Archive for ‘Streets’

April 23, 2012

Interacting with fountains – Anna

When I went to Boston, just before coming to Bard, last summer, my favorite moment in the couple of days I was in the city was when I saw the Rose Kennedy Greenway fountain. Seeing all these children playing with the water, and constantly being exited, scared, running around etc was absolutely delightful. But it was also a real revelation to me: Not only were children running around ON the fountain, but it was actually designed purposefully FOR people to interact with the fountain. For me, this was a totally foreign concept: All of the fountains I had seen so far, had always been beautiful sculptures, meant to be admired from afar,  sculptures. If one had any contact with them, it was to drink from them (In Rome, for example, a city  filled with small fountains, they have filled a historical role as the main source of drinkable water to the population as a whole, which would not otherwise necessarily have access to it), and tolerated was leaning against them, but even dipping one’s toe is usually prohibited. And here I was with people IN the fountain.

For me this is particularly exhilarating because I come from a culture which uncomfortable with the very notion of interacting with nature in the Urban landscape: Parks are strictly fenced, even when with low, small barriers, one knows that he-she is not to go on the grass(one of the reasons being the so-called delicacy of it. Most of the time, a lawn will carry the sign “Au repos”- “resting”). For this reason we have benches and ironl chairs, in the Tuileries or Luxembourg, or Palais Royale gardens for example. There will be this flamboyant fresh grass in front of you, but you have to stick to the iron chairs.

This idea of not interacting with the water is something I have often thought about when seeing the I.M Pei fountains outside of the Louvre: Their general shape is that of triangles, but the lanes separating them are so narrow, that sometimes it feels(especially when it is really hot, and the air makes things a little blurry) like people are in the water! Most of the time though, unfortunately, it is only an illusion.

The idea of having people in the water, actually, has been brought to France! I went to a conference  two years ago, given by the highly influential landscape designer Michel Corajoud, who directed the re-habilitation of the Garonne  banks in the city of Bordeaux. The part of the project he talked about was one that he lead in collaboration with the fountain designer Jean-Max Llorca. On the Place de la Bourse(name of teh square), every 15 minutes the stone is covered by 2 centimeters of water, which then reflect the surrounding architecture. After that, the water drains through small holes, while new water is sprayed in the air, creating a mist. The whole is controlled by computer systems, and the water is stored in an under-ground system. The rediscovery of water, and of the architecture, through the use of the water, is fantastic. But, as a video on youtube said, what really is amazing is the sense of magic, of fun, and most of all, of liberty.

March 26, 2012

Street Vendor Project twitter feed!/VendorPower/status/183602647830507520/photo/1
“Thanks to students from #Bard for volunteering with us this morning! #vendorpower!”

March 12, 2012

Portrait of a wonderful yard-sale in the Parisian area – Anna

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Pulling onto last class’s topic of street vending, I would like to talk about one experience of street vending in the Parisian region. In France there is a very strong culture of tag-sales, in which people sell old cloths, furniture, toys and jewelry…Each neighborhood usually has, in Paris-often during the spring time, when the sun is up and it is not as likely to rain- at least one week-end where people have the opportunity to sell their belongings. Here, I would like to give an account of my favorite off all.

Montreuil is a suburb situated right against Paris, on the lower east side of the city. It is said to be one of the poorest and most dangerous areas in and around Paris. Its population is of a great diversity and is comprised of many newly arrived immigrants, mostly of African origins, from the Countries of the Maghreb and of Western Africa, which have a very diverse cultural and religious backgrounds. It is also an area of high level of drug dealing, and one does not really walk around in most of Montreuil at night. Some areas feel very sketchy and many buildings are insalubrious and being squatted, others have become high places of culture. There are no galleries or museums, but many artists reside in Montreuil and have open studios. Sometimes these artists and architects have even designed their habitation and it is frequent to see small artistic installations here and there. The municipality is has for a long time been communist. There are many little bistros and cafes where locals often naturally put-up gigs; improvised parks frequently spring up everywhere in vacant spaces, and the cultural life is palpable.

In June, the city organizes a “vide-grenier”, literally an “emptying of the attic”, or small flee-market. On this occasion, the residents are invited to put-up a small stand, or cloth on the ground, in front of their residence. On this occasion, people sell whatever they don’t need anymore, much like people in the states put-up a yard-sale, only here, everybody does it at a fixed date and at one place. They are stands held by whole families, others comprised of bands of old coupes, and others of little children selling their toys. Usually, boys stay together and sell their video-games and baby-toys, while little girls sell their “girl-toys”, like make-up, dolls, cloths…They are also often adolescent groups selling all types of things from their house given by their parents, happy to see them “working”(in France, working under the age of 18 is prohibited). What is incredible is if you think of very small children who are left alone in the street. This seems completely natural when you are there, and you don’t think twice when you have to find the change yourself in their little box. But this is, in the eye of the media, the most dangerous area in and around Paris. This is made possible by the incredible strong sense of community one can sense during this little festival. Everybody talks to everyone, stands are held amongst neighbors, everyone “tutoies” everyone (as opposed to the “vous” which one usually has to employ)…They are also little stands in which one can buy, for nearly nothing, traditional drinks and snacks from whatever the country the neighbor who is selling it is from. One can always get very strong ginger juice called Gnamakoudji, or some “bissap”(a hibiscus flower drink) both of  which are very refreshing on these hot days of June. Other surrounding activities include concerts, often held by young teen-age bands. There is also a long street which is traditionally covered by a long quilt, for which people take off their shoes. Many young children hang-out there, and often only a couple of parents supervise the group. The rest of the street is usually covered by chalk drawings. On the same street is a table on which one can find free things and a couple of tables for the representation of local youth associations, which are often surrounded by large groups of kids and adolescents.

It is absolutely wonderful to see how easily people interact, invite you to try-out cloths in their home or studios, how easily one can bargain and get cheap things. For what this market really is about is not money or shopping at the lowest price. It’s about meeting your neighbors and getting the whole community together on the streets. Although one may at first stance think of a flee market in Montreuil as being dangerous, I see nothing of violence manifested here, nor do I see any trace of tension between the different ethnic groups. Rather, I see an organic, fluid, friendly environment where people feel safe, at home, where children can run around alone, where I am invited in people’s house spontaneously (a very un-French thing to do) and where the streets are, in a “visually chaotic” manner, real propellers and witness of harmony.

March 11, 2012

Two ideas for a sidewalk – Gowri

I found this video below on sidewalks. The guy in the video talks about what is a better sidewalk design.  He claims that placing trees between the traffic and the sidewalk, will increase feeling of safety amongst people and produce happy pedestrians. I found this interesting , since we had just discussed  how the curb produces a feeling of segregation of the cars, giving cars more importance and so on. We had also briefly looked at the Woonerf images, showing how a sidewalk without  a curb will encourage street side cafes, vendors and reduce the superiority of cars, often even slowing them down. However, this video claims that not only should we have a curb but have trees after the curb, which further separates the pedestrian from the traffic. Would this actually benefit or be detrimental in terms of encouraging usage of sidewalks? I feel that in terms of having vendors and people use the sidewalks more than just  a way of transportation , the Woonerf system is better. Think about how narrow sidewalks are already, if a row of trees were added, where would a street vendor set up shop? However , maybe the method demonstrated in this video might work for certain streets or specific contexts, for e.g if there is a street where the curb doesn’t exist but there isn’t enough activity to slow down traffic, then maybe setting up a sidewalk such as this one will help people feel safer from the speeding cars? What do you guys feel about this?

February 26, 2012

Inhabitants, shapers of their city- Anna

Much of the thinking and talking that has been going on in class, through the readings, discussions in class or on the blog and with Janette, have been centered around the idea of the public space as being a place of union the city or town’s inhabitants, and on the sense of belonging of the people to their town or city. While colonial cities play on the notion of power in order to create social division and hierarchy, we have seen that on the contrary in a city of democracy those things are to be avoided. While with the Panopticon and the watch towers in NYC have been proven source of authority and fear, in the Fall kill Creek project we want to create a way of making people secure but also comfortable.
One of the major points that we can take from all these discussions and ideas is the central idea, to my sense at least, of dialogue with the inhabitants of Poughkeepsie. I think that on the one hand we should be able to position ourselves as “experts” in the field of urbanism and rehabilitation of spaces, and in this case of creeks and other urban water sources, in order to be able to give realistic and responsible propositions, create an environment that will best suit our goals, while creating a sustainable solution that will thrive in the long-term(i.e. the question of flooding and pollution). But on the other hand we should, as Antonia and Marina have pointed out, create a true discussion with the inhabitants of Poughkeepsie to hear what they envision.
Here are a few of the projects that I have been thinking of ever since the blog-post “Public art and the shared experience of beauty” written by Jack and then our conversations on the politics of building over the past weeks. I think that if we can discover people’s thoughts and dreams we could create something that springs from the wishes of Poughkeepsie residents.
On the little island of Burano, each house is painted by its owner, with the color of his choice, traditionally with the paint remaining from the boat’s finish.

This idea has been furthered by the Mayor of Tirana, Albania (Europe), Edi Rama, in a collaboration with his best friend and artist Anri Sala, who, as part of a large project of re-habilitation of the city, invited the owners of the buildings to choose as a community the color of their building. This project brings people together and gets them involved directly in the construction of their city. It is incredible to see how much faith Rama and Sala have in the power of color to create hope for a better city!
On the same note, the very well acclaimed WoZoCo project in Amsterdam by the MVRDV architecture studio, found a creative solution to maximize the space they were given, by creating large balcony-spaces, and, here again create “customized” spaces, that create a sense of individuality to the different units and apartment.

Last but not least, and maybe the most appropriate of projects vis-à-vis the Fall Creek project, is the incredible project by Urban-Think Tank, who had to create economically intelligent project for the barrios of Caracas, Venezuela to respond to the community’s need for transportation and ways to access to the city and its resources, but also the problems of density, and the barrios’s lack of center.

I find it really interesting to see how the team played with the social divisions on the different scales and managed to use the topography of the environment and its complexities in a creative way, for the purpose of their goals. An incredible field-work, which, as we can see, starts with the problems and needs of the community to find creative solutions based on what the people expressed as needs.

February 21, 2012

Re-discovering a city through the creative use of its sidewalks – Anna

In response to Haley’s article about valuing walking as a mode of transportation(note the passivity of the verb to “transport” which in this case refers to “being transported”!): I read this interesting article a couple of years ago about the intervention of the association Creative Democracy in Strasbourg, (France) which started an interesting and creative way of utilizing the sidewalks of the city in order to re-discover their full potential. The project was basically to invite the residents of the city to come together and use polls, ramps, ladders and street signs of all type to use them in creative ways. Similar projects have already existed for a couple of years(at least in France and

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Italy) that I know of, such as bicycling and roller skating groups, usually organized by the city’s municipality to bring citizens together. Some are very public, and in that case the city’s administration provides safety measures, others are more exclusive, such as a roller-skating gay group which strolls around Paris at night with dance music on their back(possibly implying and promoting gay liberties and well-being). A fun and interesting way of rediscovering one’s own city and tightening the community while participating in healthy activities!

February 6, 2012

Rethinking Safety and Security- Jean

I remember the first summer I spent in New York City. When I first proposed the idea to my mother, she hesitated. I was a thousand miles away from home and she was anxious to see me again, but also, she worried that I would not be able to handle New York City.

Both my parents live in Singapore, a small conservative country in Southeast Asia. Singapore is a country known for its safety, stable government and prosperity. So, imagine their horror when their only daughter told them that she had decided to apply for a summer program in New York City. In my mother’s mind, New York City was a hub of crime and drama.

I admit that when I first left for New York City, I had just as many fears as my mother did, not knowing what to expect. However, after spending a couple weeks walking through the city, talking to the people who lived and worked there, and experiencing the many intricate cultures within the city itself, my paranoia and baseless negative assumptions began to melt away. It was like I had become a new person, someone less bogged down by her paranoia.

However, the “new me” soon flitted away when I jumped on a plane back to Singapore for the rest of my break. I found myself feeling extremely uncomfortable and paranoid all the time, and I never felt quite at home. I thought the nature of my emotions was extremely odd. How was it possible that I felt more comfortable in a city that is known for its social drama, and more paranoid in a city that is known for its security?

What I soon came to realize was that a lot of my sense of security came from the connections that I made.  In New York City, it felt natural to stop and take a turn onto an unfamiliar street, receive fashion advice from a photographer at a flea market, and converse with a movie producer at a café. These connections that I made impacted my overall connection to the city.  Whether it was a connection with the architecture I saw, the people I met or the cultures I experienced, these interactions all pulled together to create a sense of community that I now felt part of, leading to my sense of security.

In contrast, my experiences in Singapore did not bring about that same sense of community. My smiles and hellos were often misread, and therefore not warmly received. I often feared going down back roads, in light of how dilapidated and isolated from the rest of the city they seemed. The coldness that radiated from those around me, as I had known growing up there, was part of the culture of the city. The country reeked of self- interest, making it difficult to get close to anyone. Moreover, the strict laws that ensured such a high level of safety and security were stifling and oppressing. It seemed only a matter of time before the citizens cracked under the pressure, setting off a damaging domino effect. I felt like I was living in an active volcano that was going to erupt any minute now. The idea of safety and security seemed too oversold in Singapore for it to feel real to me anymore, and I could not believe that it was anything but a lie.

Even up till today, shuffling back and forth between two starkly different places is an interesting and confusing experience. However, through it, I find myself slowly chipping away at the idea of security and how it is derived- either through connections or enforced law.

February 5, 2012

Paris: A City of Belonging-Anna

Thinking of which streets I like walking on and of the reasons why that is so, my first thoughts go to quite similar ones as those that Gowri found: I like lively streets, where one feels a sort of openness and belonging, ones in which the very concept of life and genuine sharing and generosity are central to the identity of the neighborhood. It is one where you can meet your friends and also make new acquaintances, no matter how futile they are.

But I think there is another factor that comes in account, and that is the question of identification and ease. When I think of the one street, or area I love the most, I immediately think of those that are back home, in Paris. Interestingly enough, the streets I think about are not those of my neighborhood, but of the quarters I love the most. Those streets are part of the old, windy, medieval style Paris. They are the streets in which everything is twisted and bent. The walls are not vertical in the least if you look at them carefully. Of course what really stands out is the stone, in different forms, that lies everywhere. They are cafés and fruit-vegetable vendors, and very small grocery stores, almost all of which are of the Magreb.

I think I enjoy these streets because I feel hugged by the walls, because I find it comfortable to walk through them. I am not lost in a crowd, so I am not insignificant, but I am not alone. I can be in my world and be with myself. The buildings guide my path, there is not an incredible amount of space to go left or right on the small sidewalk, but there is air. There is air because stone is a material that breathes, because the buildings are never more then 5 or 6 stories high, and because the climate is cold for the most part.

I think it’s my natural environment because I identify with the architecture of time. I like to think that all the things that constitute a place have their right to be where they are. Everything in those quarters (neighborhoods) of Paris have lived through so many things, so many changes that have distorted their appearance that in a way they gain a melting, and therefore belonging to the environment. Even piss on a wall is part of this process. This is what is so fantastic about stone: It is movable, changeable, multi-layered.

It also has its smells: different whether it is shiny or rainy (when it is damp, stone has a wonderful smell). I have never asked myself whether Paris was artificial or a simple mirage, because, in those areas, it feels natural. Yes, things have been destroyed and reconstructed everywhere, and yes they are gaps between buildings, and none of it fits perfectly like a puzzle such as in the most part of New York City, but it somehow feels like that’s the way it ought to be, and that each part has greeted the next.

Maybe if the model of the Parisian café was constructed, that it has lasted so long and that there are so many, it is because of the idea of a sociable place, to drink the “verre de l’amitie”, but also it is a place to take the city in, to watch over our territory, we have made it ours, simply because we always realize how much it is, whether we hate it or not at that moment, a place which is home.

February 4, 2012

Designing walkable streets

February 3, 2012

A Street Full Of Energy – Gowri

I grew up in a city called Bangalore in india,which is one of the major cities in the southern region of the county.My house is located in a quite, small neighborhood with all houses built along the streets, contrary to the suburban houses discussed in class.Walking through the main street, meeting familiar faces, looking at the little shops and interactions between people is what I miss the most about this neighborhood.

The sights that one can discern while walking through this main street is incredible, in fact, an overload to your senses.One of the explanations for this is that shops are walkable distance to their homes unlike in the U.S., so this street is traversed by people buying things, eating, talking and in turn bringing life to this street.There are numerous street sellers, standing under tiny stalls selling snacks, juices, fruits and vegetables, however on the same streets are supermarkets and larger stores, which makes this street unique in its integration of different social classes in one spot. Middle and upper class people come by to enter supermarkets, while lower classes come to indulge in food, fruits etc supplied by street sellers and often there is a congregation of all these people in front of the stalls when middle and upper classes also come by to eat at the stalls, which leads to interaction between them.You see people shouting hellos, hugging, exchanging information, street sellers shouting to win the competition with their opponents in getting more customers and so it is filled with drama of everyday life.

The street also has a wide sidewalk, hence, the combination of all the entertainments, food, stalls and the space of the wide sidewalk promotes people of all ages to spend more time outdoors than in their houses, including myself. Designs of the urban houses in Indian cities also increases this activity often due to their condensed designs,stuffiness and darkness and lack of access to gardens or backyards.

These homes also result in people having to spend time on front porches or steps, which enables them to interact with neighboring peoples, which is the basis for everyone knowing each other in our area. So when we walk around we are all acquainted with each other, with the shop owners, sellers etc which really initiates a feeling of belonging and familiarity that people clearly enjoy experiencing.It conveys a message of safety too, since people gain this feeling in a crowded area rather than a deserted street and more so when they know others around them.

At the end of the day everyone needs a social life, full of interactions and drama and all the various elements of an urban lifestyle, in this area of Bangalore city, leads to a lively street full of spirit and energy, which I enjoyed every evening during my evening strolls down this main street.

January 31, 2012

City Repair – Antonia

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 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

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 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:

November 28, 2011

The Economic Politics of Safety vs. Public Space – Jess Lambert

A Red Light District doesn’t only attract people looking for sex, but also tends to bring in drugs and violence as a result of the lawlessness that already comes with prostitution and having to run businesses behind closed doors. As a result, most Red Light Districts don’t act as a celebration of sexuality, but instead have a negative stereotype that is multiplied by the drugs, violence and other illegalities, to the point where it becomes a social anathema. As we have discussed in class, the hours of the day affect our idea of safety greatly, and such a district, which operates fully at night – would threaten the perceived safety of the surrounding neighborhoods. As Solnit commented on in Walking After Midnight, female writer Sarah Schulman ‘explores the charms of East Side Manhattan in the 1980’s…”[to] walk the streets for hours with nowhere to go but where she ended up”. Solnit also capitalizes on the dangers for women walking alone, especially in urban areas. Although today dangers still exist, the ability for women to have that freedom is not taken for granted. However, in the case of residential areas near such districts that attract dangerous types, it serves to limit that freedom to walk around in your own neighborhood, and the freedom to live without ever present fear for safety.

           Specifically, my project focuses on the abolishment of the Times Square Red Light District, and how it affected the wealth in neighboring communities. Think of it this way: where you live is judged according to many factors, including safety and desirability. In the ratings scale, the higher rated, generally the higher property value. The higher the property value, the most desirable and expensive it will be, and the wealthier the residents. Therefore, with the ‘cleaning up’ of the Red Light District, the Upper East Side, and neighboring communities became more desirable and safe, inviting higher property values and contributing to the predominance of wealth in those areas. With the Red Light District in place, I can guarantee due to safety and overall social distaste compounded due not only to sexuality and lewdness, but mostly to the illegality of certain attracted cultures, that the area would be less desirable, and reserved for people who can only afford to live in areas listed as ‘bad neighborhoods’.

My project intends to deal with not only legality, sexuality, safety, gender, space, wealth, etc. – but is also focusing on how these decisions on spaces and use of public space have deeply impacted the city as we know it today.

November 28, 2011

Chicago and increased Bike mobility – Hannah Otto


Designing a city with hyper-mobility is very difficult. Bikes help keep people mobile. Certain areas of cities have a need for mobility and others should be designated for human interaction.  Biking is a good way to bridge the gap between the fast paced hyper-mobility of a city and the relaxed in-mobility of certain cities. When designing a city, urban planners generally think about how to get cars from one place to another.  For example, Los Angeles with its large urban sprawl is not a bike friendly city and can not accomodate for the increased popularity of cycling.  On the other hand in Chicago there is an increase of the use of bicycles and every city needs to adapt to this demand.  Bicycle activists have argued for years that bikes are not a large hassle if they are considered in urban planning.  Bike lanes keep cyclists and motorists safe while not impeding traffic or parking.  Chicago is blessed with many wide streets that can easily accommodate for bike lanes.  Bike lanes are simply the easiest solution to keep everyone safe; there is not enough room for separate, protected bike paths all over the city.  Riding on the sidewalk is not an option for cyclists because of the risk of collisions with pedestrian traffic. Chicago has begun to add bike lanes and accommodate for cyclists on the road.  This further shows the rising popularity of bicycling as a way for further mobility for city dwellers.

City of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s plan for increasing bike mobility: 

Chicago Bike Lane Design Guide for Urban Planning:

November 28, 2011

Gabe Adels-Koolhaus the Skater

Virtually every article that deals with re-appropriation of urban space relates directly to the philosophical exploration of skateboarding. Street Skating is a means to invent a use for space generally designed for one purpose. Stairs lead to buildings, and handrails help to protect people from falling. By flying down a set of stairs on a skateboard, one is generally challenging the presumptions of the architect and maintainer of the space, who envision primarily function, and secondarily, aesthetics. You could do any number of combinations of flips and spins with the body or board, the possibilities have not been explored or invented yet. Skateboarding re-appropriates and invents spaces for athletic and creative expression amidst an urban landscape defined by singular utility and the conformity of economy.

Skateboarding covers the gamut of urban spaces, both public and private. It demonstrates that private spaces may be open to the public, and supposedly public spaces, like parks patrolled by security guards, are actually private is some ways, in that they are intended for specific use by specific people. It raises questions about property lines, which as Koolhaus states, are,”…originally a conceptual and abstract legal division design to divide, enclose, and exclude…” In addition, Koolhaus praises the informal city of Lagos, to which he attributes, “constant reassessment of urban property boundary conditions and of socially constructed space.” Both on 674.

November 28, 2011

Street Art, Violeta Borilova

I am researching urban art in Barcelona. I came across a Youtube video of an interview about graffiti from a non illegal perspective. The owners of street shops have always been irritated by the graffiti written on their metallic shutters which appeared overnight, after the owner had spend their day cleaning up. What occurred to some owners and graffiti artists, was a new business consisting in adapting the graffiti form, and using it as advertising. As the owner of the Tabacos shop said, graffiti artists respect each other, in the sense than when there is a wall, or a shutter with a design, others do not touch it (generally speaking, there is always some vandalism). What occurred to this owner is to contact a street artist and ask him to design something on his shutter that will promote his business overnight. What this has created is the idea that graffiti can be legalized when there is permission from the owner himself. The concept of street art being legal is controversial. If an option is to ask permission form the owner himself which will then legalize it, questions of who owns what becomes complicated. In other articles there was the argument that the street is for everybody to enjoy, and graffiti was not to be part of it because it destroys the designed and planed sidewalks, walls… Also there is the argument that the streets are owned by the government which is responsible for cleaning up the graffiti. The government of course, is not in favor of graffiti since a lot of money is being wasted in paint.

This made me think of Senntett’s article, Flesh and Stone. There is a quote on page 18 which says:”The body moves passively, desensitized in space, to destinations set in a fragmented and discontinuous urban geography.” He brings up the idea that streets are designed to be followed in a specific manner. The destinations through which one has to walk are set up by paths, bridges… Since the streets are designed to be followed in a certain pattern, it perhaps takes away the personality of the walker. Instead of being able to walk through desired paths, the walker is being controlled by a set geography. In my opinion, what street artists are doing, is enhancing the already set path. As Larry Ford said in his Spaces between buildings: “The cost of designing one exterior wall is simply a lot lower than the cost of designing four, and especially if each wall is to be beautiful, symbolic, detailed, and functional in its own right. More often, most walls are basically banal.” A lot of walls are banal, generally painted in white or gray tones, street artists see the opportunity to decorate this spaces. In a news report a street artist was interviewed and he said was that one of the reasons he painted was to catch people’s attention to their surroundings.  The walls are plain and most people don’t pay attention to the buildings, or the walk itself. He argued that by painting, he catches people’s attention towards the spaces between buildings, and the building themselves. This argument I believe it to be very true. When walls are plain, and people just walk by each other and not look up, makes the journey quite monotonous. However, if walls are decorated with art, which does not have to permanent but is instead renovated overtime, this planned city will have a character which reflects that city’s identity. I believe this will make people become more aware of their surroundings, and perhaps will become more active  in their city. The most difficult question is however, is to make the differentiation between artistic expressions, and personal signatures or meaningless/vulgar writings.

Sorry, the video is in Spanish.