Thursday, October 21, 2010

skyline photos of Madrid 1

Related posts:

skyline of Paris 1

New York skyline photos 1

UN-Habitat 2010 Award for Vienna

The prestigious award of the 2010 Scroll of Honour of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme presented by UN-Habitat goes to Vienna, Austria. This year’s award under the theme “Better City, Better Life” was presented to Michael Häupl, the mayor of Vienna for a multimillion dollar project that has reduced sub-standard housing to less than 9 percent. It was conducted through building a quarter of million apartments in 5000 buildings. 

more readings:

Photo: szeke

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

neo-traditional development: a post modern way in urban design

May 1, 2010 

Neo-Traditional Development (NTD) or Neo-Traditional Town Planning is an urban design trend which has drawn the attention of planners and architects during the past two decades. This post modern flow is focused on creating well-planned, mixed-use, compact cities.
Density has an important role in NTDs. Neo-Traditionalists try to plan communities with dense fabric as well as promoting pedestrian and bicycle amenities. This is a reaction to the recent criticisms of urban sprawl. Critics of urban sprawl believe that sprawling urban areas and suburbs cause low sense of community, high construction costs, high automobile dependency, high environmental pollutions, low public health, etc.

The Different Forms of Neo-Traditional Developments

There are no definite categories for NTD. But some scholars have classified some planning trends as types of NTD. For example, in 1994 Alexander Christoforidis categorized NTD into five main approaches:
  1. Traditional Neighborhood Development (TND) or the New Urbanism
  2. Transit Oriented Development (TOD)
  3. Hamlets
  4. Metropolitan purlieus
  5. Revitalization of the existing traditional towns.
Later in 2006, Yosef Rafeq Jabareen defined the following 3 traditional types of planning as the most important NTDs:
  1. New Urbanism
  2. Transit Oriented Development (TOD)
  3. The Urban Village

The Characteristics of Neo-Traditional Developments

The planners of the NTDs usually try to locate most of the following aspects in their plans:
Mixed use neighborhoods, civic centers, sense of community, public open spaces, connected network of streets, strong public transit, etc.

The gird-like network of streets usually helps people easily reach their destinations. Therefore there is a high connectivity in such urban fabrics. This connectivity is for pedestrians, bikers, and the cars. So it is obvious that the neo-traditionalist planners do not intend to omit the cars from the streets, but their aim is to lower the necessity of using car as a daily mode of transport.
This is done through designing and building special public, pedestrian and biking amenities like pedestrian routes, bicycle routes, and of course public transit. In Transit-Oriented Development, public transport is the base of the plans.
Another aspect of the neo-traditional plans is the features that are designed to promote socialization among the residents of the neighborhoods. For example the neighborhood centers and public spaces are of these features. They are often used in plans related to New Urbanism and Urban Village. Mixed land-use is effective in creating better social relations and diversity. In the meantime, it causes the proximity of houses and work places. So the daily trips to work can be shorter.
Prospect new town in Longmont, Colorado: designed based on New Urbanism principles

Generally, neo-traditional planning aims at providing better quality of life. It is tried to be done by means of traditional values which were used in the old neighborhoods and towns.
  • Christoforidis, A. (1994), “New Alternatives to the Suburb: Neo Traditional Developments”, Journal of Planning Literature 1994; 8; 429.
  • Jabareen, Y. R. (2006), “Sustainable Urban Forms: Their Typologies, Models, and Concepts” Journal of Planning Education and Research 2006; 26; 38
more readings:

Sunday, October 17, 2010

What is a neighborhood? Anthony Dows' answer

"Neighborhood" is a fundamental notion in the contemporary urban studies and design. But it is usually hard to give a definition of it. It is one of those terms that almost every one knows what it is, but there is no common definition for it that includes broad acceptance. Anthony Dows gives a view of what the definition of a neighborhood can be (in Neighborhoods and Urban Development, 1981):
The National Commission on Neighborhoods gives a definition that is similarly used in some countries: "Neighborhood is what the inhabitants think it is". Dows introduces three concepts in neighborhood studies: "immediate neighborhood", "institution-oriented neighborhood", and "regional neighborhood". He gives a simple definition for the immediate neighborhood: "small cluster of houses right around one's own house".
As he writes: "The homogeneous neighborhood is the area up to where the market value of housing changes or where the market value of housing noticeably changes or where the mix of housing types or values changes". Dows notes that where the residents share common relationships with a local institution is an institution-oriented neighborhood. This local institute can be and elementary school, a church, a police precinct, or a political ward. 
An example of regional neighborhood is South Side in Milwaukee. That is a part of city, suburb, or township.  

Our suburbs can be transformed into true communities

South Side, Milwaukee: an example of regional neighborhood

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Denver has increased 10 to 15 percent in public transit use in the downtown

Mixing Transit-Oriented Development with other effective urban regeneration strategies like mixed use functions and retail stores application seem to have influential results in the revitalization of the decaying central cities. 
One of the successful examples of this kind is Denver, Colorado. According to  TCRP report no. 95 (Chapter one, Transit-Oriented Development: Travelers Response to Transportation System Changes), Denver city has been successful in reusing old buildings, employing Light Rail Transit (LRT), and employing ground-level retail. 
The results show that the regeneration plan has caused the downtown is somehow revitalized. The population of the downtown has increased from 1000 people to 2500. The statistics also show good results in public transit. For example in a single street of the downtown (16th Street Transit Mall), the average weekday transit was 45000 per day in the year 1997, while it grew to 60000 in 2004. This growth was a result of building a new LRT and extending the transit mall shuttle service. The general work trips in the downtown has increased form 20-25 percent to 35 percent after implementing the plan. 
Also 50 derelict buildings were converted to new functions and reused. The success of such a downtown gentrification plan is clear. The main point is that the number of the people, who have opted to live in the downtown have been doubled in a relatively short time. 

Related posts:

What Andres Duany and Peter Calthrope Beieved in 1995

New globalism, new urbanism: gentrification as global urban strategy

Urban Revitalization: Best Practices to Prevent Residential Displacement Due to Gentrification

Friday, October 15, 2010

Only 1% of the safety-related construction funds is spent for bicycling and pedetrians in the U.S.

Planning bicycle-friendly environment in the United States has long way to reach the built environment and culture that some come countries like The Netherlands, Denmark, and Germany have created. This European bicycle culture is especially more visible in cities like Amsterdam, Copenhagen, and Muenster (in Germany). 
The U.S. sprawled suburbs are so vast and scattered that it is so hard to plan and build the biking routes and other cycling infrastructure. On the other hand, the safety matters have not had a good progress either. According to the book titled "Planning for cycling: principles, practice, and solutions for urban planners" written by Hugh McClintock (Page 271), bicyclist and pedestrians together shape 14% of the traffic fatalities. Also 7% of the trips and just 1% of the safety-related construction funds are related to them. 
This indicates how the governmental regulations are still automobile-oriented. The failure in producing the bicycling culture in not just because of the American urban form and another reason for it is in the laws and legislation.   

  Related posts:

Bike Parking: a Key Part of the Bicycle Planning Amenities

Reclaiming the Streets on World Car Free Day

NYC’s Bike Route Network: Bridging the Gaps

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Have Streetcars Adequately Demonstrated Their Development-Generation Potential?

by Yonah Freemark
27 Sep. 2010

The most commonly cited argument for the development of new streetcar lines is that their implementation will result in the construction of new housing and commercial buildings in surrounding areas. Unfortunately, according to a new report by the Transportation Research Board, that link has yet to be substantiated by empirical evidence in most places where these new rail systems have been built.
This does not mean that streetcars don’t work as development tools, merely that their value has not been demonstrated conclusively. The federal government currently has placed a major emphasis on funding such projects and dozens of U.S. cities have shown significant interest in investing local resources on them. That movement towards this new transportation mode, however, should be slowed until more research is undertaken.
The report, written by Ron Golem and Janet Smith-Heimer, evaluates the thirteen “new” streetcar systems in the United States (it excludes New Orleans and San Francisco, which never took their historic lines out of operation). Five projects—in Kenosha, WI, Savannah, GA, Portland, OR, Memphis, TN, and Seattle, WA—are specifically described.

Despite planning MRT, BRT and SRT lines, Bangkok still suffers from traffic congestion

Bangkok, the capital city of Thailand, is a busy and overcrowded metropolis. The central city has a population of 6355144 people, but in 2008, 11971000 people lived in the metropolitan area of Bangkok. This population with the existing transportation infrastructure has changed the city to a real "city of traffic jams". 
Although some BTS, MRT, and SRT transit lines serve the city, but still the traffic congestion problem has not been solved. According to the governmental plans, up to 2020, 7 new MRT lines and 2 SRT lines will be built and operated. By these plans, the authorities have shown that they know the importance of public transit. However the pedestrians, drivers and the urban motor cyclists of Bangkok should wait some time to have opportunity to use more high quality transit lines.

Related posts:

Urbanization and Urbanism in Thailand

karlsruhe: a ride on the "tram-trains"

New Urbanists Who Admire Singapore’s Urban Planning

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

London Invests on Energy Saving Technologies

Recently some of the world cities have started to invest on green technologies that cause saving in urban energy use. A very good example is London. Some zones and pilot projects have been defined as the first test areas.
Three fourth of total carbon emission of London is caused by its buildings and 90 percent of this amount can be saved by using energy saving technologies.

Similar posts:

Leapfrogging into a Carbon-Light Future: The End of High-Carbon Prosperity and How Low-Income Nations Are Becoming Climate Resilient

Where’s Low Carbon Transport in Post-Copenhagen Pledges?

Architecture & Urban Planning in China: future cities to make small carbon footprint

Friday, October 8, 2010

How many slum-dwellers live in the world?

Slums are experiencing unpleasant levels in some parts of the wold like India, south east Asia, and Africa. These informal settlements have been growing all over the twentieth century.According to UN Habitat, Most slum-dwellers of the world live in Asia. This equals 581 million people. 80 percent of these people live in east and south Asia.Just in India, 170 million people live in slums. 

The Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary suggests the following definition for slum: 
A densely populated usually urban area marked by crowding, dirty run-down housing, poverty and social disorganization.
UN Habitat has defined the slum areas as the settlements that have the following the characteristics: 

• Inadequate access to safe water
• Inadequate access to sanitation and other infrastructure
• Poor structural quality of housing
• Overcrowding
• Insecure residential status

Related posts:

Delhi’s Walkways Hazardous to Your Health, Study Finds

McKinsey: India’s “Urban Awakening” Depends on Sustainable Transport and Land Use

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Contemporary Urban Problems in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh City, the largest city of Vietnam has experienced a fast growth during the previous years. The population of the city is about 7.2 million people (about 6.2 million in the central city and 1 million in the suburbs. This is expected that the city have a population of 10 million in 2020. This population is 8.34% of the whole residents of the country.The density and form of the city is similar to the urban patterns of the far east.
The fast growth of urbanization of the city has caused problems in the management of the city. Marginalization, informal settlements, and lack of suitable housing are some of the contemporary urban problems of Ho Chi Minh City.

Related posts:

Architecture & Urban Planning in China: urbanization to create massive infrastructure investment

Urbanization, Urban Environment and Land Use: Challenges and Opportunities

Urbanization and Urbanism in Thailand

Monday, October 4, 2010

Bike Parking: a Key Part of the Bicycle Planning Amenities

Bicycle planning is progressing in many countries, particularly in Europe. Today the leading biking technologies is originating from Denmark, the Netherlands, and Germany. bicycle parking is of these amenities, which is becoming more important as the number of the bikes get more. Also the number of paid bike lockers seem to get more gradually. Some suggest that a combination of simple bicycle racks with bike lockers for more expensive bicycles could be a good solution.
In the following videos some bicycle parking in Denmark and Muenster, Germany are shown.

What Andres Duany and Peter Calthrope Beieved in 1995

It is hard to change the form and structure of the cities of the United States, so that they become more environment-friendly. A great percent of the structure of the American cities are built after the World War II and most Americans are supposed to live in such environments. It is not so hard so say that it is hard to live in the sprawled American neighborhoods without automobile. In this case, American neighborhoods are different from the European ones.
The following video shows some of the neo-traditional development leaders like Anders Duany, Peter Calthorpe, Leon Krier, Lykoudis, Robertson, Adam, and Porphyrius declare their ideas about changing the way of thinking about the urban environment and neighborhoods. The video is related to 1995.

Urban Planning Book: Sprawl: A Compact History

"Sprawl: A Compact History" is the title of an almost newly written book on the history and definitions of urban and suburban sprawl. Although Robert Bruegmann, the author of the book, has been accused of supporting sprawl, but his book is a good reference of the subject. 
The main causes of urban sprawl is also considered in this well-written book. the advantage of "Sprawl: A Compact History" is that it is really compact and the reader need not read several big book chapters.

Sustainable Development Ends Suburban Sprawl

by John Addison
3 Oct. 2008

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed into law SB 375 stating, "This landmark bill takes California's fight against global warming to a whole new level and it creates a model that the rest of the country and world will use. When it comes to reducing greenhouse gases, California is first in tackling car emissions, first to tackle low-carbon fuels, and now with this landmark legislation, we are the first in the nation to tackle land-use planning. What this will mean is more environmentally-friendly communities, more sustainable developments, less time people spend in their cars, more alternative transportation options and neighborhoods we can safely and proudly pass on to future generations."
Sprawl has been an enormous problem in California as 38 million people crawl through jammed suburban streets, then chocking freeways, only to finally search for a parking space near work. In California there is a car, SUV, or truck for every adult driver. California has a frightening dependence on oil. Compared with nations, only the U.S. and China guzzle more gasoline than California. Yep, California slurps oil products faster than all of Japan, all of Germany, all of India, or all of Russia.
Read more

Related posts:

Different Sprawl Patterns in the U.S. Cities

The Definitions and Characteristics of Urban Sprawl

The nature and causes of urban sprawl: a case study of Wirral, England

Designing Community: The Utopia of New Urbanism


The search of Utopia is a normal human desire: everyone wants to lead a better life; everyone wants to live in a better place. The emergence of the suburban new towns under the call of the New Urbanism are dream-homes for many Americans – to live in a well protected community with pleasant landscape, welcoming neighborhood and spacious single family houses. However, the suburban new towns reflect larger questions on our society that we should not ignored.

Firstly, it reflects people’s detestation to the city. People abandon the city center and escape to the suburb to look for their ideal living places - The city is no longer a “livable environment”. The gated communities in these suburban new towns, with self-sufficient facilities and services, reflect the people’s fears and reluctance to interact with the outside world.

New Urbanists Who Admire Singapore’s Urban Planning

via One Less Car
6 August 2010

I just learned, via this blog, that they exist. I’m frankly astonished. I suspect few of these admirers have actually lived there. Superficially, Singapore may seem to align with New Urbanist ideals because of the high ownership taxes on cars, which have slowed down the growth of the car population, but it fails in a major way on these other fronts:
  1. Road design. While it is very expensive to own a car, if you do own one, you get treated to infrequent stop lights and many, many wide arterial roads and expressways, so cars can go much faster than they would in American cities of similar sizes. There are no traffic calming measures that I know of. This makes being a pedestrian or cyclist very uncomfortable. Furthermore, it is very difficult to find alternate routes for walking or biking on, because arterial roads are rarely interrupted by minor roads, so you’re often forced to take arterial roads just so you can cross yet another arterial road.
  2. Walkability. As mentioned in 1., there are few intersections, so pedestrians often have to walk a long way to cross roads, and the roads are wide, so it takes a long time to cross. 

Read more

Sunday, October 3, 2010

karlsruhe: a ride on the "tram-trains"

 by Jarret Walker,
Human Transit
18 Sep. 2009

Karlsruhe is a small city, about 300,000, with a very strong single downtown (including a major university) and not much to compete with it elsewhere in the city.  The geographical problem that drove the tram-train invention is that this urban core is about 2 km from the main rail station.  This separation is a feature you’ll find only in pre-rail cities (developed before 1850 or so) or some poorly planned late 20th century ones.  In the main era of rail development, roughly 1850-1950, towns naturally grew up adjacent to railroad lines, and while the rail line itself tended to be an urban barrier, you typically ended up with a downtown that was adjacent to the rail station on at least one side of the tracks. 
If the city was there before the rail line, and the rail line couldn’t get closer without disrupting other travel markets, then compromises often had to be made between a station site ideal for the town and one that was efficient for the through operations of the rail service.  (The same tradeoffs are made today, at many scales, whenever land use and rapid transit interact in a new town or transit-oriented development setting.)
Karlsruhe is such a place.  Founded in the 18th century, Karlsruhe is organised around a castle whose site was chosen to suit a royal ego rather than provide for efficient transportation, or for that matter, efficient anything.
Read more

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Complete Streets Lessons from Copenhagen

by Barbara McCann
1 July 2010
I was fortunate last week to be able to attend Velo-City, an international bicycle conference, held this year in Copenhagen, already world-famous as a ‘city of cyclists.’
Frankly, in the past, I’ve discounted the value of the European model in the United States. It has been just too different - and certainly has been rejected by most local elected officials in the US. Specific European treatments such as cycle-tracks (bicycle lanes raised from the road surface and separate from the sidewalk) seemed pointless to discuss. On this trip, however, I came away with greater clarity about what European cities have to teach the Complete Streets movement in the United States.
The cycle-tracks, and the accompanying blue bike lanes crossing intersections, get a lot of credit for the astounding outcomes: in Copenhagen, 55% of all trips are made on bicycles. Such techniques are employed in other European cities, notably Oulu Finland, where even with six months of winter, the bicycle mode share is 20 percent. Many an American has returned to the states convinced that installation of cycle tracks or blue bike lanes are the way out of our car-dependent road system.