October 09 2014

Park Director Says Main Source of Brazil’s São Francisco River Is Dry

The São Francisco basin covers five states in Brazil and experts say the biodiversity of the region is under threat. The director of the Serra da Canastra National Park, Arthur Luiz Castanheira, said in an interview with G1 (Globo 1) that the source of the São Francisco River, located in São Roque de Minas, is now dry. "I've never seen this situation," said Castanheira. According to him, this is the main source of the 2,700 km long river. The São Francisco is the largest Brazilian river and its watershed covers 504 municipalities in seven Brazilian states including Bahia, Minas Gerais, Pernambuco, Alagoas, Sergipe, Goiás and the Federal District (Brasilia). It begins in the S[...]
October 08 2014

Pontevedra, Spain Increases Downtown Livability by Reducing Vehicle Access

It’s a city where the car is unobtrusive, a city with neither noise nor fumes, where children can play in the street and people with reduced mobility can access businesses and services easily. Is it a utopia? No, it is the urban model developed by Pontevedra, a city of 83,000 inhabitants located in the Northwest of Spain. In 1999, when Miguel Anxo Fernandez Lores presented himself in local elections, his program was simple. He proposed to the residents to make their city accessible to everyone, especially to the most vulnerable: handicapped people, senior citizens, and children. It was a decision guided by the European directive that is set to establish the equal rights and[...]
October 08 2014

Grants to Aid Baltimore’s Inner Harbor Goal: Swimmable & Fishable by 2020

As a major port city, Baltimore’s history with industrial activity influenced how the city’s land has been zoned and developed over time. The resulting design, infrastructure, and zoning of Baltimore’s neighborhoods has not always lent itself to environmental protection and sustainability. In recent years however, Baltimore City has shown an increasing commitment to the protection of its natural landscape and resources through multiple funding opportunities. Storm-water runoff has been a major problem for Baltimore City. Storm-water runoff, in an urban context, results from aging infrastructure, abandoned lots covered by impervious surfaces, and minimal buffering due[...]
October 08 2014

Building Happiness: A Review of Charles Montgomery’s Happy City

Happy City: Transforming our Lives through Urban Design by Charles Montgomery is the theoretical exploration of what it would mean to create an environmentally-friendly, socially just, aesthetically pleasing, and efficient city. Charles Montgomery is an award-winning author and activist who is known for exploring the intersections between urban planning, psychology, culture, and history. Happy City opens in Bogota, Columbia, where we meet Enrique Peñalosa, whom Montgomery dubs “The Mayor of Happy.” And I say “we meet” Peñalosa, because that is exactly how it feels. Montgomery employs the use of “we” throughout the book to draw the reader into his narrative.[...]
October 07 2014

#IAMTHEGRID: Two Years Later Kennith George Reflects from Wenatchee, WA

“Relevant, innovative and cutting edge” is how Kennith describes The Grid. Nearly two years since blogging, from November 2011 to November 2012, Kennith George was with The Grid in its infancy and has seen it grow. When he began back in November 2011 he was a part-time planning intern near Tacoma, Washington. As part of his plan in pursuing his career goals, he approached The Grid with determination and the knowledge that the internship “would be a short step in my career goals, but important for demonstrating to potential employers that I was truly interested and passionate about urban planning.” Kennith is now a Planner with the Chelan County Department [...]
October 07 2014

Water Outages and Rationing in São Paulo, Brazil Launch Protests

The Movement of Landless Workers (MTST) has been protesting since the afternoon of Thursday [September 25th] outside the headquarters of the Basic Sanitation Company of the State of São Paulo (SABESP) in Pinheiros, west of the capital. Like the protest that ended in violence in Itu (SP) earlier in the week, the movement reports water shortages already imposed in several districts of the city - which the state government has denied for months. On the facebook page for MTST, the following statement was posted: "We live on the outskirts of the city and have faced the challenges of a terrible water supply service, budget cuts and abusive accounting, problems that are constantl[...]
October 07 2014

Environmentalist Hopes to Bring Eco-Tourism to Touques River in Northern France

A meeting with Emmanuel Schmitt, a 23-year old naturalist from Deauville, reveals a passion for the biodiversity of the marshes of the Touques River as well as that of the Côte Fleurie. He hopes to develop a type of local tourism that is focused on nature.   Schmitt could talk for hours about the particular orange that covers the marsh water during a summer sunrise, or about the blended shades of insects with turquoise wings who fly as if by magic. As he talks, you can see the sparkle in his eyes. One usually thinks of the solitary naturalist, who takes an inventory of different species and lives in his bubble of nature as far from humans as possible. But Emmanuel Schmitt doesn’t s[...]
October 06 2014

Casablanca, Morocco Inaugurates its New Casa-port Train Station

His Majesty King Mohammed VI of Morocco recently inaugurated the new train station of Casa-port, which is a crowning achievement for the national transportation network’s modern heritage. The first of its kind in Morocco in terms of design and facilities, the station falls within the series of major construction sites launched by Morocco’s sovereign across the nation’s entire territory. It represents the King’s continued desire to accompany the process of restructuring, urban modernization, and the strengthening of inter-city transportation. Located in the heart of a city undergoing plenty of change, the new station (costing approximately 45 million USD), fits in pe[...]
October 03 2014

#IAMTHEGRID: One Year Later Michael Jenkins Reflects from Oakland, California

“Progressive and illuminating” is how Michael describes his experience with The Grid. Blogging from Nothinghamshire, England between January and June 2013 after finishing his MBA studies, it’s been a little over a year since Michael Jenkins said farewell to The Grid. Since then he has returned to his hometown of Oakland, California where he is a Business Taxes Representative for the State of California. Reflecting, he believes that “The Grid allowed [him] the opportunity to locate issues in city planning and uncover [his] true passion for public sector work.” Coming from a background outside of environmental design, Michael approached The Grid internship[...]
October 02 2014

The Paris Metropolis: An Increasingly Differentiated Social Mosaic

Relying on detailed census data to study the transformations of the Parisian metropolis, Anne Clerval and Matthieu Delage show that a dynamic of becoming more bourgeois should not mask the strength of the social division in the space of the Ile-de-France, especially at the intracommunal scale. The discourses that refer to the suburb and the periurban area in the singular sense are very numerous today. They reify them into a homogenous and monolithic whole. The suburbs are reduced to certain popular neighborhoods, which are very stigmatized and mediatized. Seine-Saint-Denis is seen as a whole without any nuance; the periurban area would be so homogenous that it [...]
October 02 2014

Construction Company to Pay $5 million for Labor Irregularities in Manaus, Brazil

The construction company, Andrade Gutierrez SA was responsible for the construction of the stadium known as the Arena da Amazônia (a football stadium previously known as the Vivaldão which was reconstructed from 2011- 2014 as part of Brazil hosting the 2014 FIFA World Cup). Recently, the company has been ordered to pay an indemnity for collective moral damages in the amount of 5 million reais (about $2 million dollars). The decision is the result of a plea agreement entered before the 12th Labor Court of Manaus, in the civil action records (ACP) filed by the Ministry of Labor in the state of Amazonas (MPT 11th Region). In April 2013, the ministerial body proposed the civil[...]
October 01 2014

Wise or Not, Canton Crossing Brings the Suburbs to Baltimore City, Maryland

If you had never been to Baltimore City and I blindfolded you and dropped you off at the shops at Canton Crossing, upon taking off the blindfold you would rightfully assume that you were in a suburb far, far away. An asphalt parking lot would span out in front of you, without any direct pedestrian path to reach your typical suburban shops including Target, Ulta, Harris Teeter, Five Below, and Old Navy. If you were to turn yourself 180 degrees, you’d see the cluster of historically significant, former breweries redeveloped into architecturally interesting apartment and office towers mixed in with a handful of mostly-local shops and restaurants. These buildings are all connected on an urban st[...]
October 01 2014

Plans to Demolish Architectural Heritage in Brussels, Belgium

A project not adapted to existing buildings could potentially have its building permit request denied. In March 2013, ARAU was alerted by a group of locals that the HUB (Hogeschool-Universiteit Brussel) was planning to “renovate” a group of buildings located at the corner of Marais and Sables streets, which were acquired in December 2012. This “renovation” project, under the name of Campus Meyboom instead resembled a demolition and reconstruction project. As part of the project, a large part of late 19th century and art déco buildings, possessing great cultural value and in very good condition, were condemned to disappearance. The ARAU was therefore opposed to the project [...]
September 30 2014

20,000 Secure Bike Parking Spaces in Ile-de-France, Paris, France by 2020

More than just a pastime, the bicycle also serves as a mode of transportation. At the initiative of the Office of Transportation for the Ile-de-France (Stif), the Veligo measure proposes secure parking spaces for your bicycle near train or metro stations. Users of public transportation who would be prepared to get to the train station or metro via bike are numerous, if only they could leave their precious bicycle there securely. But often, the fear of theft or graffiti dissuades them. The Veligo provision presents the solution to this concern. In effect, it proposes a secure parking space where you can leave your bike during the day and take the train in peace. [...]
September 30 2014

São Paulo, Brazil’s Most Expensive Addresses are Concentrated in 2.5 km

Within just 2.5 km, the ten most expensive addresses are concentrated in the country's largest city. Although São Paulo is the sixth largest metropolis in the world and spreads out across a huge area of 1,522 square kilometers, the neighborhoods separated by the South Zone of Rio Pinheiros are concentrated within a narrow area the size of Switzerland that goes from Morumbi to Vila Nova Conceição. The distance between these luxury condos, at most a 5 km stretch, can easily be accessed on foot. In Rio de Janeiro, as discussed in a previous post, the situation is similar: the most expensive addresses are located within a four kilometer stretch. The survey was conducte[...]
September 29 2014

A Visual Typology: A Modern Face-Lift To San Francisco’s Victorian Homes

Take a walk with me. We are walking up a San Francisco street so steep you think it might be easier to crawl. You feel that if you were to extend your arms straight out you could touch the very ground you tread. Feel your calves burning? Good, now look up. Look at the homes lining the street. Rows of Victorian style homes are filed together almost resembling an untouched, tightly packed bookshelf. The architectural style is Victorian through and through. Over-the-top decorative trim, columns, turrets, bay windows, and shingles give the houses the feel of glorified, human-scaled dollhouse. Questionable color choices have been made: deep purples, lime greens, and pale yellows, with highligh[...]
September 29 2014

Time for Nairobi, Kenya to Manage its Urban Freight or Face Transportation Woes

Population growth in cities comes with a increased demand for goods. These goods need to be transported to get to their consumers. The movement of these goods within the city is what we may call urban freight. The developing world has put little consideration into the management of urban freight within its urban planning frameworks. Most cities deal with urban freight as part of the rest of the vehicular transport. In cities like Nairobi, Kenya, urban freight that contributes to daily traffic includes garbage trucks, construction material trucks, and delivery vans and motorcycles. Hand carts and cyclists are also popular because of the large [...]
September 29 2014

Paris, France Aims for Bicycle Trips to Account for 15% of Transport by 2020

More parking spaces for bikes, new bike paths on the main roadways, widespread 30km/h zones, and possibly wider bicycle paths or even banning automobile traffic surrounding markets; these are some of the measures included in the Parisian local government's new “bike plan.” The plan, which should be finalized at the beginning of December after a period of discussion, was presented during a meeting of the “bicycle committee” of Paris’ 11th arrondissement, in the arrondissement’s city hall on September 16 by a publicly-employed engineer. “We are still in the stage of thinking about the major principles,” indicates this municipal employee. All the same[...]
September 26 2014

#IAMTHEGRID: Two Years Later Jordan Rockerbie Reflects from Montreal, Canada

“Globally diverse content” Jordan encapsulates The Grid in three words. Between June and December 2012 Jordan Rockerbie joined The Grid blogging team from Kelowna, British Columbia and Banff, Alberta, Canada. Now, almost two years later, he reflects on his 6 months with The Grid. He attributes some of his success and current attendance in McGill University’s urban planning program to The Grid. “I wanted to go into urban planning before starting with The Grid,” Jordan explains, “and my employer who helped me the most to get into McGill said specifically that he had Googled me and found my The Grid posts.” He recalls those early days with The Grid, wh[...]
September 26 2014

In Montreal, Bus Drivers Demand a Law Prohibiting Bicyclists in Protected Lanes

Exasperated by the presence of cyclists in the streets’ protected lanes, the bus drivers of Montreal denounce the “inaction” of police officers in a petition. They demand the creation of a law that expressly forbids bikers to ride in lanes reserved for buses during peak hours. Driver Jency Mercier, who works for the Transportation Society of Montreal (STM), is the creator of this petition. The first version, which counted 122 names, was given to the National Assembly last June, but a second version has been in circulation all summer and counts “several hundred” signatures, according to Ms. Mercier.  She worries equally about the safety of cyclists and bus passengers.  “[...]

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