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.
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?
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.
The evolution of cities as labs is clear in a Fast Company interview with Dan Doctoroff, CEO of Sidewalk Labs, a Google startup company. They discuss the opportunity technology presents to solve big urban challenges, the need for scalable solutions and a fourth technology revolution in modern cities. Perhaps most interestingly, Doctoroff emphasizes the need for new technologies to benefit the triple-helix of urban stakeholders: the City, the public and the private sector. A shift towards a kinder, gentler smart city?