Are Promises Kept ? Verification and Validation

Various large and small developments happen in our cities every day to build a better liveable and smarter space for us. The current process of using a contract or deed and a contractor to deliver the development could be further improved. It is vastly expensive or impossible to rectify, after the development completion, when the development failed to deliver the benefits.  There needs to have certainty in the achievement of the desired outcomes in urban design or smart city projects.

Richard Lau

A process of consistently verifying the requirements and validating the products (results) during the project would enhance the probability of achieving the results that the project is proposed to achieve. This verification approach has been applied in major infrastructure projects and could also apply to smaller scale local developments or any precinct-wide urban projects.

Independent Verification and Validation (IV&V) means that a completely independent entity reviews/evaluates the work products generated by the team that is designing and/or executing  a given project. The IV&V provider will often monitor and evaluate every aspect of the project itself from inception to completion. It is far easier and more cost effective to correct problems that are identified earlier rather than later in the project.

Looking at a project in progress from the perspective of an outsider, and not allowing oneself to be engulfed in details or assumptions, enables the independent reviewer to recognise warning signs and impending problems while they can still be mitigated or corrected.

The primary value of IV&V is in identifying high-risk areas early in the project which allows the organization to either mitigate risks or prepare contingencies.  Project implementation should be a partnership between the organization and the IV&V team, where the IV&V team provides tangible measurement and alternatives and helps identify issues which may not be immediately visible.  Independent verification and validation is a time-tested methodology that should be carefully considered as a relatively low-cost insurance policy at the outset of projects, in particular public ones.

This article was kindly provided by Richard Lau, Arcadis Australia Pacific Pty Ltd.

Richard presented an abstract entitled ‘Are Promises Kept ? Verification and Validation’  for the 2016 International Urban Design Conference.

Bradley Jones: Smart City Streets

Urban design guidelines and planning instruments of the 1990s adopted a two-level road hierarchy which resulted in no domestic frontage to streets carrying more than 3,000 vehicles per day (vpd).  Since the turn of the century, developers and regulators have challenged the car focus of the two-level road hierarchy having a desire to provide direct frontage to streets carrying more than 3,000vpd.  However, this desire does not resolve the conflicts which arise within a street reserve.

Bradley Jones

For roads carrying up to 10,000vpd it is now accepted that direct access can be provided safely and efficiently.  However, rear laneways are recommended for access to development fronting roads carrying over 10,000vpd.  Rear laneways do not require as much land as service lanes, allow activation of the road frontage, and separate conflicts between access and through traffic.

A pedestrian’s experience of streets was assessed in terms of pedestrian density, driveway conflict and delays crossing carriageways to access a pedestrian path.  It was concluded that pedestrian activity can be promoted by providing a path on at least one side of streets fronted by development.  Pedestrian facilities on streets with no frontage may be underutilised due to pedestrians feeling a reduced sense of safety, security and place.

The level of service (LoS) for cyclists decreases with increasing operating speed for cars except on streets which provide off-road cycle facilities.  Therefore, shared paths or segregated facilities should be provided to accommodate cyclists off carriageway on streets operating above 50km/h.

Public transport (PT) quality was assessed in terms of availability, frequency, travel speed and accessibility.  It was concluded that PT stops should be located on streets with fronting development and a pedestrian path.  PT quality improves with increasing vehicle operating speed.

The LoS for cars improves with increasing vehicle operating speed resulting in a positive correlation with PT quality and a negative correlation with cyclist LoS.  Cars are provided for best on arterial and sub-arterial roads, and in rural areas.  The worst LoS for cars occurs in shared zones and access laneways where the through movement of motor vehicles is not the priority.

By Bradley Jones,  Traffic Engineer at UDP

Christchurch Rising – Landscape Driven City

Following on from the 2015 X-Section article Reimagining a City: 21st Century Landscape Architecture and the paper given by Mike Thomas at the 2015 6th Liveable Cities Conference titled Reimagining Christchurch City’s Post-Quake Public Realm: The Influence of 21st Century Landscape Architecture on the Rebuild, Mike posited that it is the work of landscape architects that will most consistently influence the appearance and social and economic success of Christchurch’s new post-quake public realm in the rebuild.  The following is a brief update on progress.

Mike Thomas

Christchurch is unique in New Zealand. Following the 2011 earthquake, it has started over. 70% of CBD buildings have needed demolition, services under the street have needed reconstruction and the city is now in a slow-but-steady state of rebuild.

A positive outlook of a city ‘beginning again’ has been the opportunity for the government to engage with the city and put in place an infrastructure rebuild using principles defined by its people. Cantabrians have asked for a green, walking, cycling city with public transport.

City planning has zoned the CBD into ‘Frames’ according to the activity of the district (e.g. innovation, health). A focus has been applied to developing the public realm and streetscape and so landscape architecture is playing a dominant role in shaping the character of the city centre – an evolutionary shift not a wholesale changeover.

This South Frame project consists of 20,000m2 of mid-block lanes and plazas across seven city blocks on major arterial routes in the city (Tuam/St Asaph and Madras/Antigua Streets). It’s part of a wider ‘Accessible City’ project which consists of 75,000 m2 of streetscapes containing 250 new street trees and 4,000m2 of rain gardens,   developed by a consortium of Jasmax, AECOM and LandLAB. South Frame’s construction began in 2016 and is now approximately 20% complete with work now proceeding at full pace.

A 12 metre-wide, 700 metre long, heavily planted Greenway collects, slows and treats storm water runoff with almost 3,000m2 of rain gardens. Designed as a setting for a creative new mixed-use precinct, connecting the Innovation and Health Precincts, the Greenway is a canvas for cultural expression in partnership with Ngāi Tahu; the local Māori tribe. A theme of this greenway is a “Story of Stone”, which features backlit pounamu (Jade/greenstone) pavement inlays, basalt laneways and boulders. The Greenway will be a venue for social activation and a safe movement corridor, particularly attractive to inner-city living and working.

The layout for the Greenway owes much to Canterbury’s beautiful braided rivers, pixelated to align with urban geometry. Local tree species, Kahikatea and totara, will rise above the buildings as future sentinels to help navigate the city centre. Ethno-botanical plantings with historical value to Ngāi Tahu will be planted, with identification tags.

Separated cycle-lanes and shared surfaces will enable safe cycling through the city, and connect to a regional cycleway network, the Peloton. Architecturally iconic Super Stops (for buses) are being fabricated, ready to play their part in a three-fold increase (by 2041) of public transport movements.

Construction of these projects is in full swing with a significant portion built by 2018.

By Mike Thomas, Principal, Jasmax 

How Urban Environments Are Benefitting From Green Roofs

Lack of ground space in urban living environments is one of the prime reasons for the popularity of green roofs. The increasing adoption of the green roof concept is slowly but surely changing urban landscapes even as more people realise the various benefits of incorporating green roofs in their homes and offices.green roof

Of course, a green roof requires a lot of care and maintenance; therefore, those on a budget or short on time can consider an artificial garden from Evergreen Walls.

Here are some of the benefits of green roofs:

Better air quality

It’s a proven fact that green roofs improve the air quality in the immediate area. Plants have the capability to trap pollutants and atmospheric deposition in the air. Plants also filter out noxious gases to make the air safer to breathe. Green roofs additionally, help with controlling the indoor temperature.

Green roofs are particularly recommended for power plants, which are known to release a lot of pollutants into the air.

Reduced stormwater runoff

Stormwater runoff from the roof, unless harvested, will only result in wastage. However, growing the right varieties of plants on the roof can help with better stormwater management. A green roof will store the water and return it to the environment through evaporation and transpiration. Some plants have the capacity to retain up to 90% of rainwater. Incorporate green wall plants along the perimeter of the building to capture the remaining amounts of water runoff that may occur during a particularly heavy storm.

This article was originally published by Architecture and Design.

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Can Architecture and Smart Design Help Prevent Terrorism?

London, Paris, Stockholm, Brussels, Manchester and Nice – the list of cities hit by terrorism continues to grow by the month. While this has seen volumes of page space devoted to try and explain the reasons behind the carnage, scant attention has been given to the use of urban design as an anti-terror weapon. But what if we could use smart design and architectural innovation to help prevent this scourge? Could better urban design help in the fight against global terror?

The concept of attenuating public space to improve public safety is nothing new. Ever since ‘The Troubles’ of the 1970s and 80s, the UK has changed and redesigned parts of Belfast and Londonderry in Northern Ireland a bid to better cope with future IRA attacks.

As for the US, since September 11, 2001, America’s architects have been on a steep learning curve on how to balance between designing for aesthetics and designing for public safety.

Today this scenario has more resonance considering that since 2007, more people than ever in human history are residing in urban centres as opposed to rural ones. By 2050, it has been estimated that up to 75 percent of the global population will be classified as being urban.

This massive increase in urban habitation invariably means an increase in high-density living. The irony being of course, when it comes to public safety and social cohesion, high-rise and high-density structures rarely make the list of final designs.

can architecture and design prevent terrorism?
Photo: article provided

Minimalistic public safety designs 101

In New York City, one popular public safety feature has been the addition of bollards to many public spaces. But these were not just any old bollards – in the city’s famed financial district, these bespoke bollards are designed to be also used as street furniture and aesthetic enhancements.

However, while it’s easier to redesign (or re-engineer) a relatively simple item like a bollard – entire buildings, and for that matter, whole neighbourhoods, are a very different proposition.

Considering the need for safety usually trumps most other human needs, perhaps it’s time to consider combining the need for beauty with the need for safety especially in an era that bears the burden of the “ugliness of terrorism”.

At the same time, it should not be all bland function over beauty and form. Last year, the president of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), Ruth Reed, highlighted RIBA’s ‘counter-terrorism design guidelines’ and noted that it was “important to remember that we are an open and inclusive society”. In terms of architectural design, she claims we shouldn’t be “driven by security measures”.

This article was originally published by Architecture and Design.

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