Monday, January 31, 2011

Assessment of Garden City Planning Principles in the ACT

Andrew Ward

Freestone in Model Communities The Garden City Movement in Australia provides a useful summary of the origins of the Garden City Movement: The garden city tradition of planning takes its name from the work of Ebenezer Howard, who in Tomorrow: A Peaceful Path to Real Reform (1898) advanced the idea of garden cities as a vehicle towards ‘ a better and brighter civilization’. He called for a ‘social revolution’ but few of his supporters went this far. The political complexion of the garden city movement which developed in Britain in the early twentieth century was far more moderate, its agenda far more eclectic. The central concern was not the decentralised, cooperative society envisaged by Howard, but the improvement of the urban environment. The most remarkable applications of ‘garden city principles’ were two completely new environments – the garden cities of Letchworth (1904) and Welwyn (1920). Industrial housing estates, some like Cadbury Brothers’ Bournville actually predating Howard’s work, embodied the same ideas. The most widespread and enduring expression of garden city design standards was in the suburbs. Whitehand and Carr, however, look further back in their search for the origins of garden city planning in England to the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. They state that the single family house in its private garden as opposed to the Georgian ‘square’ of terrace houses around a communal garden became fashionable for the middle classes rich enough to afford it during this period. They were looking to the country houses of the aristocracy and the gentry for their exemplars and it should be borne in mind that private land in the pedestrian city would have been a scarce commodity. In the absence of mechanized transport, the time was not yet right for the garden city. Nevertheless, the 1810s saw a garden suburb developed by the aristocratic Calthorpe to the south-west of Birmingham. Such low density development, however, would have been an exception to the main stream which was still very logically characterized by terraces and row houses.
It was not until the 1870s that individually designed dwellings arranged as terraces were used at Bedford Park, just beyond the western fringes of London. Soon, detached and semi-detached houses were overwhelmingly predominant. Richard Norman (1831- 1912), the eminent architect and urban designer, best remembered for his adaptation of eighteenth century styles that he called “Queen Anne”, laid out Bedford Park in 1876. His scheme was exceptional as one of the first garden suburbs and unusual also in architectural terms, for Shaw’s work was highly influential, finding its way to Australia by the late 1880s and seen in modified form at Haberfield in Sydney. Bourneville’s importance lay not so much in its early date (c.1879) but in the diffusion of the garden suburb form down the social hierarchy to the working class. The first houses were semidetached in garden surrounds, forming the genesis of a larger garden suburb, the influence of which had become pervasive in Bournville, as it had elsewhere, by the Great War.
Barry Parker (1867-1947) and Raymond Unwin (1863-1940), who practiced jointly as architects and planners and undertook the design of Letchworth, received their first commission in 1901 when the chocolate magnate, Joseph Rowntree, retained them to prepare a scheme for the accommodation of workers at New Earswick, near York, England. They aimed to reduce the amount of expensive roads needed to give access to all houses and to give each house a pleasant garden and view.

Letchworth Garden City, photo by alex drennan

Letchworth Garden City, by Gregory Williams

Letchworth Garden City, by G Travels
more posts about the Garden City Movement:

Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Urban Planning & Design in Limkokwing University, Malaysia

 via Limkokwing University

The student’s journey in this course starts with the fundamentals of Urban Planning as well as fundamentals of design principles followed by a thorough training in every discipline involved in this field. Modules of study are centred on the planning, conservation of heritage, as well as policy, law and landscape planning. Ultimately, the student will be equipped with a holistic understanding of the basic knowledge and operational skills necessary for achieving sustainable urban planning and design, their environments, facilities and support services.

Entry Requirements

  • 2 principals STPM/'A' levels or equivalent or
  • 5 credits SPM/'O' levels or equivalent and
  • Limkokwing's Foundation in Built Environment
Students with a recognised Diploma or Certificate in the relevant field will be given credit exemptions based on past results and a portfolio review (where applicable).

International Students

For non-Malaysian citizens, please refer to the Malaysian Qualification Agency’s (MQA) List of Overseas Qualifications & its equivalency with Malaysian Education System (PDF) to see if you qualify for this course.

Limkokwing University, Malaysia, photo by CLF
Limkokwing University, Malaysia, photo by CLF
more posts about urban planning courses:

GIS in U.S. Urban Studies and Planning Education

Urban and Regional Planning Programs, Courses, Schools and Degrees in Ontario Universities

Focus on Regional and Urban Planning

Planning professionals are the people who get to decide the shape and scope of Ireland’s environmental and infrastructural development. Anybody interested in getting into this area might well consider a postgraduate qualification in Planning and Development.
The UCD School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Policy runs a number of postgraduate courses in this area. A popular choice is the Masters in Regional and Urban Planning. The MRUP offers students the opportunity to develop the knowledge, skills and values useful for those interested in pursuing a career in planning. The degree structure includes lectures, studio-based learning and independent study. It is the only postgraduate planning qualification available in Ireland with professional accreditation from both the Irish Planning Institute and the UK Royal Town Planning Institute.
This is a two-year, full-time, taught postgraduate course. There is no real undergraduate equivalent and applicants can have an honours degree in a broad range of subjects relevant to planning. These can be drawn from a wide range of interests and include geography, economics, public policy, social policy, sociology, politics, business studies, commerce, environmental studies, agriculture, engineering, architecture, architectural science, surveying or law, or other qualifications approved by the University. Professional experience is also useful.
The syllabus is designed to provide a thorough understanding of the environmental, social and economic aspects of the human environment, and of the relevant systems of government and organisations of society. Courses and modules focus on specific areas including Urban Design, Development Planning, Retail Strategies, Housing strategies, Environmental Assessment, Development Control, Geographical Information Systems, Building and Construction Technology, Project Management Techniques and Research and Report Writing Skills. 

University College Cork, photo by Laura Longenecker
University of Belfast, by pseudoliterat
University of Belfast, by pseudoliterat
Trinity College, Dublin, photo by yakshini
 more posts about urban planning in universities:

Urban and Regional Planning Programs, Courses, Schools and Degrees in Ontario Universities

GIS in U.S. Urban Studies and Planning Education

Urban and Regional Planning Programs, Courses, Schools and Degrees in Ontario Universities

There are several types of urban studies degree. The interdisciplinary degree gives students an overall education in civil planning and policy making through studies in disciplines including economics, geography, political science, sociology, planning and anthropology. Another form of specialization usually involves the planning and architecture department of a university, and is geared more toward training specifically in community planning (for more information on planning, visit the University of Waterloo’s site: In all programs, there is usually a component of professional, hands-on experience in the community to the degree; furthermore, all students in urban studies programs learn to develop their own informed critiques of current public policy and to create improvements of that policy that are sensitive to the needs of their communities.

Universities with Urban and Regional Planning Programs in Ontario

  • Urban Studies
    | Undergraduate Degree | York University |

  • Diploma in Financial Planning
    | Certificate Degree | Wilfrid Laurier University |

  • School of Planning
    | Undergraduate Degree | University of Waterloo |

  • ...
    read more
    University of Toronto, by The West End
    University of Toronto, by The West End

     more articles about urban planning in universities:

    GIS in U.S. Urban Studies and Planning Education

    Sunday, January 30, 2011

    Towards garden city wonderlands: new town planning in 1950s Taiwan

    by Yi-Wen Wang and Tim Heath

    This article explores the historical context, process and result of introducing and implementing 'new' town planning in early post-war Taiwan. The two so-called 'garden cities' are examined: Jhong-Sing New Village and Yonghe City, both of which were formulated in the mid-1950s by the same group of local planners. It reveals that the assumed necessity of importing Western planning paradigms arose from the abrupt escalation of urban concentration caused by the late 1940s mass migrations from China. To cope with this unprecedented population growth, planning profession was swiftly established. The novice planners, in search of a reference for developing 'new' towns to decentralise excessive urbanisation, modelled their 'new' town planning on English suburban morphology. In the absence of an input of external expertise, the planners appeared to mistake aesthetic order and pastoral imagery of low-density residential development in England as practically viable solutions to the pressing urban problems in Taiwan. In a false hope that adopting Western ideas and practices would quickly lead the island to a better world, Taiwan initiated the importation of planning paradigms. This planning transfer not only evidently manifests a mode of 'borrowing' in post-colonial countries in international diffusion but also re-articulates the disseminating nature of modern planning and the existence of one-direction flows characterising the global dynamics of diffusion in the twentieth century. 

    Yonghe City, Taiwan, photo by delcond
    Urban Taiwan, photo by delcond
    more posts about planning history:

    History Of Cities And City Planning

    Howard Park and Howard Garden, Letchworth Garden City, Herts: Archaeological Desk Based Assessment

    The Ancient Quarter of Hanoi – A Reflection of Urban Transition Processes

    Suburbanisation and urban sprawl in Leipzig (Germany)

    History Of Cities And City Planning

    By Cliff Ellis

    The building of cities has a long and complex history. Although city planning as an organized profession has existed for less than a century, all cities display various degrees of forethought and conscious design in their layout and functioning.
    Early humans led a nomadic existence, relying on hunting and gathering for sustenance. Between 8,000 and 10,000 years ago, systematic cultivation of plants and the domestication of animals allowed for more permanent settlements. During the fourth millennium B.C., the requirements for the "urban revolution" were finally met: the production of a surplus of storable food, a system of writing, a more complex social organization, and technological advances such as the plough, potter's wheel, loom, and metallurgy.
    Cities exist for many reasons, and the diversity of urban forms can be traced to the complex functions that cities perform. Cities serve as centers of storage, trade, and manufacture. The agricultural surplus from the surrounding countryside is processed and distributed in cities. Cities also grew up around marketplaces, where goods from distant places could be exchanged for local products. Throughout history, cities have been founded at the intersections of transportation routes, or at points where goods must shift from one mode of transportation to another, as at river and ocean ports.
    Religious elements have been crucial throughout urban history. Ancient peoples had sacred places, often associated with cemeteries or shrines, around which cities grew. Ancient cities usually had large temple precincts with monumental religious buildings. Many medieval cities were built near monasteries and cathedrals.
    Cities often provide protection in a precarious world. During attacks, the rural populace could flee behind city walls, where defence forces assembled to repel the enemy. The wall served this purpose for millennia, until the invention of heavy artillery rendered walls useless in warfare. With the advent of modern aerial warfare, cities have become prime targets for destruction rather than safe havens.
    Cities serve as centers of government. In particular, the emergence of the great nation-states of Europe between 1400 and 1800 led to the creation of new capital cities or the investing of existing cities with expanded governmental functions.
    Washington, D.C., for example, displays the monumental buildings, radial street pattern, and large public spaces typical of capital cities.
    Cities, with their concentration of talent, mixture of peoples, and economic surplus, have provided a fertile ground for the evolution of human culture: the arts, scientific research, and technical innovation. They serve as centers of communication, where new ideas and information are spread to the surrounding territory and to foreign lands. 

    Old Paris, photo by aj stephens
    more posts about urban history:

    Cycles and Urban Morphology - The History of Urban Form

    A Brief History of Urban Form: Street Layout Through the Ages

    Is India Aiming for Urban Sustainability?


    Ahris Yaakup, Ahmad Nazri Muhamad Ludin, Susilawati Sulaiman, Haibenarisal Bajuri

    Since the seventies, Malaysia is experiencing a rapid urbanization rate and becoming one of most developed countries in the Asia region. Urbanization contributes many advantages in terms of economics, but if uncontrolled, would produce negative consequences to the physical, social and natural environment. With the advancement of Geo-information Technology (GIT), which considerably influenced the dynamic nature of urban and regional planning, incorporation of GIT becomes imperative for better and improved decision-making in urban planning and management. It offers a solution to the urban problems and decision-making, which is more reliant to the real-time spatial modeling. Based on the Town and Country Planning Act 1976 (Act 172) latest amended in 2001, the development plans provide the development framework and guidelines which need to be continually updated according to the present situation of development. The integration of Geographical Information System (GIS) has provided a tool which can contribute to much clearer understanding of real planning problems as well as prescriptive planning scenarios to enhance the quality of urban planning and management. This paper will enlighten the need for GIS at strategic planning and management level. Example of the use of GIS for strategic planning at the higher level relates to the National Physical Plan, Regional Plan and State Structure Plan whereas at local planning level, the integration of GIS is at District Local Plan and Area Action Plan. This paper will also highlight on how GIS is applied for urban management purposes with focus on development control. GIS notably provide a strong platform to decision maker in its role as the main component in Planning Support System (PSS) and Decision Support System (DSS). Some discussion on database design, the analysis techniques, the framework of planning and management incorporating GIS will end the paper.

    Petronas Tower in Malaysia, photo by judhi
    An ordinary view of a Malaysian street, by Drakh
    more readings about urbanism in Malaysia:

    Urbanism, Space and Human Psychology: Value Change and Urbanization in Malaysia


    Think Globally, Act Regionally: GIS and Data Visualization for Social Science and Public Policy Research

    Reviewed by Nancy J. Obermeyer, Associate Professor of Geography,
    Indiana State University, Terre Haute, IN

    As the subtitle implies, the purpose of Think Globally, Act Regionally: GIS and Data Visualization for Social Sciences and Public Policy Research is to provide a sound introduction to geographic information systems, including hands-on practice, to students studying social science or public policy. The book focuses on cities and urbanization in order to guide its readers to a better understanding of how they might use GIS for their research. In order to accomplish this objective, the book begins with an introduction to the use of GIS and data visualization as a means to explore urban areas. Through several chapters, Think Globally, Act Regionally discusses specific issues prevalent in cities, along with the ways that GIS may be employed to analyze them. The book concludes with seven hands-on exercises that enable the reader to practice using GIS to analyze urban data. Overall, the book accomplishes its objectives in a clear, straightforward manner. 
    One of the greatest contributions of Think Globally, Act Regionally to students of social sciences and public policy is its discussion of the importance of geographical scale in urban areas. This discussion, which is a key concept in the opening chapter of the book, includes several examples of specific urban problems (i.e., sprawl, mobility, transportation and infrastructure) that spill beyond official city legal boundaries as a means to illustrate scale issues. The discussion is clear, informative, and persuasive. Similarly, the book’s coverage of data visualization provides a good introduction to the use (and potential misuse) of maps as a means to report social science and public policy analysis. These will be helpful for the book’s target audience.

    more urban planning book reviews:

    Connecting Urban Sustainability to Wealth Creation

    Book Review: Testimonies of the City. Identity, Community and Change in a Contemporary Urban World

    Book Review: Self Sufficient City Envisioning the habitat of the future

    GIS in U.S. Urban Studies and Planning Education

    Richard LeGates

    The use of GIS in social science and public policy disciplines has expanded exponentially in recent years. There is worldwide interest in incorporating spatial thinking and the use of GIS into education at every academic level—particularly in academic disciplines and professional fields where spatial understanding and GIS can greatly improve academic understanding, research, and professional practice (National Academy of Science, 2006; Goodchild and Janelle, 2005; LeGates, 2004).
    Urban studies and planning are often cited as fields where spatial thinking and GIS should be used. However, there is little information on how GIS has been incorporated into these fields. Nor has there been much serious thinking about alternative models for incorporating GIS sensitive to the variations among urban studies and planning programs. This is particularly important because these programs range from minors in small interdisciplinary urban studies programs at liberal arts colleges with no core urban studies faculty and no faculty knowledgeable about GIS to sophisticated graduate Ph.D. planning programs at major research universities based in professional schools with multiple highlytrained faculty teaching advanced courses drawing on a range of GIS, CAD, remote sensing and related spatial technologies.
    This paper describes the variety of types of urban studies and urban planning programs in the United States and different ways GIS has been incorporated into urban studies and planning program curricula. Based on a review of urban studies and planning programs in California and other states, the paper identifies models of how GIS and spatial thinking can be incorporated into different types of urban studies and planning programs. It reviews existing books and other materials useful for defining appropriate GIS content to include in urban studies and urban planning courses at different academic levels and showcases exemplary courses and programs worthy of replication. Finally, the paper describes an instructional module the author has developed titled Think Globally, Act Regionally (LeGates, 2005) that is appropriate for undergraduate and graduate urban studies and urban planning students.

    Read more GIS-related articles:


    Modelling Policies for Urban Sustainability

    Land development, land use, and urban sprawl in Puerto Rico integrating remote sensing and population census data


    Ravindra Kumar Verma, Sangeeta Kumari, and R. K. Tiwary

    Urbanization is an index of transformation from traditional rural economies to modern industrial one. It is a progressive concentration of population in urban unit. At the moment, India is one among the country of low level of urbanization. In the last fifty years the population of India has grown two-and-a-half times, but urban India has grown nearly five times. In 2001, 306.9 million Indians (30.5%) were living in nearly 3700 towns and cities spread across the country, and it is expected to increase to over 400 million and 533 million by 2011 and 2021 respectively. At the moment, India is among the counties of low level of urbanization. As a result, most urban settlements are characterized by shortfalls in housing and water supply, urban encroachments in fringe area, inadequate sewerage, traffic congestion, pollution, poverty and social unrest making urban governance a difficult task. The high rate of urban population growth is a cause of concern among India’s urban and town planners for efficient urban planning. For this, the government of India has taken an important initiative to strengthen municipal governance, is the enactment of the Constitution (74thAmendment) Act (CAA), 1992. Through this initiative, an attempt is being made to improve the performance ability of municipalities/urban local bodies, so that they would be able to discharge their duties efficiently in the planning and development of urban areas. However, most studies undertaken to assess the functioning of municipalities in India, point out that the municipalities are confronted with a number of problems, such as non-availability of data, ineffective participation in the decision-making process despite adoption of the policy of reservation, delays in the transfer of funds to the municipalities despite constitution of State Finance Commissions, poor recovery from various tax and non-tax sources despite devolution of power etc. Therefore, there is an urgent need to adopt modern technology of remote sensing which includes both aerial as well as satellite based systems, allow us to collect lot of physical data rather easily, with speed and on repetitive basis, and together with GIS helps us to analyze the data spatially, offering possibilities of generating various options (modeling), thereby optimizing the whole planning process. These information systems also offer interpretation of physical (spatial) data with other socio-economic data, and thereby provide an important linkage in the total planning process and making it more effective and meaningful.

    Traffic jam near Adham Khan's tomb in Delhi, photo by Carol Mitchell
    New town development near Klkata, India, photo by seaview99
    more posts about urbanization in India:


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

    Delhi’s Walkways Hazardous to Your Health, Study Finds

    How many slum-dwellers live in the world?

    Saturday, January 29, 2011

    The real story on Charlestown's bike lane removal

    by Pete Stidman

    The recent removal of the bike lane in Charlestown has been largely misunderstood and poorly reported in the biking blogosphere. A more accurate account has been published at Charlestown Patch, and I give some details on the situation on the ground below. But most importantly, I would like to ask my fellow cyclists to remain positive and to refrain from harassing Charlestown neighborhood activists or city employees. This is not helpful.
    Charlestown is not anti-bike, and the city may have taken the right approach given the situation.
    Let me introduce you to Tom Cunha, the dedicated chair of the Charlestown Neighborhood Council. I first met Tom at a meeting for the Rutherford Avenue/Sullivan Square reconstruction project where he expressed support for bike routes and a traffic-calming of the street to become a “boulevard” rather than a “highway.” He struck me as even keeled fellow who takes into account the needs of all the residents and businesspeople he represents—including cyclists.
    “People think we’re anti-bike, we’re not anti-bike,” said Mr. Cunha in a phone conversation I had with him about the bike lanes today. “We just don’t want to create a tremendous parking situation for people on Main Street.”
    What happened on Main Street was, after all, more about a miscommunication between the city and the neighborhood than any sentiment against cycling in Charlestown.
    “Some of our businesses on Main Street have been closing because people couldn’t park,” said Cunha. And the neighborhood council had been discussing ideas for angled parking along the street to increase those parking opportunities.

    Charlestown bicycle, photo by SignalPAD

    more articles about Boston:


    On Walkability, Density, and Transit Villages

    10 enticing urban walkabouts help you explore Portland and its unique suburbs

    by Grant Butler

    We picked 10 of Metro's itineraries -- five in Portland and five in the suburbs -- of varying degrees of difficulty, so there's a walk that's right for everyone. Want a quick walk that will leave you plenty of time for shopping and eating? Check out the supereasy downtown Hillsboro jaunt, which has fun stops at soda fountains and antique shops. Want the ultimate challenge? Dare yourself to traipse all the way up the West Hills, from the Pearl District to Pittock Mansion. You're sure to sweat and need plenty of breathers for digging the beautiful city views.

    Besides getting you off the couch and out for exercise, these urban walks offer great opportunities to learn more about the city you live in, particularly hidden-away parks and historic places. You'll work your brain and not just your feet -- that's a combination that has us gearing up to check out the 40 additional game plans Metro's created.
    Bridge, Waterfront and Esplanade Loop

    The walk: Here's one that every Portlander needs to do at least once. Starting at the Hawthorne Bridge, head north along Tom McCall Waterfront Park's river walk, past several fountains where children engage in warm-weather play. You'll cross the Willamette River on the Steel Bridge's skinny lower deck where you may have to dodge a cyclist or two. From here, head south along the Vera Katz Eastbank Esplanade's suspended and floating walkways, finally crossing the Hawthorne Bridge for a perfect lunchtime loop. Along the way, you can stop for people-watching, read historical placards describing Portland's heyday as a shipping port and drink in the beautiful views of downtown's skyline
    Hillsboro, photo by Dan Haneckow
    more about walkability:

    Public transportation in Venice, Italy

    Living in a completely carfree, pedestrian historical city like Venice needs special urban infrastructure and facilities. The Venetians have created a unique system of public transportation through the years. The main method of moving within the city in longer ranges is taking water bus or as the Italians say Vaporetto. These water buses are small ships or sometimes boats that move between predefined routes and stations. There are several lines between the islands of Venice city like the main island, Lido, Murano, San Michele, Isola Le Vignole, La Giudecca, etc. 
    Every Vaporetto can have a capacity of up to 100 people. In busy hours more passengers can get on the boats.
    Inside a small Vaporetto (water bus) in Venice
    Normally the bigger boats cruise in the main lines, like some of the lines in the Grand Canal. Smaller boats move in other lines. 
    Not only it is not possible to use car in the main island, but also in many parts it is hard to use bicycle, because the bicycle riders should pass the steps of the little bridges connecting the two sides of the small canals that flow all over the island.
    It is wonderful that the people use these water buses as their every-day public transit easily. 
    When you live in the city for a while, you hear no noise of automobiles. Maybe the only usual noise is the sound of the engines of the water buses. 
    Vaporetto in Venice
    There are also regulations for the public transportation in Venice. Some parts of the surrounding water of the main island is signed so that the routes of the ships and boats be defined. This is particularly seen in the northeast of the island in the route that lead to Murano
    This is a way of creating a sustainable urban transportation based on the needs and special necessities of a city. In Venice, when they say public transportation, they mean Vaporetto. Of course there cars in Lido island and the usual automobile-oriented urban scenes are seen in this island, which is located in the east, south and southeast of the main Venice island.

    Magnificent facade of the old buildings along the Grand Canal

    A Gondola (traditional Venetian boat) with Santa Maria Church in the background. One of the beautiful scenes that a Vaporetto passenger can see.

    Again a water bus
    Vaporetto in the south of the Venice Island

    More of Venice:

    Skyline photos of Venice, Italy 1

    Friday, January 28, 2011

    Three Urbanisms: New, Everyday and Post

    By Douglas Kelbaugh

    Kentlands, photo by thecourtyard
    You may have heard of New Urbanism, a movement that promotes neo-traditional, neighborhood-based urban design. It has enjoyed meteoric success in the American media. However, it is far from the centerline of either the academic or the real estate development world. Despite successful greenfield projects, those built on open farmland, such as the Kentlands outside Washington and Harbor Town in Memphis, conventional suburban development continues to envelop the American metropolis with its cul-de-sac subdivisions and big box retail. The metro region is still spreading out at a rate considerably faster than population is growing. And conventional urban development and redevelopment are fast changing our downtowns into entertainment, tourist, convention, sports, or office centers. Philadelphia, for instance, has recently converted five downtown office buildings into tony hotels. These profound changes are happening piecemeal, without much input from urban designers and planners in general, much less from New Urbanist practitioners and writers. New Urbanism enjoys little and usually begrudging respect in academia, especially in most schools of architecture where avant-garde theory continues to dominate. And yet it has been described by Paul Goldberger of the New Yorker as the most important design movement of the baby boomer generation.

    more about new urbanism:

    18th New Urbanist Congress: Best Ever?

    New Urbanism Goes Green

    Taking Accessibility a Few Steps Further

    Codifying New Urbanism

    New Urbanism on the Emerald Coast


    Urbane-ing The City: Examining and Refining The Assumptions Behind Urban Informatics

    by Amanda Williams, Erica Robles, and Paul Dourish

    This chapter critically examines the notion of “the city” within urban informatics. Arguing that there is an overarching tendency to construe the city as an economically and spatially distinct social form, we review a series of system designs manifesting this assumption. Systematically characterizing the city as a dense ecology of impersonal social interactions occurring within recognizably public places, this construction can be traced to turn-of-thecentury scholarship about the metropolis. The idealized dweller of these spaces, the flâneur, functions as the prototypical user for urban computing technologies. This assumption constrains the domain of application for emergent technologies by narrowing our conception of the urban experience. Drawing on contemporary urban scholarship, we advocate an alternative perspective which foregrounds the experience rather than the form of the metropolis. Users become actors embedded in global networks of mobile people, goods, and information, positioned in a fundamentally heterogeneous and splintered milieu. Grounding this approach in a preliminary study of mobility practices in Bangkok, Thailand, we illustrate how urban informatics might refine its subject, accounting for local particularities between cities as well as the broader global networks of connection between these sites.

    traffic congestion in Bangkok, Thailand, photo by Gary Wong Photography

    more articles about Bangkok, Thailand:

    Great distance between Bangkok and Thailand's second largest city, Nonthaburi

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

    Urbanization and Urbanism in Thailand

    Urbanism, Space and Human Psychology: Value Change and Urbanization in Malaysia

    by Zaid Ahmad, Nobaya Ahmad, and Haslinda Abdullah

    Malaysia is among the fast growing developing countries in the East. Since independence 1957, together with nationwide progress and development, the rapid urbanization took place and this led to a massive migration of people from rural villages to urban and newly growth areas. Soon these immigrants became urban dwellers. It is generally recognized that in any urbanization process, one of the most crucial setbacks is space. In fact space gives enormous impact on the values and attitudes of urban dwellers. This paper explores the relations between urbanism and the psychological and the spatial issues in the context of urban themes; urban values and culture, social difference and spatial divisions, community and neighborhood, private and public space, gender and sexuality, experience and everyday practice that give significant psychological impacts on urban folks. Using urbanization in Malaysia as example, this paper draws on a range of debates on the question of physical space and urban life and the psyche of urban dwellers, bringing together academic perspectives with the observation and analysis of contemporary urban problems and issues. The discussion looks at how psychological and spatial relations give certain impacts and shape the value change among Malaysian urban folks.

    China Town, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, photo by LeeLeFever
    more about southeast Asia:


    Great distance between Bangkok and Thailand's second largest city, Nonthaburi


    Thursday, January 27, 2011

    Connecting Urban Sustainability to Wealth Creation

    One of our core premises about urban sustainability is that long-term political commitments to the work of greenhouse gas reduction can’t be sustained if they don’t translate into economic gains. Author Joan Fitzgerald’s new book, Emerald Cities – Urban Sustainability and Economic Development, is a great introduction to the promise and peril embedded in this premise. In her introduction, she highlights the opportunity and the challenge:

    “The potential for cities to build new clean technology industry clusters, improve the efficiency of production in existing manufacturing processes, and create well-paying green jobs in construction, manufacturing and advanced technology sectors is enormous. And so is the opportunity to connect social and economic justice to the sustainability/climate change agenda. Achieving green economic growth with justice is the challenge of the century.”

    Joan Fitzgerald, image by Center for American Progress

    more book reviews:

    What is a neighborhood? Anthony Dows' answer

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

    Urban Planning Book: Sprawl: A Compact History

    The Next New York: How the Planning Department Sabotages Sustainability

    Yesterday we looked at the Department of City Planning's eight-year record on rezoning and its general success at creating opportunities for development near transit. Density, however, is only one piece of the planning process. Amanda Burden's planning department has laid the foundation for transit-oriented growth, but so far failed to create conditions where walkable development can flourish.
    Across the city, mandatory parking minimums are holding New York back from true transit-oriented development. Additionally, the largest development projects in the city tend to sacrifice good planning in order to satisfy demands from developers with little interest in creating walkable places. Even as the Department of City Planning takes steps toward good urbanist principles in its rezonings, planners are sabotaging that very effort.
    The department's parking policy is one major impediment. By requiring most new residential developments to include a minimum number of parking spaces per unit, the department is artificially inflating the supply of parking, inducing more traffic and subsidizing car ownership.
    New research from Simon McDonnell, Josiah Madar and Vicki Been at NYU's Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy [PDF] shows how these policies actually concentrate parking in transit-rich areas. 

    New York parking structure, photo by harry_nl

    New York parking structure, photo by harry_nl
    more posts about transportation in New York:

    NYC’s Bike Route Network: Bridging the Gaps

    Minimum Knowledge about Minimum Parking Requirements

    NYC DOT Seeks Developer Feedback

    Urban Planning in Developing Countries: Innovative Design

    by Kate Archdeacon

    A new vision of urban planning that will positively transform the way cities grow across the developing world in the 21st Century was presented in a study issued today {18/03/2010}.  The vision involves a flexible building design that would allow residents to expand their homes upwards by up to three floors – as and when their families grow – and create socially and economically successful communities that are as dense as, or even denser, than buildings that are up to six floors high.  The new design, which promises a brighter future for millions of the world’s poorest urban citizens, is detailed in a study and multimedia collection funded by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) and UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund. Its launch today coincides with the opening of the United Nations Fifth World Urban Forum in Rio de Janeiro, where thousands of delegates from governments, academia and nongovernmental organisations will discuss solutions to the challenges of urbanization.
    Among those challenges is the question of how best to increase urban population densities as populations grow and land prices rise, especially when large informal settlements of the urban poor occupy prime centrally located land.
    Karachi, photo by hassamq7

     more posts about urbanization:

    Urbanization and Urbanism in Thailand

    Urbanization, Urban Environment and Land Use: Challenges and Opportunities

    Planning Urbanization Inside Natural Urban Landscapes