Tag Archives | cities

How Drones Will Change Life In Our Cities

Ready yourself to hear, “Pizza incoming from above”. Animal New York on how petite unmanned drones are poised to reshape the urban environment, possibly as soon as three years from now:

The spread of do-it-yourself robotics could radically change the news, the police, business and politics. And it could spark a sort of drone arms race as competing robot users seek to balance out their rivals. Imagine police drones patrolling at treetop level down city streets, their cameras scanning crowds for weapons or suspicious activity. “Newsbots” might follow in their wake, streaming live video of the goings-on. In nearby zip codes, drones belonging to real estate agents scope out hot properties. Robots deliver pizzas by following the signal from customers’ cell phones.

These aren’t just fantasies. All of these things are happening today, although infrequently and sometimes illegally. The only thing holding back the robots is government regulations that have failed to keep up with technology.

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On Urban Inequality And The Tree Gap

stelprdb5187894_tnMay we demand the presence of trees? Despite their secret importance, the appearance of trees in American cities corresponds with wealth, Per Square Mile reveals:

Research published a few years ago shows a tight relationship between per capita income and forest cover. They found that for every 1 percent increase in per capita income, demand for forest cover increased by 1.76 percent.

It’s easy to see trees as a luxury when a city can barely keep its roads and sewers in working order, but that glosses over the many benefits urban trees provide. They shade houses in the summer, reducing cooling bills. They scrub the air of pollution, especially of the particulate variety, which in many poor neighborhoods is responsible for increased asthma rates and other health problems. They also reduce stress, which has its own health benefits. Large, established trees can even fight crime.

Fortunately, many cities understand the value trees bring to their cities.

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Los Angeles’ Hidden Original Subway System

Gelatobaby‘s Alyssa Walker went on an unmissable clandestine urban exploration tour — through the abandoned subway system nestled below L.A., revealing an uninhabited sub-city filled with strange sights:

Behold the Subway Terminal Building, hidden in plain sight in the middle of downtown LA, where at one point during the 1940′s over 65,000 riders were shuffling down into the depths of Los Angeles to board a train which traveled beneath the busy streets. We found ourselves in a vast, pillared space that, even with the tracks and trains removed, felt very much like a subway station. We did reach the end, where there was, of course, graffiti. After being used as a fallout shelter, the tunnel was sealed in the 1960s.

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Ikea Is Building Its Own City

ikeaIf you’ve ever lingered in a display at an Ikea store, wishing you could remain there forever, now is your lucky day. The Globe and Mail reports:

The Swedes now want to place you and 6,000 neighbours into a neglected corner of your city, design an entire urban world around you, and Ikea-ize your lives. Ikea’s city-building ambition is in a triangle of post-industrial wasteland in the far reaches of East London. Their vision is to turn this grey netherworld into a tightly packed neighbourhood they’ll call Strand East.

This will be an all-rental private neighbourhood, run and overseen by a private company. And here is where living in an Ikea neighbourhood might come to resemble a long day in an Ikea store: The company wants you to be in a neat, clean, pleasant environment. And it very much wants you to have fun. Those things that normally just happen in life will be carefully managed from above.

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Why Walking Is Political

Commuters-on-railway-stat-008Via the Guardian, Will Self argues for the symbolic, basic importance of walking as a force against corporate and state control:
Put bluntly: deprived of mechanized means of locomotion – the car, the bus, the train – and without the aid of technology, the majority of urbanites, who constitute the vast majority of Britons, neither know where they are, nor are capable of getting somewhere else under their own power. Year on year, the number of journeys taken on foot declines – indeed, on current projections walking will have died out altogether as a means of transport by the middle of this century. Now we are alienated from the physical reality of our cities.
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An Overview Of America’s Urban Monsters

Atlantic Cities examines legendary mythological creatures of our country’s metropolises, including the horned Goatman rumored to hide in Ft. Worth’s Lake Worth and the tiny red dwarf blamed for all of Detroit’s historical woes. Most of these reveal more about our collective psyche and fears rather than what is actually secretly living in our midst — although a notable exception is the mole people (lower left) living below the surface of New York, who turned out to be very real, if elusive.

monsteres

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King City Artist/Writer Brandon Graham Talks About Graffiti, Cities, Moebius and More

king-city-coverKing City by Brandon Graham is a comic book about a guy named Joe and his cat Earthling in a far future metropolis run by spy gangs and evil sorcerers. It’s full of weird drugs, black magic, luchador masks and oddball humor. Via Technoccult:

I know you haven’t done graffiti in a long time, but did being involved in the graffiti scene in Seattle as a kid affect the way you perceive the urban environment? Do you think you’d draw cities the same way if you hadn’t been a part of that?

Yeah, I think it definitely affected how I think about cities, certainly the way you interact with your environment when you’re running around drawing on it. It’s nice to be able to fuck with the world around you – changing signs or just writing a response to an ad directly on the ad or having to draw something to fit on the surface you’re drawing on.

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Santa Cruz Conceptualized As A Giant Hand

The geography-as-person trope goes back a long time, and remains haunting — are cities sentient beings? As we traverse streets and subway systems, are we merely red blood cells coursing through a giant body? And when a place’s key locations and arterials seem to mimic the human form, is it just our imagination? This idea is illustrated beautifully in a 1912 map, via Big Think:

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The map, designed by Polly Hill, was part of a promotional brochure extolling the beauties, joys and pleasures to be sampled in Santa Cruz and environs — centred on the Casa del Rey Hotel, and the adjacent Casino.

More than a cartographic gimmick, the hand shape is also a clever way of representing the local geography, with the two outer fingers representing the coastal corridor and the three middle ones some of the valleys radiating northward through mountainous terrain.

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A 12-Million-Person Imaginary City Created By An Autistic Savant

Beautiful renderings which took 20 years to complete: the complete plan of a massive European city that does not exist, revealing the fruits of unrestrained dreaming. Via Brain Pickings:

For the past 20 years, French autistic savant Gilles Trehin has been devising and developing this fanciful megacity, from the remarkable architectural detail to the thoughtful cultural context rooted in real world history. Urville gathers 300 of Trehin’s meticulous, obsessive drawings and sets the door ajar to this complex and intricately woven alternate reality.

urville

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Mexico City’s 65-Story Inverted Skyscraper

earthscraper-11The Earthscraper is a conceptual design for a see-through 82,000-square-foot inverted pyramid proposed to be built underneath Mexico City. With space already filled in the world’s major cities, will the future be about building downwards? Via Ecomagination:

Earthscraper may have burst the bounds of the architectural world because it has taken a truly new approach to escalating megacity problems like planning for population growth, curbing sprawl, preserving open space, and conserving energy and water.

The inverted pyramid’s next 10 stories are intended for retail space, followed by 10 stories of apartments. The structure’s deepest, tapering 35 floors are pegged for office space. The interior design concept also incorporates a system of gardens occurring roughly every 10 stories, to help generate fresh air.

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