Urban Planning

The immersive ugliness of our everyday environments in America is entropy made visible. We can’t overestimate the amount of despair we are generating with places like this…the greatest misallocation of resources in the history of the world…there’s not enough Prozac in the world to make people feel okay about going down [these] blocks.”

In a classic TED talk, James Kunstler tears apart the architecture and public space design of post-World War II America, with pictorial examples of egregiously dismal cases, and explains why the suburbs are a sham:

The landscape of our post-recession country is littered with the carcasses of abandoned malls — fallen, ghostly temples of twentieth-century consumerism and suburbia. In an interesting two-year-old piece, Design Observer wonders what…

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…

No Cars AllowedBruno Waterfield writes in the Telegraph:

The European Commission on Monday unveiled a “single European transport area” aimed at enforcing “a profound shift in transport patterns for passengers” by 2050.

The plan also envisages an end to cheap holiday flights from Britain to southern Europe with a target that over 50 per cent of all journeys above 186 miles should be by rail.

Top of the EU’s list to cut climate change emissions is a target of “zero” for the number of petrol and diesel-driven cars and lorries in the EU’s future cities.

Siim Kallas, the EU transport commission, insisted that Brussels directives and new taxation of fuel would be used to force people out of their cars and onto “alternative” means of transport.

“That means no more conventionally fuelled cars in our city centres,” he said. “Action will follow, legislation, real action to change behaviour.”

Forum for the Future is a United Kingdom-based think tank with funding from corporate giants such as PepsiCo and Vodafone. Prior to New Year’s, it unveiled a series of animated shorts depicting how life within megacities might look in the year 2040. Perhaps most interesting is the vision of a benignly-Orwellian “Planned-opolis” in which daily activity is carefully regulated:

All above-ground metropolises harbor shadow cities beneath. A New York Times reporter spent five days on a subterranean urban hiking expedition, spelunking through NYC’s labyrinthine sewer system. His colorful travel journal details…

In an article for Foreign Policy, Parag Khanna argues that as mega-cities wield increasing political and economic power, the structures and sovereignty of the “countries” that contain them becomes less important. In…