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READINGS: Our 10 favourite articles, reports & videos | Edition #005




1. LONDON 2012 | OLYMPIC PARK FLY-THROUGH | JANUARY 2012

Jonathan Edwards gives us an update of the progress of all of the venues on the Olympic Park in the East of London as London prepares to host the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The Olympic Park will form the epicentre of the Games, with athletes located inside the Park in the Olympic Village, and within walking distance of several venues.

2. POLIS | ARCHITECTURE OF PEACE

There is no question that architecture and planning have been crucial components of conflicts taking place in cities. But whether designs are used to solve or enhance frictions is another matter. Recently I came across SAYA/Design for Change, an Israeli-based architectural, planning and design office that has taken a proactive role in social change by devoting its practice to peacebuilding.

Read the full post at POLIS

3. THE GUARDIAN | HOW THE RISE OF THE MEGACITY IS CHANGING THE WAY WE LIVE

Click on image for large version

Amid a clutter of 24-hour arc lights, gigantic cranes and dumper trucks, a behemoth is rising out of a field of churned mud on the outskirts of Chengdu in south-west China. Commuters skirt its vast perimeter fence on their way to the new metro link that cuts under the city. They barely glance at what looks like just another huge construction project in a cityscape that changes every month.

Read the full article at THE GUARDIAN

4. SMART PLANET | RETHINKING THE ROW HOME

Chad and Courtney Ludeman didn’t consider themselves environmentalists before starting their company, which builds efficient — and inexpensive — new homes in Philadelphia. But they always thought everything should be built in the best way possible. For homes, that meant gearing toward health and affordability. ”We try to build a home the way we think is the best way to build a home for people,” Courtney Ludeman said. “This is going to be the new normal because it makes sense.”

With backgrounds in engineering and real estate, the couple deliberated for years before deciding in 2008 to launch Postgreen Homes. “We put our life savings into it,” Chad Ludeman said.

Then the U.S. economy crashed.

Read the full article at SMART PLANET

5. FASTCODESIGN | COULD TWITTER HELP US CREATE SMARTER TRANSIT ROUTES

Traditional city maps visualize just one aspect of urban design—the city’s intended structure, full stop. But add in a layer that visualizes how people actually use the city, and then the map becomes much more interesting. Eric Fischer did exactly that when he used Twitter’s API to collect tens of thousands of geotagged tweets and map them onto the streets of New York, Chicago, and the San Francisco Bay area. The maps amount to something close to a desire path on a macro scale: The maps show where our buses and subways should be, if they conformed to the way we actually move and live.

Read the full article at FASTCODESIGN

6. LSE SPATIAL RESEARCH ECONOMICS CENTRE | CITIES AND ECONOMIC GROWTH

For some time now it has seemed to me that there is a fundamental, but unresolved, tension concerning the economic objectives for UK cities. On the one hand, government wants to maximise their economic potential. On the other government wants rebalancing both in terms of a shift away from financial services and geographically (from south to north). Of course, some will argue that these policy objectives are not in conflict. Most urban economists would disagree. If we do need to choose (at least in the sense of prioritising one over the other) what should we do? Overall, at least for the UK, I think the evidence points towards prioritising growth in our more successful cities even if this leads to more uneven spatial development. Let me explain why.

Read the full article at LSE SPATIAL RESEARCH ECONOMICS CENTRE

7. LSE CITIES | AFRICAN URBANISM

Africa is the fastest urbanising region in the world, and has become the focus of increasing attention from architects and planners, academics, development agencies and urban think-tanks. Professor Edgar Pieterse argues for a new way of thinking about African cities to accompany this surge of interest and to replace traditional views of African cities as sites of absence and neglect. Rapid urbanisation along with impressive economic growth rates for much of the Continent represents an interesting moment to take stock of how academic discourses capture and animate African urbanism.

8. ARUP GROUP | METROPOL PARASOL, SEVILLA

The Metropol Parasol was designed by Architect, J. MAYER H., with engineering consulting from Arup. This film explores how the Metropol Parasol affects the people who live and work around it, as well as the historic area in which it sits. The Metropol Parasol is one of the largest wooden structures in the world and was completed in April 2011. It has become a new centre for Seville.

For more infomation on the project: http://arup.com/Projects/Metropol_Parasol.aspx

9. RIO 2012 | AERIAL VIEW SHOWS RIO’S BRT EVOLUTION AFTER A YEAR OF CONSTRUCTION WORKS

10. POLITICSWEB | HOW GOOD DESIGN COULD HELP THE POOR

Cape Town has been awarded the right to host the World Design Capital 2014 (WDC2014) against stiff competition from cities across the planet, in large part because of the Cape Town Partnership’s bold and candid bid. The bid promised to use the year-long event to “deal with the vast imbalances that exist in our society”, by focusing on “community cohesion” and “infrastructure development”.  The event is supposed to build partnerships and encourage productive critical debate around Cape Town’s past, present and future design plans.

Unfortunately the City of Cape Town’s recent announcement that it will lead the management and coordination of WDC2014 threatens this vision.

Read the full article at POLITICSWEB