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Saturday, 15 March 2014

The task of urban ism

task of urban ism is to organize the use of the land to suit the works of
man, which fall into three categories:
1. The unit of agricultural production;
2. The linear industrial city;
 3. The radio- concentric city of exchange (ideas, government, commerce). Urbanism is a science with three dimensions. Height is as important to it as the horizontal expanse.”
Richard Neutra wrote, “Giving shape to a community and moulding its activities is urban design. It deals with the dynamic features in space, but in time as well.” Walter Gropius wrote, “Good urban design represents that consistent effort to create imaginatively the living spaces of our urban surroundings.
urban design’s unique value stems from its vagueness
 In order to supersede today’s soul- destroying robotization, the modern urban designer’s exciting task is to satisfy all emotional and practical human needs by coordinating the dictates of nature, technique, and economy into beautiful habitat.” Sigfried Giedion wrote “poetically”: “Urban Design has to give visual form to the relationship between You and Me.” Again one thinks of Sert’s words: “a fog of amiable generalities.”
In this context, perhaps urban design’s unique value stems from its vagueness
or rather from its provision of an overarching framework that can bridge more specialized design efforts

intersection between sustainable urban design and economic growth

intersection between sustainable urban design and economic growth

[Document] - Posted by: Ed Kerry - Tue 26 Feb, 2013 - Author(s):
Document Type: 
Speech / Presentation
As global cities have embraced sustainable urban design and entrepreneurial, their strategies can serve as a source of inspiration and new knowledge to U.S. cities and beyond. By pairing best practices from international metros with their U.S. counterparts, the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at the Washington University in St. Louis has developed a series of case studies that examine the urgent challenges of an increasingly urbanized planet, focusing on the development of sustainable products, services, technology, and land use patterns following the economic recession.
On February 21, the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brooking and the Sam Fox School’s Master of Urban Design Program hosted an all-day forum which explored the intersection between sustainable urban design and economic growth while discussing the implications for design and practice. The event also highlighted policies that have enabled individual cities to become successful models of sustainability and examined specific design and policy issues through the lenses of economy, government, climate and social systems.
Mark Wrighton, chancellor of the Washington University in St. Louis, welcomed the forum participants and audience members, followed by a presentation from Ricky Burdett, professor of urban studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Panel discussions covered transportation; environmental and building technologies; and adaptation and renewal. The program closed with a presentation from Mohsen Mostafavi, dean and the Alexander and Victoria Wiley professor of design at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, followed by a reception and respondent discussion.
Watch the webcast archives at this link!
Source: The Brookings Institution
NB: Press Cutting Service
This article is culled from daily press coverage from around the world. It is posted on the Urban Gateway by way of keeping all users informed about matters of interest. The opinion expressed in this article is that of the author and in no way reflects the opinion of UN-Habitat.

how to better address housing needs.

 how to better address housing needs.

The world witnessed an exponential growth in demand for housing in the post-World War II era. This resulted from rapid population growth and urbanization, and the need to rebuild a large portion of the housing stock affected by the war in many countries. To achieve scale and speed, mass housing was the preferred option in the decades of the 1950 to the 1970s. Mass public or social housing is a housing development that is publicly funded and administered usually for low-income families. Over time, in some countries, the ownership of this housing stock has been given to residents. Mass housing has been produced in many configurations including low rise, single dwelling units but more often multi story walk-ups or high rise apartment blocks. Housing units are laid out in clusters around open spaces or in parallel rows as well as other configuration. In rare cases globally, public housing is integrated within the city urban texture. 

While mass housing is still policy in some countries today, the majority built earlier are at a historic milestone. The buildings are aging, in many cases in need of repair that is not being addressed due to limited resources. Frequently, this housing stock is now occupied by lo

lower income groups who are unable mobilize the resources or organize themselves to address the governance, management and maintenance needs. Furthermore, in the quest to build large numbers of housing, the focus was on producing monolithic housing estates. These were usually based on the dictates of modern planning’s strict zoning laws which segregated urban uses from each other resulting in large housing estates that necessitated a dependence on commuting to and from various urban uses. More and more, in recent times, with the rapid expansion of cities, such newly developed housing estates are being located farther and farther away from the urban centers. The rationale being that land is ‘cheap’ or publically owned. However, this has resulted in increasing the time needed to commute from residential zones to business and production zones. In some cases, 2-3 hours are spent by commuters tied up in traffic jams. Needless to say the environmental impact of such a city is reaching unsustainable levels.
In summary, mass, public or social housing estates today face some or all of the following challenges:
• Location is usually in isolated zones of housing in the periphery or away from city centers. In some cases, older housing is now located centrally and the land value is underutilized;
• Monolithic housing use following master plan zoning or planned in isolation as standalone estates;
• Residents commute to access daily needs; workplace, services, shopping, recreation, etc…;
• Urban sprawl, large environmental footprints, high carbon emissions, etc…;
• Inflexible prefabricated housing results do not respond to the changing needs of families sizes;
• Mass housing open spaces mostly neglected, underutilized and unsafe in some cases;
• Ownership when awarded to resident occupants results in poor management and maintenance;
• Aging housing stock dilapidation due to lack of maintenance and repair (aging water pipes, etc.);
• Aging inhabitants need more accessibility, have low incomes to address maintenance;
• Sometimes, mass housing attracts immigrants resulting in social segregation (ghettoization);
• Social ills such as drug trafficking, gangs, etc… tend to move into mass housing complexes;
• Environmentally, low-cost construction usually entails high heating/cooling energy consumption;
• Lack of tenure of occupants contributes to insecurity and a poor sense of belonging/responsibility;
• Lack of financial resources and poor maintenance have led to deteriorated living conditions;
Overall, the majority of mass housing in today's world does not conform to the norms of sustainable urban ism. Given the magnitude of the existing characteristics above and the continuation of mass housing trends in some places today, there is an urgent need to address these challenges. Lessons learn will also guide policy makers and decision makers on how to better address housing needs.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Today, new buildings often disappoint us:

Today, new buildings often disappoint us:
they are not so perfect as the CAD images which we have seen of them,

Sent directly to a factory where a manufacturer can cut the shape immediately from the architect’s pattern-drawing. This replicates in part some of the methods of Renaissance architects in which the only drawings, which existed for fabrication, were the Modano.
Most contemporary architects use CAD to either show perspective views of space or to make forms autonomous from hand-work and the tactile qualities of drawing which connect us immediately to the hapticity of spatial experience.
Today, new buildings often disappoint us: they are not so perfect as the CAD images which we have seen of them, people and weather intrude in reality and mar the effects of the architect’s dream-like visualization of virtual light and dislocated atopia.
 Like Leonardo’s anatomy drawings, modern buildings are often arid and enervating spaces, lacking material depth; all the shiny surfaces and brittle reflections miscast us as intruders in the private fantasies of the designer; we flicker there like ghosts.
 The relationship between lived experience and its supposed opposite, the objective view point, can be seen clearly not only in the god-like view of an aerial perspective but in the architecture which comes from these images.
Can we see in modern techniques of drawing a clue to the same immateriality of the spaces? Certainly, the example of Michelangelo suggests not only that what and how you draw something affects what you draw, but also what you think and perhaps, more importantly,how you think.
This is clear in the resulting material quality of spaces and clearly shown in the design drawings.
 I suggest that the essential difference between the work of contemporary architects such as Norman Foster and Frank Gehry, and Michelangelo, is the exact ontological significance of matter and form and their relationship made possible in drawing and modelling and other modes of description.
See Robert Harbison, Reflections on Baroque, Reaktion, 2001, for an attempt to argue that contemporary architects such as Coop Himmelblau and Gehry are ‘neobaroque’
and not simply drawing meaningless shapes; and also the writres  refutation of Harbison in his
review of this book in Building Design 09/03/01.