31/8/2015 - Heat maps provide useful information for European energy policy
30/8/2015 - Momentum builds behind call to give local governments a special status at Habitat III
29/8/2015 - Sprawl repair is essential, unavoidable
28/8/2015 - How Suburban Sprawl Causes Segregation and Isolates the Poor
28/8/2015 - Italian Architect unveils vision for Vertical City on the sea
27/8/2015 - Bringing the farm to your front yard
27/8/2015 - CEDR workshops on Road Worker Safety, Oct/Nov in BE, UK & CZ
26/8/2015 - How Toronto is revitalizing its aging suburban residential towers
26/8/2015 - Accommodating innovation: temporary use and the access to vacant urban properties in Europe
25/8/2015 - Copenhagen installs 100 more EV charging stations (Denmark)
25/8/2015 - The World's Most Livable Cities
24/8/2015 - 5 Key Trends in Open Streets
24/8/2015 - 15 Metros With the Biggest Declines in Commuting by Car
23/8/2015 - African Cities Are Starting to Look Eerily Like Chinese Ones
23/8/2015 - Velo-city 2016 paper submission deadline in one month
22/8/2015 - 10 Mayors On The Issues Facing Cities
22/8/2015 - How Do You Create a Successful Urban Park?
21/8/2015 - Nairobi’s tech scene makes headway into its slums
20/8/2015 - EU project offers funding for cities interested in developing electromobilty
20/8/2015 - Participate in an online survey to shape the future of the Covenant of Mayors
19/8/2015 - How to Build a City on the Moon
19/8/2015 - More evidence on the changing demographics of American downtowns
19/8/2015 - Where and Why Walking or Biking to Work Makes a Difference
18/8/2015 - Transport Management Plan - EcoMobility World Festival
18/8/2015 - Potential of ‘Urban Green Commons’ in the Resilience Building of Cities
17/8/2015 - Noting Habitat III in the SDGs text would have "enormous meaning" for implementation
17/8/2015 - London's Olympic legacy three years on
17/8/2015 - First e-Update of GrowSmarter Smart Cities Lighthouse Project
16/8/2015 - Everything you touch is a problem
16/8/2015 - Reinvention in the Rust Belt
16/8/2015 - European Prize for Social Integration Through Sport
15/8/2015 - Amazon proposes drone 'superhighways' for cities
15/8/2015 - Geneva reduces ticket prices to combat pollution
15/8/2015 - Have you ever considered Energy Performance Contracting for streetlighting refurbishment?
14/8/2015 - Understanding the Urban Heat Wave
14/8/2015 - Urban Planning in the Era of New Jim Crow
14/8/2015 - Sprawl Kills
13/8/2015 - Why Cities Must Keep Tapping Into the Wealth-Building Capacity of Communities
13/8/2015 - Big City Dreaming: The Sometimes Mixed Results of Mixed Use
13/8/2015 - The privatisation of cities' public spaces is escalating. It is time to take a stand
12/8/2015 - Is the European Commission becoming more flexible vis-a-vis local public funding?
12/8/2015 - Connecting Cities with Science
11/8/2015 - Zlota 44 tower in Warsaw to be launched for middle-class people
11/8/2015 - How Planners Are Preparing for Hazards and Disasters in the 21st Century
10/8/2015 - Olympic host-city model under scrutiny
10/8/2015 - France to ‘reduce VAT on public transport’
9/8/2015 - The Distinct Personality of Entrepreneurial Cities
8/8/2015 - OPEN DAYS 2015: Registration open for the OPEN urban DAY
7/8/2015 - New co-presidency of the CISDP reinforces its mission to strengthen the Right to the City
7/8/2015 - How Placemaking Drives Resilient Cities
7/8/2015 - AIA Honor Awards for Regional and Urban Design
6/8/2015 - Who will lead the push to a smarter way of life in cities?
6/8/2015 - ELIPTIC Call for Twinning Cities open!
6/8/2015 - Madrid to raise age limit for youth public transport pass
5/8/2015 - China bets on 'sponge cities' to cope with flooding and drought
5/8/2015 - Anti-homeless spikes are just the latest in 'defensive urban architecture'
4/8/2015 - What kind of cities do we want for the future?: The preparatory process for the New Urban Agenda
4/8/2015 - One Year After: Observations on the Rise of Innovation Districts
4/8/2015 - The EU Urban Agenda: can we expect a significant development?
3/8/2015 - Investing in job creation for young people
3/8/2015 - Common Open letter to support an EU Roadmap for cycling
3/8/2015 - Cities are using LED lighting for a lot more than just energy savings
2/8/2015 - Density: Drivers, Dividends and Debates
2/8/2015 - Thanks to Social Change, Urban Density Ain’t What it Used to Be
2/8/2015 - Call ENSCC – Results of pre-proposal evaluation announced
1/8/2015 - How are protected views shaping cities?
1/8/2015 - Human rights and the New Urban Agenda
1/8/2015 - Energy performance and urban planning: Get inspired by STEP UP tools
1/8/2015 - Amsterdam to triple EV charging points by 2018
Heat maps provide useful information for European energy policy
The EU-funded STRATEGO project recently published the Pan-European Thermal Atlas (PETA), an interactive map that shows data on the thermal resources available in any region as well as EU-wide thermal demand. PETA maps heat and cooling demand, the local density of both demands, available waste heat resources and the potential for renewable energy sources. Using the information provided by STRATEGO, national governments will be able to implement National Cooling and Heating Plans (NCHPs)* more efficiently.
Momentum builds behind call to give local governments a special status at Habitat III
UCLG has long called for the inclusion of local leaders in international governance mechanisms. The Global Taskforce of Local Regional Governments, facilitated by UCLG, is currently actively advocating for the UN to build on the achievements of the Habitat II Conference and to grant special accreditation to local and regional government networks at Habitat III.
Yesterday, In an opinion piece entitled “Habitat III is all about cities. The UN should give them a seat at the table”, published in the Cities section of The Guardian website, Citiscope Editor-in-Chief, Neal Peirce, put forward a compelling argument in support of UCLG and the Global Taskforce’s case for giving a greater role to local leaders at Habitat III.
Sprawl repair is essential, unavoidable
Suburban retrofit has been a hot topic in planning and development in recent years, and Retrofitting Suburbia was one of top books in the planning field in the last decade. Coauthor of that book Ellen Dunham-Jones has accumulated a database of more than 1,200 suburban retrofit projects under construction or in planning.
Each of those projects signifies people working independently across the US to transform single-use, automobile-oriented suburbs into more diverse and—often—more walkable places. The suburbs are vast. Opportunities to repair them include converting commercial strip arterials to complete streets, turning shopping centers into towns squares, finding new purpose for empty big-box stores, and inserting homes and other uses in single-use commercial areas.
How Suburban Sprawl Causes Segregation and Isolates the Poor
Forty-seven years after the passage of the Fair Housing Act, you might think that these problems are gradually disappearing. You would be wrong. A new study from the Century Foundation finds that concentrated poverty, especially among African-Americans and Latinos, is actually getting worse. But the culprit isn’t simply racial discrimination — it’s also suburban sprawl.
Italian Architect unveils vision for Vertical City on the sea
Bari-based architect Luca Curci has published a design for a “vertical city settled in the water” consisting of 180 floors grouped in 10 overlapping layers with a total height of 750 meters. The concept, a maritime reimagining of Le Corbusier’s “city in the sky,” would be able to house up to 25,000 people, and would also encompass more than 200,000 square meters of parks and gardens, including a public lawn on top of the building. It would be built from prefabricated modular elements, repeatable horizontally and vertically to create a shape resembling a cylindrical colander. The structure would be surrounded by a membrane of photovoltaic glasses that would provide electricity for the whole building, with the aim of making it a net generator of energy.
Bringing the farm to your front yard
Growing food at home is hardly a new idea. But in this culture, where more people know how to take the perfect selfie than how to grow a potato, urban agriculture has become a form of activism. The slogan “Food Not Lawns” is spreading like wildfire. Here are some reasons why..
CEDR workshops on Road Worker Safety, Oct/Nov in BE, UK & CZ
The attached information relates to a series of three dissemination workshops being organised as part of the CEDR Transnational Road Research Programme on Road Worker Safety, a high priority for all CEDR members, local authorities, the European Commission and industry.
How Toronto is revitalizing its aging suburban residential towers
The suburban dream in North America wasn’t always about rows of individual houses, sprawling neighborhoods and tree-lined streets.
Decades ago, modern living was sold to Toronto residents as owning or renting a suite in a concrete high rise surrounded by luscious green space, far away from a decaying downtown core.
The “tower in the park” model became the city’s main solution to the lack of housing in the post-World War II era. Between the 1950s and 1980s, 3,200 towers of five or more storeys were erected in Toronto’s suburbs, most of them within carefully planned, self-contained communities. The Toronto metropolitan area boasts the highest concentration of high-rise buildings in North America after New York.
Accommodating innovation: temporary use and the access to vacant urban properties in Europe
Temporary use is a learning process of accommodating innovation and adapting needs and capacities to available resources. It offers benefits to owners and users, in terms of security, maintenance, anchor tenants and social vibe on the one side, and affordable rents and spaces on the other. And it can help shaping new forms of cooperation between public administrations, private property owners and citizen initiatives. This article, based on the authors’ work in the URBACT knowledge transfer program Temporary Use as a Tool for Urban Regeneration and other initiatives and research, looks at a few examples to explore the conditions and potentials of temporary use in regenerating European cities and giving communities better access to urban spaces.
Copenhagen installs 100 more EV charging stations (Denmark)
The number of public charging stations in Danish capital Copenhagen is set to increase by 100 this year, bringing the total to 600 across the city.
The new charging stations will be installed by 1 September by energy company E.ON, and will make it possible to charge an electric vehicle (EV) at 125 locations across the city.
The World's Most Livable Cities
Metropolis ranks the best cities to live, work, and play in.
The word “livability” gets tossed around a lot these days when it comes to the popular discussion of cities. But what do we mean by the term, exactly? In our extensive urban coverage throughout the year, we often look at a variety of facets that contribute to a city’s overall quality of life—i.e., the sum of the housing, amenities, connectivity, and, in a word, pleasures a city has to offer the people who live in it. So, in addition to ranking our top three livable locales for 2015, we consulted *a variety of experts to identify cities that are excelling in key areas such as smart infrastructure, walkability, and preservation. And we round out our selection by spotlighting nine other rising cities to watch in the years to come.
5 Key Trends in Open Streets
Since 2007, more than 120 similar open streets initiatives have been jumpstarted across North America. Here are five trends that are currently impacting open streets that will no doubt be a big part of the conversation at the 3rd National Open Streets Summit.
15 Metros With the Biggest Declines in Commuting by Car
Driving alone remains the most popular way to commute in the U.S., but efforts to reduce solo, four-wheeled daily trips like those seen from Austin to Seattle may be helping to reduce the number of cars on roads.
A new U.S. Census Bureau report, “Who Drives to Work? Commuting by Automobile in the United States: 2013,” shows that 85.8 percent of Americans still get to work by car, and 76.4 percent drive solo. But the Census Bureau also charted metro areas that have made strides in cutting down their numbers of automobile commuters. Here are the top 15, taken from metros with more than 500,000 people.
African Cities Are Starting to Look Eerily Like Chinese Ones
It’s easy to see China’s footprint in Africa. On the outskirts of Nairobi, a new highway built by a Chinese firm is crowded with bumper-to-bumper traffic, many of the cars set on tires imported from China. The landscape is dotted with construction sites and, every so often, the logo of another Chinese construction firm. Across the continent, Chinese companies are building highways, railways, sports stadiums, mass housing complexes, and sometimes entire cities.
But China isn’t just providing the manpower to fuel quickly urbanizing African cities. It is exporting its own version of urbanization, creating cities and economic zones that look remarkably similar to Chinese ones. Journalist Michiel Hulshof, based in Amsterdam, and architect Daan Roggeveen in Shanghai, began visiting the continent in 2013 to document and investigate whether China’s model of urbanism can work in Africa.
Velo-city 2016 paper submission deadline in one month
Global mobility experts and scholars are encouraged to submit their abstracts for next year’s Velo-city Global conference before the 18 September deadline.
Velo-city brings together those involved in policy, promotion and the provision of cycling facilities and programs.
Engineers, planners, architects, social marketers, academic researchers, environmentalists, business, and industry representatives join forces with government at all levels ranging from municipal politicians, policy makers and educators in knowledge sharing in order to build effective trans-national partnerships.
10 Mayors On The Issues Facing Cities
From health care to equality to increasing the minimum wage, here's what the leaders of our cities say they need to focus on.
When I wake up in the morning I am in a city—it is my and so many others’ home. I make my way through the city on the subway and walk on sidewalks, using the infrastructure below and above.
Cities are diverse places with people from all walks of life, and where folks come from all over the world, rich, poor, black, white, old, young, and everything in between. The tapestry of the city is what makes it so unique, exciting, and vibrant.
How Do You Create a Successful Urban Park?
Landscape architects give new life to old land. The issue, though, is how to make these dead zones truly come alive and become inviting public spaces. Some advice: Know your place, get everyone involved (but not too involved), remember parks are for people and selfies are a good sign.
Nairobi’s tech scene makes headway into its slums
This city has one of Africa’s hottest technology scenes, making it a fitting host for the entrepreneurship summit that has U.?S. President Barack Obama visiting this weekend.
In the Kilimani neighborhood, tech startups are hatching out of dynamic incubators such as iHub and GrowthHub. Meanwhile, glass office towers are rising as global giants such as Google, IBM and Intel site local offices there. These developments were the subject of a Citiscope feature story in April.
The situation is much different in Nairobi’s teeming slums, home to 2.5 million people or about 60 percent of the city’s population. Here, finding a toilet, let alone an iMac, can be a challenge. But efforts are underway to bring more computers into these areas, and to train people how to use them, so that Nairobi’s poorest residents might have a reasonable shot at joining the economic boom across town.
EU project offers funding for cities interested in developing electromobilty
An EU mobility project is offering European cities and transport providers funding and expertise to help them apply sustainable mobility measures related to electrified transport.
The ELIPTIC project (link is external), part of the EU’s € 80bn research and innovation programme Horizon 2020, aims to save cities money and energy by developing new solutions to optimise and/or regenerate their electric public transport systems.
Participate in an online survey to shape the future of the Covenant of Mayors
The Covenant of Mayors secretariat launched a survey to gather feedback from all local government, networks representing them and other stakeholders on the future of the initiative: whether, and how, the Covenant of Mayors could move towards ambitious new goals?
The results of the survey will feed into the own-initiative opinion on the Covenant future that the Committee of the Regions is currently preparing and will provide inputs to the European Commission's policy on the initiative.
The questionnaire is available in all EU languages and the deadline to participate is 23 September 2015.
How to Build a City on the Moon
Humans haven’t set foot on the moon since 1972. That hasn’t stopped Johann-Dietrich Woerner, the new director general of the Paris-based European Space Agency, from pushing mankind toward more of a giant lunar leap than another small step. Woerner kicked off his tenure by telling BBC he not only wants to go back to the moon but hopes to build a village there—on the far side, no less.
The very idea of a moon city ignites a constellation of questions about what it would look like and how we would build it. So CityLab called Woerner to find out. With the International Space Station potentially coming offline around 2024, he says, it’s time to envision the next era of human presence beyond Earth. The moon-city project would be a prime driver of technological advancement as well as basic scientific research.
More evidence on the changing demographics of American downtowns
Earlier this year, Daniel Hartley of the Cleveland Fed and Nathan Baum-Snow of Brown University published a novel analysis of what has been called the “Great Inversion”: the shift of higher-income people from the periphery of American metropolitan areas towards the center. (Previously, we covered another excellent visualization of this phenomenon from the University of Virginia.)
Essentially, Hartley and Baum-Snow broke down every Census tract in over a hundred metro areas into thirds, based on their income. Then they measured what percentage of people within three miles of their city’s central business district lived in a Census tract that was in the top third. Unsurprisingly, in almost every city, that percentage increased dramatically between 1980 and 2010.
Where and Why Walking or Biking to Work Makes a Difference
Those of us who live in sprawling suburbs and commute to work by car are less likely to be healthy, while those of us who live in dense urban neighborhoods end up healthier because we're more likely to bike or walk to work. Unless, that is, people in compact urban areas don't actually walk or bike to work, even though it's a readily available option.
Transport Management Plan - EcoMobility World Festival
Public transport, cyclists and pedestrians will be given preference on the streets of Sandton during the month-long EcoMobility World Festival in October 2015.
Road use will be changed on some of the streets in the Sandton CBD as well as some of the streets leading into Sandton but the City of Johannesburg is taking major steps to ensure that Sandton can continue to function as an important financial district and commercial hub.
One of the aims of the EcoMobility World Festival is to give people a preview of a future transport system where public transport, walking and cycling become the modes of choice.
The Sandton CBD, one of the busiest districts in South Africa, will be decongested and its streets turned into public spaces where people will be able to move from point to point using public transport, walking, cycling and eco-mobile vehicles.
Potential of ‘Urban Green Commons’ in the Resilience Building of Cities
Today’s cities face the challenge of increasing social inclusivity. There is a need to reinvent interrelations among citizens and recognise cultural diversity. New modes of city management have to find creative ways of making cities more sustainable, by acknowledging different groups and individuals, as well as fostering cultural encounters in cities. Urban green spaces have an essential role in nurturing these encounters; hence the spatial character of a city plays an important role in improving resilience. By promoting self-organisation and the capacity for learning and adaptation, diversity is therefore seen as a key characteristic to deal with social change and times of crises.
Noting Habitat III in the SDGs text would have "enormous meaning" for implementation
Language around next year’s cities conference is under discussion during the final week of negotiations on the Sustainable Development Goals text.
At the start of the final week of negotiations on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) text, Ecuador has proposed including specific reference to next year’s Habitat III conference on cities.
London's Olympic legacy three years on
Some of the starkest images from the financial fall of Greece have been of its 2004 Olympic Games buildings: abandoned stadiums and peeling paint telling tales of broken promises and soured dreams. Whatever else might be said about London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park three years after the 2012 Olympics, it is no tumbleweed vista. The broader issue, though, is whether it is helping to provide the kind of legacy the people of east London were promised.
Certainly the Olympic Park itself – all 560 acres of it – is shaping up, filling out and once again inviting the multitudes in. The London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) – formed shortly before the Games as the planning authority for the park and its environs – claims that, since it started to reopen two years ago, the park has had more than 4m visits. Neale Coleman, LLDC board chairman and Olympics adviser to London mayor Boris Johnson, says that these include “loads and loads of local people. It really is used by the community and it’s going to be even better for them in the future.”
First e-Update of GrowSmarter Smart Cities Lighthouse Project
Stockholm, Cologne and Barcelona were chosen as the 3 Lighthouse Cities for the smart city project GrowSmarter in a contract worth €25 million under the European Commission's 'Smart cities and communities' Horizon 2020 funding call.
Everything you touch is a problem
For several days last November, protests over the government’s failure to provide consistent electricity shut down Fort-Liberté, a small coastal city in northeast Haiti. Video footage of the events shows an atmosphere alternately festive and frightening. At times, throngs of men, women, and children paraded through the streets, dancing and chanting to music created by marching drummers and blaring loudspeakers.
But macabre visuals and intermittent violence provided a jarring contrast to the peaceful processions. A burned-out car propped on its side kept vehicles from passing through the town’s main entrance, while a coffin and human skull next to an uprooted children’s swing set blocked a road near the town square. Rowdier demonstrators threw rocks at passing cars, hurled Molotov cocktails at the local United Nations office, and destroyed the equipment connecting buildings to the local electrical plant.
Reinvention in the Rust Belt
Industrial cities must reinvent themselves to survive. Suggestions from Bruce Katz, Vice President and Director of the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution, are almost a return to fundamentals: they have to use their geographical advantages (meaning, these days, tourism and logistics rather than geology) and build as much as possible on "anchor" institutions such as universities and hospitals. What they must not do is distract themselves by constructing an enormous stadium or a theme park that may turn into a white elephant.
European Prize for Social Integration Through Sport
Sport brings educational benefits because of the values it promotes such as respect, tolerance and self-control. As such, it can bring about positive social change and be used as a tool of prevention and education for topics such as discrimination, racism and violence.
Are you running a social integration project through sport that you wish to make known at the European level ? Why not apply through one of the five categories of the European Prize for Social Integration Through Sport
Amazon proposes drone 'superhighways' for cities
In today’s traffic, Seattle’s low-speed drone superhighway is jammed to the south, while the upper-tier expressway is moving at a steady 200 pph (parcels per hour). That certainly could be a report from the not-so-distant future. Ben Popper reports for The Verge that Amazon has proposed a two-tiered drone highway network that could revolutionize package delivery into cities.
In the near future, tens of thousands of drones may be flying into U.?S. cities to deliver goods, monitor air quality and provide municipal services, the article says. Amazon envisions a slow lane below 200 feet and a fast lane between 200 and 400 feet for long-haul traffic.
Geneva reduces ticket prices to combat pollution
Geneva will begin to offer temporary reductions on tickets to encourage use of the city's public transport network and reduce air pollution.
This was spurred after higher than normal levels of ozone were detected last month in the city's suburbs and in the city centre, as well as across the wider Romande region.
Have you ever considered Energy Performance Contracting for streetlighting refurbishment?
Old street lighting systems can account for up to 50% of municipalities’ total electricity consumption. Yet, current technologies offer energy savings potentials that reach 70%. These savings potentials have been recognised and incorporated into European policies: an EU Regulation (245/2009) sets phasing out requirements for nearly 80 % of all currently used lamps types between 2012 and 2017. This means that these lamp types will no longer be available on the market for purchase.
Energy Performance Contracting (EPC) provides municipalities with an innovative, but still under-used, solution to transition to energy efficient street lighting, without having to pay upfront and with guaranteed energy savings. It is a good “learning and testing ground” for EPC due to its lower technical and economic complexity compared to building-related EPC. Furthermore, the recent market introduction of LED technology offers high energy and cost savings with comparatively short pay-back times.
Understanding the Urban Heat Wave
London, that city of perennial fog and drizzle, has been baking this summer. In June, at the peak of the heatwave, temperatures topped 98°F.
Those without air conditioning huddled in malls or other places that did, or searched out a shaded spot with a bit of breeze. More than 400 people likely died in the UK due to heat-related ailments, like heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
While 98° may not seem especially hot in some cities – like Washington, DC, where I live — the heat wave was a real surprise for Londoners.
Urban Planning in the Era of New Jim Crow
Students of community and economic development are trained to redesign residential space, work for affordable housing and advocate for living wage jobs without ever being asked to consider how police, prisons and courtroom decrees shape life in urban neighborhoods. These are links that need to be made, if we are to improve the social fabric of disadvantaged neighborhoods.
Sprawl makes for an unfortunate living environment, not just because it is fairly reliably drab and dull. Sprawl actually kills. Traffic fatalities are one of the leading causes of death in cities across the globe—according to the World Health Organization, 1.3 million people are killed by vehicles each year—and it’s worst where there’s most sprawl.
“That’s what the research shows: Urban sprawl is bad for traffic safety, period,” Ben Welle, a Senior Associate for Health and Road Safety at the World Research Institute, told me on the phone this morning. “Urban sprawl is directly linked to fatalities across all people using the road.”
Why Cities Must Keep Tapping Into the Wealth-Building Capacity of Communities
Last August, when I began covering equitable economic development issues as a Next City fellow, I wrote about my fear that the term “equity” was being used as a smokescreen — that many government officials and other civic leaders had been paying lip service to trends in urban inequality without sufficiently tackling the root causes of widening wealth gaps.
Over the course of the year, my perspective has softened as I’ve spoken to hundreds of brilliant and determined individuals working to better the livelihoods of people who have just happened to be born in a low-income bracket, or as immigrants, women, black or Latino. Small business programs like FoodLab Detroit and Women Entrepreneurs NYC prove that economic status is not intransigent, especially when local resources are leveraged correctly and the wealth-building capacity of communities are tapped into, not suppressed.
Big City Dreaming: The Sometimes Mixed Results of Mixed Use
It’s the “Thou shalt not . . . ” that dooms religion in America. If the ecclesiastical would content themselves with the positive, with instructing us what to do—be compassionate, be charitable, do good works, and so on—rather than forbidding behavior as natural as sweat, houses of worship would be overflowing.
With zoning, it’s the other way around. If city councils would learn that their inevitable mistakes would be an order of magnitude less harmful to their communities if they stuck to prohibiting uses rather than mandating them, the architectural landscape would be littered with far fewer carcasses.
If you live in a town of any size, chances are you drive past empty retail stores every day. Chances are just as good that a few of those sad storefronts are the redheaded stepchildren of mixed-use projects that, over the developer’s objections, were dictated by a well-intentioned city government.
The privatisation of cities' public spaces is escalating. It is time to take a stand
I was recently sent a link to a YouTube video entitled We Too, in which a trespasser sneaks into the under-construction, 34-storey Lexicon skyscraper near the Silicon Roundabout in London, and pitches a tent on the top floor.
In the video, after a good night’s sleep, the interloper unzips the front flap of the shelter and steps into the early-morning air. The city unfolds before him in a stunning vista, suggesting the view that future occupants of the skyscraper will enjoy – or, more likely in London, the view that international investors will use as a selling point when they put the flat back on the market after a few years of not living in it.
Later that day, I received another link to Craigslist where the Lexicon lurker, as I came to call him, had placed an ad for a “highly affordable luxury penthouse in Islington”, illustrated with a crisp photo of his tent overlooking the city. The punchline of this performance – that “we too sleep in penthouses” – was a playful way of reframing the most pressing concern in the neoliberal city: who is it actually for?
Is the European Commission becoming more flexible vis-a-vis local public funding?
Over the past few weeks, the European Commission approved a series of public funding led by local government, since these initiatives did not have significant effects on trade between EU Member States or no concrete evidence of planned cross-border investments.
In light of such decisions, the criteria for state aid, contrary to the rules of free and fair competition, would become more flexible, which represents a new era in the way public support to local initiatives is monitored and reviewed.
Connecting Cities with Science
ICLEI USA and the American Geophysical Union (AGU)’s Thriving Earth Exchange® (TEX) have established a pilot partnership to advance both knowledge and practices contributing to resilient communities, and through activities to help mitigate the impact of climate change, natural hazards or natural disasters on lives and properties. The pilot project will pair up volunteer Earth and space scientists with a select group of ICLEI member communities to provide high-quality scientific input towards mitigation and adaptation planning that hopefully will lead to usable and implementable outcomes. Many communities across the United States can benefit from climate scientists and both ICLEI and TEX are looking forward to learning from this pilot project and hopefully expanding it to more local governments across the United States.
Zlota 44 tower in Warsaw to be launched for middle-class people
Zlota 44 tower, one of the tallest and unique residential skyscrapers in Warsaw, Europe is on its way to completion in 2017. The 52-storied sail-like structure began construction in 2008 and has been designed by Daniel Libeskind.
Michal Skotnicki, CEO of BBI Development, the current financer of Zlota tower is positive about the building’s fortunes. “We think we will sell it in three and a half years,” he said, having confidence in attracting 80% of buyers from Poland, rather than foreign buyers as it had been previously anticipated. BBI developers own 38,000 sq metre shell of the Zlota 44 building.
How Planners Are Preparing for Hazards and Disasters in the 21st Century
Disasters have taken their toll on coastal communities across the United States. In the aftermath of such devastation, resilience planning has proved that destruction can be an opportunity for building stronger and longer lasting communities. Planning resilient communities is becoming even more important as the frequency of natural disasters and extreme weather increases due to climate change.
Here’s a look at what planners are doing to prepare coastal communities for extreme weather in the 21st century:
Olympic host-city model under scrutiny
Is it time to abolish single host cities for the Olympics? Jake Flanigan reports for Quartz that the current model fuels steep investment in temporary infrastructure that can often level neighborhoods and displace the poor. It also rewards nations known for human rights abuses and encourages unsafe labor practices, the article says.
Another shortcoming is that developed cities with economic and political muscle have a distinct advantage. “Countries with the most geopolitical clout have hosted the greatest number of Olympic games,” the author notes.
France to ‘reduce VAT on public transport’
The French government is considering almost halving the amount of VAT on public transport, a recent newspaper report claims.
French financial daily newspaper Les Échos says that draft legislation to cut the current rate of VAT for bus, metro and rail services from 10 to 5.5 per cent could be included in September’s Finance Act
The Distinct Personality of Entrepreneurial Cities
Mayors, economic developers, and business leaders alike all say they want one thing: more entrepreneurship. Across the country and the world, there’s been no shortage of efforts to clone the “next Silicon Valley.”
In their attempts to do just that, city leaders fixate on two things that they believe are necessary to the entrepreneurial potential of a particular place: copious amounts of venture capital, and research universities that transfer skills and technology as they spawn new companies. I see this argument time and again, and each time I’m reminded of an old insider’s joke: If you want to create another Silicon Valley, ”take one great research university. Add venture capital. Shake vigorously.”
OPEN DAYS 2015: Registration open for the OPEN urban DAY
Over 100 Brussels-based seminars will be organised as part of the 13th edition of the European Week of Regions and Cities – OPEN DAYS 2015 from 12 to 15 October.
New co-presidency of the CISDP reinforces its mission to strengthen the Right to the City
The first biannual meeting of the Committee on Social Inclusion, Participatory Democracy and Human Rights (CISDP) hold in Mexico City, on 21st April allowed to reaffirm the commitment of Local Governments of this Committee for Human Rights and the right to the city, based on the involvement of a New Co-Presidency
On the occasion of Mexico International Seminar of Local Government for the Right to the City, UCLG’s Committee on Social Inclusion, Participatory Democray and Human Rights held its 1st 2015 Biannual meeting. Around 40 participants from Local Government, Academic Sector and Civil Society discussed the promotion of the Global Charter-Agenda for Human Rights in the City, exchanged experiences, debated how to promote the Right to the City in the New Global Urban Agenda in Habitat III, and introduced the Global Platform for the Right to the City, among other topics.
How Placemaking Drives Resilient Cities
A community’s connection to place is at the very heart of resilience. In fact, resilience on its own has limited value if residents feel little attachment to, or investment in, a place. Placemaking is the process of building and nurturing this relationship between people and their environment. Through a broad focus on creating quality places, Placemaking builds the shared value, community capacity, and cross-sector collaboration that is the bedrock of resilient cities and thriving communities.
AIA Honor Awards for Regional and Urban Design
The AIA released a call for entries for their Honor Awards program. To bring the Institute Honor Awards programs into closer alignment with the AIA's core values surrounding sustainability, submissions must describe how sustainable design and building performance strategies have been integrated with the project's broader design goals and include basic sustainability data for energy, community connectivity, water efficiency and materials. Applications due August 21.
Who will lead the push to a smarter way of life in cities?
The world’s burgeoning population is converging on urban areas, so improving the management of cities is a huge challenge for the future. Fortunately, city leaders have a whole new set of tools at their disposal. The internet of things, with sensors embedded into the urban infrastructure, promises to help local authorities improve management of everything from traffic congestion to social care. Cities are now vying to get ahead in the race to connect their infrastructure to the internet.
To discuss the way forward for the smart city revolution, the Guardian brought together experts in city planning and technology for a roundtable discussion, which was sponsored by the IT company Cisco. The panel looked at ways policy makers could boost the technology in cities and ensure that the benefits are enjoyed by all citizens.
ELIPTIC Call for Twinning Cities open!
The ELIPTIC project - Electrification of public transport in cities - opens its call for twinning cities. A total of eleven cities will be selected in a competitive call to support the take-up of ELIPTIC's sustainable measures with regard to electrification of public transport in European cities.
Madrid to raise age limit for youth public transport pass
Madrid will extend the age limit of its youth travel pass to cover young people up to the age of 26.
This means that from October over half a million young people in Madrid will be able to travel on the city’s entire public transport network for € 20 a month.
China bets on 'sponge cities' to cope with flooding and drought
The plaza outside Shenzhen's Mass Sports Center looks like any you can find in Chinese cities. But if you look closely, you can still see a critical difference.
Unlike most infrastructures in China, the plaza here has no drains. When rain falls lightly, the water either filters down to the underground through permeable pavements or is soaked up by gardens designed to catch rain. Almost no rainwater flows into street gutters around this plaza. During a period when many big cities -- most recently Houston -- are experiencing extreme rainfall and major flooding, the innovations show in a small way the kinds of preparations that may be needed.
Anti-homeless spikes are just the latest in 'defensive urban architecture'
Pay-per-minute benches, 'pig ears' to prevent skateboarding, devices that emit an unpleasant sound only teenagers can hear … cities have many tactics to discourage 'unwanted' behaviour
What kind of cities do we want for the future?: The preparatory process for the New Urban Agenda
The first issue of the new supplement to the Ciudad Sostenible [Sustainable City] magazine, Agenda Urbana [Urban Agenda], focuses on the preparatory process for the Third United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III), which will take place in Quito, Ecuador, from 17-20 October 2016. The preparatory process for Habitat III has already seen two meetings of the Preparatory Committee (PrepCom), which took place in New York and Nairobi – the next will be held in Jakarta in July 2016 – as well as the elaboration of 22 thematic issue papers divided into six general areas.
Through this issue of the Agenda Urbana supplement, Ciudad Sostenible summarizes the process towards Habitat III, which includes collaboration with UCLG on an article that highlights the importance of linking the Habitat III Conference to the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that will be approved this September. The supplement also highlights the important role that local and regional governments must play in the development of the New Urban Agenda for the 21st Century.
One Year After: Observations on the Rise of Innovation Districts
In the year since Brookings released “The Rise of Innovation Districts: A New Geography of Innovation in America,” they have visited or interacted with dozens of leaders in burgeoning innovation districts in the United States and Europe. In so doing, they’ve sharpened their knowledge of what’s happening on the ground and gained some important insights into how cities and metros are embracing this new paradigm of economy-shaping, placemaking, and network-building.
The EU Urban Agenda: can we expect a significant development?
City authorities and stakeholders are in agreement that Europe will benefit economically, socially and culturally from a EU Urban Agenda. However, the development of collective goals for urban advancement has been on the table since the Leipzig Charter in 2007. Over 8-years later, the EUKN asks is now really the moment for European Member States to agree on a common urban vision?
Investing in job creation for young people
Eurocities explained how cities are creating job opportunities for young people at a conference in Brussels on 25 June.
Silvia Ganzerla, EUROCITIES senior policy advisor, presented examples from the local level of initiatives to get young people into jobs. She was speaking as part of a panel on investing in job creation for young people at the ETUC youth committee - YFJ conference in Brussels on 25 June. The panel focused in particular on where to invest for job creation, how to create quality jobs for young people, and ways to ensure these measures are both inclusive and sustainable.
Common Open letter to support an EU Roadmap for cycling
On July 8th, Polis together with other EU stakeholders published an open letter to the Members of the European Parliament to vote in favour of a EU Roadmap for cycling. This resulted in a positive vote by almost all MEP during the vote in Transport Committee on July 14th.
Cities are using LED lighting for a lot more than just energy savings
Cities have been turning to LED street lights to save energy costs for a few years. Now, they’re also using the technology to enhance emergency communication, Jeffrey Spivak reports for Urban Land.
In downtown Chattanooga, Tennessee, a public park turned dangerous each night as rival gangs moved in. The park’s safety improved dramatically after the city added lights that police could remotely brighten, dim or flash.
Density: Drivers, Dividends and Debates
The world’s urban population exceeded its rural population for the first time in history in 2009 and now 54 percent of the world’s population, some 3.9 billion people, live in urbanised areas. By 2050 the urban proportion of the population is projected to grow by 2.5 billion, reaching 66 percent of the total, according to United Nations estimates.These now familiar statistics hide some fascinating and vital questions on how – and how closely – people will live in these places in the future.
Thanks to Social Change, Urban Density Ain’t What it Used to Be
People are supposedly moving back to cities — at least the high-profile, knowledge-economy ones. But even some of the hottest older cities are still well below their peak populations. They are growing expensive rather than big. That’s a boon to the real estate industry, but not for the environment. Any city that wants to protect its residents, and help the environment, will need to figure out how to build enough housing to turn increased demand into more inhabitants — rather than just richer ones.
Call ENSCC – Results of pre-proposal evaluation announced
The ERA-NET Cofund Smart Cities and Communities (ENSCC) focuses on new solutions for urban areas in the fields of energy and transport systems, big data and smart governance. The ENSCC Joint Call for Proposals was launched on December 11, 2014. By March 2015, 79 eligible pre-proposals were submitted to this Joint Call.
How are protected views shaping cities?
In the battle between heritage and development, we face a ‘crisis of verticality’. But does an approach to planning based on protected views just turn the city into a museum?
Human rights and the New Urban Agenda
Habitat III, next year’s U.N. conference on cities, will set urbanization strategy for the coming two decades. Yet it will also be the last in a series of major global summits that will, hopefully, pave the way for a broader paradigm shift in implementing sustainable development, especially in urban settings.
Energy performance and urban planning: Get inspired by STEP UP tools
STEP UP (Strategies Towards Energy Performance and Urban Planning) is an energy and sustainability planning project that has brought together 12 municipal, commercial and research partners from Glasgow, Ghent, Gothenburg and Riga (which are all Covenant of Mayors signatories) to assist cities in their transition towards a smart and low carbon future.
Amsterdam to triple EV charging points by 2018
Amsterdam has launched a tender to select a contractor that will triple its number of electric-vehicle (EV) charging stations by 2018.
The city already has the biggest charging network in the Netherlands, with 1 300 charging stations spread out across the city.
The city therefore aims to have 4 000 charging stations operating in the city in three years time.
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