Category Archives: Personal Experiences

Dimanche Sans Voiture

Car-Free Sunday, or Dimanche Sans Voiture, capped the 9th Annual Week of Mobility here in Brussels on 22 September, 2010. The goal is to encourage people to explore other modes of transportation, from various types of mass transit (trains, trams, … Continue reading

Posted in Auto Independence, Bicycles, How We Live, How we Move, How We Think, Livability, Personal Experiences, Sustainability, Urban Experiments, What if? | Leave a comment

A Question of Nomenclature: What is a Neighborhood?

What, exactly, is a neighborhood? People on all sides of the urban conversation talk about neighborhoods, trotting them out to support everything from transit oriented development to the suburban status quo, from Smart Growth to no growth. Formal definitions vary, but few include criteria beyond a set of distinctive characteristics shared by a contiguous geographic area inhabited by people who behave neighborly. Which, despite its vagueness, sounds sensible enough. Imprecise, but sensible. And yet, when I think about the neighborhoods I’ve lived in, or spent time in, few of them fit even this ambiguous definition.
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Posted in Culture, History, Josh Grigsby, Nomenclature, Personal Experiences, Sarasota, urban design, urban planning, vernacular architecture, walkable, What if? | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

3 Stories About Regional Architecture

Over at Inventing Green, Alexis Madrigal looks at the adoption of air-conditioners. He talks about how the rise of electrical cooling seems to have lead to a crash in regional building techniques.

“Of course, the use of air conditioning allowed homeowners to enjoy a new degree of comfort, but a goodly portion of the residential air-conditioning load simply replaced the comfort once provided — at little environmental cost — by good design,” Rome writes.

The whole thing put me in mind of three incidents that highlight the critical importance of a regional context in usable architecture. Continue reading

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Coming Home: Stories of Simpler Times

You can’t ask an acquaintance if he had a good childhood. It’s too personal — and a potential can of worms. But we’re naturally curious, looking for clues about the situations that our friends come from. This interest comes out in questions like “What do your parents do?” “Are you close with your family?” “Have you been home recently?” and even the straightforward “Where are you from?”

But what does a “good childhood” mean anyway? Most upbringings are complicated; mixed bags. Most parents try their best, and all make mistakes.

Descriptions, whether words or images, of the physical spaces of our formative years hint at the relationships within. If these walls could talk, they’d tell tales long forgotten. Continue reading

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