Happy city. Transforming our lives through urban design (Charles Montgomery)
An online project collects people’s complaints about their burg in more than 80 locations.
I have just finished a two-months period writing two articles that will appear soon.
It covers a state of the art, but, particularly, a dissection of some underlying myths in that vision (in a few words) and how these risks and misconceptions can lead to disillusionment:
- Operational efficiency of local governments as the main objective, confusing the city council with the whole city.
- Weak use of sustainability claims, without an overall understanding of environmental implications and with poor attention on some background knowledge from urban ecology.
- Useless simplification of urban complexity.
- Pretended neutrality of data.
- Depolitization of urban debates and social conflicts.
- Technological smugness and over-representation of technology means to address non-technological issues.
Over the past four years, William Helmreich, a sociology professor at CUNY, has walked every street in New York City except a handful of blocks in Staten Island.
I ended up walking about 6,000 miles, the distance between New York City and Los Angeles and back to New York (4,998 miles), and…
The new issue of Dwell has a nice interview with designer Michael Bierut on the development of New York City’s new wayfinding signage.
Among the interesting snippets: the team developed new symbols and landmark buildings, including a shopping bag that incorporates Milton Glaser’s iconic…
Book Review: Good Urbanism — Six Steps to Creating Prosperous Places
In cities around the world, a consensus is developing among urban planners, placemakers and…
Points - The Most Advanced Directional Sign on Earth
The directional street sign consists of 3 separate arms pointing in different directions, each containing a LED display that shows specific text or graphics about a nearby destination. Depending on the actual location of the content it displays, each arm is able to rotate endlessly around 360 degrees. The content varies depending on what passers-by select via a list of buttons, ranging from public transport arrival times nearby to the content and actual location of Twitter messages. Read more at Co.CREATE
I have to admit that, as a planner, there are times that I get whisked away by the elegance of drawings and the process of making them, and there are times that I feel like designers are the leaders of the free world who can grant wishes because of the way we’re able to articulate ideas on paper. But drawings, models, briefs, etc. are just artifacts—they don’t tell us shit about the complexity of human behavior. They don’t inform us about the extremely social nature of cities and what the vibe is like on the ground.
About a year ago, I left my desk job at City Hall to pursue a life of observation. I wanted to see urban planning from the field, get in the mix, and leave the paper version of the city behind. I wanted to get to know Dallas by becoming a part of it, get to know my neighbors and how to use the city as a tool—that’s urbanism. Now, I work as a freelance urbanist. I’m in the city, seeing what I can see, and then finding solutions to fix the problems.