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thoughts, ideas + dialogues on urban revitalization, smart growth + neighborhood development
Curated by Lauren Moss
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A Bubble over Beijing for Clean Air

A Bubble over Beijing for Clean Air | green streets |

Architecture firm Orproject has proposed the construction of a sealed canopy filled with clean air. Bubbles would cover a park and botanical garden, providing a healthy, temperature- and humidity-controlled area.

Beijing has the worst smog levels among the world’s capital cities – so bad that playing sports outdoor is often banned – but it could get a stunning new set of lungs in the form of a covered botanical garden, retail and office complex under a giant transparent roof.

Called Bubbles, the architectural concept might seem an unlikely candidate for a high-rise city of 21 million people. But its designers believe it offers something that every urban environment needs.

“It’s just an infrastructure project like building metro stations and parks – it’s applicable in every dense, polluted metropolis where there’s a need for open, green spaces throughout the year,” says Rajat Sodhi at Orproject, an architecture practice with offices in London, Beijing and New Delhi.

Norm Miller's curator insight, April 29, 2014 6:31 PM

One way to have clean air is to avoid making bad air, but what a lousy solution this bubble is to industrialization.

New Life ESL's curator insight, November 7, 2014 3:47 AM

That's a wonderful idea!!


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Phytoremediation: Healing Urban Landscapes through Plants

Phytoremediation: Healing Urban Landscapes through Plants | green streets |
Two graduate students present a concept for a former harbor site in north Amsterdam exploring the benefits of phytoremediation.

In the world of modern architecture everything has to be sustainable. If this means that we have to take care of nature and use our resources wisely then maybe phytoremediation can be considered a sustainable method of re-designing highly polluted areas.

Healing, remediating, cleaning, and purifying contaminated soil using plants to extract pollutants is the method of phytoremediation. It is getting attention lately, as it appears to be an effective low-cost and sustainable alternative when dealing with polluted soils. Interlaced into a good landscape design strategy it can save money, improve quality of urban spaces, and provides active and aesthetic uses of polluted areas until they are safe for other uses... 

Daniel LaLiberte's curator insight, September 22, 2013 2:51 PM

Maybe before 200 years we will figure out how to speed up the process.

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The 10 most polluted cities in the U.S.

The 10 most polluted cities in the U.S. | green streets |

Despite improvements in air quality, four in 10 Americans still live where pollution levels are often dangerous to breathe.

There is no doubt that great strides have been made in air pollution in the U.S. Awareness, stricter legislation and improved technology have all contributed to improved air, land and water conditions. Despite the improvements, four in 10 Americans still live where pollution levels are often dangerous to breathe.

Since the American Lung Association began studying particle pollution, almost all of the most polluted cities have consistently remained among the worst. The ALA’s 2013 “State of the Air” report measures cities based on low-lying ozone pollution, as well as both short- and long-term particle pollution. Based on average long-term particle pollution figures collected between 2009 and 2011, 24/7 Wall St. identified the 10 most polluted cities in the country...

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Sky-high horticulture: Shenzhen's 'farmscraper' plan

Sky-high horticulture:  Shenzhen's 'farmscraper' plan | green streets |

Conceived in response to a densely populated Chinese city's unchecked growth, Asian Cairns is an ambitious take on vertical farming.

A Belgian architect recently unveiled the 79-acre masterplan for Asian Cairns, a dizzying new vision of urban vertical farming in China. 
Consisting of a sextet of “sustainable monoliths for rural urbanity” — stacked, pebble-esque, steel-ringed transparent pods that are powered by both vertical wind turbines and photovoltaics — Vincent Callebaut Architects’ Asian Cairns is planned for the rapidly swelling, skyscraper-heavy port city of Shenzhen in the southern province of Guangdong north of Hong Kong.
Beyond agricultural concerns, Asian Cairns is envisioned as a mixed-use development that also incorporates residential, retail, and recreational areas. Imagined as being completely emissions-free and producing more energy than they consume, the Cairns were conceived in direct response to Shenzhen’s unchecked urban development and the population growth and increased pollution levels that have accompanied it...
Duane Craig's curator insight, March 15, 2013 12:00 PM

Really cool, but I bet it will be a real challenge and expense to build it. Look at all the curved glass.

ParadigmGallery's curator insight, March 19, 2013 1:08 PM

TY Lauren Moss...

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Bosco Verticale: The World’s First Vertical Forest Nears Completion in Milan

Bosco Verticale: The World’s First Vertical Forest Nears Completion in Milan | green streets |

Back in 2011 we reported on the Bosco Verticale — a new superstructure designed to bring the world's first vertical forest to Milan, Italy.

While many were skeptical when it came to the feasibility of construction, Boeri Studio reports that the structure is certainly more than just a fantasy — in fact, it's well on its way to being completed this year. The project's two towers have already reached full height, and since April of 2012 teams have been installing trees on the structure. Though construction has slowed due to rain and snowfall in Milan over the last couple months, things are anticipated to kick up again very soon to meet the late 2013 opening.

Milan is one of the most polluted cities in the world – the Bosco Verticale project aims to mitigate some of the environmental damage that has been inflicted upon the city by urbanization. The design is made up of two high-density tower blocks with trees and vegetation planted on the facade. The plants help capture CO2 and dust in the air, reduce the need to mechanically heat and cool the tower’s apartments, and help mitigate the urban heat island effect experienced in the city – particularly during the summer when temperatures can reach over 100 degrees.

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Are Urban Microcenters the Solution to Urban Sprawl?

Are Urban Microcenters the Solution to Urban Sprawl? | green streets |
During the last decades, the conurbation problem in large cities has increased, reaching alarming levels.

At present, the average time a person needs to travel from home to a workplace is around 4 hours, which represents a total loss of 20 hours every week, that is, 80 hours per month, 960 hours yearly, which translates into a total of 40 days in traffic a year.

This is reflected in time loss, otherwise destined for leisure, quality of life, time spent with family, in addition to the obvious heavy traffic, which results in enormous energy costs for moving this population, and this translates in huge CO2 emissions into the atmosphere, in other words, “pollution”.

Hence, the need to create urban microcenters, that are located in central areas in the city, where the necessary infrastructure for transportation, subway systems, metro buses, buses, etc., as well as water supply, sewage, energy power, is already present. Moreover, they integrate elements in the design of their façades and facilities that allow reductions of resources and generated waste; also, they are mostly vertical urban groups that merge different activities on one place, integrating housing, offices, commerce, hotels, fun, and mostly, public spaces in squares, gardens on the ground floor or even on higher levels. The objective is to reduce the need to travel around the city, which at the same time has a direct bearing on traffic density. This allows the quality of life of users, to improve, which makes the city more efficient...

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Rome Restricts Car Use to Reduce Emissions, Improve Air Quality

Rome Restricts Car Use to Reduce Emissions, Improve Air Quality | green streets |

With climate talks taking place in Durban this week, all eyes have been on South Africa. But whether climate discussions yield binding targets or not, cities around the world are suffering the very real consequences of greenhouse gas emissions and taking necessary steps to lower pollution levels. Rome, Italy, for example, exceeded air safety limits 56 times this year, according to 3news. Traffic congestion and car traffic are the main contributors to the six consecutive days of emergency level air pollution rates in Rome, and therefore the city is taking action by using partial vehicle blocks and pedestrian weekends to push air pollution levels down.

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A (Thought) Bubble to Help China Tackle Pollution

A (Thought) Bubble to Help China Tackle Pollution | green streets |

We all know about the shocking statistics regarding the Mainland's pollution, as well as some of the drastic measures it has experimented with to battle it. London-based practice Orproject has come up with a temporary solution for this crowd, one that would transport the Bucky Ball and its biosphere into the contemporary situation in China.

The idea behind the “Bubbles” concept is to encapsulate a park or a garden under a transparent shell to provide an urban oasis of clean air for the citizens to enjoy. Made from ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE), the structure would maintain a visual delicacy while providing a secure barrier to allow for the control of heat and humidity within. Mimicking the function of a leaf, the form will be covered with translucent solar cells (for conceptual "photosynthesis") and riddled with a series of veins that would function as the circulatory system of the park.

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A Proposal To Transform London’s BT Tower Into A Pollution Harvester

A Proposal To Transform London’s BT Tower Into A Pollution Harvester | green streets |

Royal College of Art graduate Chang-Yeob Lee’s ‘Synth[e]tech[e]cology’ project aims to repurpose the BT Tower into pollution harvesting skyscraper that extracts carbon from petrol fumes to produce sustainable bio-fuels. 

Lee chose to base his design around the 620-ft telecommunications tower because of its predicted redundancy and its location in one of the most polluted areas in London. The redesigned tower would serve as a way to gather economically valuable resources from pollutants in the atmosphere while reducing the level of respiratory illness in the city. 

“Pollution is nothing but the resources we are not harvesting”, said Lee. “We allow them to disperse because we've been ignorant of their value. Pollution could be another economy.”
The tower will also include “a vertical oil field laboratory and a laboratory for future resources present in the atmosphere”.

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VetiVertical City: An Innovative & Sustainable Urban Solution for Shanghai

VetiVertical City:  An Innovative & Sustainable Urban Solution for Shanghai | green streets |

Shanghai is one of the Chinese cities with the highest levels of CO2 emissions per capital, and new material applications are being incorporated into architectural designs in order to address these urban issues. Vetiver is a tropical plant with uniquely structural, penetrating roots and the Vetiver System (VS) has been tested for slope stabilization, pollution control and water quality improvement.

The proposal for a new type of vertical city, featuring this sustainable technology, pursues dual objectives: first, the purification of wastewater produced by the building in order to recycle it and second, carbon dioxide reduction.

Achieving these goals is possible thanks to the combination between the properties of Vetiver with a new kind of skyscraper: VetiVertical City...

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Heat from North American cities causing warmer winters, study finds

Heat from North American cities causing warmer winters, study finds | green streets |

Researchers say extra heat generated by huge cities explains additional warming not explained by existing climate models.

Those who wonder why large parts of North America seem to be skipping winter have a new answer in addition to climate change: big city life.

A study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, found that the heat thrown off by major metropolitan areas on America's east coast caused winter warming across large areas of North America, thousands of miles away from those cities.

Scientists have for years been trying to untangle how big cities – with the sprawl of buildings and cars – affect climate. The study suggests cities themselves have far-reaching effects on climate, in addition to the climate pollution caused by the burning of fossil fuels.

Via SustainOurEarth, Digital Sustainability
Brittany Ortiz's curator insight, September 29, 2014 5:15 PM

Very interesting reading this. It seems quite true since the past winter didn't seem as cold as most winters here in Rhode Island. If the big cities cause the winter to be less cool then in the future, would winter even be cold? Lets hope and say this problem will never happen.

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Top 10 best and worst cities to live | SmartPlanet

Top 10 best and worst cities to live | SmartPlanet | green streets |
A new ranking measures city characteristics like sprawl, green space, and pollution to determine livability.

The Economist Intelligence Unit — the city rankings specialists — has a new list claiming the best cities to live. And they have an interesting new livability metrics to judge the world’s cities.

The rankings combined EIU’s popular “Liveability Index” with a new measure that focuses on spatial characteristics. The “Spatially Adjusted Livability Index” takes into account seven characteristics:


-Sprawl: using the ”estimated relation between the metropolitan region’s surface and its total population, the overall coherence of the metropolitan form and an estimate of the extent of low density urban fabric.”

-Green space: based on ”the distribution of green spaces within the metropolitan region, the number of local green spaces and the number of metropolitan scale green spaces.”

-Natural assets: using “Google Earth satellite imagery and information from Open Street Map to assign points to cities based on the natural features” and the number of protected areas around a city center.

-Cultural assets: counting the number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the vicinity of the cities.

-Connectivity: calculating how many cities can be reached by plane from a city and the average number of flights from that city.

-Isolation: based on the number of large cities near a city.

-Pollution: using World Health Organisation (WHO)’s Air Pollution in Cities database to calculate air quality with a concentration of particulate matter of over 10 micrometres...

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Proposed Light Installation Responds to Noise Pollution in Red Hook

Proposed Light Installation Responds to Noise Pollution in Red Hook | green streets |

The Artists Build Collaborative is attempting to bring light and clarity to an area of Red Hook most notable for its darkness and confusion. The proposal, Silent Lights, is a system of interactive illuminated gates along a pedestrian path along Hamilton Avenue under the Brooklyn Queens Expressway. With a high concentration of both human and motor traffic in the area, the installation will respond to the surrounding vehicular cacophony by translating sound pollution into light, allowing the auditory experiencee to be both seen and heard.

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