Comments: (9)

Ecosistema Urbano Wins the Master Plan Competition for the Historic Downtown of Asunción

Category: ⚐ EN+Plan CHA+sustainability+urban social design+urbanism

We are very pleased to announce that our Master Plan proposal for the revitalization of the Historic Downtown District of Asunción, Paraguay (Plan Maestro del Centro Histórico de Asunción), in an international open competition held in the past months. We are surprised and thrilled with the great reception that the project has had, and eager to continue its development side by side with the people, the organizations and the institutions in the city.

The proposal aims to address the integrated regeneration of the city center in an inclusive way and turn the process into a reference, in a time when many cities are looking into other ways to approach their future.

Designing a process of change01-DIAGRAMAS_620

The city is a complex, always mutating organism made of many layers and links between them. Any action modifies the predefined conditions and can generate new processes which were not defined or even contemplated. Therefore we think that it is unwise, and even not entirely feasible, to analyze or design guidelines for many decades at a single time.

To bring this planning process closer to the ever changing reality of the city and its inhabitants, here at Ecosistema Urbano we propose the design of a “master process” which incorporates in its own functioning the tools to deal with complexity, conflicts and changes, and that will be supported by the diagnosys, plans, and projects already realized in the city during the last decades.

Just as cities like Medellìn, Porto Alegre, and Curitiba have become references, not only in Latin America but also worldwide, thanks to their commitment to innovative models of management and development, we believe that Asunción can become a world pioneer in promoting a sustainable, intelligent, and open urban development towards a direction that other cities are looking at.

Based on hundreds of real experiences

If the implementation of a process-based action plan is a novel approach for most cities in the world, it is also true that there are many examples and a wide background from which we can learn and through which we can confirm their enormous potential.

Diagram of the different topics or areas of intervention for the regeneration of the historic downtown district of Asunción.

Diagram of the different topics or areas of intervention for the regeneration of the historic downtown district of Asunción

For this reason we have conducted an extensive research on institutional (top-down) and citizen (bottom-up) initiatives that, according to a different way of understanding the city, have already successfully led to a new concept of life quality for its inhabitants. In this research we have included international experiences as well as local initiatives that are currently being carried on in the city of Asunción.

A preliminary selection of international and local top-down experiences.

A preliminary selection of international and local top-down experiences – click to view full size

The global vision provides us with knowledge, experience, and an input channel of creative and innovative dynamics that can overcome some limitations of the local context. The local gives us a closer point of view, more related to the specific needs of the city and its inhabitants and connected with their initiatives and most genuine impulses.

A preliminary selection of international and local bottom-up experiences.

A preliminary selection of international and local bottom-up experiences – click to view full size

From a space to work with the city

A traditional Master Plan is a fixed, static, document, but the “Master Process” that Ecosistema Urbano is proposing for Asunción is something dynamic that needs a place to reside, activate itself and be developed. Therefore the first action will be to launch a space from which we can drive the project together with the city.

INSTITUTIONS < ? > CITIZENS

INSTITUTIONS < ASU-LAB > CITIZENS

Diagram of the proposal, the ASU-LAB being the main conector between institutions and citiens, and the driver for the implementation of actions.

Diagram of the proposal, the ASU-LAB being the main conector between institutions and citiens, and the driver for the implementation of actions – click to see full size

The Asunción Open Lab (Asunción Laboratorio Abierto, ASU-LAB) space will function as a coordination node for the development of Asunción’s Historic Downtown district, providing information about it, hosting and programming educational and creative activities, and promoting citizen actions within the parameters defined by the 10 institutional actions described below. ASU-LAB will be the main and most visible node of the process, an “office for the change” where many activities essential for the success of the plan will take place:

Communication: Provide visibility, meet the key players and stakeholders, include them in the process and keep the city informed.
Mediation: Sit around the same table with different actors and stakeholders, resolve conflicts and join visions.
Connection: Link interests, create agreements between the parties, build networks and seek synergies towards urban regeneration.
Facilitation: Loosen bureaucratic constraints, ensuring that support, financing and government approvals reach the projects whenever needed.
Programming: Establish development times, schedule events, coordinate the efforts over time creating a common agenda for change.
Design: Co-design and launch low-budget and citizen-driven actions as quick experiments around the larger municipal projects.

Joining institutions and citizens

“Think globally and act locally” says one of the mottos of sustainable development. But this approach could be enriched by another couple of concepts: institutional management and citizen impulse.

Respecting and incorporating the corresponding roles and capabilities, ASU-LAB will be an interface between citizens and institutions, a place where the Municipality implements its plans, but also an open place where any person or group can propose a new regeneration initiative or join an ongoing one. It will also serve as a node for connection with private agents capable of giving economic support, with their investment and the development of projects, to the regeneration of the center.

Timetable for the coordination of big, structural interventions and small, dynamic urban actions. This will be an open document, still to be further defined.

Timetable for the coordination of big, structural interventions and small, dynamic urban actions – click so see full size

Institutional Initiatives

From the institutional side there is the opportunity to improve the city by developing large scale projects, equipping the city with new infrastructures, implementing the development plans and creating comprehensive urban policies to guide the city towards another future.
In order to provide a necessary infrastructure for downtown development, we propose a strategic plan with 10 actions that will help connecting the different areas, giving visibility to the process and ensuring the development of spaces with a distinct character that can act as vectors of change and as reference points in the city.

Estrategias de intervención a gran escala para articular el desarrollo del Centro Histórico y la relación de la ciudad con el río.

Large-scale strategies to connect the development of the Historic Downtown district and the riverfront – click to see full size

The 10 proposed institutional actions:

01. Asunción Biodiversity Reserve: Support the institutional initiatives to consolidate the San Miguel Bank as a Nature Reserve, this process is organized in different phases: environmental restoration, enhancement of biodiversity and creation of lightweight infrastructure for research, education, and responsible leisure activities.

02. Asunción Riverfront: Creation of an urban front that defines the edge and the facade of the city towards the bay, considering three different scales: the scale of the river, the scale of the infrastructures (the new waterfront road) and the human scale desirable for the future of Asunción. The designed density and the urban diversity considered in the proposal will encourage the spontaneous emergence of new kinds of creative economies.

03. Bicentenario Park: Integration and improvement of the existing project to increase its environmental qualities and the connections with the most representative buildings of the city and the country. Generation of a representative and open civic axis in the section of the waterfront facing the park.

04. Green Active Coast: Landscape and ecological regeneration of this area and creation of a large green lung in continuity with the Bicentenario park. The existing topography will be respected, the presence of water and the natural and artificial processes of water purification, as well as periods of flooding caused by the Paraguay river will be considered part of its identity. Active plans to support families living in informal housing in this area will be made, helping them become a part of the urban diversity of the new urban developments in the area.

05. Revitalization of the Chacarita Alta: Regeneration and participatory consolidation of this district using the experience and the know-how gained from the similar process in the San Jeronimo neighborhood, promoting microeconomics, education and neighborhood identity.

06. Ecological Corridors: Implementation of new longitudinal green infrastructures on sections of specific existing streets. They will connect the new riverfront through the large floodable park, attracting biodiversity towards the existing city center, embracing and reviving its most representative green spaces.

07. Civic Corridors: Civic corridors are a new network of public spaces in the streets, connecting the most prominent historic and governmental buildings. They will be created through interventions on these streets’ section, giving them a more institutional and cultural character. Signaling, beautification of the facades, street art, …

08. Urban Catalysts: New hybrid buildings that will be designed considering a high density and variety of uses and housing programs. They are tall buildings that take advantage of vacant lots or areas with degraded buildings that require a reactivation process. In the lower floors they will host commercial areas and equipments, functions capable of “making” the city. Their general function is to enable flexible scenarios and enhance urban diversity.

09. Dynamic Corridors: A network of public spaces mainly oriented at the creation of active urban settings and the generation of economic and cultural activity. They encompass current trade areas (Calle de la Palma, …), characterize other nearby streets, revitalize disused buildings and connect the new network of hybrid buildings or “catalysts”.

10. Live Harbour: Following the plan already started by the “PIA Cultural Citadel”, the port of Asunción will be reconfigured as a new cultural engine for the city, nurturing social interactions and economical activities. Representative buildings, such as the Customs and other adjacent construction, are integrated in the proposed civic and dynamic corridors.

General plan of the proposed urban structure (2025 - 2037), showing the dynamic, green and civic corridors, the catalysts, etc.

General plan of the proposed urban structure (2025 – 2037), showing the dynamic, green and civic corridors, the catalysts, etc.

General view of the proposal for 2025 and 2037.

General view of the proposal for 2025 and 2037.

Citizen Initiatives

Citizens are the very heart of the city, the only force capable of realizing any deep, long lasting change in the urban environment. In the proposal we select many local, bottom-up initiatives, undertaken with the spirit of urban involvement, participation, entrepreneurship, creative activism and care of public space by the very people who live it.

We propose to integrate the existing initiatives in the process, giving them relevance and institutional support, while at the same time incorporating lessons learned from around the world. In a process of urban-scale prototyping, we propose to start a series of temporary urban actions focused on issues such as security, urban image, comfort, environment, social interaction or the innovative economic development, keeping only the best solutions found during the process.

Iniciativas ciudadanas conectadas con el desarrollo del espacio público en el tiempo.

Citizen initiatives connected with the development of the public space – click to see full size

Some more images of the proposal:

Dynamic corridor, open to the traffic.

Dynamic corridor, open to the traffic.

Pedestrian dynamic corridor - evolution in time

Pedestrian dynamic corridor – evolution in time

We like to think of this project for the future of Asunción as a ñandutí: a symbol of knowledge and of local tradition, of diversity and color, of networking, of the encounter between tradition and creativity. A place where the city can intertwine visions and efforts to create an urban fabric more vivid than ever.

More about the call for proposals: www.asuncioncentrohistorico.com
You can also find it on Twitter and Facebook.

Comments: (0)

Mad(e) in Mumbai | Urban practice in India

Category: ⚐ EN+architecture+urbanism

Mumbai

In 2009 we had the pleasure to lead the final thesis projects of a group of international students taking the Master in Advanced Architecture at the IAAc —Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia.

Among them, we met Kalpit Ashar, who developed as final thesis a project in his home city Mumbai, dealing with informality and social processes. I am happy today to introduce you to the work of MAD(E) IN MUMBAI, and the office established by him together with his partner Mayuri Sisodia. In their own words:

Made in Mumbai

Image: The Mumbai Report

The office provides comprehensive design services in the fields of public institutions, high density housing, environmental infrastructure, community design, landscapes and territorial planning. MAD(E) IN MUMBAI takes its shape in the madness of Mumbai city. This crazy patchwork of ideas, experiences and materiality becomes a repository and laboratory for the studio. It is a departure point for its speculation and practice.

Made in Mumbai

Made in Mumbai

Urban repository – Images: Mayuri Sisodia, Jacob Wilson and Ming Deng

They work closely with the chemistry of the city to discover potential fields of operation. The belief of the practice lies in looking beyond the visible for the unseen and for absurdities of things and places.

Together they have won many national and International design competitions which include Flood resilient Housing Design for Gorakhpur, Revitalisation of Banganga Crematorium, and Regional cultural centre for sustainable community by IAHH and Kalanagar traffic junction Urban Design competition by BMW Guggenheim lab.

Made in Mumbai

Aqueous commune, flood resilient habitats in the city of Gorakhpur

For example, Aqueous communes are flood resilient habitats in the city of Gorakhpur, a city in mid-Gangetic belt. They are Community built initiations that accommodate changing rhythms of Rapti river and make them part of everyday life of its inhabitant. They change imagination of water from an enemy to a friend and celebrate it and make peace with it through design. These aqueous communes multiply along the landscape to contribute to its resilience and develop into an intimately stitched neighbourhood.

Other works by Mad(e) in Mumbai

Other works by Mad(e) in Mumbai

Comments: (0)

Looking for love again | A creative community project in Alaska

Category: ⚐ EN+placemaking+urbanism

‘Looking for Love Again’ is a community development project implemented by the Taiwanese American artist Candy Chang who was invited on 2011 by the Alaska Design Forum to create a public art project on the tallest building in Fairbanks city. The Polaris Building, a landmark of downtown Fairbanks, was during the past an apartment complex, then a hotel, and now it has been abandoned for more than a decade. continue reading

Comments: (2)

LibreLigne | Urban acupuncture in Libreville, Gabon

Category: ⚐ EN+city+competitions+ecosistema urbano+landscape+news+urbanism

Concept draft of the piers as urban catalyzers

Concept drawing of the piers as landmarks

Ecosistema Urbano was recently selected as one of the five finalists in a competition of ideas for the waterfront (Bord de Mer) of Libreville, capital city of Gabon. We were selected by the committee of the Agence Nationale de Grand Travaux du Gabon among many other proposals. In their own words, the proposal “has strong linkages to existing urban systems, improves coastline’s connections and celebrates Libreville culture and history.” Here is a brief descripton of the project:

The main goal of our proposal is to reunite Libreville with the seashore, and extend the life of the city to the waterfront in some specific points. This would be achieved through operations of urban regeneration, adjusted to the existing and to the specific cultural, sociological and economical context. The proposal concentrates visual impact, identity and activity in five nodes, instead of spreading them too thin along the promenade.

Plan of the coastal line of Libreville, in two sections

Plan of the coastal line of Libreville, in two sections

Those five pier-like structures (jetées) are a great way of getting closer to the water, of having a unique view of the city and at the same time of providing space for programs that could work as catalysers of the urban life. They act as unique landmarks, breaking the regularity of the very long promenade and facilitating the orientation of citizens. These points of “urban acupuncture” would drag attention and pull the urban life of Libreville to the seashore, providing a new space for citizens to interact.

Vertical section of the biggest 'jetée'

Section of the biggest ‘jetée’

Section of one of the piers

Section of one of a longer and lower pier structure

Section through the beach

Section through a beach area, where the promenade is reduced to the minimum

The locations and uses of the piers are defined in relation to the city: to its flows, to the activity of the closest neighbourhoods and to the most relevant uses, buildings or public spaces nearby. Following that close relation with the surroundings, each pier has a singular character defined by the size, the shape, the vegetation, the dominant colors and other design factors, but also by the specific set of activities that can be performed in them. This way, we have the pier of Nature, Education, Culture and Music, Local Identity and Water.

One of the pier structures evolving along the day

The use of the structures would change along the day

On the other hand, the linear promenade itself changes the configuration of its section depending, again, on the surroundings. Some key elements are defined in that section: the waterfront boulevard for (unavoidable) motorized traffic, a series of landscape markers (associated with energy production and visibilization), a coastal bike lane, a waterfront promenade, an urban appropriable fringe… This elements are combined, stretched or shrinked, generating diverse profiles and multiple areas of interest.

One of the "pelican" crossings in front of a pier

The crossings in front of the piers would be shared areas for pedestrian and motorists

Thus, while the promenade is kept simple, regular and clean, these structures act as landmarks, dividing the seafront in more aprehensible, walkable sections, and marking the coast like ‘signal fires’ or lighthouses: they provide visual clues to help the passer-by understand his exact location at a glance.

View from one of the piers

View from one of the piers

In addition, based on the rapidly rising mobile market penetration in Gabon, and as a bet on the potential of hyperlocalized digital networks for urban life, the proposal includes a digital application that would work as a geolocated and participatory cultural agenda for the waterfront, showcasing the activities along the line, attracting citizens and visitors, allowing them to search and follow events, and acting as a geographic map or guide.

Tentative screenshots of the application

Tentative mockup for the application, based on the previous proposal for ‘BikeLine’

This proposal was developed in collaboration with the landscape architecture office Uberland.

Comments: (2)

Some unpublished photos of Ecopolis Plaza featured in the book “Make_Shift City”

Category: ⚐ EN+architecture+ecosistema urbano+publications+sustainability+urbanism

Last year, the Summer already burning over Madrid, a photographer went back to Ecopolis Plaza on an uncertain mission: to capture the life and spirit of the place, three years after the completion of the project.

The reason: the people from Urban Drift, working with the German publisher Jovis, had proposed us to include the project Ecopolis Plaza in their book “Make_Shift City – Renegotiating the Urban Commons” and asked us for some updated photos showing the life of the place. We realized we didn’t have nice, recent pictures of it,  so we called our favourite photographer Emilio P. Doiztúa and invited him to go and register whatever was happening there.

So there went Emilio, armed with some photography gear, and this is what he brought back:  the  images of a grown and lively  Ecopolis Plaza.

Ecópolis Plaza - Ecosistema Urbano - Photo by Emilio P. Doiztúa

Time to go back home!

Ecópolis Plaza - Ecosistema Urbano - Photo by Emilio P. Doiztúa

Relaxing in the shadow. Notice the tall macrophytes in the artificial lagoon.

Ecópolis Plaza - Ecosistema Urbano - Photo by Emilio P. Doiztúa

The slides are a great attraction

Ecópolis Plaza - Ecosistema Urbano - Photo by Emilio P. Doiztúa

Ecópolis Plaza - Ecosistema Urbano - Photo by Emilio P. Doiztúa

Some teenagers hanging around…

Ecópolis Plaza - Ecosistema Urbano - Photo by Emilio P. Doiztúa

… and, well, having some fun in front of the camera.

Ecópolis Plaza - Ecosistema Urbano - Photo by Emilio P. Doiztúa

A not so common point of view of the building

Ecópolis Plaza - Ecosistema Urbano - Photo by Emilio P. Doiztúa

This is probably the first photo published from this side of the building!

Ecópolis Plaza - Ecosistema Urbano - Photo by Emilio P. Doiztúa

Ecópolis Plaza - Ecosistema Urbano - Photo by Emilio P. Doiztúa

Parents and children going to/from the kindergarden

Ecópolis Plaza - Ecosistema Urbano - Photo by Emilio P. Doiztúa

For more pictures of this and more projects, you can get the book “Make_Shift City” here.

Makeshift implies a temporary or expedient substitute for something else, something missing. Make-Shift City extends the term to embrace urban design strategies. “Make-Shift City” implies a condition of insecurity: the inconstant, the imperfect and the indeterminate. It also implies the designing act of shifting or reinterpretation as a form of urban détournement.

In case you happen to be in Berlin in March, you will have the chance to attend the official presentation:

Wednesday, 19 – March 2014 –  19.00
AEDES auf dem Pfefferberg
Christinenstraße 18, 10119 Berlin

Make_Shift City: Renegotiating the Urban Commons
More info on Ecopolis Plaza, including these and more photos

Comments: (0)

Alive Architecture | Urban installations to raise awareness and drive change

Category: ⚐ EN+creativity+urban social design+urbanism

Alive Architecture

Earlier this year Belinda had the pleasure to meet Petra Pferdmenges and know about her practice, which is close to the concept of tactical urbanism and to our way of using urban actions or ‘mockups’ to test concepts in the city and trigger engagement. In her own words:

Quick and simple urban performances allow engaging with the local population and observing their reactions towards the performed project. In case of success the tests may stimulate a dynamic that forwards the initial action, often independent of the actual designer who generated the process.

The practice

Alive Architecture, based in Brussels and founded by her in 2010, is a research-based practice that celebrates design engagement through urban actions in order to generate urban dynamics. The applied tools are performances that establish a dialogue with the local actors. The intention is to enter into a feedback loop between testing a project (the expertise of the designer) and observing the local population’s reactions (the expertise of the local population) and allows furthering the initial project. Successful projects generate a more permanent dynamic in the neighborhood.

In commissioned projects this method is applied in order to test preliminary design proposals that will then be furthered through the observation of people’s reactions. In self-initiated projects the quick and simple actions are a way to raise a dialogue on the potential of a well-chosen site through engaging with the local population.

The use of popular media as Facebook, postcards, fanzine’s or flyers supports the construction of exchange among the different actors involved in the project. The dissemination of the work in form of publications, writings and conferences may expand the dialogue beyond the local scale.

In order to give you a glimpse into her work, here is a series of projects initiated and realized in and around Brussels red light district:

Visible Invisible

Visible Invisible by Alive Architecture

Visible Invisible by Alive Architecture

Collaboration with: Stijn Beeckman, photographer
Date: December 2010 – January 2011
Place: Vitrine 11, Brussels (Ixelles)

The request by the owner of the gallery ‘Vitrine 11’ to propose an installation to be set up in a display window leads us to the question: ‘How to make a window display alive?’ Reflection on domesticated windows in relation to the public domain brought us to the neighborhood of the Rue d’Aerschot, Brussels Red Light District. Here, the curtain behind the window allows cutting off the private sphere from public life. We proposed a copy paste of the lived windows in the Rue d’Aerschot to the window display in Ixelles, a sophisticated neighborhood in Brussels. The space becomes transformed and used in a way that is different from the original use, and provides for an encounter of the passers-by with the topic of prostitution that remains taboo.

The project provoked reactions and dialogue among people in the neighborhood. Some people became worried about their neighborhood becoming a red light district, others taking it with humor, few calling the police and again other people to try to meet the woman that never appeared behind the window. While a ‘finissage’ a series of experts on prostitution joined the discussion and were the source of the follow-up projects in the red light district itself.

Flash-Paint

Flash-Paint by Alive Architecture

Flash-Paint by Alive Architecture

Date: March 2012
Place: Brussels (Schaerbeek), rue d’Aerschot

One of the actions to advertise the vacant spaces was realized within the street itself. The intervention was inspired by the signs hung behind many of the windows on the ground floor announcing ‘Cherche Serveuse’. The papers indicate that the place has free window space for a woman to offer sexual exchange against money. I took this as an inspiration to place additional signs saying ‘Cherche Locataire’ on the windows of the vacant spaces on the ground floor to indicate the search for people to rent the place. An email address on the sign invited people to express their interest. A small number of emails were received but the actual encounter in space was much more fruitful. Singh, the person employed to run the night shop in the street, was getting exited to have his own shop in the street. A series of immigrants without papers stopped to ask for the price and were ready to pay a rather high amount of money to rent a studio in the street. Further, potential pimps started discussions to test if the spaces on the ground floor could be rented for the function of prostitution. The method of performing within the street rather than advertising space in the surroundings was a success: the direct relation between acting in the street and discussing with people became a way to exchange with those usually impossible to engage with otherwise. Therefore the same method was applied in the third action while spending more time on it to engage more in depth with people.

As in the action Flash-Paint, the intention to occupy one of the vacant ground floor spaces within the framework of the project ‘I love Aerschot’ is furthering this project and may, in case of success, generate occupation of several vacant ground floors along the street.

Food for love

Collaboration with: Piadina Wagon
Date: April – October 2012
Place: Brussels (Schaerbeek), rue d’Aerschot

Among a series of other actions responding to people’s needs in Brussels red light district I curated a pop-up restaurant Piadina Wagon in the street. The owners sold for the duration of a day their Italian specialties in the street. On one side the installation of the restaurant that expanded onto the sidewalk had a short-term value to improve the livability of the street. On the other side we recognized the socio-economic success of the project and it became evident that there is a potential for pop-up restaurants in the street that may have a long-term impact on the life in the neighborhood. The owners of the Piadina Wagon agreed to install their restaurant once per month in the street from June to October 2012, this time including a delivery service.

Dissemination of the project through local media announced the success of the project and the dates of the presence of the mobile restaurant in the street. After several articles and announcements were published a second restaurant with the name Pink Panther arrived to sell Lebanese specialties in the street. While the Piadina Wagon stopped their intervention this November, the Pink Panther continues selling Lebanese food once a week in the street.

In the follow-up project currently developed with Escaut architectures and OKUP, a series of public dinners and breakfasts will further the idea of food places in the street and contribute to the dialogue among the different actors.

Sweet Flowers

Sweet Flowers by Alive Architecture

Sweet Flowers by Alive Architecture

Date: April 2012
Place: Brussels (Schaerbeek), rue d’Aerschot

‘I wish for better clients’ – a wish expressed by several sex workers is a challenging task for a designer. The initial idea to respond to that wish was to curate a person who would sell flowers to potential clients. The seller may give the idea to men to bring a flower when visiting a sex-worker and therefore transform them, temporarily, into better clients. It turned out to be impossible to convince any flower seller to spend an afternoon in the street as they expected the financial profit to be low in that specific neighbourhood. In order to not abandon the idea I handed out the flowers myself and became therefore not only the initiator but as well one of the actors in the event.

Several men accepted the flower and were strolling with a flower in their hand along the street. Some of the big sisters were happy about receiving a flower for free and placed them in a vase inside of the bar. Some sex-workers behind the window ended up placing a flower behind their ears. Singh, the owner of the night shop, received several flowers that he fixed between the chocolate bars in the night shop.

Recording the relational performances allowed disseminating the project through the local TV station and Archiurbain. The project generated dialog on a future of this grey and abandoned street and contributed to the call for ideas that was published end of 2012. The chosen team to realize the project is Escaut architectures in collaboration with OKUP and Alive Architecture and is currently developed and realized by the team.

People’s Wall

People's wall by Alive Architecture

People’s wall by Alive Architecture

Date: April 2012
Place: Brussels (Schaerbeek), rue d’Aerschot

‘I wish for a less grey wall’ – was expressed by several big sisters as well as people from the local association l’Attitude Nord. To respond to this wish the series of collages of the ten micro-transformations for the street were exhibited on the wall. The intention of the exhibition was to activate the wall by transforming it into a more colorful space that could create encounter, interaction and attract people from outside of the area into the street. Invitations were sent to city authorities and local associations and flyers were distributed to the big sisters and the sex-workers.

Once the performance of placing the images on the wall started some passing-by people asked questions about the work and therefore engaged into the performance. Passing by people stopped to have a look at the exhibited work, Some sex-workers sneaked out of their window to see what was happening in their street, several big sisters crossed the street to find out what the exhibition was about, a series of office workers from the two associations joined the event and a group of eight people from the city of Schaerbeek made their way down to the rue d’Aerschot.

Moments of different situations occurred on the sidewalk, each having a different density of people transforming the space. Discussions were generated between passing by people and those visiting the exhibition. At the peak moment that was at the time of lunch break a crowd of about 25 to 30 people who joined the event and transformed the sidewalk into a collective performance in the street.

In the project ‘I love Aerschot’ the project is furthered through a projection on the wall throughout the summer 2013.

Displac(d)

Collaboration with: Piadina Wagon
Date: April – October 2012
Place: Les Ateliers Claus, Brussel, Belgium

‘The three short movies ‘food for love’, ‘sweet flowers’ & ‘people’s wall’ were exhibited in the showcase of ‘Les Ateliers Claus’ in Brussels. For the opening the window became a stage for performance in which people could engage and therefore become part of the making of the event. The engagement was filmed and exhibited behind the showcase that provoked further engagement of passing by people into the relational performance.

Mapping

Another interesting line of work is the mapping of existing realities, in which she redraws and annotates objects and spaces, making visible the way people live, the spontaneous solutions they use and the interactions that happen around them. An great example of this is her work on informal structures built by urban nomads.

Research on urban nomads in Kyoto by Alive Architecture

Research on urban nomads in Kyoto by Alive Architecture

For more information, you can check:

Website: www.alivearchitecture.eu
Video interview (French): ARCHI URBAIN | Alive Architecture – Installations urbaines

Comments: (0)

Mass culture: How to not die of

Category: ⚐ EN+city+sustainability+urbanism

Last summer, different cities from different parts of the world screamed through their squares and streets, and the messages from their voices revealed more than what we could see at first sight.

2013 Taksim Gezi Park by Flashstorm

2013 Taksim Gezi Park by Flashstorm

In Turkey, protests clashed initially in Gezi Park in Istanbul, where the government wanted to impose a new shopping center in the middle of the city, where a green park stood. The protests appeared trivial and useless, as the decision to build another shopping center, commonly and always justified as part of innovation and development of a country, could not compete with citizens’ willingness to keep a green area in the city center. Anyway it appeared incredible that due to this occupation, government military forces started a real fight against the ‘riots’, so that from a little episode, the phenomena started to expand to the whole country, augmenting the size of the protest and people’s involvement.

Photo by Diren Gezi Parki on Facebook

Photo by Diren Gezi Parki on Facebook

Likewise, Brazilian people began to occupy their streets in the name of stopping their Government for what they considered a waste of money and resources: the forthcoming World Football Championship. As it is known, the investment for this is a huge cost, involving the building and the re-organization of new spaces. Citizens occupied the streets asking to invest that money in more urgent sectors, as education, health and security. For sure, behind this people movements, behind their complaints and their need of being listened to, there are several dimensions of a same problem.

The ‘problem’ is that people would like to be part of a democracy, as the Governments define themselves, and have access to a democratic life, having the chance to be active part of the decisions taken. Mass culture takes part as a dimension of the phenomena. We can try to understand why and to what extent.

The context for much of the current interest in material culture is a fear. It is a fear of objects supplanting people. That this is currently happening is the explicit contention of much of the debate over postmodernism which is one of the most fashionable approaches within contemporary social science. (Miller, 1998:169)

This statement is extracted from an article where the author explains that the fear described is an overrated feeling in sociology. If we consider the Marxist position, it uses to refer to a distinction between an assumed pre-era, far from material objects, and the modern one, made or dominated by material; anyway there is actually no evidence of this historical distinction from ethnography or past studies, as even old societies were rather engaged with cultural media (Miller, 1998). However, Miller’s thought is contextualized in a different discourse, whilst the theme, that hereby is going to be explored, touches that argument in the most ‘materialist’ way possible: Indeed it will be the consideration of mass culture intended in its symbolic and representative meaning, and especially in which way the symbolic and the representative are intertwined with the material objects and massive quantitative consequences of its use as media tools.

In this case, I would argue that fear is not overrated, rather it is underestimated. Indeed, fear is real as much as deaths due to climate change and revolutions; fear is real to the extent that some people have too much and others have nothing. In this essay mass culture will be discussed from the aspect of its weight on people and planet lives, in particular inside our cities. I would try to discuss mass culture from an ethic point, not asking if we are dominated or whether there is the domination of a Western or capitalist culture, but rather inquiring if we are dominated by mass culture without recognizing its cost in terms of social justice, sustainability and depleting resources, and thus, if we could change something before crashing indirectly also due to mass culture’s effects.

Mass culture and the city

Image by AlexandraGalvis

Image by AlexandraGalvis

Mass culture is, first of all, an incredible phenomenon itself. With this term, I will refer to the huge flowering of cultural products and cultural media that surrounds our daily life, often strongly driven by markets, and that, due to the global streaming, reach masses and are consumed quite globally. Thus, it is clear that within the phenomena, arts, events, shopping and most of the rituals and media we experience daily are directly involved. Above all, mass culture has a relation with the consumerism system and technology development. Furthermore, when we talk about mass culture, we talk about a collective culture production, and thus of a result due to human interaction. (Grazian, 2010).

It is not so difficult to imagine the particular relationship that mass culture engages with cities. Not just because it is possible to observe it directly, but because cities are primarily the first concentration of masses where people live into the network of relationships, where their lives are indeed organized and intertwined within the social system. Literature supports various different traditions and points of view: For sure the city has always been seen as a great place for commercial, business, capitalist trades and often cities have been built according to these interests. For instance, Marx Weber in his classic ‘The city’ (1958) discusses it in these terms, trying to identify their main features, stressing what defines a city and what is not enough:

Both in terms of what it would include and what it would exclude size alone can hardly be sufficient to define the city. Economically defined, the city is a settlement the inhabitants of which live primarily off trade and commerce rather than agriculture.

Certainly, due to chances of trades, relationships and exchanges, the city is the realm of business. Weber also considers citizens according to their consumer role:

Similar to the city of the prince, the inhabitants of which are economically dependent upon the purchasing power of noble households, are cities in which the purchasing power of the other larger consumers, such as reinters, determines the economic opportunities of resident tradesmen and merchants.

Moreover, he claimed that:

Thus, we wish to speak of a ‘city’ only in cases where local inhabitants satisfy an economically substantial part of their daily wants in the local market (…). In the meaning employed here the ‘city’ is a market place. The local market forms the economic center of the colony in which, due the specialization products, both the nonurban population and urbanites satisfy their wants for articles of trade and commerce. (1958)

So, as a central crossroads of activities made of relationships and exchange, soon the city became the symbol of economy, gathering around itself both producers and consumers, and creating for them a whole life, including mainly rituals and tools of innovation concerning demand/buying and offer/selling. This is well explained by Jayne in his essay ‘Cities and Consumption’ (2006). He conducts an analysis about the rising of the industrial revolution, mass production and the consequent mass consumption, and the rituals of shopping and entertainment that had developed around these, collocated in the spaces of the cities, according to class distinctions, social system and capitalist interests. And mainly it is from this process that mass culture developed for the most as we know it today. Jayne stresses also how the dominant class pictured the shape of cities basically operating on the re-organization of spaces in order to respond functionally to a social meaning of class division, but also to respond to new needs of rituals primed by economic growth and capitalist fuel (2006).

It is in the first years of the 20th Century that the consumption of objects as media tools of culture in a massive style starts to be established and spread, thanks to the incentive of mass commodification and the technology advances. As it has been described by Veblen (1899), and Bourdieu later (1984), consumption and possession became icons of status. Precisely, as affirmed with the concept of cultural capital, the consumption of a specific culture and lifestyle became the symbol of distinction within the capitalist societies, where agencies and institutions worked to perpetuate the status quo (Bourdieu, 1984).

A kind of economic frame-centrism seems to exist, indeed economy is often the most considered starting point for analyzing society, as an invasive factor that defines all that it touches. Anyway, according to me, it is necessary not to forget that economy is not the only working force, because, not considering the phenomenon exactly in its whole, we risk to fall into determinism, being partial, and not seeing alternative ways of operating.

Robert Park, the major exponent of Chicago School, in 1916 talks of the city from another point of view, in my opinion also changing the vision of mass culture related. I found his words extremely interesting:

The city, from the point of view of this paper, is something more than a congeries of individual men and of social conveniences-streets, buildings, electric lights, tramways, and telephones, etc.; something more also, than a mere constellation of institutions and administrative devices -courts, hospitals, schools, police, and civil functionaries of various sorts. The city is, rather, a state of mine, a body of customs and traditions, and of the organized attitudes and sentiments that inhere in these customs and are transmitted with this tradition. The city is not, in other words, merely a physical mechanism and an artificial construction. It is involved in the vital process of the people who compose it; it is a product of nature, and particularly of human nature. (1916)

Considering that, I would see mass culture more like something belonging to the city in a virtual and potential way, then created by people and by their relations built there, and as something that is not just derived by economic forces and consumerism traditions. Again, the city characteristics assume a more human look. Park doesn’t forget the economic side and recognizes its importance:

The city is not, however, merely a geographical and ecological unit; it is at the same time an economic unit. The economic organization of the city is based on the division of labor. (…) Much of what we ordinarily regard as the city-its charters, formal organization, buildings, street railways, and so forth-is, or seems to be, mere artifact. But these things in themselves are utilities, adventitious devices which become part of the living city only when, and in so far as, through use and wont they connect themselves, like a tool in the hand of man, with the vital forces resident in individuals and in the community.

Another last important aspect:

The fact is, however, that the city is rooted in the habits and customs of the people who inhabit it. The consequence is that the city possesses a moral as well as a physical organization, and these two mutually interact in characteristic ways to mold and modify each other… (1916)

Thus, the city is first of all the space of human action and the shape and personality of its citizens. It is the place where culture and ideas flourish, as a fruit of human interaction.

Image by Oleksandr Hnatenko

Image by Oleksandr Hnatenko, www.pohtography.com

Following this pattern, we can look at analysis that see the representative idea of a city today, as the core of creativity, the essence of innovation, and the development and growth of a contemporary era. The same Richard Florida best seller ‘The rise of creative class’ (2002) contributed to expand the idea of a different city representation. Together with the ‘The creative city’ by Landry (2000), the authors indicated culture in its whole manifestation as the best creativity booster factor to attract the main potential resource of innovation: creative people.

By the way:

Hall unfolds a very important aspect of urban creativity, i.e. the people involvement. In fact, in the view of many scholars concerned with popular culture, people are not only passively consuming goods, as ‘mass’, they are also creatively determining the production and circulation of culture (Chambers, 1986; Fiske, 1989a, b) and shaping accordingly their view of the city. (Botta, 2006)

Mass culture could be seen as created, influenced, inspired by and consumed in the cities. But, in a double way, the same city is protagonist of mass culture, of narrative and imaginary, recounted and repurposed as representative of an idea of the city itself.

Mass culture, consumption and sustainability

Once the interrelationship between city and mass culture has been observed and after having stressed how there is not an only way to intend this liaison, we could now focus on the weight of mass culture. This weight could seem invisible to most, in first place because they don’t want people to see it, and then because people don’t want to see it either. Indeed, I am talking of a complex plot process among mass culture, consumerism and mass consumption, something that concerns deeply our ‘normal’ representation of daily life, as the best life possible.

Every day we get up and go to work. We work to earn money and with that money we buy everything that can permit us to conduce a comfortable life, possibly happy, healthy and rich. The more we work, the more we earn, the more we want to have. Having objects, first of all, does not imply them to be stupid ones. We love design, we love to show off concern for our culture: So we fill our houses with books, compact discs, vinyls, vintage pieces, clothes, shoes, cars. We love of course an independent big house with all comforts, hot in winter and cool in summer. We love culture, we love style and good food, we love travelling around the world, we love a comfortable life, we love shopping. We love sports, we love concerts and dancing. And above all, we love doing everything in a single very amusing and cozy place: a big city that can offer this and more.

That above seems almost one of those pictures or statements that we can commonly find on the teenager’s timeline on Facebook. A real statement about ideal life underpinned by mass culture. Unfortunately it is a sad reality if observed under another point of view. I regret to communicate that our planet is not big nor rich enough (not anymore) to grant the same treatment to all the teenagers of the world. I am sorry to communicate to my friends that their passion to collect rock compact discs is increasing the garbage that someone else will probably find as plastic junk in the sea. I am sorry to communicate to citizens that our big cities are not going to be livable anymore if the presence of toxic gases will increase. I am sorry to communicate that while your favorite an-alcoholic drink brand, Coca Cola, launches its new advertise, assessing their will to help people and make the world a better place, with children singing in the background, in India their factories are exploiting the country’s water resources to produce their drink and the company is collaborating with Government to privatize the same water, taking it away from people.

Image seen in Global Environments & Societies wiki

Image seen in globalenvironmentssocieties.wikispaces.com

It is not easy put in discussion the best lifestyle possible people’s idea: but it is time to really face the cost of our lifestyle, and our lovely mass culture. Maybe mass culture has become a natural part of our life that it is really difficult try to reason on it in terms of sustainability for the planet in which we live, the only one. This is because mass culture currently concerns almost all the rituals of our everyday life, including education, cultural capital, identity, wealth, traditions, and all the ‘soft’ symbolic part turned on rituals.

Anyway, at this point, it could be useful to make a distinction. For me, when we talk about mass culture we are not talking just and necessarily of consumerism, but perhaps more of rituals and activities that are deep-rooted within the consumerist society; this has then for sure been emphasized to an excess, in quantity and in stimulation and expansion of people’s needs. Indeed, Chandra Mukerji (1983) has historically described examples of consumer culture in the 15th Century Europe, where the exchange of media culture, such as books, exotic pieces from far places, jewels, spices and textures, was usual among royalty and upper classes (Wilk, 2002). Moreover, Peter Corrigan argues that the concept of ‘fashion’ was already well known in the Elizabethan times, when London was the center of trends (1997).

Today the modern consumption and the consumerism culture has achieved an exaggerate level of production of goods, if not waste. We could think that the human nature aims to have as much as possible or that being greedy is a natural component of human behavior; instead it is fairly reasonable that not in all societies, in the past nor now, people have the same need of possession, nor the same notion of richness or comforts. Nowadays, we can also say that not even the whole population belonging to the same society has the same notion of values in life and of our cities. Coming back for a moment to Turkey and Brazil, it is clear that a great number of people doesn’t agree with their Governments about which are the priorities for a good life in their cities. Could another shopping center create better conditions for people or enrich people more than a green space? Could a world event solve the social basic issues of inequity and poverty of a country? People are recognizing more and more that what is really important for their cities are adequate spaces for themselves, where they have the chance to choose their rituals or maybe to create them.

We are in a cyclic system that resembles a treadmill, where the whole society is involved, into the process of producing needs, old and new, and then producing goods. The index to indicate the level of wealth and growth is the GDP that measures the quantity of goods – products in one year per country. Is the huge quantity of goods produced seriously making our societies better and prosper?

Whereas mass culture (or mass cultures) is made of tools, symbols, icons, practices, rituals and it is something concerning people and their consumption in a certain way, what distinguishes pure consumerism today is: The quantity of goods produced; the stimulation and the expansion of needs; the pushing, by few stakeholders, of society towards consumption and possession. For sure marketing and selling strategies have always done a good job to lead practices, rituals and symbols around their products.

Buy More Stuff, Black Friday 2009 - Photo by Michael Holden

Buy More Stuff, Black Friday 2009 – Photo by Michael Holden

Consumerism affects mass culture so much that is primarily a mean of identity and interaction with others, because historically our Western capitalist societies consider money and the quantity of goods as distinctive symbols of wealth and success in life. Sure is that, the existence and the use of mass culture both suffer this deal. But in a society where we are conscious of the issues concerning the exploitation of resources and the return of it under the shape of garbage and where the first value is keeping safe life conditions, mass culture could change look. Already now we are adhering to style trends for smart cities, car sharing, waste recycle and other practices, that if inserted as pieces of mass culture into our lives could help to change mass culture too.

Thus, we cannot just criticize our consumerism society in terms of the damage that we are causing. We should start to reflect on our daily cultural practices, which are indeed made of mass cultural media tools, starting by city spaces, where our activities are concentrated and where more than other we could see the rituals and the proliferation of mass culture. And thus, we should begin thinking of a new approach based on them. I am persuaded that we could indeed change mass culture through mass culture itself.

According to the anthropologist Margaret Mead, there is no single approach working successfully in every society; rather, each one has a “culturally appropriate” approach, concerning the specific characteristics of its individuals (1953). In this perspective, Wilk argues:

They imply that no single set of solutions, technological, legislative, or cultural, is going to work in every society. On the contrary, we should expect great diversity in the ways different countries and cultures deal with sustainability problems. How can we expect things to change in the countries that presently consume so much more than their share of global resources? (2002)

When we talk about cities, we then talk about mass culture too, thus maybe cities could live by a different mass culture. As the city has been the protagonist of growth of mass society and mass culture of consumerism, it could also happen that the city may see the birth of a new and fairer society. Indeed, change should begin from here, from the set of organizations and citizens, in creating different rituals and use of the spaces.

Image by Starkart

Image by Starkart

Bibliography:

Bourdieu, Pierre. 1984. Distinction: a Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste, trans. Richard Nice. Harvard University Press.
Corrigan, Peter. 1997. The Sociology of Consumption: An Introduction. London: Sage.
Florida, Richard. 2002. The Rise of the Creative Class. New York: Basic Books.
Grazian, David. 2010. Mix It Up: Popular Culture, Mass Media, and Society. New York: W. W. Norton & Co.
Jayne, Mark. 2006. Cities and Consumption. New York: Routledge.
Landry, Charles. 2000. The creative city. New York: Routledge.
Mead, Margaret; World Federation for Mental Health. 1953. Cultural patterns and technical change. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
Miller, Daniel. 1998. “Coca Cola: A Sweet Black Drink from Trinidad.” Pp. 169-187 in Material Cultures: Why Some Things Matter, edited by D. Miller. London: UCL Press.
Mukerji, Chandra.1983. From Graven Images: Patterns of Modern Materialism New York: Columbia University Press.
Park, Robert. 1916. “The city: suggestions for the investigation of human behavior in the urban environment” Pp. 90 -130 in Classic Essay on the Culture of Cities. New York. 1969, edited by R. Sennett. New York Appleton-Century-Crofts.
Weber, Max. 1958. “The City.” Pp. 23-46 in Classic Essay on the Culture of Cities. New York. 1969, edited by R. Sennett. New York Appleton-Century-Crofts.
Wilk, Richard. 2002. “Culture and Energy Consumption” Pp. 109-130, in Energy: Science, Policy and the Pursuit of Sustainability, edited by Robert Bent, Lloyd Orr, and Randall Baker. Island Press: Washington.
Veblen, Thorstein. 1899 [1973]. The Theory of the Leisure Class. Introduction John Kenneth Galbraith. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin.

This is a guest article by Simona Ibba (@PenniLeyn). Thanks, Simona!

If you want to get your own article published, see this.

Comments: (0)

Treib Gut magazine | A publication by Schwemmland + Our thoughts about Linz harbour

Category: ⚐ EN+events+urbanism

TREIB GUT magazine - Cover

As we told you in this previous post, last June we were in Linz, Austria, invited by Roland Krebs for a lecture and a workshop, part of an event called Identity City Lab. The workshop, led by local collective Schwemmland and Ecosistema Urbano, was aiming to provide some fresh insights and proposals about the eastern harbour area of Linz, a big extension of former ‘schwemmland’ (alluvial land) turned into an industrial area during the second part of the 20th century.

The people from Schwemmland, who have been living, thinking and working around the area for a long time, used the occasion to launch TREIB GUT magazine as a new means of communication with the city. We recently received some copies, and wanted to share with you the results of this effort.

TREIB GUT magazine - Index

Branded as ‘the independent harbour journal’ and published in German using a newspaper-like format, this publication looks like a great way to disseminate the results of the workshop, together with other reflections on Linz and its harbour area. The aim of such an important communication effort  is to transmit to the rest of the city the thoughts, proposals, reflections and actions that have been taking place around the harbour.

For this issue, we were asked to write a report about the workshop and our thoughts on the harbour area in general. Since we already published a report here, I’m going to share with you the last part of the article, which is a kind of ‘statement’ or manifesto that summarizes our point of view on this project and part of our general approach to urban social design:

Linz harbour – Looking to the future

TREIB GUT magazine - Article by Ecosistema Urbano

TREIB GUT magazine – Article by Ecosistema Urbano

[…] So, what can Linz do with such a place? Here are ten points that summarize and contextualize some of the most important things we have learned from our work in the city. We think they can provide a conceptual framework for the development of the harbour area.

Reactivate the existing as an alternative to expansion. The docks and the surrounding areas are full of unused spaces, concrete platforms, green fields and water surfaces that provide plenty of room for new activities without the need of huge transformations.

Develop constructive criticism
, as an optimistic approach to existing reality in order to bring up creative solutions. The harbour development plans are a reality the city has to live with, but also an opportunity of making things better if the city gives some space for complementary proposals.

Take care for the public. We believe the concept of the city is completely linked to the creation of public space, and this area of Linz should not be an exception. Between the private lots there is still a chance to create a meaningful, diverse public space that gives citizens easy and universal access to the river.

Rely on low-cost to make great things with less resources. Taking advantage of the qualities of the place it is possible to have positive impact with a relatively low investment. Simple, minimal and clever installations can turn a forgotten spot into a lively, comfortable place.

Create open systems in order to allow the development of a changing reality. Planning can be done over decades, but urban life changes both slower and faster. Leaving open ends and room for change will guarantee an easier adaptation to future needs. Use removable systems that permit relocation or dismantlement. Adopt construction standards that allow for easy improvement, repair and maintenance. Allow the citizens to develop their own solutions on top of the existing infrastructure.

Bring instant change through urban actions. Small actions can provoke huge reactions and great experiences, acting like tests for the future of the area. Do you think it could work differently? Just try it, experience it, and learn from the results in order to improve quickly. Three smaller interventions can drive more changes and give more useful lessons than a huge one, while being more cost-effective.

TREIB GUT magazine - Photos of an urban action

TREIB GUT magazine – Photos of an urban action in Linz harbour

Integrate the citizens into the processes of changing their environment. Make them aware about the opportunities, inspire them and work at a social level to find out what they would really use and enjoy. Listen, think, build and try things together, and be patient about the results: social change and citizen involvement can be slow, but they are powerful.

Build networks to share knowledge and experiences. Count on existing and active collectives or associations, communicate beyond the most involved people, continuously share ideas and resources to create a responsive network and a ‘social warmth’ around the place. Keeping the most active people and the possible future users involved can be crucial for the success of an urban project.

Take account of the intangible using new technologies as a mechanism to create awareness about the complexity of the place. Track and map impressions, feelings, opinions, data and contents related to the harbour area in order to visualize the collective imagination about that place.

Keep positive to be able to push ahead reality. Dare to think in terms of desirability, more than possibility or probability. Dream about things that were never done in that area, build fantastic experiences on the water, the docks, the streets or the natural spaces. Imagine the citizens bathing, creating, playing, cultivating or flying near the Danube, the river that made the city of Linz possible.

Our report Linz harbour: a city and a river | Identity City Lab workshop with Schwemmland
Post in German by Roland Krebs, organizer of the Identity City Lab
Post in German at CreativeRegion website, with more photos
Post about the conference at CreativeRegion website

Comments: (0)

MetaMap | Pablo de Soto

Category: ⚐ EN+architecture+city+landscape+MetaMap+technologies+urbanism+video

Pablo de Soto is part of the generation who lived and experimented with the creative explosion generated by the web. His studies in architecture have enabled him to look at digital culture through a unique perspective. Keeping as reference, science fiction, situationism, and hacker ethic.

In 2001, he founded hackitectura.net, along with José Pérez de Lama and Sergio Moreno Páez, and a crew of architects, programmers, artists, and activists that participated in projects that dealt with themes of cartography and mapping. I interviewed Pablo de Soto about Sevilla Global, Cartografía Crítica del Estrecho de Gibraltar, and Mapping the Commons (Istanbul and Athens)

Here are a few screenshots of the maps:

Taksim Square, Istanbul

Fener Balat, Istanbul

Brook Crossing, Athens

This post is part of the MetaMap series about mapping. You can follow the conversation on your favourite social network through the #metamap hashtag.

Comments: (4)

Solving an intersection, the Dutch way | Where cars, bikes and pedestrians meet

Category: ⚐ EN+urbanism+video

How can urban design solve the complex situation that takes place in street junctions where bikes, pedestrians and motorists have to cross and turn in different directions? This interesting video shows one of the typical Dutch solutions to this problem.

Could this be implemented everywhere? While other places are going for mixed use of the street (like Spanish ciclocalles) or even more radical solutions like shared space or even ‘naked streets’ without any signs or lights, cities in the Netherlands are known for making extensive use of segregated bike lanes, and that is the scenario where this kind of solution makes sense. There are also other types of intersections, like the roundabouts, which can solve the same problem in a different way.

It’s worth noting how helpful the video format  is for explaining this kind of dynamic issues in the city. I also recommend reading the discussions under the posts linked below; you will find interesting opinions and alternatives.

Read more:

Original article at Bicycle Dutch
Via momentummag.com