The Evolution of Urban Planning in 10 Diagrams – Design – The Atlantic Cities


The Transect, one of ten diagrams that has changed urban planning. From theatlanticcities.com.

As many of you know, I love me a good diagram. That’s why I really enjoyed this post from Emily Badger. It’s about a new exhibit at the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR) about diagrams that have changed planning. Some are specific planning proposals, such as Le Corbusier’s Radiant City, while others have changed how planning happens, such as the Nolli Map. Check out this article, and if you find yourself in San Francisco, check out the exhibit itself.

Shelf Hotel: Revolutionary Approach to Modular Architecture | WebUrbanist


The Dom-ino House. From ramzinaja.com.

The Dom-ino House by Le Corbusier is one of the most recognizable images in architecture. The argument of the image is that buildings should be built on a light frame of columns instead of the traditional type with thick masonry walls. This would allow a building to be clad in any material desired. Architects 3Gatti did Le Corbusier one better. According to this post on Web Urbanist, they didn’t concern themselves with what went on the building, but what went on the flexible platforms.

The shelf hotel. From weburbanist.com.

The idea is that, rather than having a permanent program which would require expensive renovation if anything else was desired in the future, this building will provide a flexible framework where developments can be inserted over time and changed as needed. This incremental design allows for the best possible mix of uses and ease in redevelopment in the future. This provides what David Gouverneur would call an armature for flexible development and self building. It’s almost a formalization of what happened at The Tower of David in Caracas, where an empty building eventually became home to 2,500 squatters. This armature would make for an easier provision of services while providing for the flexibility, both in form and through time, that a community would need. A very interesting development.

Weapons of Mass Urban Destruction – By Peter Calthorpe | Foreign Policy


 

Calthorpe criticizes China’s growth. From foreignpolicy.com.

I’ve had a number of people tell me that my posts have a habit of running a bit long, and that means I can’t always post often, or even regularly. I want to fix that. Starting now, posts will be shorter, and hopefully, more regular, with occasional long-format posts mixed in. We’ll start with this article from Peter Calthorpe, one of the founding fathers of New Urbanism.

China is a fast-growing nation with an ever-expanding economy, which allows it’s people access to new services, including cars. Calthorpe argues that China is on the path to repeating the mistakes of the United States in designing cities for cars rather than for people. The US spent years making Le Corbusier’s modernist dream of towers in the park connected by highways a reality. Only in recent decades have many Americans decided that this was the wrong direction to go, and cities are beginning to return to walkable, mixed-use centers where people are put before cars. China, on the other hand, is not learning from our mistakes, and is putting the car before people. This has already lead to massive congestion and environmental degradation, as Calthorpe points out the measures Beijing went to to try and make itself presentable for the Olympics four years ago, despite the constant smog. It certainly isn’t too late, but if China doesn’t change course now, it could lead to disaster for them and the world at large.

The Eliza proposed luxury apartments in Sydney


Tony Owens Partners will soon begin construction on a new apartment building in Sydney, Australia.

The first thing I thought when I saw this was Antoni Gaudi.  The organic curves of the facade are reminiscent of the Casa Batllo in Barcelona, but on a much taller and simplified scale.

The first thing I’ll say about the building is that I generally like it, but have a few issues.  it appears to have first floor retail uses, which I would prefer to simply a large lobby.  I also find it interesting that the first story seems to maintain a cornice line with the surrounding buildings, which gets lost at higher levels.  In my opinion, the building is too tall.  Christopher Alexander argues that residential buildings should never be built above four stories, because it divorces them from the life on the street.  It is understandable that the people on the top of this tower may be more concerned about privacy, views and luxury than interaction with people on the street, but Alexander argues that this probably isn’t good for them in the long run.  The height also makes the building out of scale with its neighbors.  The last thing I’m opposed to is the sort of nihilistic arrangement of windows on the secondary facade.  This pattern recalls buildings as old as Le Corbusier‘s Notre Dame du Haut and as recent as Jean Nouvel‘s 100 11th Avenue in New York, and the pattern is just as bad in those buildings.  The universe is essentially orderly, and this faked disorder is simply jarring and unnatural.

All in all, an interesting and attractive building with some very basic weaknesses.  I would make it shorter and arrange the windows on the secondary facade in an orderly fashion.

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