Tag Archives: Planning

“Theatrical machine” – architecture/engineering mashup

Worth watching for the last two minutes of speeded up transformation of the space. Ingenious…

The architects views on the process also struck a chord, as it’s not too different from any of our projects – client buy in, controlling costs, no surprises, use established technology, etc.

Again its a Dallas architecture/planning innovation, see my earlier post on Re:Vision – I can’t remember the place being that exciting when I lived there in the mid 60s.

Re:Vision

I have just returned from a few days in Little Rock and since I lived there many years ago the city centre, like many US cities, is starting to come back from the loss of confidence in urban living in the 70’s. However apart from the Clinton Library and some regen of the riverside areas (usual makeover aimed at tourists) it appears to me that there is no radical new architecture or cohesive planning being applied – locals please correct me if I have missed something?

There is a US model to follow – Dallas.

With its recent urban regeneration completions under the generic Urban Re:Vision title – the latest is scheme is a design competition for urban living for otherwise uninspiring one city block (see above) – Re:Vision – this gives rise for optimism about urban planning in US cities away from the usual suspects – Portland, etc. As the Urban Vision people say:

“What if one block in Texas became the sustainable model for the world?” 

(of course it would be more relevant if one block in Delhi became the sustainable model for the world, but we get the point…)

Previous competitions include designs for transport, energy, construction. One of those competitions, Re:Route, considered urban transport with a good mix of deliverable schemes and fanciful architects ideas (says the cynical transport planner).

Intellectual Property

One of the most telling moments at Mipim this week was the Innovation seminar. Now seminars at Mipim are never that well attended – theres deals to be done, wine to drink – but even so less than 100 people in a big room reminded me of the industries weaknesses – introversion, conservatism, complacency.

The speaker, Robert Newhart II, an American innovation evangelist, preached a pretty mainstream spin on innovation (and creativity) compared to some of the more edgy stuff we hear in the UK, whether from Nesta or the social marketing sector. Drawing on his “Free Radicals of Innovation”  film, there were examples – the usual suspects – Apple, Sony, Nike – and the theme was the usual “innovate or die”, more innovation when times are tough, etc, with quotes from Darwin, Edison, Einstein as well as video clips with Guy Kawasaki (yep, him again). Not bad as an advert for the Innovation Center.org, but not sure the real estate guys got anything from it.

So what else did I see?  – lots of glass towers optimistically proposed for small towns in eastern Europe, big Russian stands, but fewer Russians, Boris Johnson positive and idiosyncratic as usual, UK public sector led regen strong, a lot less money men and yes just a few people saying there are good schemes coming forward. But as Newhart says too many think its “keep your head down and in two years time you can carry on as before” – no, the old model is not only broke, but gone.

As for the anticipated Twitter #Mipim buzz it didn’t really happen – a few from individuals, the magazines – especially BD &  Estates Gazette, but maybe everyone was too “busy” to report their progress minute by minute. Most were saying “its less busy, but the key players are still here” – perhaps justification for the bosses back home?

Now back to the real world for me too…

19.20.21

New video  for an old project from Jon Kamen (Radical Media) exploring urbanisation and the rise of megacities, on Fora TV.

192021

The 19.20.21  project draws attention to the way such cities are growing and the problems of mass urbanisation, particularly in developing nations. How do we live in cities and how does that change over time?

“Finding the future first” means sharing data and information, so that better decisions are made, from infrastructure to health to culture.  The benefits of vertical living to save space, energy efficient mass transit systems are cited. 

The section on the largest cities at 1000, 1500,1900, 1950 and 2005 are as expected – the global cities are now mainly in Asia – as Kamen suggests urbanisation driven by water supply and location – well, yes and a few other factors .

Ultimately this is a promotional video for a potentially  interesting information project, so dependent on the audience you probably know this stuff already (or couldn’t care less). The site is OK, although my website designer pals would have plenty to beef about, just need to come back in 12 months time and see if its objectives have been met. As the idea has been kicking around since 2007 I perhaps won’t hold my breath waiting.

Seaside Shuffle

Just back from a few days at MIPIM, the property conference in Cannes. This year attended by a record number of 28,000 delegates, the first question I have been asked since getting back – “is the sub prime financial woes having an impact on the developers in Europe?” (actually usually asked about the consumption of champagne and size of the yachts, but it breaks down to the same thing).

CNBC didnt find any hard evidence and neither did I , although there was just a hint of caution. Certainly there were a lot of developers who wanted to talk to transport planners, so that justified my trip to somewhere sunny in March …

And just in case someone tells you MIPIM is all about the parties congrats to the 140 cyclists who completed the 1500 km Cycle to Cannes event for charity this year.

Draft Local Transport Bill

It’s finally here and first impressions suggest that it will equally please and upset both sides of the regulation/deregulation debate. Will do a more detailed review and see what the press makes of it over the next few days…

With the Planning White Paper out for consultation over the same period (summer holidays, not that I am paranoid) we will be busy working out what it will mean for us if it gets enacted unchanged.

London rail growth

An interesting technical paper from David Levinson on whether population density affects the growth of the network (it isnt the only factor, you will not be surprised to hear), but the best bit is the growth movie – 40mb so make sure you have the bandwidth!

Streetscape

ken-high-st1.jpg

Just read for the first time the Wired 2004 article on the “less is more” approach to traffic management, as interpreted for the US audience. The Dutch, as always, credited with innovation in this area.

Like a lot of transport people I went to look at the Kensington High Street scheme (above) when the Borough dramatically changed the streetscape and also removed a significant % of the street furniture. Not being an engineer I liked what I saw of the £5m project but could see how it would upset the highway standards based approach.  A recent LTT article reminded me to go back and see what it is like now, after a few years to bed in.  

Pedestrian behaviour was interesting, with people who I presumed to be visitors still not certain where their territory starts and the car rules. (I would have though the Italian tourists would have felt at home, having sampled their “freeform” approach to traffic management.)

Since 2003 a number of other UK cities have looked at similar treatments, although it has to be recognised it isn’t going to be deliverable everywhere. CABE and Transport  2000 are promoting such schemes to “reclaim main roads from traffic”, but plenty of engineers rightly question the safety impacts of removing all guardrails, for example. Others where I work can say whether or not I am taking a too simplistic view.

Lateral thinking on parking

From Boing Boing

Edward de Bono was asked by the mayor of a small town in Australia to consult on the town’s parking problem. The mayor wanted to know how to effectively use parking meters. TK told the mayor that the problem was not about parking meters and how to use them, it was about people parking their cars all day on the street. “Don’t use parking meters,” he told the mayor. “Tell people they can park as long as they want for free, provided they keep their headlights on while the car is parked.”

Parking 2.0

Have you seen Parkatmyhouse ? Its a type of market product that couldn’t work without the internet –  no one really tried it with classified ads in local papers, for example. So as a transport planner what should be my reaction?

Will it generate trips? Is it adding significantly to parking supply? What about its impact on parking costs? Tax issues? Planning law?

I will watch and see, the number of places where it will work are pretty limited. A search on Oxford identified 5 locations within walking distance of the centre, at £5 per day, £25 – £30 per week – cheaper than the Westgate MSCP I suppose. One helpfully speaks of the number of buses to the city, surely you could park for free further out, use the P&R or even get the bus from home?