Temporary Urban Lounge Built From Reused Milk Crates

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Milk crates are a fantastic material for many reasons; they are structural, light, modular and they have an iconic role in Melbourne’s cafe image and laneways. We believe that familiarity to a material plays an important role in engaging with it.

PlayMo uses 3 different types of crates. Black = platforms, Grey = stairs, Green = movable. The green crates provide the undefined random element; people rearrange their seats or even build small stairs themselves. There hasn’t been a single day where we found them in the same place. We found artworks, plants, toys, pillows, new crates and received hundreds of letters. We even found that people had constructed a bin so that (they) could be kept clean.

via PSFK

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

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- from designboom.com

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

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

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

ZERI Foundation: The Blue Economy

Pop-Up Park at OpenHouse Gallery

- from inhabitat.com

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

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.

Streetwalk by Charlie Davidson

Charlie Davidson’s original proposal was for a series of benches that had the appearance of walking. This idea was a direct response to the brief which asked designers to draw pedestrians into the east side of town and the newly furbished Sunniside gardens from Sunderland city centre.

- from CONTEMPORIST

Would an Infrastructure Bank Have the Power to Reform Transportation?

“Not every project of regional and national significance is going to generate a return that justifies a financially rational loan for the bank to make,” says Scott Thomasson, an expert in infrastructure finance from the Progressive Policy Institute. “There are projects that are worth doing as a nation where the benefits aren’t going to be repaid financially. They’re going to be enjoyed in other forms” like improving public health, easing traffic congestion, or reducing emissions.
Thomasson worries that a narrowly structured bank, following a traditional bank model, won’t address compelling projects that can’t capture user fees or other financing streams.

- from STREETSBLOG.

Naturally Occurring Cultural Districts

Is it possible that a better understanding of Naturally Occurring Cultural Districts can help distinguish between what is valuable and what is not in the literature about the cultural economies of cities?

Tamara Greenfield: We certainly hope so! Usually when the arts are discussed now as part of the economy of cities, they are framed either as a Cultural Attraction (large museum, aquarium, performing arts complex) or Cultural Production (high value art, high volume traditional handicrafts, music, film). There is little understanding of the value of diverse levels of creation and cultural activity to the cohesion and economy of a specific neighborhood, rather than to a larger creative ecology or regional economy. FAB’s members range in size from volunteer-run art collectives to nationally renowned theaters, and have long histories of community outreach, racial and ethnic diversity, low cost programs, and training for emerging artists and youth. Each year, FAB’s member arts groups serve more than 1,250 artists and attract an audience of more than 250,000 to our neighborhood. Some artists and productions are developed here and move into a more commercial realm; other dance and theater is experienced exclusively by neighborhood residents or drawn from a focused, regional network (Spanish-language theater, Gay & Lesbian performance art) that serves an important (though less visibly commercial) purpose to those communities.

Caron Atlas: I would say that NOCDs can be useful in helping to reframe the discussion of the creative economy in a manner that factors in equity and considers how creativity is defined and validated and how economic benefits are shared throughout communities. I think NOCDs are a great way to think about culture and creativity as part of grassroots resilience and sustainable development – rather than top down, and often unsustainable, development strategies.

- from URBAN OMNIBUS

People want high-speed rail, just as it becomes a political minefield in the US.

hsr-use

- from Infrastructurist

Dezeen » West Kowloon Cultural District

- from dezeen.com

Energy Efficient Homes For Musicians

- from psfk.com

London Underground: Dalston Renaissance

Nearby is the newly completed Dalston Barn. The French architectural collective EXYZT designed the simple timber-frame structure with five pitched roofs as part of a wider plan for the area that was developed by Muf Architecture/Art and J&L Gibbons Landscape Architects in consultation with the local community. Instead of a deterministic master plan for the area, the design team identified 76 micro-projects that build on the existing qualities of the neighborhood and gently inserted new amenities, including signage, plantings and play facilities. Local businesses, schools and community groups are involved with the management and afterlife of these projects.

- from tmagazine.blogs.nytimes.com

Creative Class: Where the Creative Class Jobs Will Be

More than 35 million people are currently employed in creative class work in fields like science, technology, and engineering; business, finance, and management; law, health care, and education; and arts, culture, media, and entertainment. The creative class makes up roughly a third of total employment and accounts for more than half of all wages and salaries in America. Creative class employment has seen relatively low rates of unemployment during the course of the economic crisis. Creative class jobs will make up roughly half of all projected U.S. employment growth – adding 6.8 million new jobs by 2018

- from creativeclass.com

Project Morrinho

- from thepolisblog.org