Changes in society = changes in cities?

    Wondering what this quote from the European Commison would imply for the planning and design of cities:

    “Materialism and consumerism are starting to lose their appeal in the more affluent societies, and this will increasingly contribute to transform the focus of policy discourses and strategies, beyond the current growth focused policies. Globally, especially with the growth of emerging economies people are working harder and longer – and will earn more money as a result – but in affluentsocieties it is becoming increasingly obvious that money cannot buy happiness and that identities is shaped by how we live rather than what we own or consume”
    European Commison, 2012 p. 15

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    "Neither cities nor places in them are unordered, unplanned; the question is only whose order, whose planning, for what purpose?"

    Peter Marcuse in Not chaos, but walls: Postmodernism and the partitioned city

    • 10 months ago
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    "The future of cities today depends less on building and more on the mental organization of socio-economic relations"

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    "… the main challenge of and the main key to sustainable development is not more knowledge about ecosystems, or necessary technical innovation, and not even the constrains of the economic or political systems, but the lack of organisational capacity of grassroots - and individual citizens - into the development process."

    • 1 year ago
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    "Professionals are against participation because it destroys the arcane privileges of specialisation, unveils the professional secret, strips bare incompetence, multiplies responsibilities and converts them from the private into the social."

    Giancarlo De Carlo,  - An Architecture of Participation (1980)

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    "A developed country is not a place where the poor own cars. It is a place where the rich use public transportation"

    Gustavo Petro - Mayor of Bogota 2011-2014

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    "Sustainable development is like teenage sex - everybody claims they are doing it but most people aren’t, and those that are, are doing it very badly"

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    "Design activity and political thought are indivisible"

    Thomas Jefferson

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    "What makes a space public .. is not its preordained “publicness”. Rather, it is when, to fulfill a pressing need, some group or another takes space and through its actions makes it public"

    • 2 years ago
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    CICLAVIA!!! Connecting communities and giving people a break from the stress of car traffic

    Source: http://www.ciclavia.org

    Inspired by Bogota’s “ciclovia”, Los Angeles, one of the worlds more car oriented cities has started an new public space campaign that “temporarily removes cars from streets - and fill them up with smiles!” CICLAVIA!


    Last Sunday was the fourth time this exiting initiative took place, covering over 10 miles of Los Angeles’ downtown. The goal is to make this event on a more regular basis, following the example of Bogota that does it every Sunday. In this city “ciclovias” have been carried out  since the 1990’s as a response to the high congestion, pollution of city streets, as well as low amount of appropriate public spaces. A very common escenario of many cities in the world. As expressed by the organizer of Ciclavia “In Los Angeles (and i would add other cities) we need CicLAvias more than ever. Our streets are congested with traffic, our air is polluted with toxic fumes, our children suffer from obesity and other health conditions caused by the scarcity of public space and safe, healthy transportation options”.


    Find more about what is going on with Ciclavia at http://www.ciclavia.org/blog/ . The next one is in October 14

    • 2 years ago

    "We need more insurgency in the city in order to break unsustainable and privatizing patterns of urban development"

    — Jeffery Hou editor of Insurgent Public Space: Guerrilla Urbanism and the Remaking of Contemporary city

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    "…ordinary people can make the extraordinary happen, given the chance."

    — Charles Landry in The Art of City Making

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    "Many architects and planners today advocate the necessity of having more public space in the city. Richard Rogers in his report Towards an Urban Renaissance (Urban Task Force, 1999) calls for such public spaces, envisaging them as squares, piazzas, unproblematically open to all. However, as Doreen Massey notes in her recent book For Space, ‘from the greatest public square to the smallest public park, these places are a product of, and internally dislocated by, heterogeneous and sometimes conflicting social identities/relations’.This is what gives real ‘public’ dimension. Public space should be, then, described in terms of its evolving relations,
    as a space in permanent mobility, not only physical but also social and political. Architects and urban planners might learn that creativity is required where the conflicting nature of public space is revealed; by way of imagining solutions, or of making sense together, etc."

    • 2 years ago
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    Taking urban sustainability seriously: A call for radical “small” approaches to urban change

    In the last decade of planning and policy making, radical or experimental approaches to the organisation of society and the way we plan, design and manage cities have been rare. What has instead evolved during recent years is a firm consensus that sustainable societies and cities can be achieved within the frames of our current unsustainable path (economic, organizational, consumerist patterns) through small steps such as biking lanes, light-rail, densification strategies and growth boundaries.

    Critical researchers, such as Erik Swyngedouw and Roger Keil, argue however that this “light greening‟ of current society and cities cannot reach deeply enough to fundamentally redirect the destructive dynamics of today’s urbanism. They are not enough to handle the threats posed by climate change, uneven global development, and growing socio-economic segregation (see this blog’s post Green Building alone won’t save the planet). Instead they call for visions and initiataives of alternative futures and more deep-reaching approaches that can help change the structural problems of our unsustainble society. As Zev Naveh well said it “our present environmental crisis has to  be recognized and resolved as an all-embracing cultural revolution”.

    Therefore attention needs to be paid to the growing number of initiatives of social movements, communities, and non-traditional practitioners that challenge today’s predominant social order and the ways in which we traditionally plan, design and manage our cities.

    In this blog I try to share alternative practices that have the potential to creat big difference in our cities. Some of these can be seen in posts such as the ones about Park(ing) Day, Space Hijackers, The Bottle city project, or the practice of Atelier d’architecture autogérée. Although most of these examples and their initiatives and projects are small in scale, I believe that it is through these small bottom up initiatives that we can create the structural change that it is needed. Initiatives that do not only change the way cities are physically, but that also dig deep and create a change in the way people and communities think, how they organize, how they use the city and what they value in it. The accumulation of many of these small initiatives can help us create a shift to our current unsustainable path. Therefore a call for much more radical “small” approaches to urban change.

    parts of the text are based on: Green Futures Symposium: Form Utopian grans schemes to micro-practices

    • 2 years ago
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    Start Up Street - What will you start up?

    Another interesting example of how government agencies are involving local communities in the development of their urban areas.

    According to Architecture+Design Scotland the Start Up Street initiative’s goal is to “explore how people with ideas, talents and capabilities in the city can be matched with the available spaces in the city, supported by a community of interest. This idea is being tested in a prototype phase to engage a wide range of interests in exploring how the idea works, what is feasible, what is not. The objective is to use this practical method of testing the idea to develop a live project, to start small and build up a sustainable, self supporting enterprise”

    Find more about the Start Up Street project here.

    via irishboyinlondon

    (Source: buildgreatcities)

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