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.
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?
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.
Re-thinking human relationships with water is critical for climate change adaptation. Waterfront cities have undertaken a range of initiatives to address sea-level rise and future water deficiency. Shaped like an upside-down umbrella, Tåsinge Plads, a public space in Copenhagen, uses clever landscaping and materials to both manage flood control and increase quality of life. The collaborative designs overcame restraints of traditional engieneering solutions. Would you agree that today’s complicated issues are better served by creative multidisciplinary approaches?
It’s been more than two decades since Sim City was first released. During the interim, city-making games have become more popular and nuanced, reflecting a growing public interest in urbanism. More than just fun, these games can teach planners valuable lessons about how we plan and how we envision the idealized city. Games can also be used as valuable engagement tools and to re-imagine the places we call home. Could the games of today lead to the self-building cities of tomorrow?
Many cities take great energy and pride in the factors that make them unique. In an era of rapid urbanization, particularly in developing regions like sub-Saharan Africa, India and China, is city-making losing touch with context? The Guardian Cities tackles this in an illuminating article on new cities and the challenges of accommodating population growth. With developers, architects and designers regularly jumping from projects on one continent to another, and with local decision-makers seeking to showcase smartness or modernity of their city, is this turn inevitable? Or is their a more suitable approach?
To wrap up 2015, Planetizen presented it’s annual list of top planning trends. The list is a mix of frequently contradicting technical and societal trends. They include the antithetical phenomena of non-peak driving and vision zero, as well as broader societal trends, like urbanism’s rise in pop culture, countered by its omission as an issue in US presidential debates. Equally interesting, this years list was largely based on the personal selection of trends, rather than aggregated data, as in 2014. A trend towards a re-balancing of qualitative and quantitative analysis in urbanism?
Powered by demographic shifts coupled with a renewed interest in urban amenities, as well as transit, walking and biking, downtown cores have seen a major resurgence in recent years. And companies are taking notice. Through this shift, cities have learned many lessons. Now, Smart Growth America has distilled them into seven steps for downtown redevelopment. The full report, a valuable resource for cities, planners and councils looking to catch up, is available here.
Social events abound during the holidays, but they also afford the chance to catch up with a good book. With so many good citymaking books out there, how can you choose the right one? Thankfully, Vancouver’s former Chief Planner, Brent Toderian, has compiled a list of his 100 favourite citymaking books. Compare notes and join the conversation!
While the holiday season is now in full swing, many citymakers are working furiously to finish projects by years-end. This can contribute to the stress of finding the perfect gifts for children. Thankfully, the jolly elves at Planetizen have a compiled a list of the perfect gifts for young citymakers. One less thing to worry about over the holidays!