Across Canada, a renewed interest in urbanity is leading to density increases unheard of in more than a generation. As Corporate Knights writes, not all density is equal however. As the country works to reduce its carbon footprint, accommodate new residents and improve the cost efficiency of its infrastructure, creating “density done well” is essential. Smart policy and strategic planning coupled with an eye for the human scale will be imperative to successful density in Canada.
Lego has long been the first building block for budding architects. Now, as Line//Shape//Space writes, another cube-based medium, Minecraft, is becoming the go-to “game” by combining the benefits of those Danish blocks with the limitless potential of a digital world. By operating from a “human perspective”, where users inhabit the space they’re building, and by emphasizing real-time collaboration, Minecraft could shape a generation of architects who are more attuned to their surroundings. More than just a game, the program is already being used as a tool for competition, education and design.
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.
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.
A new golden age of cities has ushered in an era of intensification and redevelopment in urban centres. As a result, many cities are enjoying re-found affluence, but are also faced with growing affordability issues, something underlined in a recent Metropolis Magazine article. In many ways, the high societal cost of exclusion mirrors the burden that sprawl placed on public finances. As this cost becomes clear, triple-win projects that benefit residents, the city-region, and private actors are well-positioned for success.
Canada’s infrastructure deficit is estimated to be $123 billion and growing. This wasn’t lost on national politicians during the recent national election, with the winning Liberal party promising $125 billion for infrastructure over the next decade. In the lead up to the new federal budget, ReNew Canada outlined what they expect to see. It includes major funding for Canada’s big cities, big investments in public transit, and consistent, long-term funding for municipalities. As Renew Canada notes, “If you build stuff, it should be a busy few years ahead.”
Digital technology is becoming ever-more pervasive and the world is increasingly urban. The simultaneous rise of these trends find us at a unique intersection in space and time. In a reflective interview with Smart Circle that ranges from urban mobility and citizen participation to cyber terrorism and the future of sharing, Carlo Ratti, director of MIT’s Senseable City Lab aims to make sense of these changes. It’s a worthwhile read, particularly for those seeking to connect the “smart” city with it’s citizens.