April 13 2015

Expo’s Gate is Full of Programs But Architecture Fails to Impress Milan

Expo Gate: Milan's Gateway to the Expo” is the slogan you can find on the Expo 2015 webpage describing the exhibition's entryway. The structure is located in Via Beltrami, in the city center of Milan, in front of the Castello Sforzesco. It connects the castle, which was the epicenter of the 1906 Universal Exhibition, and Via Dante, the strategic axis displaying the flags of all 130 countries participating in Expo 2015. The gate's location symbolizes the connection between the city and the universal exhibition, making reference to Milan's role as the "gateway between Italy and the rest of the world." The gate's purpose is to introduce the audience to[...]
April 13 2015

University of Connecticut’s Depot Campus: UConn’s Future Gateway

A correctional facility, a mental institution, and a school for the mentally challenged. Sounds like college, right? Surprisingly enough, buildings on the University of Connecticut’s Depot Campus used to be home to these very programs. The University’s acquisition of properties evolved with their closure over the later half of the 1900’s. The former correctional facility on Route 44 was added after it closed in 2011. Situated in a low-key area of Mansfield/Storrs, these buildings, with odd histories, give rise to haunted speculation. Some date back to the 1800’s. In varying condition, they sit amongst an assortment of sports fields, cottages, and newer buildings that mostly serve UCo[...]
April 10 2015

Clichy-Batignolles, France’s Eco-village Implements Pneumatic Waste Disposal

Since January 2015, the inhabitants of the new Clichy-Batignolles eco-neighborhood in Paris, France have been using a pneumatic waste collection system. This innovative waste management model, that will soon be implemented in the entire neighborhood, was born in Sweden 50 years ago and has already been adopted in numerous metropolises around the world. How does it work? Inhabitants of the first three apartment buildings in the Clichy-Batignolles eco-neighborhood (located in Paris’ 17th district) slide their garbage bags into the green-colored receptacle in the lobby of their building. Thanks to a pneumatic collection system, the waste is then transported at nearly 70 km/h through s[...]
April 09 2015

The Blossoming Murals Circuit of Sherbrooke, Quebec’s East District

The gigantic murals that have characterized Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada's city center since 2002 are now taking over the city's eastern side. Between now and the end of April 2015, ten works will be mounted on buildings on Rue King Est, between Bowen and 18th Avenue, in order to create the East Murals circuit. These murals were created live in Sherbrooke during August 2014 by local, national and international artists during the 9th Annual Global Mural Conference. The first mural, unveiled Friday, is the public's favorite at this symposium, depicting a peace mural with two youths, entitled "Global Desire" by the German Steffen Junemann. It was mounted on the wall of a new residen[...]
April 09 2015

La Remise Crowdfunds Villeray, Montreal’s First Tool Sharing Library

On occasion who doesn't need tools for a carpentry, gardening or renovation project? Rather than being forced to buy these tools, the people of Montreal will soon have access to a wide range of cheap equipment thanks to La Remise, a tools library, which plans to open its doors in Villeray, Montreal this spring. Such tool libraries exist elsewhere in Canada and the United States, notably in Toronto, Vancouver and Portland. Managed by volunteers, the library of La Remise's cooperative should begin its activities this May, in time for the gardening season and the period of renovations and moving. The principle is simple. In order to become a member of La R[...]
April 07 2015

Could Université Laval’s Course Schedules Be Causing Quebec’s Traffic Woes?

By starting its classes a half hour later, the Université Laval could reduce a lot of traffic in the capital, suggests a young architect. The question was raised during the Québec 2050 event, which gathered agents of the real estate sector around the future of the capital. Érick Rivard, architect and urban designer with Groupe A, approached the question during work on the  dilemma of "Transportation of People and Merchandise." "I've been in Québec for 15 years, and I still do not understand why no one has asked the Université Laval to change its schedules to start classes at 9 am? I think that would regulate traffic in Québec," he said during the exchanges.[...]
April 07 2015

Fighter Plane Shelters Transformed into Eco-Housing in Haute-Pyrénées, France

An entrepreneur in Haute-Pyrénées, France has developed a process for constructing individual eco-houses, sunk into the earth and built with recycled materials. And you only need sixty days to build one. Blended into the natural landscape, with practically zero net energy consumption, and for a construction cost of less than 1,200 Euros per square meter, NaturaDome is an inhabitable arch imagined and brought into existence by Benoît Darré, Director of Pomès-Darré SAS establishments, a family enterprise in the Hautes-Pyrénées territories. To obtain these results, the young entrepreneur came up with an original engineering and construction process, patented a self[...]
April 06 2015

Alternative Materials: Will Our Future Resilient Cities Rise from the Landfill?

1.3 billion tons of waste is generated each year in cities worldwide. With a rabid consumerist hunger, it is unsurprising that 30% of the world’s waste comes from America. San Francisco is hoping to change this by becoming the first major U.S. city to reach a “zero-waste” goal by 2020. This not only means recycling materials and composting biodegradable foods and packaging, but also preventing waste before it even happens so that nothing reaches the landfill. Currently the city has reached 80% zero-waste, but how are they going to close the remaining gap? Placing designated landfill, recycling, and compost bins throughout the city is a start. Could a more creative approach be the answer t[...]
April 03 2015

Foraging and Gleaning for Food Resiliency in Kitchener, Canada

Urban foraging is not new, and is gaining ground as a sustainable activity that makes ecological sense. While most people undoubtedly still rely on their cars and the weekly run to the supermarket to buy food, there is an increasing number of urbanites in Kitchener-Waterloo (Ontario, Canada) interested in living right off their neighborhood's backyard. In many places poverty is looked down upon, and trying to get free food in the city can be seen as a sign of lower social status. However, in Kitchener and many cities across North America, this is starting to change. As the movement to build sustainable settlements has grown, more people from all backgrounds are looking at how t[...]
April 03 2015

Château de Millemont, France Becomes an Open-Sourced Eco-Village

From August 15th to September 20, 2015, a hundred makers are going to build a village about energy transition at the Château de Millemont in Millemont, France. Benjamin Tincq, Co-founder of OuiShare, a group dedicated to the collaborative economy, is one of the innovators behind this project, baptized POC21. Here is our interview with him. Q: What exactly is the POC21 project? A: In the last few years, we have witnessed several highly inspiring, sustainable projects related to ecology, carried out through open-source innovation, fab labs, and makers. When it comes to housing, for example, there is the Wikihouse, a wooden house that is easy to construct and for which [...]
April 03 2015

Farewell to The Grid From Constant Cap in Nairobi, Kenya

It’s been slightly over a year since I started writing for The Grid, and the journey has come to an end. Starting in November 2013, while a postgraduate student, I began the journey of writing 27 blogs on diverse urbanism topics. The experience has helped me understand the challenges facing the City of Nairobi, from analytic and comparative perspectives. I have reviewed the planning issues facing the City in a deep and concise manner, which has broadened my knowledge and appreciation of the City. Additionally, I have been able to meet and get to know people from different parts of the world with similar interests in urban planning and design. Meeting the[...]
April 02 2015

The Commercial Bloodletting Continues in Centre-City Trois-Rivieres, Quebec

The shutting down of businesses in centre-city Trois-Rivieres, Quebec, Canada is taking place one after the other at a concerning pace. The last in the game to close its doors is Belley's Billiard Lounge. The dramatic drop in clientele - according to the owner, Carl Belley - caused by the economic difficulties of the region, as well as the pyrrhotite crisis, wound up finishing off the business, which opened in 2008. After three initial good years, a slow regression began. "I've been in business a long time, but I had never seen such a radical drop in clientele as in the winter of 2012. So, we put aside two projects we had in Quebec, at Grand Allee and Sherbr[...]
April 02 2015

Re:code LA: Updating Los Angeles’ 1946 Zoning Code

Re:code LA, an ambitious 5-year process to update the zoning code in Los Angeles, is undoubtedly one of the city’s biggest projects, in addition to new plans guiding health and transportation. Zoning code refers to city regulations on the physical development of land – we can think of it as the DNA of city development, dictating land use regulations of what’s allowed to be constructed and where. In the case of Los Angeles, the current zoning code was first adopted back in 1946. What was then an 84-page pamphlet has grown to become a massive and inconvenient 600+ page book. Not only has this slowed the entitlement process of getting new projects approved, but it[...]
April 01 2015

The Loss of Internet Equality in the City of Riverside, California

Access to the Internet has become a necessity these days. Both the United Nations and the creator of the internet have argued that access to it is a human right, and it’s hard to ignore the increasing difficulty of participating in modern society without it. Arguments for and against things like net neutrality, and efforts by municipalities to provide free Wi-Fi access illustrate challenges to providing equitable internet access to the masses. During the mid-2000’s, a few cities took on the challenge of providing free Wi-Fi within city boundaries, and one of the biggest efforts was here in the Inland Empire. When I first learned that the City of Riverside [...]
April 01 2015

Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay to Benefit from Stormwater Management Fees

Maryland’s recent election has disrupted the state’s longstanding political paradigm by electing a new governor, Larry Hogan. Hogan promised to repeal a 2012 law that aimed to increase funding for the state’s stormwater management. Hogan’s own bill was unsuccessful in repealing the law, but other opponents introduced a similar bill to replace the existing law. Regardless, federal oversight and potential consequences of forgoing stormwater management will remain. The City of Baltimore is familiar with such consequences after receiving a bad review from the Environmental Protection Agency in 2009. The Chesapeake Bay’s decline has extended over centuries, a[...]
March 31 2015

Unconventional “Wikibuilding” Planned to Help Reinvent Paris, France

Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris, has designated lot M5A2 in the ZAC Masséna (a concentrated development zone) a part of the project “Reinventing Paris.” The lot is a bare swath of terrain stuck just inside Paris’ periphery, only a few minutes’ walk from the National Library and the 1,000 startups that will, in the future, be set up in the Halle Freyssinet. On this bare lot, it will be possible to construct between 8,000 and 11,000 square meters of mixed-use space, depending on what options are ultimately chosen for construction. It cannot be denied that the location is rather improbable, being on the very furthermost outskirts of Paris. However, this could very well be the location of[...]
March 31 2015

Brutalist Communism Memorial Sited Across from Supreme Court in Ottawa, Canada

Fighting against destructions. Protesting against constructions. To believe that only the status quo is the savior. In Ottawa, the memorial to the victims of Communism has attracted the criticism of the profession. Canada's Royal Architectural Institute has expressed itself as not in favor of the project by Abstrakt Studio. Who would have thought? Since the afternoon of Feb. 5, 2015, the Institute - representing no less than 4,800 members - launched a call to the government so that it would "reconsider its decision to erect the imposing concrete monument on the preeminent site and take back the initial plans," explains John Geddes on the website of the Maclean's weekly magazine[...]
March 31 2015

New Urban Planning School of Paris, France to Open its Doors in September 2015

The Paris Institute of Urban Planning (IUP), attached to the University of Eastern Paris-Créteil, and the French Institute of Urban Planning (IFU), part of the University of Eastern Paris- Marne-la-Vallée, decided to come together to create the Urban Planning School of Paris (EUP). This new school will offer urban planning and development training. The “birth” of this new institution officially took place on March 18, 2015 at the Descartes Campus in Marne-la-Vallée, in the presence of Sylvia Pinel, Minister of Housing, Jurisdictional Equality, and Rural Life who “wanted to be there to salute a merger that she considers exemplary in a region that is equally as much so.”  A 2-ye[...]
March 30 2015

Lack of Lighting and Shelter Influencing Bus Ridership in Twin Cities Metro Area

In the Twin Cities of Minnesota, alternative forms of transportation have been on the rise for many years. Minneapolis is even recognized as having the most bicycle users of any city in the United States. Because of this, it is critical that public transportation systems be designed and run as efficiently and safely as possible. This not only includes the modes of transit themselves – such as buses, light rail, heavy rail, etc. – but also the processes prior to boarding and after exiting a transit vehicle. Many people refuse to use or are uncomfortable with using public transit due to a lack of safety. Though much of this is just a negative perception, there is something to[...]
March 30 2015

Plainfield, Connecticut’s Inter Royal Mill is the Perfect Town Playground Extension?

Every town has them: warehouses, mills, and factories of some bygone industrial heyday. Years of abandonment has deteriorated their structures. Often, they are “contaminated.” Some have been met by fire. Overgrown and fenced-off, "keep out" signs keep us protected from them. The cost of remediating these properties far exceeds the reach of most local and state budgets. After so long, the community seems stuck with them, and we ignore them. They’re our neglected history, now ruins. "Ruins provide the incentive for restoration, and for a return to origins. There has to be an interim of death or rejection before there can be renewal and reform."— J.B. Jackson In his essay[...]

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