Tag Archives | cities

Giant Emocon Reflects The Mood Of The City

feelometerInstalled in Lindau Island, Germany, the Feel-o-meter sums up the populace's collective consciousness. Pass by with a frown, and you could slightly dampen its smile. (You wouldn't want to do that, would you?) Via Information Aesthetics:
Fuehlometer (Feel-o-meter) by Richard Wilhelmer, Julius von Bismarck, and Benjamin Maus is a light installation consisting of a giant smiley face that reflects the average mood of the people living in the city. The average emotional value is calculated through the computational analysis of the faces of people passing a camera located in a specific part of the city.
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‘Test City’ Being Built In New Mexico Desert

nmWould you jump at the chance to live in an artificially-created city in the middle of nowhere and participate in trial runs of the technologies of tomorrow? This is as close as you can come to living in a space colony on Earth. BLDGBLOG writes:

A private consulting firm in Washington D.C. is developing a “test city”—one “with no permanent population”—in the New Mexico desert, according to the Albuquerque Journal. It will be “a privately financed, small city on 20 square miles in New Mexico for testing and evaluation of new and emerging technologies,” run from afar by Pegasus Global Holdings.

This as yet unnamed location will be devoted to the “‘real world’ testing of smart grids, renewable energy integration, next-gen wireless, smart grid cyber security and terrorism vulnerability,” making it a life-size trial for private sector urban management—Cisco’s city-in-a-box and IBM urbanism wrapped in one.

I’m inclined to ask what it might look like if other corporations were to launch their own “test cities” in the desert somewhere—an REI city, complete with artificial whitewater rapids, campfires, and outdoor climbing walls; a Playboy city, complete with unlockable shared doors between neighboring bedrooms; an AMC city, with screens and streetside auditoriums, and massive projectors on cranes like new constellations in the sky.

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Uncovering The Biology Of Cities

rats The New York Times discusses a growing science subculture — the urban evolutionist. These brave souls are charting the growth of the super-strong mutant rats, fish, bacteria, and bugs that will someday overrun planet:

A small but growing number of field biologists study urban evolution — not the rise and fall of skyscrapers and neighborhoods, but the biological changes that cities bring to the wildlife that inhabits them. For these scientists, New York is one great laboratory.

White-footed mice, stranded on isolated urban islands, are evolving to adapt to urban stress. Fish in the Hudson have evolved to cope with poisons in the water. Native ants find refuge in the median strips on Broadway. And more familiar urban organisms, like bedbugs, rats and bacteria, also mutate and change in response to the pressures of the metropolis.

Pollution has driven some of the starkest examples of evolution around New York. Hudson River fish faced a dangerous threat from PCBs, which General Electric released from 1947 to 1977.

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What Walkable Los Angeles Would Look Like

Suppose Los Angeles were like Paris, New York, et cetera, with dense, narrow, two-lane streets rather than wide, barren five-lane ones? Artist David Yoon conducted a “fantasy urban makeover in photographs” to show exactly this. On Narrow Streets LA, click on (actual) shots of Japantown, Santa Monica, Downtown, Melrose Avenue (below, real on left and photoshopped on right), and tons of other locations to reveal the far more pleasing, charming, and inviting narrowed versions — a fantastical vision of the non-car-dominated Los Angeles that never was but could have been:

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Replicant Cities: Identical Places On Different Continents

Imagine visiting a foreign continent and knowing every street, every tree like the back of your hand.25258635 Duplicate copies of unique, gorgeous cities seems like both the inverse and logical continuation of the 1950s idea of identical, planned tract-home suburbs. BLDG BLOG writes:

First there was the replica of Lyons, France, being built in Dubai; it would be a replicant city “of about 700 acres, roughly the size of the Latin Quarter of Paris,” and it would “contain squares, restaurants, cafes and museums.”

Now, though, we learn that a Chinese firm has been “secretly” copying an entire UNESCO-listed village in Austria, called Hallstatt. Residents of the original town are “scandalized,” Der Spiegel reports, by these “plans to replicate the village—including its famous lake—in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong.”

After all, in addition to the uncanny experience of seeing your buildings, streets, sidewalks, and even trees repeated on the other side of the world, “creating an exact duplicate of a city may not be legal, according to Hans-Jörg Kaiser from Icomos Austria, the national board for monument preservation under UNESCO.

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Aerotropolis: Will The Cities Of The Future Be Giant Airports?

aerotropolis3dThe Utopianist discusses one (slightly hellish) idea of what the city of the future may look like — the ‘aerotropolis’, in which the airport is at the city’s geographic and economic core, and daily life increasingly resembles being inside an endlessly sprawling airport:

It’s a city that’s built around an airport, the bigger the better, with factories and/or traders, both dependent on air freight, close by, followed by a ring of malls and hotels, followed by a ring of residential neighborhoods. The airport isn’t an annoyance, located as far out of the way as possible, but the city’s heart, its raison d’être.

While the vision of a city based around an airport may seem novel, there are such aerotropolises already in existence, like Ecuador’s capital, Quito. We already have a few cities in the United States that roughly adhere to this model — Memphis, our nation’s major FedEx hub, and Seattle, the home of Boeing.

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New York Entangled In Yarn Graffiti

5058097151_67d198ca0eThe New York Times reports on “yarn bombing”, the softest, coziest form of urban vandalism. Leave your bike parked for too long and it could end up like the one at right, which has been chained for months in front of my friend’s store:

“Street art and graffiti are usually so male dominated,” Ms. Hemmons said. “Yarn bombing is more feminine. It’s like graffiti with grandma sweaters.”

Yarn bombing takes that most matronly craft (knitting) and that most maternal of gestures (wrapping something cold in a warm blanket) and transfers it to the concrete and steel wilds of the urban streetscape. Hydrants, lampposts, mailboxes, bicycles, cars — even objects as big as buses and bridges — have all been bombed in recent years, ever so softly and usually at night.

It is a global phenomenon, with yarn bombers taking their brightly colored fuzzy work to Europe, Asia and beyond. In Paris, a yarn culprit has filled sidewalk cracks with colorful knots of yarn.

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What Happens When A City Tears Down Its Highway?

2030625405_dd165e29fcFive years ago, Seoul, South Korea demolished the Cheonggyecheon Freeway, an elevated highway running through downtown, in a move critics called “crazy”. The results have been nothing short of beautiful. Is there a lesson for other cities? Via Grist:

What he and his colleagues accomplished — tearing down a busy, elevated freeway, re-daylighting the river that had been buried beneath it, and creating a spectacular downtown green space, all in under two and a half years — is nothing short of amazing, not because it actually worked (there was plenty of evidence from other cities to suggest that it could), but because they were able to get public support for it. It’s the stuff urban planners dream about — not to mention a timeline for a major freeway project that would make Seattle drool.

By the early 20th century, as Seoul was burgeoning into the megacity of 10 million it is today, the river was bordered by a slum and used as a dumping ground, resulting in an eyesore of polluted water.

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Britain’s Stylishly Mod Secret Underground City

How To Be A Retronaut has an arresting set of images of Burlington, the 35-acre “Cold War City” lying twelve stories beneath Wiltshire, England. Built during the 1950s, it was to be home to the prime minister and a few thousand others in the event of nuclear apocalypse. With record players, rotary phones, and Singer sewing machines folding out from enclosures in the walls, it makes the prospect of a post-disaster future seems quite charming:

It was equipped with the second largest telephone exchange in Britain and a BBC studio from where the prime minister could make broadcasts to what remained of the nation. 100,000 lamps that lit its streets and guided the way to a pub modeled on the Red Lion in Whitehall. The bunker’s very existence was meant to be top secret until it was decommissioned in 2004.

Cold-War-City-222

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China To Create Mega-City With Population of 42 Million

China-Super-City_1810271bChina is planning to merge nine existing municipalities into what will be the world’s largest super-city, the Telegraph reports. Your move, America: it’s time to meld together Cleveland and Toledo into a shining beacon of freedom.

City planners in south China have laid out an ambitious plan to merge together the nine cities that lie around the Pearl River Delta. The “Turn The Pearl River Delta Into One” scheme will create a 16,000 sq mile urban area that is 26 times larger geographically than Greater London, or twice the size of Wales.

The new mega-city will cover a large part of China’s manufacturing heartland, stretching from Guangzhou to Shenzhen and including Foshan, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Zhuhai, Jiangmen, Huizhou and Zhaoqing. Together, they account for nearly a tenth of the Chinese economy.

Over the next six years, around 150 major infrastructure projects will mesh the transport, energy, water and telecommunications networks of the nine cities together, at a cost of some 2 trillion yuan (£190 billion).

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