Green cities are not just for the elite

Green cities have become a key goal of urban development. They are environmentally friendly, provide clean water, protect green space, and offer an enhanced public experience.

However, they’re not perfect. In fact, some of the different needs of citizens may have been neglected amid all the attention lavished on green cities. A green city in many real-life cases is neither green everywhere, nor green for everyone. Also, a green city does not guarantee an economically strong city, nor a livable place for people of all income classes.

Seen from the perspective of urban dwellers of different socioeconomic status, there are five urban development objectives that can be considered as ascending stages on a scale of livability.

First, in its most basic form, urban life needs to ensure a livelihood for citizens.

Second, it should enable accessibility, allowing its residents to participate fully in daily urban life.

Third, urban life should be affordable, ensuring that urban infrastructure, such as housing, and urban services, such as health care, are affordable for citizens.

Fourth, it requires resilience, enabling people to withstand social threats such as crime or environmental impacts like extreme weather events. Finally, at the highest stage, urban life has to provide for livability, which allows people to fully enjoy what their city has to offer.

Published by Eco-Business, read the full article here.

This Incredible Skyscraper Is Actually A Vertical Forest

Nanjing Green Towers isn’t your average skyscraper, you see it’s actually Asia’s first vertical forest.

The idea behind a vertical forest is simple: You essentially turn a building into a giant living breathing air filter, helping to clear the air pollution that often comes hand in hand with city living.

stefano-boeri-architetti

It’s a truly astonishing piece of architecture, you see dotted along its facades are 600 tall trees, 500 medium-sized trees while a staggering 2,500 plants and shrubs then cover a 6,000sqm area.

Not only does this increase biodiversity in the local area but it will be able to absorb some 25 tonnes of CO2 every year while producing some 60kg of oxygen every day. As our cities have grown exponentially it has become clear that new buildings have to take a different approach.

We can no longer just build boxes that contain humans, we have to build ecosystems. Designed by Stefano Boeri Architetti, Nanjing Green Towers will be the first vertical forest in Asia.  This will be the third vertical forest project by the architecture firm after they completed their first building in Milan and then a second project in Switzerland.

Originally Published by The Huffington Post, continue reading here.

Big data is adding a whole new dimension to public spaces

Most of us encounter public spaces in our daily lives: whether it’s physical space (a sidewalk, a bench, or a road), a visual element (a panorama, a cityscape) or a mode of transport (bus, train or bike share). But over the past two decades, digital technologies such as smart phones and the internet of things are adding extra layers of information to our public spaces, and transforming the urban environment.

Traditionally, public spaces have been carefully designed by urban planners and architects, and managed by private companies or public bodies. The theory goes that people’s attention and behaviour in public spaces can be guided by the way that architects plan the built environment. Take, for example, Leicester Square in London: the layout of green areas, pathways and benches makes it clear where people are supposed to walk, sit down and look at the natural elements. The public space is a given, which people receive and use within the terms and guidelines provided.

While these ideas are still relevant today, information is now another key material in public spaces. It changes the way that people experience the city. Uber shows us the position of its closest drivers, even when they’re out of sight; route-finding apps such as Google Maps helps us to navigate through unfamiliar territory; Pokemon Go places otherworldly creatures on the pavement right before our eyes.

But we’re not just receiving information – we’re also generating it. Whether you’re “liking” something on Facebook, searching Google, shopping online, or even exchanging an email address for Wi-Fi access; all of the data created by these actions are collected, stored, managed, analysed and brokered to generate monetary value.

Originally Published by The Conversation continue reading here.

High Density And Public Open Space: Are They Mutually Exclusive?

How do we ensure that our cities will grow successfully and sustainably? How can we balance an increase in density with quality public spaces and amenities while accommodating an intensification of urban population to maintain a sense of community and social cohesion? How do we do this and capitalise on existing infrastructure and adopt the right new long lasting public infrastructure which will reduce urban sprawl and reduce the impact on the environment?

These are questions that Architects have been considering since the beginning of civilisation and our relatively young Australian cities have far more potential to adapt to our modern lifestyles than many old world cities.

Within the planning and architectural profession we understand some of the fundamental answers to these questions: Transit Oriented Developments which co-locate mixed uses such as residential, offices, retail and leisure activities over or adjacent to significant multi modal transport nodes; the allocation of public open space within our major developments, fringed and activated with retail and areas for recreation; the creation of taller more slender buildings by reducing building footprints and the introduction of negative podiums for people to use as open recreation areas at ground level.

Our City Councils, Planners and Government Agencies are constantly reviewing strategies and planning controls with the intention to provide a framework for the design of our cities. Both the development industry and Government Agencies share a common interest for our design strategies to be successful, although their implementation often raises concern that their goals are in conflict with each other.

Originally Published by The Urban Developer, to continue reading click here.

Good design to be championed in NSW planning law

The NSW government has unveiled sweeping reforms to the state’s planning laws that will see the role of design promoted in the updated and amended legislation.

“We are living in the most highly urbanized era in Australian history,” NSW planning minister Rob Stokes said, “so it is time we elevated the critical role of design in the built environment to deliver neighbourhoods, streets, parks and recreation spaces that balance the needs of communities with the need to accommodate growth.”

The proposed amendments to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (EP&A) include updating and modernizing the objects (statements of intentions) of the act, as well as a new object to promote design.

The summary of proposals states: “The design object, if implemented, will ensure that design is considered and balanced with the other objects of the EP&A Act. For example, the promotion of good design will be considered in a framework that also promotes land use planning that encourages economic development and the principles of ecologically sustainable development. This will be the task of decision makers in the context of both strategic planning and development assessments.”

Aerial view of Sydney. Image: Rodney Haywood/Creative Commons
Aerial view of Sydney. Image: Rodney Haywood/Creative Commons

The NSW government has tasked the NSW Office of the Government Architect to develop a design-led planning strategy. In 2016, the government unveiled its draft architecture and design policy, prepared by the NSW Office of the Government Architect, which laid the foundations for the proposed strategy. The strategy will include incentives and measures to achieve well-designed places. However, it is unclear what the incentives and measures will be.

The planning law reforms will also include proposals to promote the use of local planning panels, which some councils in NSW have already established. The panels will comprise a community representative and two independent expert members drawn from the professions of planning, architecture, heritage, the environment, urban design, economics, traffic and transport, law, engineering, tourism or government and public administration. One independent expert member will be appointed the chair. In addition to local planning panels, proposed amendments also include tools to ensure experts are making the decision where needed.

The Australian Institute of Architects has welcomed the proposed reforms. “The Institute is particularly pleased that good design is to be a new object of the NSW Environmental Planning and Assessment Act,” said Shaun Carter, NSW chapter president.

Read more.