. LEDs provide the double advantage of giving off less glare and requiring less energy. "The next stage is to make these practices uniform across the whole region serviced by [...]
 

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