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Arrival Cities
being an immigrant or living in a "slum" is a feature not a bug
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Making room - "Planet of Cities” by Shlomo Angel

Making room - "Planet of Cities” by Shlomo Angel | Arrival Cities | Scoop.it

GROWTH, unemployment, industrial production—data for comparing countries is in rich supply. But if economists want to analyse and contrast cities, they have less to go on: most information is not standardised and is thus hard to compare. This is a problem, given the world’s rapid urbanisation and cities’ ever growing economic weight: the UN expects the urban population to double between 2010 and 2050, from 2.6 billion to 5.2 billion.


A new book goes some way toward remedying this deficit: “Planet of Cities”, by Shlomo Angel*, a professor of urban planning at New York University. To make “a modest contribution toward a science of the city”, Mr Angel and his colleagues generated a lot of comparable data on things such as urban expansion, population density and open space. (...)


On average, cities of all population sizes are growing at the same rate. Population densities have been in decline for more than a century—and not just in rich countries, where many cities have sprawled. It also seems to be a global norm that half of a city’s footprint is not built up. And the distribution of cities within a given country indeed follows the “law” that George Zipf, an American researcher, discovered in the 1940s: that the largest city is always about twice as big as the second largest, three times as big as the third largest, and so on. (...)


The book, however, is much more than an interesting exercise in urban statistics. Mr Angel does not hide his agenda: he wants to demonstrate that the movement of people into cities cannot be stopped; trying to slow down urbanisation and even stop it will produce all kinds of unpleasant side effects, he argues, not least driving up housing prices—which hurts the poor the most. (...)


Rather than copying such efforts to limit urban expansion, as some environmentalists advocate, rapidly growing cities in developing countries should take a page from New York and Barcelona, says Mr Angel. In the 19th century both cities decided to prepare themselves for rapid growth. In 1811 New York’s city council approved a plan which allowed all of Manhattan to be built up and included the island’s now famous street grid. In 1859 Barcelona followed suit with a similar concept to expand the city nine-fold.


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Our Cities Will Define Our Future

Our Cities Will Define Our Future | Arrival Cities | Scoop.it

After the post was vacant for more than a year, Jennifer Keesmaat started this month as the Chief Planner for the City of Toronto.


Canada’s future lies in its urban areas like Metropolitan Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary and Montreal, much more than it does in its resources or agriculture. More than eighty percent of the food grown and resources mined and extracted in Canada is destined for city-customers. Urbanization is driving the wealth creation needed to pay for these materials. Urbanization is also driving most of our big planetary challenges like climate change, loss of biodiversity and soil degradation.


A few things Ms. Keesmaat calls for: greater cooperation between national and local governments (and a better appreciation at the national level on the importance of well-functioning cities); the need for good data and evidence-based decision making; addressing income disparities; the imperative of public transit and affordable housing; job creation; and better provision and use of infrastructure in suburbs.


more at Sustainable Cities Collective

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Old buildings ‘repurposed’ as unique housing

Old buildings ‘repurposed’ as unique housing | Arrival Cities | Scoop.it

Throughout the District, “no more pencils, no more books” is the mantra of the moment, as increasing numbers of former D.C. public school buildings are being transformed into offices, gallery spaces, gyms and, yes, homes. To be sure, most of these buildings stood abandoned for quite awhile, overshadowed by hulking office buildings never dreamed of in the days of recess and recitation, or forgotten by neighborhoods struggling with new challenges.


And old schools are not the only structures being re-imagined and reinvigorated. From far-flung rural outposts to well within city limits, old warehouses, churches, barns and stores are finding new lives and new purposes for the 21st century.

...

Finding new uses for old buildings is hardly a new idea, but in the past few decades, terms like “repurposing” and “adaptive reuse” have been on the lips of nearly every city official and developer. For preservationists and the historically minded, repurposed old buildings provide a concrete connection with the past while honoring the building’s former function within the neighborhood.

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Arrival Cities - By Doug Saunders

Arrival Cities - By Doug Saunders | Arrival Cities | Scoop.it

A look at nine places defining life on the margins for the new century, from Chongqing to California. 


These places are known around the world by many names: as the slums, favelas, bustees, bidonvilles, ashwaiyyat, shantytowns, kampongs, urban villages, gecekondular, and barrios of the developing world, but also as the immigrant neighborhoods, ethnic districts, banlieues difficiles, Plattenbau developments, Chinatowns, Little Indias, Hispanic quarters, urban slums, and migrant suburbs of wealthy countries, which are themselves each year absorbing 2 million people, mainly villagers, from the developing world.


When we look at arrival cities, we tend to see them as fixed entities: an accumulation of inexpensive dwellings containing poor people, usually in less than salubrious conditions. In the language of urban planners and governments, these enclaves are too often defined as malign appendages, cancerous growths on an otherwise healthy city. Their residents are seen, in the words of former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, "as an ecologically defined group rather than as part of the social system."


This leads to tragic urban-housing policies in the West, of the sort that made Paris erupt into riots in 2005, led to clashes in London in the 1980s, and propelled Amsterdam into murderous violence in the first decade of this century. It leads to even worse policies in the cities of Asia, Africa, and South America, to slum-clearance projects in which the futures of tens or hundreds of thousands of people are recklessly erased.

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Why It Matters Who Owns Local Businesses | Jonathan Rowe

As Jane Jacobs pointed out in her seminal Death and Life of Great American Cities, a street with many small shops has many watchful eyes. This is especially so if the shops are run by individual owners who take a personal interest in the surroundings. The pedestrian traffic alone— the constant coming and going— provides potential witnesses and thus a deterrent to crime.


Compare that to a block with a K-Mart or Barnes and Noble. There will be long stretches with no entryways, and no watchful eyes from inside. Such blocks are especially creepy at night.


In a nation with a surfeit of stuff but mounting social deficits, there is an element of insanity in designing and assessing the economy solely in terms of financial transactions, as economists do (via the GDP, for example.) Dr. Thomas Lyson of Cornell University has compared counties with small, locally owned businesses and social institutions against those in which outside corporations dominate.


As recounted by Stacey Mitchell in her book Big Box Swindle, Lyson found that:


“[T]he big-business counties had greater income inequality, lower housing standards, more low-birth-weight babies (an indicator of overall health); more worker disability, lower educational outcomes, and higher crime rates. The small-business counties not only scored better on all of these social welfare measures, but their residents belonged to more civic organizations and voted more often.”

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Pallet Rack Architecture Competition | Jaaga

Pallet Rack Architecture Competition | Jaaga | Arrival Cities | Scoop.it

At the same time, urban India faces a housing shortage as hundreds of millions of people move from rural areas into the cities seeking a better future. The cities are ill-equipted to handle the new comers as the existing infrastructure is already over taxed by the current population.

 

The purpose of this competition is to create innovative architectual designs which use pallet racks to create housing / village clusters which can support 100 plus families. The structures should be as effecient as possible in water and energy usage. Designs should account for residential space as well as community space for the inhabitants. The overall design should fit on a 3 acre plot of land.

 

Designs will be evaluated based on:

- perceived 'livability'

- cost

- self sufficiency

- aesthetics

 

Designs should be submitted as projects on the Open Architecture Network (OAN).


Watch this TEDx talk by Archana Prasad to learn more. 

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Sampath Reddy's curator insight, May 22, 1:38 AM

Im working on low cost community centres and the $300 house challenge www.300house.com , I believe freeman murray and jaaga initiative of pallet rack architecture has some potential solutions, Anybody interested in this project..

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Gawad Kalinga | Inhabitat

Gawad Kalinga | Inhabitat | Arrival Cities | Scoop.it

In the face of mass hyperurbanization, where do we even start to make a shift: fair labor practice, cleaning up the environment, more affordable housing? How can disaster response serve as a catalyst for bringing forth greater infrastructural change?


One organization based in the Philippines may just have a big part of the answer, and is certainly no stranger to disaster recovery. Gawad Kalinga is quickly becoming an international NGO that originally began as a local movement in the Philippines, aimed at eradicating poverty by building villages and communities with squatters all over the country. Started in 2000, several projects have already established together over 15,000 homes in more than 600 villages.


Gawad Kalinga, which means “to give care,” relies on strengthening communal infrastructure that not only includes site development, but education and health facilities, livelihood and community empowerment but, essentially, an economic engine for people and not just raw shelter. The homes are built on sweat equity and skills training, and the organization even provides start-up capital for micro-enterprises and the marketing of community-based products.


Founder Tony Meloto says, “If you want to bring the country out of poverty, give the poorest of the poor a middle class environment so they have middle class aspirations. [...] The problem of poverty is not economic, it is behavioral.”


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Get Away From the Sprawl: More Young Folks Moving Into Cities

Get Away From the Sprawl: More Young Folks Moving Into Cities | Arrival Cities | Scoop.it

If it seems like cities these days are crawling with more young people than ever before, that's because they are, according to data released by the U.S. Census Bureau.

 

The takeaway by the AP is hardly a surprise:


Burdened with college debt or toiling in temporary, lower-wage positions, they are spurning homeownership in the suburbs for shorter-term, no-strings-attached apartment living, public transit and proximity to potential jobs in larger cities.

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Innovative housing for the homeless being built in downtown L.A.

Innovative housing for the homeless being built in downtown L.A. | Arrival Cities | Scoop.it
The Skid Row Housing Trust is building a 102-unit, $20.5-million complex by stacking pre-outfitted apartments atop one another in a Lego-like fashion to save time and money.

The project, designed by award-winning architect Michael Maltzan, will include basketball courts, art centers, community gardens and hundreds of feet of green space. The stacking of apartment units began last week, and the bulk of the construction should be done by mid-January.

"What we're trying to create is something that feels like a microcosm of the city itself," said Maltzan, who has designed two other apartment complexes for the homeless in partnership with the trust.
ddrrnt's insight:

It has been called a "a vision of the future" for the homeless.  Residents must pay 30% of their monthly job or government assistance income, and that's it, there are no other conditions of residency.  Mike Alvidrez, executive director of the Skid Row Housing Trust says that "the first step to helping someone recover from a chronic drug or alcohol problem is to give them a home and sense of community."  I tend to agree.

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How One Man’s Vision for Las Vegas Might Change our Cities Forever

How One Man’s Vision for Las Vegas Might Change our Cities Forever | Arrival Cities | Scoop.it

 Tony Hsieh, the 38-year old founder of online shoe retailer Zappos, is spending $350 million to redevelop downtown Las Vegas.


When Zappos required a new corporate headquarters, Hsieh decided to locate in renovated office space in the City’s former City Hall building. This move bucks the trend of other tech companies and embraces an emerging change in city dweller’s lifestyle choices that Hsieh further seeks to foster.


Hsieh saw that there are essentially two ways in which a major organization can interact with the built environment. They can take the approach that many other tech companies have and build a new, self-sufficient campus filled with all the amenities it’s employees could possibly desire in a lush, isolated setting. Or, they could choose to locate in a more built up area and become part of the community around it, encouraging its employees to interact with others around them and function not only as a workplace but also as a node of knowledge and ideas within the neighbourhood.


Hsieh is putting forward one solution to help solve a problem that has challenged North American cities for decades: how do we reverse an entrenched sprawl-based development program for one that is more supportive of existing urban areas? The traditional approach has been government land use policy, zoning controls, development restrictions to try to limit the amount of new suburban housing each year, targeted tax breaks for building downtown, and other top-down mechanisms for trying to shape the city region. Although success varies by place, there has been limited success and many downtowns have continued to languish even while their populations continue to balloon. Hsieh is offering what promises to be a bottom-up solution, recognizing that cities, corporations and citizens all want healthy, thriving downtowns. The missing component was the developers to get the ball rolling.

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An Omnivore’s Approach To Achieving Energy Security

In 2011, the average American spent $732 to heat their home with natural gas.  In contrast, they spent $2,535 to heat their homes with oil.  Ouch! That's a recipe for bankruptcy. It's also pretty good example of why specialization can hurt you.


What’s required to be an energy omnivore? The ability to:

  • produce a home’s electricity from a variety of fuels.
  • heat and cool a home with oil, wood, natural gas, passive solar, electricity, and geo-exchange.
  • power a vehicle with gasoline, natural gas, diesel, bio diesel, and electricity.

As you can see, this is a pretty extensive list. It’s likely much more expensive to implement than most people can afford at the individual level. Further, much of this omnivorous production might be best done at the community level rather than at the household/complex level.

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Where Your Sofa Is High-Demand Real Estate

Where Your Sofa Is High-Demand Real Estate | Arrival Cities | Scoop.it

In a relatively short period of time, home-sharing websites like Airbnb and CouchSurfing have changed the way we view traveling. Instead of shacking up in dorm-like hostels or overpriced hotels, travelers now have the option of a home-away-from-home, in the shape of a furnished condo, treehouse, bedroom, or gently-worn sofa.

 

These travelers end up staying in locations that can provide an embedded community experience — they live in private homes, furnished by individual city residents, rather than 400-thread-count Egyptian cotton.

 

CouchSurfing, founded in 2004, reports over four million CouchSurfers on their site this year (over 16 million since launch), and Airbnb has had 10 million nights booked since their founding in 2008. The main distinction between the two sites is payment: CouchSurfing is free, and the idea is to stay with a "host." Airbnb's rates vary on the place, but tend to be solo (57 percent of listings are entire places [PDF]) — you are renting the place, not the hosted experience.

 

[PDF] http://assets.airbnb.com/press/press-releases/Airbnb%20Fact%20Sheet_en.pdf

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New immigrants are the ‘hidden homeless’

New immigrants are the ‘hidden homeless’ | Arrival Cities | Scoop.it

Anthony Rozario can smile about his subsidized apartment now, but the Bangladeshi father and his wife used to share a small Scarborough apartment with three adult children.

 

... a new study on immigrant housing warns that thousands of newcomers continue to live in “hidden homelessness” — in shared, overcrowded housing — an issue that has grown more acute, especially in Toronto, where affordable rental units are in short supply.

 

The national study by Metropolis, an international network of researchers in immigration policy, found most newcomers reported spending more than 50 per cent of income on housing, with 15 per cent spending 75 per cent or more.

 

“Financial difficulties force many newcomers to share accommodations that are often poor quality, overcrowded and unsafe,” says the report.

 

The report is based on national housing data and surveys of 600 migrants in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. In Toronto, where the average wage is $69,000, most newcomers surveyed had incomes under $20,000.

 

“New rooming houses are being created in the suburbs, in locations without rooming house regulations. Often illegal, suburban rooming houses can offer deplorable housing,” the report continued.

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Cramped: The urban (lack of) space race

Housing in a city already renowned for cheek-by-jowl living may become smaller still after Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a pilot project this week not for flats but “micro units”.


Responding to a challenge faced in metropolises all over the world, Bloomberg said the units were "critical to the city's continued growth, future competitiveness and long-term economic success" and would justify scrapping US standards requiring flats to offer 400sq ft of floor space.


The problem for planners is stark: the rise of solo living and smaller families has placed huge demand for small, affordable flats in cities that are running out of space.


The "small house movement" has a growing following in the US for compact homes that defy the super-sized approach to building outside the cities.

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Where the heart is: Writers invite us into their idea of home

Where the heart is: Writers invite us into their idea of home | Arrival Cities | Scoop.it

Our homes do not have to offer us permanent occupancy or store our clothes to merit the name. Home can be an airport or a library, a garden or a hotel. Our love of home is in turn an acknowledgement of the degree to which our identity is not self-determined. We need a home in the psychological sense as much as we need one in the physical: to compensate for a vulnerability. We need a refuge to shore up our states of mind, because so much of the world is opposed to our allegiances. We need our rooms to align us to desirable versions of ourselves and to keep alive the important, evanescent sides of us.

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