Archive for December, 2011

December 23, 2011

Kala Ghoda District, Heritage, Modernity, Aesthetics, and Amnesia

In an essay “Architecture and Amnesia in Indian Modernity: Vernacular architecture remembers by forgetting; official architecture forgets by remembering,” Arjun Appadurai urges us to “understand modernity as a project and not simply as a period.” I think this is a good place for us to start when we visit not only Kala Ghoda, but as we take in all of Mumbai. When the Colonial Gothic structures of Kala Ghoda were designed and erected during the mid-twentieth century, they were a part of a project to make Bombay the ultimate modern, colonial city. When the Kala Ghoda statue, among other colonial-era statues, was removed from its original home in the mid-1960s as a patriotic gesture to cleanse the city of its colonial past, the country’s nationalists hoped to envision a new kind of modernity for India, one which glorified the city’s Maratha and Indian heritage in opposition to its colonial heritage.

The transformation of Kala Ghoda into a centre for Mumbai’s arts and heritage community has been described as an “upgrading” of the district. On one level, the revival of the district as an arts and heritage district can be connected to the district’s history as an intellectual node of Mumbai in the 1860s. Conservation of the Colonial Gothic architecture included signs and plaques that depict each buildings historical and architectural value. This “heritage” is being preserved in light of a new kind of architectural modernity making its into the Mumbai landscape.

India, and Mumbai seems to be no execption, architecture is heralded as a site through which India’s cultural greatness has been preserved for centuries, since before the colonial period. In an article, “Visual Anarchy,” printed in The Hindu on Novemeber 6, 2000, claims “CITIES WERE once celebrated because of their buildings. The architect was said to belong to a noble profession. Whole dynasties and historical periods were identified by their architectural style. The Chola period, for instance, is known to us chiefly on account of its splendid art and architecture”” Conservation of the Kala Ghoda district and other Colonial Gothic and Indo-Saracenic architecture is a resistance to the “visual anarchy” created by the post-modern craze. This same article congratulates the architects of the Jehangir Art Gallery in Kala Ghoda for keeping in mind the existing (Colonial Gothic) architecture and working AROUND it rather than AGAINST IT.

Kala Ghoda translates to “Black Horse” in Hindi and the district was cheekily named Kala Ghoda by Mumbaiites when the statue was erected their in 1876. Rather than honor King Edward VIII, the locals refer to the statue in terms of the horse, rather than the colonial ruler. The transformation of Kala Ghoda into a centre for Mumbai’s arts and heritage community has been described as an “upgrading” of the district. Surprisingly, the “upgrading” of the Kala Ghoda district pays homage to the colonial-era architects responsible for its architectural beauty. On one level, the revival of the district as an arts and heritage district can be connected to the district’s history as an intellectual node of Mumbai in the 1860s. On another, it can be read as a tribute to the colonial legacy. Conservation of the Colonial Gothic architecture included signs and plaques that depict each buildings historical and architectural value.In “Anchoring a City Line” The history of the Western Suburban Railway and its headquarters in Bombay” Sharda Dwivedi and Rahul Mehrotra and write “But what Bombay owes to  [F.W. Stevens] is not merely these noble monuments as they stand, but the continuous lesson in art and beauty that their presence along our streets inspires – that insensible education of the public eye to the graceful form and fine proportion and glowing perspective qualities that have an adorning and harmonising influence on every nature above the level of the clod.” What is surprising about F.W. Stevens, and the interest in preserving Colonial Gothic architecture is that it seems to go against the grain of the very nationalist sentiment that removed the Kala Ghoda statue from its home in the 1960s. When the Bombay Muncipal Corporation building was being designed during the second half of the nineteenth century, R.F. Chisholm submitted a plan for a building built in Indo-Saracenic style, but the plan was rejected in favor of F.W. Stevens’ Gothic design (Appadurai 19). It seems like the interest in preserving the city’s colonial architecture is contradictory to the nationalism that has changed the city’s name from Bombay to Mumbai or that the Kala Ghoda district lies in between Mahatma Gandhi Road and Shahid Bhagat Singh Road, two of India’s most famous freedom fighters.

In addition to being Mumbai’s hub for all things artistic, cultural, and intellectual, the Kala Ghoda district is not just for the local Mumbaiiker, but a space through which Mumbai can claim a spot in the transnational art world. In an chapter entitled “Opening Up of the Symbolic Economy of Contemporary Mumbai” Andrew Harris writes, “With its pavement galleries, cultural performances and exhibitions, set in and around a bold ensemble of neo-Gothic colonial architecture, the organizers are eager to place the [Kala Ghoda] arts festival on a global continuum…With this Western orientation, the space of Kala Ghoda is a way for particular social groups in Mumbai to assert the globally competitive ambitions of the city” (Harris 2005 30). In this case, conservation of heritage in Mumbai, especially of colonial architecture is not only an effort to capture and preserve the city’s essence. These architectural preservation projects are involved in a “project towards modernity” that is different (not opposed) to the modernity projects of western-style highrises, skyscrapers, and shopping malls.

Most recently, heritage activists have been working towards the renovation of the Watson Hotel (Esplande Mansion). Designed in Britain and then constructed in Mumbai, the Watson Hotel was once the city’s “poshest hotel.” Once it stopped operating in the 1960s, the rooms were divided up into smaller subunits comprised of homes and offices. (If you’ve ever watched How I Met Your Mother, think of the Arcadian– architectural relic turned dilapidated, tenant-filled hotel). Coincidentally, the famous Esplande Mansion (Watson Hotel) also closed down in the 1960s, around the same time as the removal of the Kala Ghoda statue. At the time of its completion, the Watson Hotel was one of the poshest hotels in Mumbai and even hosted famous late nineteenth century celebrities like Mark Twain. After it closed down, a private owner divided the space into subunits of offices and homes. It has since become a dilapidated relic of the colonial past. In 2005, the Watson Hotel was placed on the Global Watch List of 100 World Endangered Monuments by the World Monuments Fund. In 2010, the Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee approved restoration of the Watson Hotel.

In his essay, Arjun Appadurai looks back to his interaction with Mumbai’s architecture, surprised at his failure to acknowledge the built landscape surrounding him. “My ignoance of my built environment, my casual habitation of the glories of my small world in Bomba, were only a small absence in the larger pool of Bombay’s unknown, unbuilt and unrecoverable architectural possibilities. It is these possibilities which architecture erases, not because of some deliberate indifference to history or memory but because architecture as a practice, in the the end, needs to close many possibilities so that one of them can become fully real and realized” (Appadurai 21). I think it is vital for us to keep this in mind when we visit Mumbai’s monumental sites. Nationalism, colonialism, and even Marathi regionalism are responsible for their own erasures in Mumbai and all over India. The transformation of Kala Ghoda into an arts district, even in its preservation of the city’s architectural heritage, is involved in its own erasures, destructing in the process of construction.


Appadurai Essay:


December 23, 2011

Kala Ghoda, in Photos – Anar Parikh

Kala Ghoda Statue, Jijamata Udyan (Victoria Gardens) Byculla

Esplanade Mansion (Watson Hotel)

Elphinstone College, Kala Ghoda

Kala Ghoda Arts Festival 2011

December 13, 2011

Rats, Pigeons and Squirrels OH MY! Does Urban “wild life” count? – Myan Melendez

Sir David Attenborough -famed for being the voice of god (narrator) in multitudes of PBS/BBC nature documentaries- certainly doesn’t think so. In an interview with the British newspaper The Telegraph Attenborough is quoted as saying,”Worldwide we are estranged from nature. Over half of the world’s population is now urbanized, which means that more than one person in two is to some degree cut off from the natural world, There will be some people who do not see a wild creature from one day to the next — unless it is a rat or a pigeon — and they aren’t wild.” Well, Dear Knight…there are actually quite a few ecologists and biologists that disagree with you. In fact, there are whole reports and research departments devoted to studying the many types of fauna that have adapted to city living. And no this doesn’t just include the usual suspects of urban wildlife (rats, roaches, pigeons, squirrels) which are all scavenger species and thus very well suited to urban environments where there’s plenty to scavenge. There are also many unexpected species of creature who dwell and thrive in urban communities. Animals like possums, raccoons,coyotes, tortoises, frogs, birds of prey like peregrine falcons and even deer can be found within New York City’s borders. And in places like Berlin even larger vertebrates like wild boar have adjusted to new urban digs. In the noted science journal Nature, an article highlights the new learned behavior amongst urban tits of singing their mating calls at a higher pitch than their rural counterparts so as to be heard above the raucous cacophony of the cities in which they dwell. People like Attenborough help to perpetuate the misinformed idea that nature and cities are mutually exclusive concepts. I’m glad that there are other people who recognize that there’s more to it than that.

December 13, 2011

Of Straphangers and Sexuality: Abroad and At Home- Myan Melendez

Sexual Harassment has always been a huge problem for women. It is impossible to prevent sexual harassment overall but, some countries have stepped forward to prevent it in at least one arena: public mass transportation. India, Japan and several other Asian countries have implemented women only trains to provide protection for traveling women from would be male gropers and harassers. In Japan groping on transit has evidently been a problem since almost the initial introduction of railways to the country in 1872. Just 40 years later in 1912 Japan’s first women only rail car was introduced only to be discontinued in 1972. By the 21st century the groping problem has become so severe in cities like Tokyo that there are even cell phone apps marketed towards Japanese women who are too shy or ashamed to speak out against gropers on their own. The app displays warning messages on the victim’s cell phone screen, phrases like: ” ‘Groping is a crime,” “Excuse me, did you just grope me?” and “Shall we head to the police?” are available to the user after pressing an “Anger” icon, and are accompanied by a warning chime.” Another weird way in which Japanese companies are targeting the unlikely consumer base of regularly harassed female commuters are the so called “ShotGuard Inner Shorts” which are made out of Infrared blocking fabric to prevent perverts with modified night vision cameras from successfully “up-skirting” them.

An actual UpSkirting Prevention Poster from Japan

The female only trains do make an exception for males that are: small children, elderly or disabled. In a turn table moment men who have been wrongly accused of sexual harassment/tempted beyond their level of resistance to grope a woman on public transportation have requested all male trains also run “in the spirit of gender equality.”

In New York City which has one of the largest subway systems in the world, sexual harassment is also a huge problem. Most of the women I know personally who live in New York have had at least one sketchy run in on the subway. Unfortunately, I have had multiple encounters with some of New York’s most indecent scoundrels if you will (though I have choicer words for them). The MTA came up with this little passive gem to prevent sexual harassment on the subway:

I honestly am a bit divided on the issue…I think that while keeping women safe and comfortable is an important and noble aim it also encourages a segregation of gender that I think can lead to even more compromising situations. I also fully recognize that for every super creepy degenerate there is a perfectly nice and (mostly) well adjusted male citizen. We need to make more of a point of spreading the message that it’s not just okay to be a victim but, that it is extremely wrong to be the perpetrator of these offenses.

December 12, 2011

Female Flaneur Unleashed! (we were turtles and now? tigers)- Myan Melendez

Flaneurs had a few things right. Namely: Viewing the city in it’s entirety as their own sort of living theater, not allowing the stress of urban living stress them beyond the point of enjoying all the things that make urban living worthwhile and walking turtles on leashes.  Okay,so maybe the last one was a bit overblown but, it definitely made their stance on urban living and exploring hard to ignore. I feel like I and some of my friends embody the spirit of the 19th century flaneurs without the pretense. I am a Native New Yorker. As young kids my mom instilled a love of the city in me and my sisters, she would take us on rambling trips all over the four boroughs (she didn’t care much for Staten Island so the closest we got to exploring the 5th borough was riding the Ferry back and forth). We WALKED everywhere. When she was a kid my mom’s dad had preached the gospel of pedestrianism citing a long list of it’s health and social benefits. He would often tell my mom and her four siblings that New York City was made to be walked…how else could you explain all the glories of the street level? Oh the people you’d meet! The stories you’d have to tell! The amazing little hidden restaurants, stores, and oddities you’d find! But, despite my early indoctrination to the flaneur faith I lost my way in my early teens. I started becoming one of those city kids who grumbles about tourists and being bored while living in one of the biggest and coolest cities in the world. By the time I was a sophomore in high school however, I was quickly rediscovering the amazingness of NYC and reclaiming the city as my own. In a way I began to reform myself as an active native tourist. I started researching free events and festivals and going out of my way to utilize all those coupons usually geared towards tourists. I also took to walking the streets…where ever. In the summer I’d pick a subway line, randomly get off at a stop and just spend a few hours meandering around the neighborhood it was in. The subway itself is a wonderful little microcosm of the larger city…it’s basically an underground amphitheater: street performers station themselves on platforms and roam through moving trains singing, dancing and doing magic, peddlers sell their various wares, and the people watching is premium! It’s also a sign of the times that I can do all this as a young female. There are of course your standard hazards of harassment but, for the most part those are circumventable and well worth the fight to enjoy my urban paradise (and no it’s no eden…no perfect virginal garden…but, it is a fascinating place anyhow)

December 12, 2011

Bard Spaces: Winners and Rejects- Myan Melendez

When we were told to go on a hunt for underused/well used bard spaces an abundance of examples of both sprang to mind…like BAM. Bard has this weird deal where it seems like whomever “planned” student spaces/seating areas at Bard just pressed a button and let the pieces fall where they would. Because walking around Bard is like walking around a strange outdoor version of Ikea…There are tables, there are chairs, there are benches, walls, walls that function as benches, chairs that function as beds, beds that are used as couches, etc. etc. During Finals week you find a lot of students re-appropriating random pieces of furniture/campus real estate for napping areas. I took this picture last week on Wednesday in the RKC:

But, back to the juxtaposition between underused and well used bard spaces. It’s actually super interesting (and by interesting I mean sorta confusing) to consider what makes one space appealing to users and another space unappealing. On the hill slope between Manor and New Robbins there sits a little rickety memorial wooden gazebo right next to a really beautiful black marble bench with an integrated chess board also a memorial to a late bard student. Although the gazebo is pretty devoid of human presence at odd hours of the day usually by the early evening it’s crammed with pairs or groups of kids taking in the scene and/or smoking. Yet, I have never once seen anyone utilize the pristine marble bench in any manner. Perhaps its the fact that the marble bench lacks the protective element that the covered gazebo has. Also in the spring when the days begin to get long and hot so does the black marble which probably does not make for a comfortable sit down. I also think the gazebo promotes conversation by having two forward facing benches inside of it partially enclosed walls. So I guess those differences in comfort, convenience and accommodation alone can account for the disuse of the marble chess bench and the use of the little gazebo.

Waiiiit…there is one piece of ungainly furniture that I’ve seen utilized a lot despite it’s lack of convenience. The white wooden enclosed circle bench on the lawn of the Hessel Museum forces it’s users to clamber over it’s sides to gain entry into it’s circular seating area yet, I often see people lounging within it in the company of friends. But,maybe it’s the bench’s unique/artistic element that makes people willing to accept the challenge of utilizing it.

December 12, 2011

Temporary/Re-appropriated Spaces: A Very Bronx Water Park- Myan Melendez

Necessity is the mother of invention. It’s a pretty popular idiom and also super true. Over the summer I was flipping through facebook and came across this picture which a friend of mine (who I met spontaneously on the 6 train btw! wooo yeah strangers and spontaneous connections in the urban context! Right on Jane Jacobs!) took in the South Bronx on one of those super duper hot summer in the asphalt jungle death to your sweat glands kind of days.

Photo Credit to J. Skye Cabrera

I really love this photo because it shows how innovative and imaginative people get when it comes to adapting their resources and environments according to their needs and desires. In a lot of areas like these in the Bronx and citywide, lack of immediate access to parks with sprinklers and pools motivate people to take to the streets and crank open fire hydrants, releasing a powerful and refreshing gush of cool city water. Although it is technically illegal to open fire hydrants in NYC there is a legal alternative to enjoy the city’s time tested summer tradition. Firehouses provide spray caps to residents and will even travel to any one of the city’s 109,000 hydrants to open and install the caps for you! The caps reduce the excessive amount of water wasted when hydrants are opened illegally.”While it may be tempting to cool yourself off by opening a fire hydrant, open hydrants can lower local water pressure, hinder the efforts of firefighters, and endanger the lives of children who may be propelled into traffic by the force of the water. An open hydrant wastes 1,000 gallons of water per minute, overtaxes the sewer system and causes flooding of City streets.” (

I also found this really great slide show of photos showing people enjoying hydrants in the city on the Huffington Post.

December 12, 2011

Shrinking Cities: Eastern Germany: “The Future is Less.” -Myan Melendez

On November 9th, 1989 the Berlin Wall, which along with the Inner German Border had effectively divided Eastern and Western Germany for 28 years, was torn down. With the opening of the wall came the mass migration of over 1 million Germans from Eastern German cities to the West. Many Eastern towns and cities watched their neighborhoods and commercial centers decline as their populations plummeted.In 2003 the East German state of Saxony-Anhalt proposed a sort of contest branded as the International Building Exhibition (IBA) in which the state offered to sponsor architects and designers who could come up with innovative plans to deal with shrinking cities in a productive and sustainable manner. Not only will these proposals be displayed within the exhibition but, they will also be directly implemented in the communities most effected by urban shrinkage. Two of the most surprising major urban revitalization projects being enacted are: “city islands” and giant contemporary art pieces replacing derelict buildings. The concept of “city islands” is explained as follows: “Buildings will be cut out and in the empty spaces we will insert countryside.” This concept was initially conceived by a local resident when IBA polled the community for suggestions and input on prospective projects. The resident of the consolidated city of Dessau-Rosslau recommended extending the beauty of one of Dessau’s UNESCO world heritage sites -The Garden Kingdom of Dessau-Werlitz-to the whole of the city. In another shrinking city within Saxony-Anhalt contemporary artists are helping to ameliorate the effects of urban shrinkage by erecting giant, house size art pieces within the city center that is skirted by a major roadway. The art pieces create the affect of “a kind of drive-through art gallery — an outdoor exhibition rather than urban wasteland.” Contrary to most popular notions of urban re-development which stress the importance of constructing new buildings and infrastructure to encourage new investment, IBA’s urban renewal policy is one of downsizing and reuse.,1518,688152-2,00.html

read more »

December 6, 2011

Rooftop Garden, New Projects! Jose Mendez

There have been many projects from environmental activist about the isolation of the NYC to nature. One of these projects is called “Manhattan Rooftop Garden Project,” that emphasizes its ideals by encouraging new Yorkers to be engaged on the project. The environmental project creator made a blog website where she discusses the different techniques of how to make a garden on top of the roofs. The tone of her writings is very positive towards the idea, in order to convince the residents of the “concrete jungle.” This disparity idea it is mentioned and discussed by many political ecologist analyst. They argument is based on how the city are becoming more un-natural   and impure because of the divergence between the main city and nature. In the video bellow, the creator of the blog mentions how there are different rooftop garden. There is one of them that cover the entire roof surface, and the purpose of this is to stimulate sustainability. When it rains all the water get absorbed and reuse for much other purpose. In the case o the creator of the project, she gardens on containers. In fact, she mentions that “gardening is a health benefit, you are outside, active and Touch with nature.” She implies that just the fact that people might be active with nature will make a better interaction with nature and not only use it as commodity.

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December 5, 2011

Aleppo and monumentality! Jose

The institutionalization process applied over the monuments of the city caused intentional restorations of the Citadel and the city itself. Institutionalization is defined to be the application of dominant ideas into a physical structure.  In the case, of the Citadel the Muslins adopted this structure and redefined its symbolism. The symbolism that the Citadel highlighted was power since it was the main fortified structure located at the center of the city.  The citadel was perceived as a monument because of its relationship with the city. Michael Herzfeld on his article “Spatial Cleansing” agrees with the personification of the Citadel when he says, “the physicality of the built environment has a very direct relationship to the ideologies that particularly endorse it. “ In other words, the physical aspects of the structures have an interconnection with the symbolism in which it is deposit in it.  According to Yasser Tabbaa the Citadel had a connection between its aesthetic and its symbolism. He argues, “the Citadel of Aleppo, like other urban citadels was not just a military garrison but also the royal palace and the center of government and administration.” In other words, the Citadel was not only perceived as the main power and patriotism symbol but also as an administrative location. In fact, the symbolism of power was obtained due to the fortification and the “royal architecture” that the city was adopting through the institutionalization process.

December 5, 2011

Urban Environments: City Parks, Elyse Foladare

Going along with everyone’s discussion of the Highline and urban parks, I wanted to offer some arial view pictures of influential parks that the website  The Infrastructurist calls “The World’s 10 Greatest Large Urban Parks.” It is interesting how some of the parks fit perfectly on the grid ignoring the environment around the city while others shape their boundaries around the already existent natural boundaries. Look for yourself!


Golden Gate Park, San Fansisco

Stanley Park, Vancouver

Luxembourg Gardens, Paris


December 5, 2011

Reading Viaduct – Grace Diliberto

Talking about New York City’s High Line in class the other day reminded me of a similar space in Philadelphia: the Reading Viaduct. The Reading Viaduct is an abandoned elevated train track that was built in the 1890s and runs 10 blocks through the city. The viaduct is, more or less, a bridge that connects a number of diverse neighborhoods, many of which are seeing rapid development.

The Reading Viaduct Project is a group that is seeking to preserve the viaduct as a public and open green space by transforming it into a public park. Creating this elevated park, in conjunction with the continued redevelopment of the surrounding neighborhoods, could serve to further rejuvenate the heart of Philadelphia. This installment could also potentially lead to further economic development and tax revenue for the city. As opposed to demolishing the viaduct, a feat that could cost the city up to $51.2 million, restoring the space as a public park would cost an estimated $5.1, 10 times less. Overall, this project would hold the benefits of bringing together communities that are both economically and culturally diverse, generate economic development, and potentially spurring further redevelopment of this portion of North Philadelphia.

Reading Viaduct Project website:



December 5, 2011

Public Space Discourse and the Making of Vacancies-Felix

My presentation will be about the way we think about public space, and how a dominant discourse has influenced our urban planning tactics, personal interactional decisions, and our ideas about the successes and failures of public spaces. Perhaps we can also see a relationship between what spaces we like aesthetically and what spaces we think “work.”

First, I will talk about Jane Jacobs and her introduction of a new set of criteria for successful public space that would become dominant to this day. In what ways can we say that Jacobs is accurate in describing spaces we like to be in? Is it enough that Jacobs resonates with us? Who might a Jacobsian public space preclude?

Then I think I’m going to talk briefly about privatization of public spaces, and how even the most radical urban theorists tend to get hung up on the idea that this is somehow destroying our good ol’ public spaces. How important is this claim? How does it contribute to a public space discourse? Where does the anti-privatization argument locate injustice and change?

Finally, I will talk about our current idea of the public, and maybe ask some questions about how we might theorize about a public that is less exclusionary.

The first picture is the “which way would YOU walk?” experiment from earlier in the semester.

These are pictures of a park/plaza in my neighborhood in brooklyn that is considered dysfunctional for a number of reasons.

December 5, 2011

Presentation Post-Katy Schneider

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I’m sorry this is late.  I was in the City until about 20 minutes ago.  Here are my three points.  I have to go to CVS to pick up the pictures before I can post them.  (In the meantime, I’ll post some placeholder pictures.)

I wrote my project on the bizarre juxtaposition of very the very visual wealth versus the very visual poverty that exists in New Haven, Connecticut.  A major contributing factor of this issue is Yale University, the prestigious ivy league institution with one of the worlds largest endowments.

In the 1800’s Yale was adamant about creating an environment based almost entirely upon self-enclusion for Yale’s wealthy, thoughtful students.  Yale continuously built its buildings with this idea in mind: laying down the foundation for a university separate rather than twined with the city it lays directly in the middle of.

This mindset continued well into the 20th century.  Yale continued to build with only itself in mind.  Its library sat facing inwards rather than towards the street, and it built into streets without any consideration for their natural layout.  For a time, Yale abolished its “New Haven Scholarships,” a scholarship that helped financially unstable New Haven natives attend Yale.

Now, Yale is trying to repair its relationship with the city.  It has created amazing programs built to repair some of the damage and hostility that exists between the city and the college.

December 4, 2011

Kathy garzon, Victimization and Criminalization of the Hills


Key points

A. Favelas

  • What are Favelas? History!
  • What is the population
  • Where are they located in Rio?

B. Crime

  • Who are the actors?
  • How does drug play into this?
  • What is the role of the police?

C. 2014-2016

  • What is the Pacification plan?
  • What is this two dates going to benefit the favelas?



The “hills” is a world that has been neglected and forgotten throughout Brazils history. The resident’s most working-class humble people, are left in isolation by its own government, and thus they survive with the informal sector to get the basic services of electricity and water, and now a day also TV cable.




Favelas are rich in culture and community unity. Drug traffickers and their gangs have gained power in this community due to the alienation and lack of social-mobility of the country, as many youngsters have little education, poor infrastructure, and lack of job opportunity. We have to separated the worlds of the drug traffickers/gangs to the world of the Morros in the favelas. Criminalizing the poor class means more neglect and more barriers for them, now how is this stereotype going bring peace to the whole city?




With deadlines from two major dates in Brazil one been 2014, the other 2016. the government has been put in a spot to make ultimatums, and trying to get into the favelas, recognized their needs and help develop this population, that has increased in a larger rate than the rest of Brazil.




December 4, 2011

Vertical Farming- Violeta Borilova

Taking urban farming to the next level

The website ecomagination offers articles, statistics, and open-to-public discussions about urban environmental solutions. There was an article on vertical farming written by Betsy Mikel who presented the values of having these types of farms in cities. She argues that it will beneficiary for the people because the farm will aport food grown locally, (no need to transport food across the country) it will be efficient in terms of maintaining heat in the building, and will also be educative to the people who live in cities and who wonder where their food is coming from.

I think the idea of building vertical farms is quite interesting. In her post she mentioned that by 2050, 70% of the population will be living in urban areas (according to United Nations Population Division). If more people move to the city, food that is being produced outside of the city, will have to be transported. This does not look efficient, which is why the idea of vertical farms in the city looks appealing. Also, linked to the same idea, greenroofs, and farms on building tops, are also options to not only produce locally but also a way of reducing bills as far as heating and air-conditioning  go.

These ideas are not being developed so far because of debates on ‘who will be paying’. The costs for vertical farming range from $3 to $5 million. I don’t think money should limit  ideas such as this one which in the future will be extremely beneficiary for the people.

Cities such as Incheon, South Korea; Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates; and Dongtan, China seem the most likely candidates to invest in vertical farming, as noted by Discovery magazine. Some of the designs being planned are:

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Dickson Despommier came up with the idea of vertical farming and explains his idea in a TED talk attached below:

December 4, 2011

Presentation: Lawns&Suburbs- Lia Soorenian

The Physical Affects Of Lawns:

  • Pesticide use leads to unclean water
  • Need for heavy amounts of irrigation of clean water
  • Carbon sink and pollution from lawn mowers

Cultural Affects:

  • Suburbs
  • Red lining
  • American Dream


  • Wheat micro-farms
  • Community gardens
  • Porches VS lawns
Interestingly enough, the west coast has far more lawns than does the east coast. The reason for this is because of how much more suburbs there are on in cities such as Los Angeles, San Fransisco, and San Diego. According to David Owen’s Green Metropolis, cities are much more sustainable when they happen to be more densely populated. Los Angeles happens to be a large county without any clear, defiant borders to distinguish cities from suburbs. Therefore, almost every city is a suburb of another suburb. Unfortunately, this becomes extremely wasteful as people are forced to drive everywhere, live in larger residential areas, and use less resources. Owen compares New York City to the rest of the states in America and proves that even though New York is extremely congested, the city and its people have a far smaller carbon footprint than do the residents of other places in the nation.

Interestingly enough, the west coast has far more lawns than does the east coast. The reason for this is because of how much more suburbs there are on in cities such as Los Angeles, San Fransisco, and San Diego. According to David Owen’s Green Metropolis, cities are much more sustainable when they happen to be more densely populated. Los Angeles happens to be a large county without any clear, defiant borders to distinguish cities from suburbs. Therefore, almost every city is a suburb of another suburb. Unfortunately, this becomes extremely wasteful as people are forced to drive everywhere, live in larger residential areas, and use less resources. Owen compares New York City to the rest of the states in America and proves that even though New York is extremely congested, the city and its people have a far smaller carbon footprint than do the residents of other places in the nation.

The most important part of John’s argument would be his criticism on the status quo. Because the majority of the society believes that lawns are part of what home ownerships is about, they do not bother to change their mentality. Unfortunately, the proposal to remove all lawns would be seen as “ordinary” and therefore people would not be open to such a “huge” change. As mentioned earlier, lawns have wormed their way into being part of the consumer-like American Dream and the American culture.

The use of pesticides, herbicides, and chemical fertilizers for maintaining lawns has proven to be extremely harmful for our living environment. Pesticides are composed of toxic chemicals which seep into bodies of water such as rivers and lakes through runoff. This results in hypoxia as the nitrogen levels of the water increases and becomes excess. The next step creates eutrophication and causes an imbalances of nitrates and nitrites which limit the amount of dissolved oxygen in lakes. The surface of the lake is then completely covered with a layer of algae which prevents sunlight to hit the benthic, or the bottom, of the lake. Consequently, the living organisms such as the fish, end up dying because of the lack of oxygen and sunlight. This process is most common in farms that are near bodies of water. Also, the toxic chemicals seep into our groundwater which can potentially be extremely unhealthy. As a result, our drinking water ends up becoming dirty. In a study done at the Chesapeake Bay, both urban and agricultural use of land proved to be the cause of an increase of nitrogen levels in the Bay. Because of the runoff of water from the drainage, the effluent ends up in our natural habitat and as seen in the case of Chesapeake Bay, causes eutrophication in lakes. The contribution of effluent from urban land use can be reversed and easily eliminated by the removal of lawns.

The most important part of John’s argument would be his criticism on the status quo. Because the majority of the society believes that lawns are part of what home ownerships is about, they do not bother to change their mentality. Unfortunately, the proposal to remove all lawns would be seen as “ordinary” and therefore people would not be open to such a “huge” change. As mentioned earlier, lawns have wormed their way into being part of the consumer-like American Dream and the American culture.
December 4, 2011

Presentation: The “Next” Neighborhood of NYC – Rosemary Ferreira

Key Points:

  • What is gentrification? What is it’s origin? Who is effected by it?
  • The neighborhood of Bushwick: Who currently lives here? What is its history?
  • Put simply, is gentrification good or bad? How have long term residents reacted to gentrification?

One of the many New York Times articles on Bushwick’s artistic scene and “hotness” (note the real estate classifieds included in the article. Also who is this article written for? Who is the you in “What you’ll find, What you’ll pay” etc.):

Make the Road NY- a non-profit organizing low income long term residents against increases in rent and the construction of condominiums:

Websites on Bushwick’s real estate:

The above image was photoshopped (just the bottom half) but it is an actual real estate campaign advertising for $330,000 to $630,000 condos which is unaffordable to current residents, who by the way do not look like the individuals shown in the poster.

Lance Freeman author of There Goes the ‘Hood: Views of Gentrification from the Ground Up, who unlike many other urban scholars studying gentrification actually interviews long term residents in gentrifying neighborhoods such as Harlem, concludes in his research that generally residents are actually optimistic about the greater amenities that gentrification brings to the neighborhood but are also angry at the fact that these greater amenities are only brought to their neighborhoods once whites begin to move in.

“Though appreciative of neighborhood improvements associated with gentrification, many see this as evidence that such amenities and services are only provided when whites move into their neighborhoods.”

December 4, 2011

Project Presentation: Women in Public Space – Ginny Hanusik

The Gender Inclusive Cities Program (GICP) was started in 2009 under a UN Trust fund in order to enhance the lives of women in cities around the world.

What are some of the problems women face in urban life?

  • Lack of substantive citizenship
  • Gender-based violence and harassment
  • Who has the right to the city?
  • Gender as a disability

The three main focuses of the program were:

(1) To identify and map the “geography” of public gender exclusion and its interaction with other marginalized identities such as race, religion, and economic status

(2) To identify the activities, tools and public policies that act as enablers of or barriers to greater gender inclusion and equality

(3) To identify and pilot good practices related to gender inclusion


Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Delhi, India

Petrozavodsk, Russia

Rosario, Argentina

Research was conducted and information obtained in each city through:

  • Focus Group Discussions (FGDs)
  • Street Surveys
  • Women’s Safety Audits (WSAs)
  • a review of the city’s policies, legislation, and initiatives

Factors that contribute to a perceived lack of safety:

  • Usage of space
  • Physical characteristics
  • Inadequate policing
  • Lack of a sense of community of informal surveillance

With all of this information about what makes cities unsafe for women, what can be done to make them more safe?

December 4, 2011

Jin Jun – CITY, Inc. Presentation

“As a private person, I have a passion for landscapes, and I have never seen one improved by a billboard”

— David Ogilvy, in Confessions of an Advertising Man, 1963

— Visuals:

(1) Model of Songdo IBD

(2) Rendering of Songdo IBD

(3) Screen Capture of Songdo IBD Development Website

(4) Page excerpt from the Songdo IBD Master Plan created by Gale International

(5) A Traditional Korean Dancer at Songdo IBD Opening Event

— Key Points:

<< CITY, Inc.: “Brand” New City, Between Heritage and Modernism >>

1) Concept of City Branding

Post-Industrial Industrialism points to the production of cities.  Just as it was/is in manufactured goods, brand-power becomes an important aspect of the city’s image.  From architectural structures built to attract and impress to the commodification of the city’s identity, the “future” cities are being crafted to be marketed, branded, and consumed.

2) Crafting the City: Songdo IBD

“Among the growing number of these “in-a-box” cities, one in particular has gained the media glory, deemed as the canonic model of the future city: Songdo International Business District in South Korea” (from my paper). Songdo International Business District is a city built on Korean land, by an American corporation, for the international audience.

[A] City as a factory, city as a product: Made-from-scratch city.

[B] Marketing Approaches

  • Main Concept: Aerotropolis
  • Environmental: “Sustainable City”
  • Economic: “Global Business Hub”
  • Equity: “A Master Plan Inspired by the World”

3) Discourse: What is lost and left behind?

[A] Between Heritage and Modernism

  • Does this city of the future neglect cultural heritage?
  • The question of value: what “sells” v. what is meaningful

[B] Staged Authenticity

  • City to be seen v. city to be experienced

[C] False Name of Sustainability

  • Sustainably-made city v. city of sustainable practice

“Sustainability as we speak of today is often a selfish mask that works to save our own asses from the “Day After Tomorrow” and neglects the immediacy of our cities’ internal “Crash.”” — My paper

  • Social sustainability

“The utopian ideals seen in Songdo International Business District, and other in-a-box cities alike, may point to the start of the dystopian future in the familiar cities around us.  The true “Day After Tomorrow” we should fear is not that of snow-covered metropolis, or urban volcanic eruptions, but a lost sense of cultural identity and heritage in the modern city concerned only with the brand-value attached to the repeating barcodes of glass skyscrapers.” — My paper

4) Further thought on ‘Branding’ as it relates to current issues

In thinking about the recent activities of Occupy Wall Street and/or the Atenistas Group (discussed during one of the EUS Colloquim lectures) within the spatial setting of a city, consider the following quotes:

“Branding is on the agenda of policy centers, transnational agencies, and think tanks, alternatively investigated as a strategy for international diplomacy, a matter of public policy and a source of institutional funding.”

— M. Aroncyzk and D. Powers (3)

“the role of advertising changed from delivering product news bulletins to building an image around a particular brand-name version of a product.”

— Naomi Klein, in No Logo, 2000 (32)

“in a striking reversal of No Logo’s Lessons, many anticorporate activists and their causes themselves became “brands,” taking the rationalized logic of brand management to the heart of their organization.”

— Melissa Aroncyzk and Devon Powers, in Blowing Up the Brand (2)