French Street Artist Wins TED Humanitarian Prize

[photo source]

Wow. Just, wow. Check out the article…

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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, buses) to non-motorized personal modes including bicycles, skateboards, and one’s own two feet.

My opinion, for those who haven’t already heard this seventeen times, is that enclosed, personal transport (particularly when motorized) is inherently anti-urban and should be only marginally present in cities. A single Dimanche sans voiture is a small but positive step toward toujours sans voiture.

For official info and photo galleries check out dimanchesansvoiture.irisnet.be

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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

Are Brussels and Los Angeles Sister Cities?

I’m not going to stretch the similarities between the two (very different) cities, but I read an article today that suggested they are at least encountering similar challenges. Both Brussels and Los Angeles experienced post-WWII sprawl-booms, both saw their central city empty and deteriorate as the moneyed sought the urban fringe, and both are now considering ways to unify dissimilar built environments inhabited by a plurality of ethnicities and micro-cultures. Both are cities of neighborhoods—how to unify without destroying? Both play larger roles on the global stage than the urban experience they offer suggests. Both are more car-centric than is good for them.

Shovels have apparently already hit the ground in Los Angeles to begin the construction of a true Central Park, downtown, on a sloping parcel at the foot of Frank Gehry’s iconic Walt Disney Concert Hall. And a public-private-partnership, in which the Concert Hall would take over management (and programming) of the park, is supposedly in the works.

I thought of Brussels when I read the article, in part because I was also wading through the reader for European Urban Studies and had recently finished an article by Eric Corijn that proffered Parc Leopold as the central focus of a reworked European Quarter in Brussels, and in part because the designers in Los Angeles had to consider (and incorporate) the fact that 92 languages are spoken in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Without knowing what the future holds, I envision eventually returning to Los Angeles to work in (some aspect of) urban planning. I just had no idea that such direct similarities exist between my former home and my current one.

Here’s the article:

{from designundersky.com; by Adam E. Anderson}

[Image by Douglas Jamieson / June 23, 2010]

Having spent several years in the LA area, one of my proudest achievements was eventually being somewhat able to navigate the cluster f*ck of traffic and sprawl of its satellite cities. That’s not to say I don’t love LA, but the city is hard to define exactly where IT rests. After 5pm little (in LA standards) takes places minus the isolated events of Staples, small venue concerts like the Wiltern, or the Disney Concert Hall. The rest of the action is scattered about the 110, 5, and 405 in the towns of the likes of Hollywood, Santa Monica, Venice, etc. Continue reading

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Masdar begs the question: What exactly is meant by “a sustainable city?”

{from The New York Times; words by Nicolai Ouroussoff; photo by Duncan Chard}

Back in 2007, when the government here announced its plan for “the world’s first zero-carbon city” on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi, many Westerners dismissed it as a gimmick — a faddish follow-up to neighboring Dubai’s half-mile-high tower in the desert and archipelago of man-made islands in the shape of palm trees.

Designed by Foster & Partners, a firm known for feats of technological wizardry, the city, called Masdar, would be a perfect square, nearly a mile on each side, raised on a 23-foot-high base to capture desert breezes. Beneath its labyrinth of pedestrian streets, a fleet of driverless electric cars would navigate silently through dimly lit tunnels. The project conjured both a walled medieval fortress and an upgraded version of the Magic Kingdom’s Tomorrowland.

Well, those early assessments turned out to be wrong. By this past week, as people began moving into the first section of the project to be completed — a 3 ½-acre zone surrounding a sustainability-oriented research institute — it was clear that Masdar is something more daring and more noxious. keep reading at newyorktimes.com

 

Posted in architecture, Culture, Livability, Placemaking, Sustainability, technology, thinking, urban design, urban planning | Leave a comment

Is Generation Y Passing on Cars?

Interesting post from Yahoo! on the changing perception of car ownership in the United States. Does Gen Y represent the leading edge of a transition from private car ownership to transit and bikes? Do they also represent a generational shift in perspective from sub-urban to urban?

 

Posted in Auto Independence, Culture, technology, thinking, What if? | Leave a comment