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The Cities This Week: Edition 16




Indianapolis completed its cultural trail this week, source: Matt Kryger / The Star

Indianapolis completed its cultural trail this week, source: Matt Kryger / The Star

INDIANAPOLIS

After years of construction and millions of dollars invested, the Cultural Trail connecting downtown officially opened with much celebration this Friday. The project, which took 12 years of planning, six years of construction and $63 million, is an eight-mile walking and bike path connecting the city’s five cultural districts. The trail creates unprecedented connectivity, connecting Indiana Avenue, Mass Ave., the Canal and White River State Park, the Wholesale District and Fountain Square with the Monon Trail and other city greenways.

BEIJING

Oh, dreams deferred. In 1998, developers broke ground on an ambitious building project outside of Beijing. They promised “the largest amusement park in Asia.” Shortly after that, funds were withdrawn, thanks in a large part to land sale disagreements between developers and local farmers. The half-finished park then languished for years. 13 years later, the abandoned park is finally coming down, though it’s not clear what will take its place. According to Reuters, local officials are reporting that a shopping center may fill at least part of the space.

KAMPALA

As the Government moves to implement the National Slum Upgrading programme, a strong warning has been issued to prevent resistance that may be staged by communities inhabiting areas where modern buildings are going to erected. The urban development minister Daudi Migereko explained that the housing programme is meant to uplift the standards of living for the residents occupying areas that are undeveloped and disorganised. “This programme intends to transform the lives of our people living in slums, we don’t want to meet any public resistance as we move to kick-start this national development initiative,” he said.

NEW YORK CITY

Rockaway, Queens, a low-lying area in New York City, was hit hard by Hurricane Sandy, so a fascinating new design competition seeks to create a more resilient and sustainable form of development for this vulnerable area, and, really, others like it in New York City and other coastal cities. FAR ROC [For a Resilient Rockaway] is a design competition that will delve into “innovative strategies for the planning, design and construction” of a more resilient place at Arverne East, an 80+ acre site on the Rockaway Peninsula. Their ambitious goal: new best practices for development in waterfront areas.

HARARE

Harare City Council will soon issue out colour-coded bins that will allow residents to separate waste at source as it intensifies efforts to promote the recycling of waste at the domestic level. This emerged following the launch of colour-coded trash bins by the Proudly Zimbabwean Foundation under a new anti-littering campaign initiative. The event was jointly organised by PZF, Environment Africa, Plastix Incorporated and other stakeholders. Clr Musarurwa Mutizwa said recycling was important in efforts that were aimed at addressing the garbage crisis facing the city. “We have moved a step further on issues that are bedevilling this city. The only solution is to go the recycling route and to tackle it at source,” he said.

KIGALI

With the recently-launched Kigali Master Plan, Rwanda hopes to put forward an innovative urban development plan, transforming Kigali “into a ‘model’ city for the region, Africa, and the world.” The plan focuses on better preservation of nature and the use of natural cycles to provide efficient infrastructure. The Kigali City plan also aims to improve informal settlements and create new developments in open spaces. “The fundamental building blocks of the city plan are clustered communities that will facilitate the delivery of education, health care, and other social services,” according to Kigali City’s official website. “These clusters will also support economic innovation and vitality and the creation of social capital, generating development from the ground up.”

MUMBAI

We’ve seen grandiose new skyscrapers do all sorts of weird things. From rotating dynamic towers, to hi-rises that have enormous voids, to skyscrapers built so tall they can’t find enough occupants to rent space, architects like to try anything to come up with a headline-grabbing design. However, Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture‘s latest proposal for Mumbai’s tallest building—the slender 116-story, 400-meter residential Imperial Tower—may take the cake. According to AS+GG, the svelte structure is designed to “confuse the wind.” A little confused by that? Don’t worry, we were too. AS+GG’s deceptive description simply means that the extremely tall and thin (two adjectives you don’t normally associate with sturdiness) tower will stand up to the wind. Enhanced by “sky gardens,” which have been designed to “dampen” wind eddying about the tower, the futuristic pencil-like structure will stand strong against a sudden gale. That should make residents of the two upper floors feel safe and secure as they gaze out to their commanding views of the Arabian Sea.

GHANIAN CITIES

Giant internet search engine, Google has launched a maps app for Ghana, as the West African country continues to assert itself as a new communications leader in Africa. Google Ghana launched its Google Maps Navigation recently to enable owners of android devices such as smart phones to access comprehensive, accurate and easy-to-go maps with built in local search, voice guided turn-by-turn navigation to all kinds of places.
 Users of Google products in Ghana already had access to the maps app, but the introduction of voice prompts has improved the function, the company said. “What we have done now is to improve the safety of that, because you will not be driving and using your phone at the same time anymore,” Estelle Akofio-Sowah, Google Ghana country manager, said.

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Melissa Meyer

Future Cape Town London-based correspondent

Urbanist-in-training from Cape Town, currently working in London. MSc City Design & Social Science.

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