Juliana Santacruz Herrera’s knitted fixes to cracks in the footpath

Your Move by Radya – Seen On The Streets Of Ekaterinburg

Wooster Collective

Biggest hurdles for active cities: badly designed incentives. From a great interview with Marcus Westbury of Renew Newcastle

PPS: What were your initial biggest hurdles regarding government, property owners, etc? How did you overcome these challenges?

Westbury: Badly designed incentives. There are a myriad of incentives for property owners not to make available their empty properties – Newcastle had more than 150 empty buildings in the two main streets in large part because owners were better off to board them up and write off the losses than use them as going concerns. Essentially, Renew Newcastle exists as an intermediary designed to change how that process works – we use some clever but legal contracts and risk management processes to make that work a lot better. We manage risk and remove complexity which is essentially the key to it.
In many respects, on the surface, Renew Newcastle looks like an arts and cultural project – and it is – but from my end it is really a series of mechanisms for changing access to and governance of space. We have changed how space behaves for creative people and they in turn have brought their creativity and innovation to the problem of bringing the city back to life.

- from PROJECT FOR PUBLIC SPACES

Wind Turbine Bridge Transforms Italian Viaduct Into Public Space

A bridge that repurposes abandoned viaducts, produces energy AND looks futuristically sleek? Yes, it can be true, and it is Italy’s proposed Wind Turbine Viaduct called “Solar Wind.” Southern Italy is dotted with unused viaducts, and rather than spending $50 million to tear them down, town officials near Calabria held a competition called “Solar Park South,” open to designers and engineers asking them to come up with an environmentally conscious way to re-use the existing structures.

Solar Wind, conceived by the design team of Francesco Colarossi, Giovanna Saracino and Luisa Saracino, has an abundance of green benefits. Using the space between the viaduct, the team proposed installing 26 wind turbines, which would produce 36 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year!

Additionally, the roadway across the bridge would be densely lined with solar cells coated in clear plastic, producing another 11.2 million kilowatt hours. Much like New York’s Highline, but on a much more grandiose scale, the entire viaduct itself would be turned into a promenade and park. Drivers may pull off to take in gorgeous coastal views, solar powered greenhouses would be installed along the bridge, creating an ultra-fresh farmer’s market.

The entire structure is like a green Utopia, repurposing abandoned structures, producing a combined 40 million kilowatt hours of electricity (that is enough to power 15,000 homes), while creating a chance to take in the surrounding panoramic views, and buy the freshest of produce! Sounds much better than merely tearing down the old viaducts.

Buy Local Campaigns actually work: 140 US cities now running buy local programs

“Almost half [of business owners in cities with active 'buy local' campaigns] reported that the campaign had brought new customers to their business and 55% said it had made existing customers more loyal,” Stacy Mitchell of the New Rules Project reports. “More than two-thirds said local media coverage of independent businesses had increased and 51% said that local government officials were now more aware and supportive of the needs of independent businesses.”

- from ECOPOLITOLOGY

Bikestation: D.C.’s Beautiful New Bike Center

Designed by KGP Design Studio, the Bikestation is a secure, members-only facility that features parking for 200 bikes and some repair services, all staffed by local company Bike and Roll. Commuters can also rent lockers and change in a private changing room. An annual pass costs $96 plus a $20 administrative free. Bikestation also operates similar facilities in cities like Seattle and Long Beach, California.

- from GOOD

Alexander Chen’s “Conductor” makes beautiful music with subway data

Conductor: www.mta.me

Conductor, an interactive digital art project inspired by the New York City subway system, sonically represents actual transit data. Artist Alexander Chen recreated, and then animated, the famous Massimo Vignelli NYC subway map. Each time a train leaves the station in the MTA dataset, so does a dot on Chen’s interactive map trailing a line with the same color as the train line. The music comes in when two train lines cross. Each intersection causes a twang, like a plucked string on viola—Chen’s chosen instrument. Listen to how the notes get deeper the longer the lines stretch.

- from GOOD

Detroitism: how “ruin porn” blinds us to the structural causes of failing cities

Ruin photography, in particular, has been criticized for its “pornographic” sensationalism, and my bookseller friend won’t sell much of it for that reason. And others roll their eyes at all the positive attention heaped on the young, mostly white “creatives,” which glosses over the city’s deep structural problems and the diversity of ideas to help fix them. So much ruin photography and ruin film aestheticizes poverty without inquiring of its origins, dramatizes spaces but never seeks out the people that inhabit and transform them, and romanticizes isolated acts of resistance without acknowledging the massive political and social forces aligned against the real transformation, and not just stubborn survival, of the city.

- from Guernica

Human Transit: build your own system

A government agency’s process of communicating with the public needs to listen and educate at the same time.  Citizens want to feel listened to, but they also want to understand.  Metro simplified the question down to the essential non-technical value judgment, which was: “Growth is coming.  Do we grow up or out?  Increase density or spread out over more land?”  This was the hard question that first motivated Oregon’s land use laws — laws whose purposes is not to prevent sprawl but to ensure that it’s the result of such a conscious decision.

… It was a huge achievement, but the real achievement was not just that the question was answered but that it was so clearly asked.  A citizenry, through its elected representatives, faced a clear value judgment about their city.  It wasn’t about approving a project or assessing some politician’s performance; it was about raw economics and geometry: grow up or grow out?  No rational person could argue that this wasn’t a real and consequential question.  Through Metro’s work the question got answered, and, partly because the process was so clear and democratic, the basic answer has held despite the inevitable turbulence of shorter-term politics.

- from humantransit.org

Pop-Up Park at OpenHouse Gallery

- from inhabitat.com

Genius of the day: Edward Burtynsky

We watched Edward Burtynsky’s film, Manufacturing Landscapes, this weekend, which combines ideas about consumption, sustainability, our impact on natural landscapes and the human cost of the rapid pace of development in China. It’s an unforgettable, affecting and visually stunning film. Here’s Burtynsky’s TED talk to give you a taste of the film – definitely worth seeking out.

"Schickimicki" pushing creatives out of East Berlin

The advent of the Schickimicki – the wealthy in-crowd – in the formerly run-down and edgy areas of East Berlin has not only been resisted but mocked. In 2009 they were satirised in a comic song translated loosely as Hey, You Beautiful Hipster, which portrayed them as gauche and phony interlopers.

With elections due in the city in the autumn, it is no longer a matter for laughter. Instead, the issue of the city's gentrification has entered the political debate as a serious issue, with both the Greens and Social Democrats offering proposals to blunt the edge of Berlin's yuppification.

- from The Guardian

Elizabeth Farrelly on Gehry’s ego-tecture in Sydney

Critiquing a building involves measuring it against three sets of criteria. First, does it fulfil its own intentions? Second, are these intentions valid? Third, does it synthesise these with the demands of structure, economy, use and context to form a single, coherent creation? Does it do the magic? This is resolution

Great buildings – like Palladio's Villa Rotonda or Mies's Berlin Gallery – tune inside and out in total harmony. Gehry's ''termite's nest'' (Greer's tag) does anything but.

If movement is his thing, he could at least move us forward to greener cultural pasture, rather than pretend Sydney needs more faux-habitable sculpture. It's not a choice between the dull box and the exuberant PR-driven sculpture. There is a third option: architecture. We deserve it.

- from SMH

Nicolas Lampert: The Problem With Taking "Art in the Streets" Into the Museum

I would be shocked if “Art in the Streets” reaches beyond anything but a gala celebration of the genre. An ominous sign is the name of the show itself, which ideally should have been titled “Street Art in the Museum.” That name alone might have suggested a more critical exhibition, one that would take a careful look at street art and its history and ask the tough questions. For starters, what happens when a subculture gets too cozy with the brokers of mass cultural and economic power, be it street artists showing in major museums or designing products for corporations? What happens when a genre becomes represented by two polar extremes — celebrated art-world stars and taggers who are viewed as criminals and vandals?

- from artinfo

LA’s Broad Art Museum: ambition vs reality

Just as bad is his failure, in the view of many (myself included), to grasp the peculiar beauty of Los Angeles, its oddly hypnotic blend of flimsy houses and muscular freeways, raw nature and metropolitan grit. His urban ideal, to the degree that he has one, seems to be based on the Upper East Side of Manhattan or on central Paris — models that, however attractive, have little to do with Los Angeles’s sprawl.

Some of us saw the new museum building, which will be called the Broad Art Foundation and will occupy a site on Grand Avenue in the city’s downtown, as this 77-year-old philanthropist’s best — and perhaps last — chance at redemption. And there is something alluring about the design, by Diller Scofidio & Renfro. Its honeycomblike exterior is a smart counterpoint to the swirling forms of Frank Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall next door. And the sequence of spaces that leads you through the building makes subtle but important nods to the city around it — not only to other, nearby cultural institutions, but also to the Latino community a few blocks to the southeast, which many of those institutions historically ignored.

- from Architecture Review: Not All Sweetness in a Honeycomb Museum

Streetsfilm at Bogota’s Ciclovia

- from Streetsfilm on Vimeo

Open Senate | New York State Senate

“Open Senate” is a series of award-winning technology initiatives, implemented beginning in January 2009, that seek to maximize the transparency and accessibility of legislative information for all New Yorkers, and provide new ways for citizens to participate in the legislative process.

- from nysenate.gov

Four days underground in NYC

Four days underground in NYC

UNDERCITY from Andrew Wonder on Vimeo.

Beautiful 30 minute doco following underground adventurer Steve Duncan exploring the hidden treasures of the subway system. Best quote: “It kind of makes me sad that there is so much suspicion around just appreciating the city.”

CSIRO identifies five future “megatrends”

Diagram showing five megatrends with interlinked coloured circles.
A megatrend is a collection of trends, patterns of economic, social or environmental activity that will change the way people live and the science and technology products they demand. The five interrelated megatrends identified in the report are:
  1. More from less. This relates to the world’s depleting natural resources and increasing demand for those resources through economic and population growth. Coming decades will see a focus on resource use efficiency. 
  2. A personal touch. Growth of the services sector of western economies is being followed by a second wave of innovation aimed at tailoring and targeting services. 
  3. Divergent demographics. The populations of OECD countries are ageing and experiencing lifestyle and diet related health problems. At the same time there are high fertility rates and problems of not enough food for millions in poor countries.
  4. On the move. People are changing jobs and careers more often, moving house more often, commuting further to work and travelling around the world more often. 
  5. i World. Everything in the natural world will have a digital counterpart. Computing power and memory storage are improving rapidly. Many more devices are getting connected to the internet.

Open-source government: MTA’s developer unconference

Streetfilm’s 6min introduction to how and why an open-source approach to transportation (by Gov 2.0) just works.

A Case for Open Data in Transit from Streetfilms on Vimeo.

As Tim O’Reilly says in the film, “Government should be the platform that society builds on, not a vending machine of services.” By thinking of govt as a “platform” in the same way that developers and hackers think about open source code, allowing others to expand and bring their own perspectives and expertise to problems, develop innovative solutions, industries, and we empower people to take control of their world. It’s also much cheaper that way.

And it’s happening fast: a year ago, the MTA were suing hackers for scraping info, now they’re embracing the hacker community by making data accessible, launching an app comp, and hosting the MTA Developer Unconference. The Civic Hacker’s excellent recap:

We talk a lot about government-citizen engagement, and, at least in the transit space, that usually means the riding public.  But I’d just like to point out that the developer outreach that has happened thus far is a great example of a government agency connecting in a meaningful way with (at least one group of) its constituents.  Their approach (and MassDOT’s) has been direct, plain-spoken and honest.  Not bureaucratic, defensive, or complicated.  If you look back through the archives on the MTA Developers Google Group, you’ll see an extended dialogue, with straightforward discussions of opportunities, issues and constraints.  Most importantly, it’s been a responsive process taking place in real-time.

Ruin porn: incredible, and incredibly depressing, photos of Detroit in decay.

Ruins of Detroit: United Artists Theater in Detroit


Detroit in ruins: the photographs of Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre