Posts Tagged ‘healthy cities’

Temporary Occupations for Urban Renewal

Posted in Models, Movements by Kate Archdeacon on March 25th, 2011

Renew Newcastle was founded to help solve the problem of Newcastle’s empty CBD. While the long term prospects for the redevelopment of Newcastle’s CBD are good, in the meantime many sites are boarded up, falling apart, vandalised or decaying because they are is no short term for use them and no one taking responsibility for them. Renew Newcastle has been established to find short and medium term uses for buildings in Newcastle’s CBD that are currently vacant, disused, or awaiting redevelopment.

Renew Newcastle aims to find artists, cultural projects and community groups to use and maintain these buildings until they become commercially viable or are redeveloped. Renew Newcastle is not set up to manage long term uses, own properties or permanently develop sites but to generate activity in buildings until that future long term activity happens.

Renew Newcastle has been set up to clean up these buildings and get the city active and used again.

Find out more about the project and the collaborators (snapshot below) on their website

Hester Street Collaborative offers compelling example of pro bono community design work

Posted in Models, Sustainable Cities by Rob Eales on February 14th, 2011

Via ChangeObserver

Image by Hester Street Collaborative

Ernest Beck writing for a “series of models of how architecture and design firms do pro bono” describes how one firm approaches the complex issues surrounding “designing for the public good”.

The article describes in detail how the firm approached its engagement with the community in order to “sustain the commitment” for infrastructure required for serious work.

From Hester Street Collaborative By Ernest Beck

For Marc Turkel, Morgan Hare and Shawn Watts, partners in Leroy Street Studio, a small architecture firm in New York’s Lower East Side/Chinatown neighborhood, the solution has been a two-pronged approach: to integrate community design elements into a practice that services a broad cross-section of clients, and separately, to nurture an autonomous nonprofit unit, the Hester Street Collaborative (HSC), that spearheads community design programs. Taken together, they form an unusual model in the field of design and social change.


The architects put together a design education program that included building a sculpture garden with the students. “The idea wasn’t to create the next generation of architects and designers, but to allow students to improve their environment,” Frederick explains.

It’s a great article about the how the development of different approaches to complex problems can be successful as well as a great example of how a business can engage with a local community that it is part of.

Read the article

Sharing City Space: A Temporary Playstreet

Posted in Models, Movements by Kate Archdeacon on February 10th, 2011

Via Going Solar Transport Newsletter

Photo of Playstreet © Dudleystewart via flickr

78th Street Playstreet, Jackson Heights, New York City:

The idea is simple: 78th Street, between Northern Boulevard and 34th Avenue, is closed to traffic on Sundays in Summer to allow for games, free play, performances, markets, and other activities to take place in the car-free street.  78th Street is right next to Travers Park, our small neighborhood park. With thousands of residents around it, Travers Park is very crowded on weekends, and often there is not enough space for everyone to enjoy the park. The Play Street makes it possible for the park to spill into the street, allowing people to stroll, play, attend events and relax in the space, while reducing crowding in the park.

The Play Street is also a space for the Greenmarket on 34th Avenue to expand, adding more vendors, and making it more comfortable for shoppers.  Jackson Heights has one of the highest densities of children per acre of green space and is the city district with the second-to-last amount of green space in the entire city. We need more park space, and the Play Street is a small practical step in our search to expand and improve neighborhood parks.

A coalition of neighborhood groups initiated and developed this project with the support of NYC Department of Transportation. These groups are: JH Green, Friends of Travers Park and The Western Jackson Heights Alliance.

Each year since the launch in 2008, the Jackson Heights Green Alliance has been able to gain permission for the Playstreet to continue.  Looking at their website, it looks like the event is running more often and for longer periods.  Check out their website for photos, presentations and the original proposals for council.

New York’s transportation chief is a latter-day Robin Hood

Posted in Models, Movements, Sustainable Cities by Rob Eales on January 10th, 2011

By Matt Seaton via The Guardian Bike Blog

Image by mrtruffle via flickr under this Creative Commons licence

Janette Sadik-Khan’s brilliant marketing of sustainable transport (dedicated bike lanes, cycle sharing, even pedestrianising Times Square) has transformed New York. Now for that congestion charge …

This is a great article about how the landscape for riding and walking in NYC has been transformed.  This has been done by presenting a business case argument but of course the benefits are manifold.  I liked the quote about how pedestrian’s are most economically valuable participants on the street and should be treated accordingly.

Read the rest

Future biodiversity – The role of cities and local authorities

Posted in Models, Research, Sustainable Cities by Kate Archdeacon on November 10th, 2010

Source: Stockholm Resilience Centre

Image: AcidFlask via flickr.  CC license: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic

Image: AcidFlask via flickr CC license

Slowly out of the shadows by Sturle Hauge Simonsen

Cities demand a stronger voice in curbing global biodiversity loss.
It has yet to receive the same acknowledgment as climate change, but putting the breaks on biodiversity loss is becoming increasingly important on the political agenda.

Reports state that continuing biodiversity loss is predicted, but could be slowed (pending required policy choices) and a Stern review-like report on The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) has given natural assessments a significant boost.

Better frameworks, please
As countries strived to carve out the careful wordings for a ratification of the Convention on Biological Diversity at the COP10 in Nagoya, cities and local authorities used the momentum to boost their own role in managing biodiversity.

Their message is clear: Give us a better policy framework and we will unfold the local potential to protect global biodiversity.

As the world turns increasingly urban, with more than five billion people projected to live in cities by 2030, it is becoming increasingly recognised that cities are important role players in halting global biodiversity loss.

Read the rest

Community Action for Safer Roadways

Posted in Models, Movements by Kate Archdeacon on October 29th, 2010

Source: Victoria Walks

From “London’s Do-It-Yourself Approach to Safer Streets” by Elizabeth Press:

In the UK, the non-profit Sustrans is pioneering* a community-based method to reclaim streets from high-speed traffic and make neighbourhoods safer and more sociable places.

Called “DIY Streets,” the program brings neighbours together to help them redesign their streets in a way that puts people, safety, and streetlife first. So far, individual streets have benefited from DIY redesigns in 11 communities in England and Wales. Recently Streetfilms got a walk through of one successful DIY project — on Clapton Terrace in London. With the people who made it happen as our guides, we saw how planners and neighbours collaborated to transform a place where speeding used to rule into a local street with calm traffic and safe space to socialise.

Can the DIY model work on a bigger scale than an individual street? We’re about to find out: Residents of the London Borough of Haringey will soon be working with Sustrans on the first neighbourhood-wide DIY project.

* Note: David Engwicht (Creative Communities International) has been doing community-consultation for safer neighbourhoods since 1995. KA

Low-Income Sustainable Housing: South Bronx, NY

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on October 22nd, 2010

Source: The Ecologist

From “Greening the Big Apple: how building got sustainable in the Bronx” by Gwen Schantz

In 2008, in an effort to raise money in the face of a crippling budget deficit, the New York City Housing Authority announced that it would sell off several acres of public land in the South Bronx. Rather than simply giving the land to the highest bidder, however, the city prioritised developments that would incorporate sustainable design and give affordable housing a modern green face. Blue Sea Development Company was one among four firms with winning proposals, and will break ground this October on the Forest Houses development, a beacon of green building set among 15 ageing brown-brick public housing towers in the neighbourhood of Morrisania.
This new building will raise the bar for New York’s green building sector as a whole. Inside and out, the structure is designed to maximise efficiency and exploit green materials and techniques. Energy savings add up bit by bit throughout the building, from the smallest energy-star household appliances to the direct-drive lifts that use as much as 60 per cent less energy than conventional ones.
In addition to energy-saving systems and design for healthy living, the development will be a showcase of green building materials. The apartments will feature durable faux-wood flooring made from 70 per cent recycled vinyl content, common areas will be laid with recycled nylon carpet tiles and doormats made from recycled tyres, and vinyl panelling made with 53 per cent recycled content will cover interior walls.
Perhaps the most interesting feature of this new development, however, is the 10,000 sq ft hydroponic greenhouse on the roof that will tie into the efficiencies of the building, utilising waste heat while insulating the top storey against heat and cold. Photovoltaic panels will supply electricity to the greenhouse and power air conditioners in the summer, cooling the greenhouse during the hottest times of the day. Additional cooling will come from passive design that maximises air flow and incorporates shade cloth and evaporative cooling pads.

The greenhouse will collect and filter rainwater to grow hydroponic vegetables year-round, yielding 10-20lb of fresh food per square foot. The rooftop structure won’t be carbon-neutral, but according to Benjamin Linsley, whose firm Bright Farm Systems designed the greenhouse, the energy draw of an urban rooftop greenhouse ‘is tiny compared to putting a greenhouse on the perimeter of the city’, because it benefits from the rising heat that constantly radiates from below.

Read the full article by Gwen Schantz for more details on the construction, including systems for heating & cooling, and reducing pollution-related illnesses for the residents.

International Skyrise Greenery Conference 2010

Posted in Events by Kate Archdeacon on September 27th, 2010

Source: SustainWeb

Image: padraic via flickr CC

The International Skyrise Greenery Conference 2010 will present the latest technological developments and new areas of application in the field of rooftop greenery and vertical greenery.

Held at the National Library, Singapore, it will serve as a platform where international urban greenery experts from various disciplines will come together with the academia, architects, landscape architects, landscape contractors, policy-makers and stakeholders to discuss the present and future trends of this growing sector.

Topics will include various essential aspects of skyrise greenery such as specifications and installation of rooftop greenery and vertical greenery systems, technical studies of the benefits of skyrise greenery (eg. thermal and energy conservation, air quality improvement, noise mitigation, etc), integration of skyrise greenery with sustainable eco-processes and biodiversity enhancement, incentives and guidelines.

Visit the website for more information:

Fit Cities: Design & Policy Collaboration

Posted in Models, Movements by Kate Archdeacon on September 7th, 2010

Source: MetropolisMag

From “Design + Policy = Fit Cities” by Susan Szenasy:

George Miller, the current president of the American Institute of Architects and a local [NY]  practitioner, opened the fifth annual Fit City symposium at the Center for Architecture, in Manhattan, by challenging the crowd to rethink the planning, architecture, and design of our metropolis, with the goal of encouraging physical activity and healthy lifestyles. Our city is in the midst of a health emergency: 43 percent of elementary school children are overweight or obese, and diabetes rates are climbing, driving health-care costs up and life expectancies down. Clearly, a shift in mind-set is needed. “Ninety percent of the game is half mental,” Miller quipped, channeling Yogi Berra, master of the malaprop. That morning in May foretold an era of collaboration between policy makers and the creative community. Fit City 5, a partnership between the local AIA chapter and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, attracted stakeholders from public health, education, and design as well as other concerned citizens.

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Hand-made hives for backyard bee-keeping

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on September 6th, 2010

Source: Springwise

Beekeeping by Hans_van_Rijnberk on Flickr

Image: Beekeeping by Hans_van_Rijnberk on Flickr under CC

Keeping bees in an urban environment can be tricky and unhealthy for the bees.  Now there is now a bee keeping hive for urban farmers that also concentrates on the health of your bees while making it easy to upkeep the hive.

Read the full article.