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 “cities” (18)
A road map for tomorrow’s cities
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.
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.
Physicist Geoffrey West has found that simple, mathematical laws govern the properties of cities — that wealth, crime rate, walking speed and many other aspects of a city can be deduced from a single number: the city’s population. In this mind-bending talk from TEDGlobal he shows how it works and how similar laws hold for organisms and corporations.
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.
When you think of a city, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Most likely it is the stuff that it is made up of: its streets and buildings, its parks and squares. But what sets a city apart, aside from its architecture, is how all that stuff is put to use. A city’s nightlife, a city’s cuisine, a city’s culture. In other words, what people make of the space they live in when they are at play.
Play isn’t limited to the ‘soft side’ of urbanism. In fact, it turns out a building isn’t some prefixed structure capable of doing one thing only. Adaptation and reuse continuously transform what a city’s architecture is for, often from the bottom up. In this way, a city’s people shape their homes as well, quite literally.
What is at work in this process of city transformation, is nothing less than play. In cities, just as in games, people and the space they inhabit shape each other. Thus, in our Western cities, where reuse is overtaking construction of new space, we are all becoming architects.
In this session Kars looks at how game culture and play shape the urban fabric, how we might design systems that improve people’s capacity to do so, and how you yourself, through play, can transform the city you call home.
Kars Alfrink is ‘Chief Agent’ of Hubbub, a networked design studio for applied pervasive games. Hubbub works with organizations to create games that take place in public space, engage people physically, and are socially relevant. Amongst other things, these games are used to encourage good citizenship and to facilitate cultural participation.
Besides this, Kars teaches at the Utrecht School of the Arts, where he mentors students who are pursuing a Master of Arts in Interaction Design or Game Design & Development. He is also the initiator and co organizer of ‘This Happened’ — Utrecht,a series of lectures dedicated to the stories behind interaction design.
In his spare time, Kars practices a traditional Japanese martial art, and tries to keep up with geek culture.
As organisms, cities, and companies scale up, they all gain in efficiency, but then they vary. The bigger an organism, the slower. Yet the bigger a city is, the faster it runs. And cities are structurally immortal, while corporations are structurally doomed. Scaling up always creates new problems; cities can innovate faster than the problems indefinitely, while corporations cannot.
These revolutionary findings come from Geoffrey West’s examination of vast quantities of data on the metabolic/economic behavior of organisms and organizations. A theoretical physicist, West was president of Santa Fe Institute from 2005 to 2009 and founded the high energy physics group at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
Spark presents a special hour of Marshall McLuhan-inspired programming called, Tomorrow Is Our Permanent Address, named after one of McLuhan’s own witty turns of phrase. Today marks the centenary of McLuhan’s birth, and what better way to celebrate than exploring the theories of a man who has been credited with predicting the future of technology.
Includes - Why The Medium is Still The Message - The Networked City - From Rare to Everywhere (and back again!) - The Googlization of Everything
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