June 11 2015

Metelkova Mesto, the Autonomous Squat at the Heart of Ljubljana, Slovenia

“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

Developer Foresaw the Untapped Potential of “The Delmar Loop” in St. Louis, Missouri

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

“Flower Factory” Tours Begin at the Municipal Garden of Curitiba, Brazil

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

Re:Code LA Provides the First Update to Los Angeles’ Zoning Code in Sixty Years

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

Egypt’s New Capital Will be the Largest Planned City in History. But is it Possible?

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

Opening This Year, Brazil’s Belo Monte Dam Will Be Fourth Largest in the World

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

Citizens of Laval, Quebec Propose Height Limits for New Development

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

Teto Uses Catarse to Crowdsource Funding for Emergency Housing in Salvador, Brazil

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

Three Ways Baltimore City, Maryland Suffers from Parking Woes

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

Electric Scooters and Wheelchairs Now Subject to Motorists Laws in Magog, Quebec

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

Versailles, France Welcomes Contemporary Architecture, Minus the Brutalism

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

Businesses Close as Rio Negro River in Manaus, Brazil Exceeds Emergency Level

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, Maryland’s Transportation Options Minimizes School Choice Opportunities

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

Los Angeles’ Health Atlas Spurs General Plans’ Adoption of Health & Wellness

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: Geographic l[...]
May 27 2015

Riverside, CA’s Eastside Provides Benefits and Challenges of A Mature Neighborhood

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

Rio de Janeiro State to Build Fully Green Education Center Using Shipping Containers

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

Bouge, Belgium’s New Neighborhood Requires Vehicle Parking on the Periphery

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[...]
May 25 2015

Minneapolis’ Historic Peavey Plaza Falls into Disrepair & Faces Destruction?

There are many factors that weigh into the decision to limit funding for the upkeep of a historic landmark, particularly one significant enough to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Such is the case with Peavey Plaza, located downtown in Minneapolis, Minnesota. It was designed by landscape architect M. Paul Friedberg as a sunken plaza and event space in 1975. Located alongside the popular Nicollet Mall Street and directly next to the Minneapolis Orchestra Hall, the main feature of Peavey Plaza is the large reflection pool and elaborate fountain system that circulated water throughout the space. Today, the [...]
May 22 2015

Expansion of Electric Trikes in Lyon, France Spurs Microfranchise Opportunities

The French microcredit leader, Adie, just started a franchise with a Lyonnaise startup that transports people and packages on electric delivery trikes. The microcredit company allows people who are unemployed to create or take up work again and expand their scope of operations thanks to financial aid. Adie, the leader in this market, with more than 120,000 microcredits given out over its 25 years as a company, hopes to develop “turn-key” contracts with entrepreneurs who lack ideas for new projects. Since 2009, the association has launched a social microfranchise project with partners such as the French delivery specialist O2 (to deliver gardening materials), as well as Chauffe[...]
May 22 2015

Relic of the Republic: The History of Ho Chi Minh City’s Reunification Palace

On April 30th, Vietnam celebrated forty years since the end of the Vietnam War and the reunification of North and South Vietnam. It was on that date in 1975 that North Vietnam and her allies in the Liberation Army of South Vietnam (Viet Cong) seized Saigon, which at that time was operating as the southern capital. The image, perhaps most emblematic of Saigon’s collapse, is that of a North Vietnamese tank tearing through the gates of the Presidential Palace and the palace’s South Vietnamese flag being supplanted by the rebel flag of the Viet Cong.

Today, the former[...]

 

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