Things tagged city:

Berlin-Kreuzberg, 1979

The Manhattan Grid

My Own Private Tokyo

William Gibson in Wired:

I wish I had a thousand-yen note for every journalist who, over the past decade, has asked me whether Japan is still as futurologically sexy as it seemed to be in the ‘80s. If I did, I’d take one of these spotlessly lace-upholstered taxis over to the Ginza and buy my wife a small box of the most expensive Belgian chocolates in the universe.

He overplays the magic, but if you try and see things through his eyes, the future (and Tokyo) seems much cooler. Why not dream a little.

Slumlands — filthy secret of the modern mega-city

“Ten years ago, we used to dream that cities would become slum-free,” says Muhammad Khadim of UN-Habitat. “The approach has changed. People see the positives. The approach now is not to clear them but to improve them gradually [and] regularise land tenure.”

Cameron Sinclair, who runs the non-profit design firm Architecture for Humanity, goes further. “A slum is a resilient urban animal. You cannot pry it away,” he tells me. “It’s like a good parasite. There are some parasites that attack the body and you have to get rid of them but, within the city, the informal settlement is a parasite that acts in harmony with the city, keeps it in check.”

Europe Stifles Drivers in Favor of Mass Transit and Walking - The New York Times

Elisabeth Rosenthal in the NYT:

While American cities are synchronizing green lights to improve traffic flow and offering apps to help drivers find parking, many European cities are doing the opposite: creating environments openly hostile to cars. The methods vary, but the mission is clear — to make car use expensive and just plain miserable enough to tilt drivers toward more environmentally friendly modes of transportation.

One tiny apartment, dozens of rooms

Hong Kong architect Gary Chang has renovated his tiny apartment four times since he’s owned it. The most recent renovation is called “The Domestic Transformer”.

Mr. Chang hopes that some of his home’s innovations might be replicated to help improve domestic life in Hong Kong, which has been troubled in recent years. The population grew by nearly a half-million in just the last 10 years, and between 2003 and 2007, reports of new cases of child, spousal and elder abuse nearly doubled, something social workers attribute in part to new social pressures caused by the city’s ongoing shortage of space.

“It’s a big problem,” Mr. Chang said. “Killing each other is not uncommon.”

“People feel trapped,” he said. “We have to find ways to live together in very small spaces.”

In Mr. Chang’s solution, a kind of human-size briefcase, everything can be folded away so that the space feels expansive, like a yoga studio.

The wall units, which are suspended from steel tracks bolted into the ceiling, seem to float an inch above the reflective black granite floor. As they are shifted around, the apartment becomes all manner of spaces — kitchen, library, laundry room, dressing room, a lounge with a hammock, an enclosed dining area and a wet bar.


Britain From Above

Changing New York


Robert C. Wiles, 1947

On May Day, just after leaving her fiancé, 23-year-old Evelyn McHale wrote a note. 'He is much better off without me ... I wouldn't make a good wife for anybody,' ... Then she crossed it out. She went to the observation platform of the Empire State Building. Through the mist she gazed at the street, 86 floors below. Then she jumped. In her desperate determination she leaped clear of the setbacks and hit a United Nations limousine parked at the curb. Across the street photography student Robert Wiles heard an explosive crash. Just four minutes after Evelyn McHale's death Wiles got this picture of death's violence and its composure.

Via Super Colossal.

See also Crashing to Earth, Again and Again

Front Inc

Air Bear (Seen On The Streets Of New York)

Out of Gas

Through Weegee’s Lens

Photo Credit: Jill Freedman

Niko Koppel at The New York Times.

BACK in the 1970s, a gutsy blonde named Jill Freedman armed with a battered Leica M4 and an eye for the offbeat trained her lens on the spirited characters and gritty sidewalks of a now-extinct city.

Side note: WTF does nyt think it is doing with the video features? You can’t have your average print journalist produce a video (though they seem to do fine moving to the radio docu style as seen in the “audio slide shows”).

Michael Wolf: Architecture of Density

Tokyo pics

Back by popular demand: the Minimal Compact

Adam Greenfield’s Speedbird:

Ever since went down for the count, I get a fair number of requests to repost this minifesto on “open-source constitutions for post-national entitites,” from 2003. It’s goofy, it’s naïve, it’s grandiose and pompous…and I present it to you now exactly as I wrote it then. Enjoy!

BLDGBLOG: The Year in Review

I’ve been inspired to take a trip back through the archives here to see where we’ve been since January 2007. I’ll start with January, then do each month in a separate post. So if you’re new to BLDGBLOG, or even if you’ve been here all along, since our rather quiet start back in 2004, here’s a relatively good way to see what the site is all about.

January, February, March, April, May, Summer, Fall.

Via cityofsound.

Cutting edge maps

The Metabolic City

Observers of Tokyo have for long admired its fluidity, its capacity to constantly reinvent itself and its ability of multiplying, juxtaposing, and overlaying functions. The history of Tokyo’s urban development in the past century is mainly one of incremental and spontaneous development of the parts assembling to form a whole. Modernizers have for long attempted to “rationalize” Tokyo, but were ultimately unable to cope with the extremely rapid demographic and urban expansion.

What made this process quite distinctive (from other Asian urban histories) is that official policies did not dismiss the city’s organic evolution. The mixed-use habitats, the village like social foundations of the urban neighbourhoods and the low-rise high density landscape emerged as a default urban model. A model that was not seen as an ideal one by planners, but which also was not considered illegitimate.

See also Andrew Blum’s Local Cities, Global Problems.

Via cityofsound.

The city as destructive system: wildfires, Dresden and the case against urban sprawl

Posted by Dan Hill to cityofsound.

Friedrich’s article, when taken with images of the wildfires in California, and those around Australian cities in recent years, gave me pause to consider how urban form and fire are related. I don’t want to use the terrible fires around California, and in Australia before them, as my own spurious token in an academic argument about urban planning. And yet I can’t help but correlate urban sprawl with placing more and more people into areas consistently threatened by fire. In this, the contemporary form of the sprawling city is not only something that is bad for the city in general - you could argue that point of course, but I don’t think it can really be doubted  - but also just supremely dangerous.