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Posts Tagged ‘urban planning’

Tim is an architect and WordPress blogger who is concerned with, among other things, how real communities develop organically. He has a strong sense that creating places top-down should not be regarded as sustainable place making.

Being a bit of a contrarian, I’d love to think of a contrary example, but so far I can’t.

Here Tim takes off on a planned community in his neck of the Florida woods.

“The problem with the Love Street / Jupiter Inlet Village project is that nobody will live there. … The planners, architects and developer of the project say the project is all about real place making.  Fortunately, we have a large amount of accepted research and knowledgeable writing on the subject of place making dating back over 40 years …

“First, 2 things need to be clear about place making – 1) It is a human phenomenon that is, therefore, very personal, varying, and not measurable; 2) ‘Real’ place making happens anywhere, and anytime there are humans present. …

“Wasteful land use in the form of a high percentage of non-places is the critical flaw with all drive-to places that claim to be urban or have high quality place making at their core. They simply do not, and they perpetuate the car-centric development pattern that exacerbates quality-of-life negatives in South Florida – traffic, loss of identity, and the replacement of real places with faux places.

“For Love Street / Jupiter Inlet Village to become the real place in claims it will be, it should do the following:

  1. Embrace the residential patterns that are still in the area, and were once far more prominent, and include residential units of a similar urban village quality.
  2. All parking should be metered, and of the on-street variety, and the parking lot should be replaced with a public green.
  3. Retail, commercial, and office space should be geared toward neighborhood uses, with the goal of replacing vehicle trips with bicycle or pedestrian trips to a very high degree.
  4. The lighthouse promenade must actually align with the lighthouse, and, thereby, solidify a framed street scape view of this landmark in perpetuity for all to share in. The promenade is presently a few degrees off, and focuses on a point well east of the lighthouse.

“Development and redevelopment projects are not inherently bad things, in fact, many developments create great pedestrian and transit oriented places that foster living, working and playing within a tight-knit community. However, developments that pretended to be great place makers, and really are not, represent a continuation of the very harmful growth patterns of the last half-century in disguise.

“Jupiter Inlet Village can be a great place, and an asset to the community, but it will not get there by pretending to be something that it is not.” More at Tim’s WordPress blog, here.

Map: https://www.jupiter.fl.us/index.aspx?NID=884

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As an official member of his town’s tree committee, John has been working hard to promote the many benefits of an urban tree canopy both for quality of life and for the business environment.

Now here comes a really unusual idea for fans of urban greenery. You just need a large body of water.

At the website “Pop Up City,” describes Rotterdam’s floating forest, thought up by (who else?) an artist.

“Rotterdam will get its first ‘bobbing forest’ in 2016: a collection of twenty trees that are floating in the Rijnhaven, a downtown harbor basin.

“Inspired by Jorge Bakker’s artwork ‘In Search of Habitus‘, an aquarium filled with bobbers that grow small trees, Dutch designers and entrepreneurs from Mothership decided to carry out this idea in ‘real life’. After experimenting with a sample tree last year, an entire floating forest of twenty trees is scheduled to be ‘planted’ on March 16, 2016.” Check out some intriguing photos here.

My only question as a person who grew up in a hurricane corridor: What happens if there’s a storm?

Photo: Popupcity.net

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One of the biggest challenges for biking in cities is the intersection.

Liz Stinson writes at Wired, “Biking through a city can feel like navigating a video game staked upon your life. You’re avoiding pedestrians and potholes all the while making sure cars don’t run into you. …

“Even protected bike lanes have an Achilles heel: the intersection. Most protected bike lanes — lanes that have a physical barrier between bicyclists and drivers — end just before the intersection, leaving bicyclists and pedestrians vulnerable to turning vehicles.

“Nick Falbo, an urban planner and designer from Portland (one of the most bike friendly cities in the nation), is proposing a new protected intersection design that would make intersections safer and less stressful than they are today. Falbo’s design is taken from the Dutch way of doing things. … Falbo’s adapted design has four main components.”

They are the corner refuge island, the forward stop bar, the setback crossing, and bicycle-friendly signal phasing. Read what they are here.

“ ‘This design requires you to have a much tighter corner radius,’ says Falbo. ‘These large truck operators, they are professional drivers they can actually make tighter turns than these standards normally say they would. The real answer is that I think you’re going to have to be a little stricter on your trucks in any number of ways.’

“It’s a battle, but Falbo thinks implementing these bike lanes are totally possible, pointing out that protected bike lanes are just now gaining support across the country. …

“‘We’re trying to attract more riders,’ he says. ‘Some of these conventional facilities, they work and they’re safe, but they’re stressful and that level of stress and lack of comfort is what will keep the average American from feeling like they can ride.’ ”

Image: Nick Falbo
Nick Falbo designed a type of bike lane that addresses dangerous intersections.

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At Smithsonian magazine, Tom Downey explains why urban planners could learn a thing or two from a Hindu religious festival that occurs every 12 years.

“I arrived by taxi at the Kumbh [in India] at sunset, expecting throngs of cars, cows and human beings blocking all access points. Instead I glided comfortably into my camp, which sat on a hilltop. I looked out over the fleeting city before me: makeshift shelters constructed on the floodplain of a river that was sure to overflow again in a few months. …

“I’d come to witness the spectacle for myself, but also to meet a group of Harvard researchers from the university’s Graduate School of Design. Led by Rahul Mehrotra, an architect from Mumbai before he went stateside to teach, they would closely analyze this unparalleled feat of spontaneous urban organization.

“ ‘We call this a pop-up megacity,’ said Mehrotra, a bearded 54-year-old. ‘It’s a real city, but it’s built in just a few weeks to instantly accommodate tens of millions of residents and visitors. It’s fascinating in its own right, of course. But our main interest is in what can we learn from this city that we can then apply to designing and building all kinds of other pop-up megacities like it. Can what we see here teach us something that will help the next time the world has to build refugee camps or emergency settlements?’ …

“The Kumbh Mela works in a way that most other Indian cities do not in part because everyone is on their best behavior: Civil servants know that their careers will be defined by these few weeks in the national spotlight; members of the public arrive with a sense of purpose and community.” More here.

I think it goes to show that when large numbers of people are basically on the same page about the importance of something, miracles happen. Loaves and fishes get shared. People pick up their litter. Everyone feels they’ve been part of something big.

Photo: Alfred Yaghobzadeh
Cooks at the Hindu festival worked to feed millions.

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