From bleak to bustling: how one French town solved its high street crisis | Cities | The Guardian

Today, Mulhouse is known for the staggering transformation of its thriving centre, bucking the national trend for high street closures.In the past eight years, more than 470 shops and businesses have opened here. Mulhouse is unique in that 75% of new openings are independents, from comic book stores to microbreweries and organic grocers. It is one of the only places in France with as many independents as franchises. And it is one of very few places in France where more shops are opening than closing…

…Town centre residents were among the poorest as higher earners moved to houses on the outskirts, leaving properties vacant and run down.

Mulhouse set out to rebalance the housing mix. Generous subsidies for the renovation of building fronts expedited a facelift of more than 170 buildings. Security and community policing were stepped up. Transport was key – with a new tram system, bike schemes, shuttle buses and cheap parking.

But making the town’s public spaces attractive was just as important, with wider pavements, dozens of benches, and what officials deemed a “colossal budget” for tree planting and maintenance, gardening and green space. Local associations, community groups and residents’ committees were crucial to the efforts. A town centre manager was appointed to support independents and high-street franchises setting up.

Source: From bleak to bustling: how one French town solved its high street crisis | Cities | The Guardian

Nashville’s Star Rises as Midsize Cities Break Into Winners and Losers – The New York Times

Forty years ago, Nashville and Birmingham, Ala., were peers. Two hundred miles apart, the cities anchored metropolitan areas of just under one million people each and had a similar number of jobs paying similar wages. Not anymore. The population of the Nashville area has roughly doubled, and young people have flocked there, drawn by high-paying jobs as much as its hip “Music City” reputation. Last month, the city won an important consolation prize in the competition for Amazon’s second headquarters: an operations center that will eventually employ 5,000 people at salaries averaging $150,000 a year.

Birmingham, by comparison, has steadily lost population, and while its suburbs have expanded, their growth has lagged the Nashville area’s. Once-narrow gaps in education and income have widened, and important employers like SouthTrust and Saks have moved their headquarters. Birmingham tried to lure Amazon, too, but all it is getting from the online retail giant is a warehouse and a distribution center where many jobs will pay about $15 an hour.

Amazon’s announcement has been widely described as a rich-get-richer victory of coastal “superstar cities” like New York and Washington, regions where the company plans to employ a total of at least 50,000 workers. But the company’s decisions also reflect another trend: growing inequality among midsize cities.

Nashville and the other Amazon also-rans, like Columbus, Ohio, and Indianapolis, are thriving because of a combination of luck, astute political choices and well-timed investments. At the same time, Birmingham and cities like it, including Providence, R.I., and Rochester, are falling further behind.

Source: Nashville’s Star Rises as Midsize Cities Break Into Winners and Losers – The New York Times

4 Projects That Show Mass Timber is the Future of American Cities

As architects face up to the need for ethical, sustainable design in the age of climate change awareness, timber architecture is making a comeback in a new, technologically impressive way. Largely overlooked in the age of Modernism, recent years have seen a plethora of advancements related to mass timber across the world. This year alone, Japan announced plans for a supertall wooden skyscraper in Tokyo by 2041, while the European continent has seen plans for the world’s largest timber building in the Netherlands, and the world’s tallest timber tower in Norway.

4 Projects That Show Mass Timber is the Future of American Cities https://www.archdaily.com/905601/4-projects-that-show-mass-timber-is-the-future-of-american-cities

According to the Federal Government, the Suburbs Don’t Exist – News | Planetizen

Shawn Bucholtz and Jed Kolko describe one of the facts of American life: most U.S. residents live in suburbs, but the federal government doesn’t actually categorize communities as suburban. The federal government makes a distinction between urban and rural, but not for suburban. “The lack of an official federal definition of suburban means that government data are not reported separately for suburban areas. That makes it hard to measure the reach and impact of federal programs and to produce vital statis

Source: According to the Federal Government, the Suburbs Don’t Exist – News | Planetizen

Rising seas could wipe out $1 trillion worth of U.S. homes and businesses | Grist

 

Some 2.4 million American homes and businesses worth more than $1 trillion are at risk of “chronic inundation” by the end of the century, according to a report out Monday. That’s about 15 percent of all U.S. coastal real estate, or roughly as much built infrastructure as Houston and Los Angeles combined.

The sweeping new study from the Union of Concerned Scientists is the most comprehensive analysis of the risks posed by sea level rise to the United States coastal economy. Taken in context with the lack of action to match the scale of the problem, it describes a country plowing headlong into a flood-driven financial crisis of enormous scale.

 

Check out interactive map to see how your home, zip code or community does: http://US Coastal Property at Risk from Rising Seas.

Union of Concerned Scientists report at: Underwater: Rising Seas, Chronic Floods, and the Implications for US Coastal Real Estate (2018)

Grist: Rising seas could wipe out $1 trillion worth of U.S. homes and businesses

As California’s largest lake dries up, it threatens nearby communities with clouds of toxic dust – The Verge

Dying lakes release dust, often polluted dust, that is literally killing people who can’t afford to move.

Though we often think of lakes as permanent landmarks, global warming, irrigation, and our constant thirst threaten these resources around the world. Terminal lakes like the Salton Sea, bodies of water that have no natural drain, are particularly vulnerable. Iran’s Lake Urmia — once the largest body of water in the Middle East — has shrunk by almost 90 percent over the last 30 years; Africa’s Lake Chad is also 90 percent smaller than it was in the 1960s; and Kazakhstan’s Aral Sea, once the fourth largest salt lake in the world, has practically been wiped off the map.

When these lakes evaporate, they can upend industries and erase surrounding communities. For residents near the Salton Sea, the most pressing problem is the threat of toxic dust. The receding Salton Sea will reveal at least 75 square miles of playa, the lake bed that the water once hid. When that soil dries, it will begin to emit dust laced with industrial runoff from the surrounding farms: up to 100 tons of dust could blow off the playa daily. If it isn’t captured, that dust will push the area’s asthma crisis from bad to dire. The Salton Sea is a dust bomb that has already begun going off.

Source: As California’s largest lake dries up, it threatens nearby communities with clouds of toxic dust – The Verge

Naiipa Art Complex / Stu/D/O Architects | ArchDaily

Worthwhile to go to website and check out the photos.

Text description provided by the architects. Naiipa (Literally means ‘Deep in the Forest’) is a mixed use project consisted of an Art Gallery, Sound Recording Studio, Dance Studio, Restaurants, Coffee Shops, and Office Spaces. It is located on Sukhumvit 46, a small street that connects Rama 4 road to Phrakanong BTS Station on Sukhumvit road. The project is named after the concept of concealing the architecture in the forest as the vision of greenery is expanded by using reflective glass all around.

Source: Naiipa Art Complex / Stu/D/O Architects | ArchDaily

Piece by Piece, a Factory-Made Answer for a Housing Squeeze – The New York Times

 The future is coming and it’s modular:

The United States needs new housing, but its building industry isn’t big enough to provide it. The number of residential construction workers is 23 percent lower than in 2006, while higher-skill trades like plumbers, carpenters and electricians are down close to 17 percent. With demand for housing high and the supply of workers short, builders are bidding up prices for the limited number of contractors. Advertisement Construction prices nationwide have risen about 5 percent a year for the past three years……

 

 

The global construction industry is a $10 trillion behemoth whose structures determine where people live, how they get to work and what cities look like. It is also one of the world’s least efficient businesses. The construction productivity rate — how much building workers do for each hour of labor they put in — has been flat since 1945, according to the McKinsey Global Institute. Over that period, sectors like agriculture, manufacturing and retail saw their productivity rates surge by as much as 1,500 percent. In other words, while the rest of the economy has been supercharged by machines, computers and robots, construction companies are about as efficient as they were in World War II.

Source: Piece by Piece, a Factory-Made Answer for a Housing Squeeze – The New York Times

Something delicious is growing in the ‘sustainability underground’ | GreenBiz

This urban hydroponics farm is in refurbished WWII bunkers just 100 feet under the swarming, grubby streets of Clapham, in South London. Next time I hear that 1970 Motown line, “War, what is it good for?” followed by the response, “Absolutely nothing,” some part of my brain will protest: “Hydroponics!” In effect, what Growing Underground does is to flip vertical farming on its head. Instead of going up, it goes down. With U.K. supermarkets recently forced to ration vegetables in the wake of poor harvests…………

The headline: “Paris to turn a third of its green space into urban farms.”

The piece continued, “It all started when the city’s mayor, Anne Hidalgo, who was elected in 2014, declared her intention to make Paris a greener city. The Paris government responded to her call in 2016 by launching Les Parisculteurs, which aims to cover the city’s rooftops and walls with 247 acres of vegetation by 2020. A third of the green space, according to its plan, should be dedicated to urban farming.”

The city’s deputy mayor, Pénélope Komitès, noted, “Paris not only intends to produce fruit and vegetables but also (plans to) invent a new urban model. … We have seen a real craze among Parisians to participate in making the city more green. Urban agriculture is a real opportunity for Paris. It contributes to the biodiversity and to the fight against climate change.”

Source: Something delicious is growing in the ‘sustainability underground’ | GreenBiz

Bringing Some New Ideas to an Older Part of Amsterdam – Next City

 

By night, Reguliersdwarsstraat is one of the busiest streets in central Amsterdam. A hub for the city’s LGBTQ community, its restaurants, bars and clubs attract large numbers of locals and tourists alike. By day, however, the picture is markedly different. Despite being just steps away from Amsterdam’s famous floating flower market, the area has struggled to attract the daytime crowds. Related Stories Bronx Worker Cooperative Plans to “Compost Capitalism” Baltimore Businesses Team Up to Address

Source: Bringing Some New Ideas to an Older Part of Amsterdam – Next City

What You Can Learn About the Future of Cities from Wakanda – CityLab

Citylab has pulled together a Wakanda Reader, or online bibliography of sorts, to indulge those who are interested in the larger questions around urbanism implicated in Black Panther. We would call it a syllabus, but there are already several syllabi available—this #WakandaSyllabusfrom Walter Greason, an economic history professor at Monmouth University and founder of the International Center of Metropolitan Growth, is particularly good. This Wakanda curriculum for middle school grades from school teacher Tess Raker has also been making the rounds.

As for what else has been circulating, here’s an exhaustive, still-living-and-growing list of articles that build upon the Wakandan mystique:

https://www.citylab.com/equity/2018/02/the-wakanda-reader/553865/?utm_source=twb

What Does China’s ‘Ecological Civilization’ Mean for Humanity’s Future? | By Jeremy Lent | Common Dreams

China’s leader affirms an ecological vision aligned with progressive environmental thought. Whether it’s mere rhetoric or has a deeper resonance within Chinese culture may have a profound global effect

Propaganda or hope for the future?

https://www.commondreams.org/views/2018/02/10/what-does-chinas-ecological-civilization-mean-humanitys-future

Why we all need Deaf urbanism – Greater Greater Washington

Deaf Urbanism is about changing the conversations around our cities, bringing our Deaf cultural values to the city at large, and preserving our place in society at large — as well as defining urbanism for our own community. Many tenants of Deaf Urbanism have to do with fostering a sense of inclusion as well as eliminating ableism and tokenism…

Deaf Urbanism is really just good design

Many able-bodied people benefit from technological advancements that were first designed for Deaf people, such as subtitles and texting. In urban contexts, various design ideals in DeafSpace include tactile elements, visual access and wayfinding throughout the urban environment. Tactile elements are simply changes in the walking surfaces to denote uses and boundaries — think of a rough stone edge near a curb, so that when you are looking away, you can feel with your feet when you are reaching the edge.

When it comes to visual access, having buildings and spaces that are open, have lots of light, and have direct visual connection benefit everyone. Being able to see your friends in a group in a building across the way on the second floor is simply good design. Applying these items in a larger urban context, we can use different materials in paving to denote different spaces and transitions, such as a cafe, a sidewalk, and a crosswalk. Having appropriate visual connection of buildings to Metro stations instead of buildings obscuring the visual landscape benefits everyone.

Many other urban design elements — such as gentle slopes and wide sidewalks instead of stairs — benefit people that have limited mobility and are also appreciated by able-bodied people. Another example is reduced curb cuts, which benefit pedestrians and bikers as well as people who are Deaf and disabled. Instead of having to step down or look for cars, an able-bodied person can just walk through…

Deaf people communicate in a 3-D language that can benefit planning conversations. It is intuitively simpler to communicate a 3-D environment in a 3-D modality. In our roundtable conversations for Deaf Urbanism, we discuss the scale of streets and how they should look with bike lanes, streetcar lanes, and the like in only a few signs…

Source: Why we all need Deaf urbanism – Greater Greater Washington

Via: Placeswire.org

Blowing down the Saddledome and building a new Victoria Park – Calgary – CBC News

Imagine you were given a serious chunk of Calgary’s core, a blank sheet of paper and a pencil, and told you could turn it into whatever you wanted.That’s pretty much what the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC) is doing with Victoria Park.Planners and a couple of architectural firms are hammering away at a vision for the future of one of Calgary’s oldest neighbourhoods.It’ll be a 20-year plan to turn what’s currently a seriously bizarre jumble of skyscrapers, empty lots, an aging Saddledome, a bus barn and several rail lines, into Calgary’s entertainment district of the future. And a cool new place to live.

Source: Blowing down the Saddledome and building a new Victoria Park – Calgary – CBC News

Retrofitting suburbia: Old shopping malls can be saved by their parking lots – Business – CBC News

 

In what some call “retrofitting suburbia,” fading food and department stores are reinventing their huge urban properties by filling them up with residential, office and retail space.And with Sears Canada closing dozens of department stores, new opportunities in these “mixed-use” developments now abound.”Just about every shopping centre — if they’re smart — is looking at this,” said Brent Toderian, an international consultant on urbanism and city planning based in Vancouver.Brent Toderian”Just about every shopping centre — if they’re smart — is looking at this,” said Brent Toderian, an international consultant on urbanism and city planning based in Vancouver. (CBC)”The recognition is that you can bring more customers, you can get more value out of the land and, particularly when you’re around transit, you can provide a lot more transit ridership rather than car dependency.”Such revelations aren’t new in the United States but the idea has caught fire more recently in Canada.

Source: Retrofitting suburbia: Old shopping malls can be saved by their parking lots – Business – CBC News

7 ZIPs That Exemplify Suburban Comeback | Realtor Magazine

For the first time in a decade, the number of Americans living in suburbs grew faster than that of urban dwellers in 2017, buoyed by young homeowners who are planting roots outside cities, according to the Brookings Institute, a think tank based in Washington, D.C.“

You’re seeing more millennials moving to the suburbs, especially as they have kids,” says Danielle Hale, chief economist at realtor.com®. “People are definitely looking for affordability, better schools, less crime. … More outer suburbs have really put in an effort to develop walkable town centers and other places for people to gather to enjoy similar benefits they’d find in urban centers.”

Realtor.com®’s research team analyzed the ZIP codes outside the nation’s largest cities to find the best suburb for each major metro for families. They factored in housing affordability (defined as less than $400,000 to buy a home for most metros); percentage of children residing in each ZIP code; availability of child care; school rankings; number per capita of restaurants, bars, and museums; crime rates; and reasonable commuting time (considered 70 minutes or less).

Source: 7 ZIPs That Exemplify Suburban Comeback | Realtor Magazine