"Facing a mounting housing shortage, squatters have transformed an abandoned skyscraper in downtown Caracas into a makeshift home for more than 2,500 people."
Global news with a spatial perspective: Interesting, current supplemental materials for geography teachers and students.
Curated by Seth Dixon
"Facing a mounting housing shortage, squatters have transformed an abandoned skyscraper in downtown Caracas into a makeshift home for more than 2,500 people."
This video is one of my favorites in my placed-based geography videos collection. This skyscraper was once a symbol of wealth, and in an incredible paradigm shift, it has now become is occupied by squatters. The lack of a vibrant formal economy and more formal housing leads to a lack of suitable options for many urban residents--especially with problems in the rural countryside. A complex web of geographic factors needs to be explained to understand this most fascinating situation. This NY Times article from 2011 still shows some great concepts on why informal housing develops and this PRI podcast gives us a 2014 update--that the Venezuelan government plans to clear the Tower of its residents.
As the sprawling Zaatari camp evolves into an informal city — with an economy and even gentrification — aid workers say camps can be potential urban incubators that benefit host countries like Jordan.
This is an intriguing article that explores the difficulties of forced migrations that arise from civil war, but it also looks at city planning as refugee camps are established to make homes for the displaced. These camps have become into de-facto cities. The maps, videos and photographs embedded in the article show the rapid development of these insta-cities which organically have evolved to fit the needs of incoming refugees. Size not investing in permanent infrastructure has some serious social, sanitation and financial cost, there are some efforts to add structure to the chaos, to formalize the informal. Truly this is a fascinating case study of in urban geography as we are increasingly living on what Mike Davis refers to as a "Planet of Slums."
"Today, innovation is taking place where people can come together, not in isolated spaces. Innovation districts are this century's productive geography, they are both competitive places and 'cool spaces' and they will transform your city and metropolis."
As described by the Brookings Institution in their exploration regarding innovation districts, they are geographic areas where leading-edge companies, research institutions, start-ups, and business incubators are located in dense proximity. These districts are created to facilitate new connections and ideas, speed up the commercialization of those ideas, and support urban economies by growing jobs in ways that leverage their distinct economic position.
|Suggested by Thomas Schmeling|
"Many good things are happening along a sliver of land that cuts through a crowded corner of Aguascalientes, a city of 1.3 million people. Fields strewn with garbage and a haven for criminals, followed the narrow path of an underground oil pipeline that traverses one impoverished neighborhood after another. In the past three years, the city has reclaimed almost all of this passage for the 300,000 people who live near it. The result is a 7.5 mile linear park that is one of Latin America’s most extraordinary urban green spaces: La Línea Verde — The Green Line."
The term "LULU" for city planners stands for local unwanted land use. LULUs are necessary (prisons, landfills etc.) to the society at large but nobody wants to be close to the negative and undesirable aspects they bring to a community ("NIMBY"-not in my backyard). Consequently, LULUs are usually concentrated in poorer neighborhoods with limited political capital and disproportionately bear the localized burdens of these sites. Inspired by the urban transformations in Curitiba Brazil (see this TED talk from Jaime Lerner of Curitiba discussing sustainable urbanism), this is a great example of how an urban renewal project that was able to mitigate the negatives and even make a LULU a positive for a community.
"Republicans want to blame government (a Democrat thing) or Atlanta (definitely a Democrat thing). Democrats want to blame the region’s dependence on cars (a Republican thing), the state government (Republicans), and many of the transplants from more liberal, urban places feel the same way you might about white, rural, southern drivers. All of this is true to some extent but none of it is helpful."
There are no easy answers, but that doesn't mean we people aren't trying to frame this in an easy narrative. Also look at the Washington Post's compliation of 16 pictures that highlight the missteps in handling this unusual problem.
"In Raleigh, N.C., there's a house... or what looks like a house. What's hidden inside is more important than most people realize. Read the story: http://wunc.org/post/video-whats-inside-house-wade-avenue "
What looks like a wonderful little "Scooby-Doo" mystery turns out to be a great place-based video on city planning, land use and utilities (I don't want to ruin the surprise that comes at the 2 minute mark, but don't worry, it's worth it). If you are teaching a course trying to help students to think about the inner-workings of a city this article would be a very attention grabbing way to make a good point (NPR posted article on this as well). What 'secrets' are hidden in plain sight in your local neighborhood?
Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated areas in the world. Seven million people living in 423 square miles (1,096 sq km).
These apartments are so small that they can only be photographed from the ceiling. Massive urbanization with limited space means that real estate is at a premium and many laborers will not be able to afford large living spaces. Hong Kong is an extreme example of this and it brings new meaning to the term "high-density housing."
Two Yale architects pose the question in an ambitious research project.
"Hsiang and Mendis have increasingly come to believe that the only way to study and plan for our urban planet is to conceptualize its entire population in one seamless landscape – to picture 7 billion of us as if we all lived in a single, massive city."
The federal government's relentless expansion has made Washington, D.C., America's real Second City.
From 1890-1990, Chicago was America's second largest city. Since then Los Angeles has been the second largest city, acting as the west coast capital for the United States. Both of these cities have declined in economic and political importance in the recession, and in this article Aaron Renn argues that Washington D.C. (although demographically not in the same category) could be considered an emerging second city and chronicles it's historic development. Readers may also be interested in how Renn ("the urbanophile") argues that all our impressions about Detroit are inaccurate.
The current rise or durability of the economies of the Global South do not signal that economic geography does not matter, but that current investment has simply shifted.
In an era where globalization has rendered distances a minor barrier to diffusion, some have erroneously concluded that geography is no longer relevant to economic development and urban planning. Nothing could be farther from the truth, but that doesn't mean that the 'old rules' of space and place aren't be re-written. This is a nice article that discusses the continued importance of spatial thinking and geography for urban planning.
A new study finds that urban minds don't pay as much attention to their surroundings unless they're highly engaging.
It's often noted that people from smaller towns prefer a slower pace of life and people from large cities enjoy the hustle and bustle more. So does the urban environment change how we handle the vast quantity of information in major metropolitan areas? This article points to data that says it does.
See the big picture of how suburban developments are changing the country's landscape, with aerial photos and ideas for the future
There are many types of housing development patterns throughout the world. This article provides a summary of approximately 20 different housing patterns common in the United States with a visual example demonstrate the impact on the urban footprint (Pictured above is an example of new urbanism in Boulder, CO). Each neighborhood has distinct cultural amenities and attracts particular socioeconomic market segments.
Questions to Ponder: What housing patterns are you drawn to? How come? What are the advantages for the residents to live in that type of community? What are the impacts that the housing pattern has on the physical environment and the urban system? What systems are most profitable for developers? How does the layout of the neighborhood alter the sense of place?
This image is an excellent visualization to use when teaching about density, public transportation and urban planning.
Questions to Ponder: How is this a persuasive image? Do you argee with the argument that the planning office is making? Are there something important factors that this image ignores?
Cities from Los Angeles to Atlanta are making big bets to revitalize their downtowns by bringing back a form of transportation many abandoned decades ago: the streetcar.
The streetcar was a staple in urban development projects generations ago and was subsequently abandoned. Many mid-sized cities today (and a few large ones) are returning to that 'outdated' mode of transportation and hoping that streetcar stops will encourage businesses to open shop in those neighborhoods.
TED Talks 400 years after Hudson found New York harbor, Eric Sanderson shares how he made a 3D map of Mannahatta's fascinating pre-city ecology of hills, rivers, wildlife -- accurate down to the block -- when Times Square was a wetland and you...
KC: The Manhattan Project created a picture of the area before the development of a city, the way Henry Hudson did during his 1609 exploration. After 10 years (1999-2009), the research project has expanded to study the entire city of New York. The Welikia Project analyzes geography and landscape ecology to discover the original environment and compare it to present day. Scientists have learned that world's largest cities once had a natural landscape of freshwater wetlands and salt marshes, ponds and streams, forests and fields with an equally diverse wildlife community. By focusing on the city's biodiversity of 400 years ago and the modern era, information can be gathered about what has changed, what has remained constant, where the city was done well and where it needs to improve. This source is useful because it allows for the visualization of NYC in a way never seen before. Urban environments, such as NYC, have a landscape largely created by humans, so the skyscrapers, pavement, and mass population is far removed from the landscape it once was.
Walk Appeal promises to be a major new tool for understanding and building walkable places, and it explains several things that were heretofore either contradictory or mysterious.
What is a reasonable distance to walk around town? Research shows that cities with improved sidewalks, less parking lots, attractive storefronts and other amenities that encourage walking. If walking the urban environment is and of itself an experience worth having and makes the person feel like a flâneur, experiencing the city on a deeper level, automotive transport goes down and walking goes up. Urban infrastructure is more important for most people than distance in deciding whether to get in the car or walk down the street (for distances under 2 miles). Bottom line: neighborhoods that have an appealing sense of place are more walkable.
Music video by Counting Crows performing Big Yellow Taxi. (C) 2002 Interscope Geffen (A&M) Records A Division of UMG Recordings Inc.
This music video is a vivid portrayal of the cultural power of place and the deep emotional connection many people have to their neighborhoods. What types of urban geographies are being critiqued by the original lyrics (orginally performed and written my Joni Mitchell) of this song? What do the images portrayed in the video say to further this critique? What type of urbanism are these performers advocating? Given the context of this video, what priorities do you think city planners should consider when building and reshaping cities?
More than half of the world now lives in urban areas. In the U.S., urban dwellers make up 83 percent of the population, and it's growing every day. What does it mean to live in a city today? What are the challenges for cities going forward?
This NPR special series, NPR cities, is an acknowledgement of what we already knew: cities are becoming increasingly important. To understand humanity in the 21st century, we need to understand cities. Included in this marvelous feature are numerous podcasts, infographics and articles about urban themes such as transportation, cultural amenities, economic and neighborhood revitalization.
In urban centers around the country, local governments are looking to attract emerging industries and the next generation of entrepreneurs.
This video shows a panel of urbanists presenting at the Aspen Ideas Festival. The panelists specialize in revitalizing cities and creating economically and culturally vibrant urban centers. They focus not on public policy, but rather finding ways to implement the locally produced ideas of people from the neighborhood with an intimate knowledge of the community as well as a vested in strengthening the local networks. They also highlight the arts, sense of place and the culture of a neighborhood as key components create attractive cities.
More videos from the Apsen Ideas Festival on urbanism, see: http://www.aspenideas.org/session/advice-megacity
Our car-dependent lifestyle has led to a dramatic rise in obesity-related illnesses. But we can do something about it.
What does urban planning have to do with our health? Plenty. More walkable cities not surprisingly have citizens that are healthier and more fit.
Wealthy cities seem to have it all. Expansive, well-manicured parks. Fine dining. Renowned orchestras and theaters. More trees. Wait, trees?
I certainly wouldn't argue that trees create economic inequality, but there appears to be a strong correlation in between high income neighborhoods and large mature trees in cities throughout the world (for a scholarly reference from the Journal, Landscape and Urban Planning, see: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0169204607002174 ). Why is there such a connection? In terms of landscape analysis, what does this say about those who have created these environments? Why do societies value trees in cities? How does the presence of trees change the sense of place of a particular neighborhood? For more Google images that show the correlation between income and trees (and to share your own), see: http://persquaremile.com/2012/05/24/income-inequality-seen-from-space/
Channel 5 - Behind closed Doors Series on Container City at Trinity Buoy Wharf...
On my daily commute, I drive by a colorful container building in Providence, RI. In terms of it's spatial configuration and aesthetic statement within the urban landscape, I found it fascinating. After doing some more research, I began to appreciate this as a form of sustainable housing that 1) costs less than traditional structures, 2) can be built MUCH quicker that standard buildings and 3) has the potential to be an effective recycling method. For more on 'Container Cities,' see: http://sustainablecitiescollective.com/kaidbenfield/40875/shipping-container-cities-bring-creative-funky-approach-green-construction
The official Web site of the High Line and Friends of the High Line...
What do you do with an outdated elevated train line running through a crowded neighborhood in New York City? In the 1980s, residents called for the demolition of the eyesore since it was blamed for economic struggles of the community and increased criminal activity. Unfortunately demolition is extremely expensive. However, this one particular abandoned line has recently been converted into an elevated green space that has economically revitalized the local real estate. Find out more about this innovated park and project. To see a similar project in Saint Louis, see: http://grgstl.org/projects/the-trestle.aspx
Kennedy Smith is considered one of the nation's leading experts on downtowns, downtown economics, independent business development and the economic impact of urban sprawl, with a long career in downtown revitalization.
This video discusses the decline of the American Central Business District, the rise of shopping malls, the importance of the automobile and spatial organization of particular economic sectors.
Parts Two http://vimeo.com/37041011 ; and Three http://vimeo.com/37050944 ; continue the discussion with an emphasis on practical urban planning policies for small cities to revitalize the downtown region with some domestic and foreign examples.
"Jaime Lerner reinvented urban space in his native Curitiba, Brazil. Along the way, he changed the way city planners worldwide see what’s possible in the metropolitan landscape. From building opera houses with wire to mapping the connection between the automobile and your mother-in-law, Jaime Lerner delights in discovering eccentric solutions to vexing urban problems. In the process he has transformed the face of cities worldwide."
Jaime Lerner does not see cities as the problem; he sees urbanism as the solution to many global problems. This video outlines practical plans to rethink the city to be more sustainable. Click here to see the trailer for a documentary about the urban changes in Curitiba, Brazil.