Tag Archives: London

Life Inside the Box: Container Cities

Invented more than five decades ago, the modern shipping container is the linchpin in our global distribution network of products. In the containers go toys from China, textiles from India, grain from America and cars from Germany. In go electronics, chocolate and cheese.

While a number of resourceful people have converted shipping containers to makeshift shelters at the margin of society for years, architects and green designers are also increasingly turning to the strong, cheap boxes as source building blocks. Shipping containers can be readily modified with a range of creature comforts, and can be connected and stacked to create modular, efficient spaces for a fraction of the cost, labor and resources of more conventional materials. Continue reading

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The City is Organic

“French and US physicists have shown that the road networks in cities evolve driven by a simple universal mechanism despite significant cultural and historical differences. Marc Barthélemy of the French Atomic Energy Commission in Bruyères-le-Châtel and Alessandro Flammini of Indiana University, US, analysed street pattern data from roughly 300 cities, including Brasilia, Cairo, Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, and Venice.”
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The World’s Most Beautiful Cities

Since beauty is subjective, we surveyed city specialists from a range of fields, including urban planning, architecture and sustainable development. Respondents include Reynolds and Michael Kaufman, an architect at Chicago-based architectural firm Goettsch Partners, as well as Raymond Levitt, director of the construction program in civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University, Tony McGuirk, an urban designer, architect and chairman of BDP in London, J. Hugh O’Donnell of urban engineering firm MMM International, and Ken Drucker, New York design director of architectural firm HOK.
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Beauty Kills—A Self-Rebuttal: Or, Why Joel Kotkin isn’t Always Wrong

In my recent post, Universal Beauty and the Responsibility of Cities, I argued that beauty is an essential element of urbanism. Forget all of that for a moment; here’s the other side of the coin: beauty kills. It can turn cities into lifeless museums animated only by tourists, inhibiting creativity and innovation while exacerbating segregation and homogenization. Look at any interior design magazine spread; room upon room of artful still-life orchestration. These are rooms that pose, not rooms that are lived in. Look at fashion models, their faces inscrutable and eyes vacant. True, this is not the sort of beauty I was advocating, but an emphasis on beauty can quickly lead one astray if untempered. Beauty is essential, yes, but it can be as intoxicating as drugs, and potentially as destructive.
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A Thousand Words: Microflat Concept, London

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