It is easy to tear a single sheet of paper – and nearly impossible to rip a whole stack of them. Building on this simple observation, researchers at Georgia Tech, the University of Illinois, and the University of Tokyo created structurally engineered plastic tubes inspired by Origami arts. The physical endurance and structural flexibility of this lightweight material when folded and stacked, could have important implications on civil engineering, disaster infrastructure and urban resilience. In fact, Pritzker-winning architect Shigeru Ban is already employing some of these techniques.
In an illuminating (and philosophical) article, Digital Tonto makes the argument that every era is defined by its technology. The article focuses on the important role that storytelling plays in helping us to make sense of technology and its applications. Paraphrasing Martin Heidegger, the author notes that, “to build for the world you must first understand what it means to live in it.” With this in mind, and in the early days of the digital era, what does the intersection of humanity and technology mean to cities?
Recognizing the essential roles that cities play in contemporary society, Fast Company includes an Urban Solutions category in its annual Fast Co.Design Innovation By Design Awards. Responding to challenging budgetary situations facing my cities, this year’s winner brings the potential of public-private partnerships to Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) in Florida. Be inspired by the winning entry and a number of other creative and innovative urban solutions here!
In the wake of Uber releasing its new Smart Routes feature, which follows up on last year’s launch of UberPool, there has been considerable discussion about the company’s shift towards the realm of public transportation. As Planetizen succinctly underlines, whether this is good or bad for public transportation is open to debate.
Green building awareness, construction and data collection efforts have led to impressive data-driven opportunities to reduce resource consumption in buildings. However the voluntary approach, focusing on (mainly new and high end) buildings, have had only limited impacts on overall efficiency. Jeff Ranson, executive director of the Toronto 2030 District, argues that urban systems modelling can help drive community-scale resource efficiency. He identifies several programs that are doing so in Europe and proposes Toronto 2030 District for a pilot effort in North America.
The smart city comes with numerous benefits, from more adaptive mobility systems to enhanced service coordination, but when does a smart city turn dumb? In an insightful article, New Scientist looks at how technological advances have not been matched by similar security improvements. So far, cities have stayed one step ahead of hackers, but these vulnerabilities present a serious challenge to cities. They also present a valuable opportunity for integrated city-making firms.
Two years ago, the City of Portland turned to the local software industry to make its RFP process more effective and efficient. In response, local firm Switchboard offered a simple “Ask & Offer” approach. Recognizing that departments, firms and others may know what the challenge is, but not how (or who) to best solve it, Switchboard connects users who have requests or offers. The solution has effectively connected start-ups and City departments, while also supporting the local tech industry. Read more at Next City.