Cities and buildings are made for people and by people. Architects’ interpretation of the human body transfers into their architectural designs. Le Corbusier‘s tall and muscular person created utopian city sketches with large geometrical buildings. Similarly, Theo van Doesburg’s stacked up person looks exactly like many of his products. The way we perceive our surroundings influences how and who we shape them for. How would you, or your favourite architect draw the most vital of forms?
Recently, the American Institute of Architects released a report on diversity in architecture. The results show that while both women and people of colour remain underrepresented, gender issues are particularly acute. In support, Archdaily wrote about how greater gender equity and workforce diversity benefits a firm’s triple bottom line. Work-life balance, flexibility and working hours were key challenges reported. Addressing these concerns is likely to have one more benefit: a field more reflective and responsive to the society it serves.
The appeal of cities among millennials is well-documented, and even celebrated. But is change in the air? As CityLab writes, demographics and aging could mean that millennial population growth in cities tapers off. This shift need not lead to collapse however. By recognizing that the urban boom may not last forever, making cities more family friendly, building a broader range of housing, and continuing to do what works, cities can evolve accordingly.
Drones are expected have big impacts on a range of industries, but also represent new security risks. In response, London Police are training eagles to handle this high-tech security headache, another example of the reapplication of ancient technology, while Michigan Tech created a robotic drone catcher. Conversely, the FDA recently loosened restrictions on “micro” drones, as Amazon moves full speed ahead with its own project. What creative ideas and/or concerns about the spreading drones do you have?
If sustainability action plans and eco-districts were three legged stools, most would fall over. Environmental and economic sustainability are typically well-accounted for in these plans, but as San Diego UrbDeZine writes, social sustainability, is often an afterthought. However, marginalized communities face a high share of environmental degradation and as poverty sprawls outwards, it will be impossible to successfully address environmental sustainability without a legitimate social component. Looking forward, city-makers that can create three strong sustainability legs will have lucrative prospects, and a stool for cities to sit on.
NASA scientists aimed to create more stable spaceships, but inadvertently found a way to make buildings safer during earthquakes. In an example of the hummingbird effect, an interstellar innovation presents an opportunity to change the way buildings are “earthquake proofed”. This has particular promise for cities on North America’s west coast as they prepare for the “really big one“. More broadly, the innovation underlines the potential to apply existing technology to new fields and the value of cross-sector cooperation.
In the 50 years since the release of The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Jane Jacobs‘ work has been celebrated and critiqued in a diversity of ways. Best known for exuding the benefits of walkable, human-scale neighbourhoods, her introduction of the “web way of thinking” to urbanism is an under-appreciated contribution. Planetizen emphasizes this in a list of Jane Jacobs’ 10 most important (and misunderstood) lessons. City-making professions are taking steps towards holistic perspectives and diminished silos, but a half-century on, Jane’s work still has many lessons to offer.