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The Cities This Week: Edition 35




The final stage of the redevelopment of Kings Cross station was revealed this week. Getty Images

The final stage of the redevelopment of Kings Cross station was revealed this week. Getty Images

BOSTON

Two finalists emerged Tuesday night from a crowded field of contenders seeking to succeed longtime Boston Mayor Thomas Menino. State Representative Martin Walsh, a favorite of organized labor, and City Councilor John Connolly, a former teacher, received the most votes out of 12 candidates in the city’s preliminary election. With 18 percent and 17 percent of the vote, respectively, the two Democrats will face each other again on Nov. 5 to see who gets Menino’s office. Boston elections are nonpartisan and the two top vote-getters in preliminary elections go on to the final contest.

LUSAIL CITY

Dozens of Nepalese migrant labourers have died in Qatar in recent weeks and thousands more are enduring appalling labour abuses, a Guardian investigation has found, raising serious questions about Qatar’s preparations to host the 2022 World Cup. This summer, Nepalese workers died at a rate of almost one a day in Qatar, many of them young men who had sudden heart attacks. The investigation found evidence to suggest that thousands of Nepalese, who make up the single largest group of labourers in Qatar, face exploitation and abuses that amount to modern-day slavery, as defined by the International Labour Organisation, during a building binge paving the way for 2022. According to documents obtained from the Nepalese embassy in Doha, at least 44 workers died between 4 June and 8 August. More than half died of heart attacks, heart failure or workplace accidents.

CAPE TOWN

The City of Cape Town has been awarded the PET Plastics Recycling Company’s (PETCO) ‘Recycling Municipality of the Year’ award in recognition of its ongoing efforts to minimise waste. PETCO aims to minimise the environmental impact of post-consumer Polyethylene Terephthalate plastic (PET). “As one of the larger metropolitan municipalities, Cape Town was nominated for this award for its leading approach to integrated waste management. Our goal is to not only provide basic services, but to minimise the effects of waste on the environment, while augmenting the associated economic activities,” says the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Utility Services, Councillor Ernest Sonnenberg.

OSLO

Featuring a large green chimney that sticks out above the city, ‘urban mountain team’ is the national winner of ‘the nordic built challenge’, which will see their vision realized as the tallest building in Norway. the brief called for the refurbishment and extension of a 50,000 square-meter high-rise office tower, making it a visible and sustainable landmark for the city of oslo. the energy efficient proposal was a collaborative effort between a multidisciplinary team, which included schmidt hammer lassen architects, LOOP architects, COWI (denmark and norway), transsolar energitechnik GmbH and vugge til vugge denmark. the winning design targets a BREEAM outstanding certification and follows cradle to cradle goals in terms of its flexibility, biodiversity and recycling of water, heat and organic waste.

HELSINKI

If you lose your wallet, better hope you’re in Finland. Reader’s Digest wanted to know which world city was the most honest, so they “lost” 192 wallets around the world. In each of the 19 cities, they included a name, cellphone number, family photo, coupons, and business cards in the discarded wallet, as well as $50 in whichever currency the country used. They then left 12 wallets around each city near parks, shopping malls, and on sidewalks, and counted how many were returned. Click here to see the results.

LONDON

The final stage of the £550m redevelopment of London’s King’s Cross station has been completed. King’s Cross Square, a 75,000 sq ft public space, was officially opened by the Secretary of State for Transport and the Mayor of London this morning. The square reveals the original facade of the station for the first time in 150 years. London Mayor Boris Johnson said the new public space would create “a whole new vibrant district”. “The transformation of King’s Cross is not only beautiful but it has also triggered all sorts of regeneration, with new jobs, huge numbers of homes being built and businesses relocating here,” he said.

KIRUNA

At 90 miles above the Arctic Circle, the small outpost of Kiruna, Sweden, may seem like an odd choice for a new, billion-dollar model city. But Sweden’s northernmost town, with a population today of just 18,000, is facing what planners from the Stockholm-based architecture firm White have obliquely called “unprecedented pressure for transformation.” That’s a nice way of saying that the ground beneath Kiruna is collapsing, quickly. The city’s current downtown was built during the mining boom of the post-war era, as the state-owned mining company, Luossavaara-Kiirunavaara AB, brought jobs and investment to the region. But in the past decade, LKAB — now the largest iron mine in the world — has begun to dig deeper, unsettling the ground beneath the current town center.

CITIES AROUND THE WORLD

Every year, artists, designers and citizens in cities around the world transform parking spaces into temporary public parks around September 20th in celebration of Park(ing) Day. The project began in 2005 when Rebar, a San Francisco art and design studio, converted a single metered parking space into a temporary public park in downtown San Francisco. Since 2005, PARK(ing) Day has evolved into a global movement, with organizations and individuals creating new forms of temporary public space in urban contexts around the world.  The mission of PARK(ing) Day is to call attention to the need for more urban open space, to generate critical debate around how public space is created and allocated, and to improve the quality of urban human habitat.

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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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