City planner Jeff Speck says walking will remain a choice in most American cities for years to come, but that it’s important to incentivize pedestrians. In his book, Walkable City, Speck says urban walks have to be useful, safe, comfortable and interesting.
Tagged with “urban” (16)
Lazar Kunstmann, Jon Lackman: Preservation without Permission: the Paris Urban eXperiment - The Long Now
Their video showed clandestine urban “infiltration” (trespassing) at its most creative. Paris’s Urban Experiment group (UX), now in their fourth decade, have a restoration branch called Untergunther. They evade authorities to carry out secret preservation projects on what they call “nonvisible heritage.”
Being clandestine, they do not reveal their activities except for instances that become publicized in the media; then they reveal everything to set the record straight (and embarrass the media along with the authorities). In the video presented by Untergunther member Lazar Kunstmann and translator Jon Lackman, we see a hidden underground screening room and bar beneath the Trocadero in Paris’s Latin Quarter. When police discover it and shut it down, the equipment is surreptitiously removed to a site deeper in the city’s vast network of underground passages, where film showings continue to this day. One year the group’s annual film festival was staged and performed overnight in one of Paris’s great monuments, the Panthéon, built in 1790. In the video (excerpt here) we see a small boy slipping through newly crafted underground passageways, picking a lock, opening the cupboard with all the Panthéon‘s keys, and gliding on his skateboard beneath the great dome across the ornate marble floors by Foucault’s original pendulum as film enthusiasts set up a temporary theater and have a clandestine film festival—-gone without a trace by dawn.
Elsewhere in the Panthéon the explorers found a neglected old clock displaying stopped time to the public. In 2005 they decided to repair it. They converted an abandoned room high in the monument into a clock shop and hangout. With clockmaker (and UX member) Jean-Baptiste Viot they spent a year completely reconditioning the 1850 works of the clock. Now that it worked again, they thought it should keep time and chime proudly, but someone needed to wind it. They approached the Director of the Panthéon, Bernard Jeannot, who didn’t even know that the monument had a clock. At first dumbfounded, Jeannot publicly embraced the project and applauded Untergunther.
Jeannot’s superiors at the Centre des Monuments Nationaux accordingly fired him (early retirement) and brought suit against Untergunther. The court determined that fixing clocks is not a crime, and in France trespassing on public property is, in itself, not a crime. Case dismissed. Spitefully, the new Director of the Panthéon has made sure the clock remains unwound, and he disabled it by removing an essential part.
Lazar Kunstmann explained (through Jon Lackman) Untergunther’s perspective on cultural heritage, particularly “minor” heritage—-the countless objects that embody cultural continuity but don’t attract institutions to protect them. Who is responsible for such “nonvisible” heritage? The protectors should be local, self-appointed, and nonvisible themselves, because exposure of the value of the objects attracts destructive tourists. Preservation without permission works best without visibility.
Since 2005, Untergunther’s new precautions against discovery have successfully kept its ongoing preservation projects hidden. As for the Panthéon clock, that essential part the Director removed to disable it has been purloined to safekeeping with Untergunther. Someday authorities may allow the clock to tick again. In the meantime it is in good repair.
— by Stewart Brand
Kowloon Walled City was the densest place in the world, ever.
By its peak in the 1990s, the 6.5 acre Kowloon Walled City was home to at least 33,000 people (with estimates of up to 50,000). That’s a population density of at least 3.2 million per square mile. For New York City to get that dense, every man, woman, and child living in Texas would have to move to Manhattan.
To put it another way, think about living in a 1,200 square foot home. Then imagine yourself living with 9 other people. Then imagine that your building is only one unit of a twelve-story building, and every other unit is as full as yours. Then imagine hundreds those buildings crammed together in a space the size of four football fields.
We can’t really imagine it, either.
A road map for tomorrow’s cities
Once long past, listening gave clues for survival. Now we listen unconsciously, blocking noise and tuning in to what we want to hear. Yet the unwanted sounds we filter out tell us a lot about our environment and our lives. Broadcaster Teresa Goff listens for the messages in our walls of sound.
As civilization has become more mechanized, more urbanized and more digitized, the amount of noise has increased in tandem. This noise, according to Garrett Keizer, author of The Unwanted Sound of Everything We Want: A Book about Noise , "is a window for understanding some of the paradoxes and contradictions of being human." If you take the sum total of all sounds within any area, what you have is an intimate reflection of the social, technological, and natural conditions of that place.
Hildegard Westerkamp, a founding member of the World Forum for Acoustic Ecology, says that "Environmental sound is like a spoken word with each sound or soundscape having its own meanings and expressions." So when you listen to the noise, what does it have to tell you? "Noise is a pit of interpretation," says noise musician Brian Chippendale. Broadcaster Teresa Goff goes into the pit with her documentary, The Signal of Noise.
Bikers are everywhere in Copenhagen. And now the city is building new, high-speed routes into the city that will make it easier to commute, even from the distant suburbs.
Back in June, I moderated a panel at the 2011 Subtle Technologies Festival. It was called How can we build a city that thinks like the web?, and included Cory Doctorow (Boing Boing), Mark Surman (Mozilla) and Sara Diamond (OCAD University). This week, on my CBC tech podcast, I’m really pleased to be able to play the full (1 hour ) panel.
The popular image of New York City involves high-rise buildings, glass, and concrete, but all over the five boroughs, people grow vegetables, fish local waters, keep bees, brew beer, and make wine. While reporting her new book, Eat the City, Robin Shulman traveled all over New York, meeting people who want to make things grow. Until the early 20th century, New York was a great center of farming, brewing, and sugar refining, and that history is still present all over the city. The conversation lasts around 25 minutes.
Which are the world’s biggest cities, and what are their populations? Two simple questions that we discover are surprisingly difficult to answer. Plus, has the world got heavier or lighter since the industrial revolution? It’s a question posed by a More or Less listener that got us wondering, too. Dr Chris Smith, part of a group of Cambridge University researchers, known as the Naked Scientists, reckons he’s worked out the answer. This programme was originally broadcast on the BBC World Service.
As cities have gentrified, educated urbanites have come to prize what they regard as "authentic" urban life: aging buildings, art galleries, small boutiques, upscale food markets, neighborhood old-timers, funky ethnic restaurants, and old, family-owned shops. These signify a place’s authenticity, in contrast to the bland standardization of the suburbs and exurbs.
But as Sharon Zukin shows in Naked City, the rapid and pervasive demand for authenticity—evident in escalating real estate prices, expensive stores, and closely monitored urban streetscapes—has helped drive out the very people who first lent a neighborhood its authentic aura: immigrants, the working class, and artists. Zukin traces this economic and social evolution in six archetypal New York areas—Williamsburg, Harlem, the East Village, Union Square, Red Hook, and the city’s community gardens—and travels to both the city’s first IKEA store and the World Trade Center site. She shows that for followers of Jane Jacobs, this transformation is a perversion of what was supposed to happen. Indeed, Naked City is a sobering update of Jacobs’ legendary 1961 book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities.
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