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How to make streets livable in the traffic-packed city of Dhaka

Category: ⚐ ES+city+design+dhaka+mobility+urbanism

Trying to drive along a street in the Lalbagh area, in the city center of Dhaka.

Trying to drive along a street in the Lalbagh area, in the city center of Dhaka.

After getting out of the airport in Dhaka, the first thing we noticed—the first thing every visitor notices—was the traffic. As we were heading to our hotel in a taxi, the streets around us were crowded: trucks, taxi, private cars, rickshaws, auto-rickshaws, pedestrians, carts with horses… All transportation modes were sharing the same space among clouds of dust, smoke and a cacophony of sounds, without any apparent organization.

How could some of these roads be turned into walkable, human-friendly streets within a short period of 5 years? continue reading

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Rethinking Public Spaces in Dhaka: an Urban Design Scheme

Category: ⚐ EN+city+design+dhaka+movilidad+urban social design+urbanism

Introduction: the Dhaka City Neighborhood Upgrading Project

During our trip to Dhaka, the last march, we wandered through public spaces and we experienced what it is like to be a pedestrian in one of the densest megacity of the world. Our assessment was clear: the capital of Bangladesh really needs to improve its public spaces. Because of the city’s urbanization pace, public spaces tend to be approached as an afterthought and become the residual and scarce space between the buildings. And, as such, it is usually lacking the most basic comfort, accessibility or healthiness.

Public place, however, is one of the most valuable assets of every city. continue reading

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5 things you can do in Dhaka’s public spaces

Category: ⚐ EN+architecture+city+dhaka+mobility

As a recent project has led us to Dhaka, we are starting a series of posts to share with you some key topics and observations about this very interesting city.

Dhaka, capital of Bangladesh, is one of the densest cities in the world, with 18 million people squishing in 1,528 square km. The average density of the central area of the city has reached a staggering 41,000 inhabitants per square kilometer1. The city is considered one of the least livable cities in the world, ranked 137 out of 140 cities2 in 2017. It is the lowest for any South Asian city surveyed, because of, among other things, air pollution, severe traffic congestion, bad sewage system, hundreds of slums and regular river floodings.

In such a dense and crowded city, the inhabitants make the most of each square meter, making public space a truly multi-layered and multi-dimensional entity. continue reading

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The heart of Asunción starts beating

Category: #followcreative+⚐ EN+architecture+art+city+creativity+news+publications+urbanism+work in progress

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Mural de Guache en el Hotel Armele, sobre Palma llegando a Colón / Foto: @marcosalonsophotography

A few months ago we ended one of the longest, intense and complex projects our office Ecosistema Urbano has done so far, the Masterplan of the Historic Downtown of Asunción, awarded in an international competition and developed with a multidisciplinary team between Madrid and the Mother of Cities, Asunción.

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The Bicycle as a Tool to Understand the City

Category: ⚐ EN+city+mobility+movilidad+sustainability+urbanism

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Bicycle parking in Copenhagen, photo gently borrowed from Olmofin on Flickr

All the arguments are known. All the benefits of using a bicycle as a means of transportation have been discussed, on words, speeches, infographics, funny drawings, and all other sorts of communication. We all know it is an efficient vehicle, with zero fuel consumptions and pollutant gases emission, requires less space, eases traffic congestion and is good for one’s wallet and health.

However, the most valuable and meaningful aspect of this two-wheeled vehicle has not yet been discussed. Cycling is a really intimate way of blending with the landscape, urban or rural. The bicycle is, therefore, an instrument for understanding the city, being this a key factor for the future of urban areas.

In a car, the world is reduced. The driver is inside a box, focused on getting rapidly from A to B. He moves through sections of asphalt roads and highways. Everything that surrounds him is a secondary plan. The environment, the architecture, the landscape, the life. All part of a canvas blurred by the circulating speed.

In the city, the bicycle it’s not just a ride, it is also a tool, a device for understanding the city and experiencing the true meaning of urbanism.

Being on the side of those who believe cities should be (much) more human centered, more livable, attractive and sustainable is certainly not easy, especially if you’re living in a car-centered society. Have you tried to talk with your friends or family about these problems? Have you tried to talk about how much space in a street is reserved for the cars, compared to the little sidewalk? They won’t understand, most of them drive a car, they want their space, their parking spot. They still believe more and wider car lanes will ease urban congestion.

I cannot approach them, or any random citizen, about energy efficiency in cities, about air pollution; I cannot tell them that part of the solution is a system based on walking, cycling and on public transport. I cannot tell them that the key for urban sustainability relies on density or about how the highways had fragmented the landscapes (and this is clear in Lisbon).

It doesn’t matter how eloquent we are, nobody wants to change their lifestyle when they understand it as life quality.

And this is why the bicycle is such an important tool, as a way to experience urbanism. Go for a bike ride along the city with someone who’s driving a car on a daily basis and even the best sustainable cities presentation will fall short of this exercise.

They’ll see the world with different eyes. There’s so many cars here and they’re going too fast, he’ll say. This cycling track should be larger, but generally there should be more in this part of town. I never noticed this building before. Oh, this cafe looks very nice, let’s stop, thank god they got bike racks. And, all of a sudden, those problems are not that far away from their reality.

Here’s the deal, everybody was already liking to ride a bicycle since they were kids. We don’t need to sell it. It’s cool, it’s fun, easy and economical. It’s just a matter of trying, becoming thrilled about it, and maybe they’ll see the benefits of a car-less or even car-free living. It’s all about experiencing it.

And this elevates the importance of pilot projects in the city, the importance of giving the opportunity for citizens to enjoy and feel the city as their own. It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as it’s enlightened with life: a car-free saturday, a naked bike ride, some parklets or occupying a street for a month. Personally, I love when the traffic is cut in some random street, I instantly jump from the tiny sidewalk to the car lane. People will love it and the city will benefit from it, short and long-term.

This is what we need, less talk and more action.

A do-it-yourself bike lane in Asunción, Paraguay

A do-it-yourself bike lane in Asunción, Paraguay

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#networkedurbanism: Your Digital Opinion is Important to us

Category: ⚐ EN+networkedurbanism

Place Pixel

Earlier this year we introduced to you #networkedurbanism, now that the “studio report” book is almost ready, we are publishing a series of posts showing some of the projects that the students have developed during the 2010, 2012, and 2013 studios at the GSD.

In this fifth #networkedurbanism post we present to you two projects that share the aim to enrich the physical space with a digital layer, the connection between real and virtual worlds was one of the recurrent themes in the studio and these two projects truly create a strong link between them allowing people to express their opinion about the physical city using digital means. continue reading

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Claire Cassanet | eu collaborators

Category: ⚐ EN+colaboradores+ecosistema urbano

Today we introduce you to Claire Cassanet, a young landscape engineer who just left the office after four months of internship. We worked and learned together, we cooked together, we enjoyed every day in her cheerful company. We already miss you, Claire! Read on as she describes her experience with us…

Claire!

Claire!

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Digital social tools for the city l New series: Social Toolbox

Category: ⚐ EN+social toolbox+technologies

Today we present a coming series of posts about digital social tools. With this term we mean digital platforms, software, and online projects developed for the improvement of cities and neighbourhoods through direct participation by their citizens. Digital social tools can be open platforms that allow anyone to sign up and collaborate or applications that can be applied to different participatory projects.

What is the social potential of information technology and of the development of open source software and web-based social projects? To answer this question we will begin by establishing a theoretical framework contextualizing this spreading phenomena in contemporary society. In the end we will propose a system for a graphic representation to help us better understand and compare their underlying structure.

 Marta Battistella

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Maushaus | eu:KIDS

Category: ⚐ ES+eu:kids+Uncategorized

Maushaus-01

Maushaus (San Sebastián), es la casa de los ratones y está dirigida por Carlos Arruti y Anabel Varona. Organizan cursos, talleres, exposiciones y todo lo que se les ocurra para enseñar a los “muy jóvenes” de forma divertida y lúdica los entresijos de la ciudad, el espacio y la arquitectura. leer más

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Ciudades para los niños | ¡Nueva sección EU:KIDS!

Category: ⚐ ES+eu:kids

EU-KIDS-portada

Bajar a la calle a jugar con los amigos, mola. Que te den las diez en verano correteando por el barrio, mola. Patinar o montar en bici por una calle que es tuya entera porque la han cortado el domingo, mola.

En Ecosistema Urbano creemos que una parte muy importante del trabajo sobre el desarrollo de las ciudades es hacer que éstas funcionen también para los niños… lo que suele hacer que mejoren también para el resto de sus habitantes. Desde aprender a moverse y orientarse o poder jugar, hasta ayudar con sus propias manos a mejorar sus barrios, son actividades que permitirán a los niños disfrutar, valorar y posteriormente transformar los lugares donde viven. Facilitar esas experiencias durante su infancia les convertirá en los futuros responsables de unas ciudades mucho más humanas, habitables… y “molonas”.

Internet está lleno de sitios relacionados con este tema, gente con un buen puñado de ideas e iniciativas. Y por eso queremos recopilar en esta nueva categoría/sección de EU:KIDS todo tipo de referencias que relacionen ciudad, arquitectura, espacio público, diseño, creatividad, experiencia, juego y educación con los más pequeños.

Esperamos que os guste y os inspire.