A Designer Imagines Miniature, Wi-Fi-Enabled Parks On Wheels
Milan native and designer Matteo Cibic imagines giving citizens the option to pay a small sum to have a portable green “trolley” parked near their homes. The trolleys are rolling, miniature parks that would provide other services—like charging stations, benches, and Wi-Fi—to renters. It’s an unusual take on the post-car city, since it enables citizens to make micro-investments in green space, with immediate, visible benefits.
A few pictures of the busy Viktualienmarkt in Munich! A great place to buy food or just have a beer with friends in the late afternoon sun. Although there were loads of tourists around, there were equally as many locals! It has a great human scale and a nice authenticity and hasn’t succumbed to Covent Garden Syndrome (thankfully)!
Great read with some good examples!
In creating PLACEmaking, we aimed to put together a publication offering food for future thought: the creation of social cities, the use of Big Data for civic benefit, the articulation of economic and social value, and the development of tools and processes that enable everyone to participate in the design and shaping of place.
IM VIADUKT - Zurich (April 2012)
I thought this was a really nice reuse of space in a cross section of mainly residential streets in Zurich. It’s a great example of how hard infrastructure can be made permeable and integrated into the local neighbourhood, converting it from a dead, border vacuum type of space (of the type Jane Jacobs discussed) into a living part of the neighbourhood.
The only thing I felt was disappointing about the development was the tenant mix. Although for the most part it consisted of independents, the majority of them sold high end, high price products and the whole thing had an air of exclusiveness.
There is a good series of photos, plans etc on the architect’s website here, some great shots of the arches during the day and night on the IM VIADUKT website here and a brochure for the development here.
In large cities like London where land is expensive, the spaces created by viaducts provide an ideal place for the more awkward, less commercially attractive but vital businesses in the city - catering companies, bakeries, hardware shops, car, bike or motorbike shops, car parks, pop-up clubs, restaurants and bars. Their size and slightly off the beaten track location also makes them cheaper to rent. However in London there aren’t many that have a coherent strategy like IM VIADUKT that could make them more identifiable places that positively contribute to local neighbourhoods and streetscapes. There are informal examples like Maltby Street/ Druid Street/ Spa Terminus which are getting a foodie reputation, with many arches being occupied by traders leaving Borough Market and the arches in Brixton but there is still a lot more potential to strengthen this. In Vauxhall for example where there is no main high street or focal point, a more considered strategy for their occupation could have been useful… But perhaps it is better that there isn’t a strategy - it leaves space and opportunity for the enterprises mentioned above that need cheap space, large footprints and central locations? What do you think?
Bicycle traffic is healthy, environmentally friendly, and makes cities more livable. Cycling is a fast and efficient urban transport mode and requires less space than motor vehicle traffic.
The Collection of cycle concepts 2012 presents a number of ideas to help generate more bicycle traffic and reduce the accident rate among cyclists.
This is my hope for London - a liveable, accessible, inclusive, healthy, safe city!
A really inspiring video by Mark Wagenbuur illustrating how the city of Utrecht has repaired some of the damage done in the 50s/60s when the city attempted to accommodate the ever increasing levels of car traffic. It has embarked on a programme of works to restore its street quality, narrowing roads to achieve a better modal split, improve the living environment and making a return the original humanscale city.
Mark also writes the excellent BicycleDutch blog which is always a good read!
Interesting read and comments. I am by no means anti-change or development but Londoners really need to wake up and start engaging with the city they live in. So much of London is losing its soul! Many of the city’s great spaces are being sanitised and commercialised and becoming “this could be anywhere” type places. The proliferation of chains like cafe rouge, starbucks, tesco, all saints with their “cookie cutter” approach is killing what once made the city stand out from the crowd.
Soho is London’s bohemian heart. Britain’s pop industry was born there, the film industry was run from it, and Foyles led the bookshops filling Charing Cross Road. Prostitutes lined the streets until the 1990s, when it became London’s gay thoroughfare. Late-night drinking dens and cafés served them all in a sometimes sleazy but potent atmosphere. But now, in a pattern repeated in similarly cherished neighbourhoods across Britain, the independent businesses which dominate its warren of streets are suffering. Blander public taste, corporate encroachment and pre-Olympics paranoia have put Soho under siege.
This is sad news in my opinion…a DIY approach that created a vibrant, sense assaulting space that was also personalisable (if that is a word) with its moveable chairs, will be replaced with a sanitised, unimaginative, dull space with concrete slab paving, some steel detailing and massive black granite benches….
Starting next fall, workers with jackhammers will tear apart the bow tie, temporarily making it an even less congenial place to hang out. But one major goal of the $45 million construction project is to persuade New Yorkers to love Times Square—to convince them that it’s not just a backdrop for a million daily snapshots but Manhattan’s most central, and most convivial, gathering spot. Architects and visionaries have often addressed that old ambition with high-energy concepts that gave us the current high-tech razzmatazz. Even in this round of ideas, the city has fended off proposals for colored LEDs embedded in the pavement, for ramps, staircases, pavilions, digital information kiosks, heat lamps, trees, lawns, canopies, and, of course, more video screens.
Instead, the city hired the architectural firm Snøhetta to produce a quiet, even minimal design that doesn’t try vainly to compete with the glowing canyons. Its beauty lies in dark, heavy sobriety and a desire to be a lasting pedestal to the frenzied dazzle above. In the most straightforward sense, the new plan enshrines a transformation that has already taken place. Ever since vehicles were banned from Broadway between 42nd and 47th Streets, in 2009, Times Square has felt like a temporary art installation. Pedestrians have been able to step off the curb and into the weirdly motor-free street. Rickety red café tables, which replaced plastic beach chairs, dot a blue river painted on the asphalt. Streetlights, lampposts, mailboxes, hydrants, and pay phones remain clustered along the Broadway sidewalk, staying clear of nonexistent traffic.
The new construction will eliminate that feeling of making do. Curbs will vanish. Pedestrian areas will be leveled and clad in tweedy concrete tiles that run lengthwise down Broadway and the Seventh Avenue sidewalks, meeting in an angled confluence of patterns. Nickel-size steel discs set into the pavement will catch the light and toss it back into the brilliant air. Instead of perching on metal chairs, loiterers will be able to sit, lean, sprawl, jump, and stand on ten massive black granite benches up to 50 feet long and five feet wide. Electrical and fiber-optic-cable outlets will be packed into the benches so that, for outdoor performances, special-event crews will no longer need to haul in noisy, diesel-burning generators or drape the square in cables and duct tape. Even on ordinary days, the square will be de-cluttered of the traffic signs, bollards, cones, and boxes that cause foot traffic to seize up. With any luck, crowds will gather and mingle only in the center plain between the benches, leaving free-flowing channels on either side for the rest of us, who have somewhere to be, people!
Spotted during a recent trip to Zurich - The bicycle: 100% urban!
What a great project! Interesting to see how children interpret the city!
A documentary film made in collaboration with the Human Cities Festival 2012. Part of a project developed by http://www.turtlewings.be/
The film was made from a workshop where we gave children digital cameras and spycams and walk down 5 streets in downtown Brussels. The goal was just to document everything the children noticed. You can also follow on the ChildEyeView website here http://childeyeview.tumblr.com/ or the facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pages/Childeyeview/280423245320757