"Too often we blame the buildings. It’s really about the system around the buildings. What can we do to improve that?"

— ERA Architect Graeme Stewart in reference to his generative work on tower renewal in the Toronto area. For more on Graeme’s work and tower renewal in general, explore the web documentary series HIGHRISE. The project—which is a collaboration between the National Film Board of Canada and director Katerina Cizek—explores “vertical living in the global suburbs.” The latest in the series, One Millionth Tower, places you in a 3D virtual environment where you can explore highrise neighborhoods in more than 200 countries. Take a look. 

What if we could easily share ideas for what we want in our  neighborhoods? This is the question that drove Candy Chang and her colleagues  to make Neighborland, an online tool for people to shape the development of their neighborhoods. It takes her I Wish This Was public  art project a few steps further to help people voice what they want in  their neighborhoods and take next steps to make things happen. It  connects residents who want things with likeminded people, initiatives,  and resources. It’s a valuable poll for civic leaders and developers to  assess what residents want in different areas, vacant real estate, and  existing public spaces. And it promotes entrepreneurship by revealing  neighborhood demands and proving there is a viable customer base for new  businesses to open.

What if we could easily share ideas for what we want in our neighborhoods? This is the question that drove Candy Chang and her colleagues to make Neighborland, an online tool for people to shape the development of their neighborhoods. It takes her I Wish This Was public art project a few steps further to help people voice what they want in their neighborhoods and take next steps to make things happen. It connects residents who want things with likeminded people, initiatives, and resources. It’s a valuable poll for civic leaders and developers to assess what residents want in different areas, vacant real estate, and existing public spaces. And it promotes entrepreneurship by revealing neighborhood demands and proving there is a viable customer base for new businesses to open.

URBANIZED

Last Friday the LSE hosted a special screening of Gary Hustwit’s latest film, Urbanized. The film is the third part of Hustwit’s design film trilogy, joining Helvetica and Objectified.

Beginning with the often-cited (but nevertheless impressive) fact that “over half the world’s population now lives in urban areas, and 75% will call a city home by 2050,” Urbanized explores a diverse range of urban design projects around the world. Moving between China, India, South Africa, Columbia, Brazil, USA and Germany—the film covers a breadth of issues, including mobility, public space, civic engagement, economic development, and environmental policy. Moreover, the film features interviews with urban thinkers and practitioners ranging from starchitects—like Rem Koolhaus, Norman Foster and Jan Gehl—to lesser known but creative people, like Candy Chang (I wish this was…) and Alejandro Aravena (Elemental).

After the screening, there was a brief discussion between Hustwit, sociologist Richard Sennet and cast members Ricky Burdett and Alejandro Aravena. Besides a minor criticism from Burdett that Urbanized gave too much time to Stuttgart 21 (a contentious plan to build a high speed rail hub in central Stuttgart) the film received positive reviews from everyone. Hustwit said his greatest challenge in making the film was editing the 300 hours of footage he shot into 85 minutes. 

For more on the film and to find local screenings, see here.   

In a recent article in the Atlantic, Professor Fran Tonkiss, director of the LSE Cities Programme, discusses the term ‘sustainability’ and explains why she prefers to use the word ‘resilience’ when describing the built environment. She argues that “sustainable urban form must be robust enough to withstand change and also adapt to change…” She refers not only to environmental change, but also to demographic and economic change.

LONDON BUS TOUR

Scenes from the streets of London, shot from the famed Routemaster Bus. The soundtrack is by NYC band Ratatat.

1 CAR SPACE = 10 BICYCLES
A handsome, functional, and thought-provoking bike rack.
lifebetweenbuildings:

1 car space = 10 bicycles

1 CAR SPACE = 10 BICYCLES

A handsome, functional, and thought-provoking bike rack.

lifebetweenbuildings:

1 car space = 10 bicycles

CONCRETE MUSHROOMS

A preview of the short documentary Concrete Mushrooms, created by Albanian architects Gyler Mydyti and Elian Stefa. The documentary describes the evolution of Albania’s more than 750,000 bunkers, which were constructed by communist dictator Envar Hoxha during his 40 years in power. The Concrete Mushrooms Project aims to find new uses for the bunkers, drawing on Albania’s burgeoning tourist industry. You can find more information on the Project here