The rhetoric of smart cities would be more persuasive if the environment that the technology companies create was actually a compelling one that offered models for what the city can be. But if you look at Silicon Valley you see that the greatest innovators in the digital field have created a bland suburban environment that is becoming increasingly exclusive — European Commissioner for the Digital Agenda for Europe
Back in September Rem Koolhaas gave a talk at the High Level Group meeting on Smart Cities, Brussels, 24 September 2014. During the talk he asked what really makes a city "smart", and argued that it's critical for smart cities and governments to converge again. h/t @Bruce Sterling
Proving that some market somewhere will find a value for anything, a company called Orbital Insight is now tracking "the shadows cast by half-finished Chinese buildings" as a possible indicator for where the country's economy might be headed. — bldgblog.blogspot.com
City Hall. It's traditionally the place where technology gets stuffed into a drawer and forgotten. But as budgets recover from the Great Recession and smartphone-toting citizens prod municipal officials, cities are now more Boston Dynamics than Boss Tweed. Soon the pols will be promising sensor-driven pots that cook the chicken for you, just the way you like it. — wired.com
Enter Cities Unlocked, a project intended to help people with sight loss navigate cities. The brainchild of a blind Microsoft employee, it uses GPS, a 3D audio headset, and Bluetooth beacons, among other technologies. [...]
“I’m a blind person, I need to keep my ears open,” she says. The headset uses bone-conducting technology, in which vibrations create a “3D soundscape” around the user. — nextcity.org
In fact, as many as 600 million birds die in window collisions in the U.S. and Canada every year, scientists estimate. [...]
A growing awareness of the threats to bird populations has prompted new laws and voluntary guidelines in cities from Toronto to San Francisco. Along with "green" building programs, these new rules are spurring demand for bird-friendly glass among architects, glass manufacturers, and their clients. — news.nationalgeographic.com
The architect today is no ‘fountainhead.’ It is rather sad to watch today’s ‘starchitects’, designing their weird-looking signature buildings. These seem now always to be either museums or condos for billionaires. The brand-name architect just build useless luxury housing for the 1% and their trinkets. The actual design of the world is now in the hands of other people. — Public Seminar Commons
McKenzie Wark pens a rather a wake up call of a book review on Easterling's new book Extrastatecraft: The Power of Infrastructure Space in which Easterling offers a set of subsidiary metaphors for contemporary infrastructure design: multipliers, switches, and topologies."The multipliers...
To capture more energy from the sun, one company is putting solar panels where they've never gone before: in the street.
This week, the Dutch company SolaRoad officially opened the world's first solar roadway in a suburb outside of Amsterdam. The 230-foot (70 meters) stretch of energy-absorbing concrete and glass will be used as a bicycle path for commuters, according to the company. — Live Science
The Courtyard House Plug-in is a modular home that was created by People’s Architecture Office to respond to the need of Beijing’s historic neighborhoods for modern facilities. [...]
This sort of living solution comes in handy when renovating old protected buildings and presents an alternative to tearing them down. “Houses tend to degrade when they’re vacant and unkempt,” says Shen, so plug-ins may help keep places like Hutongs alive despite their beat up look. — popupcity.net
Developed with the help of a team of volunteer researchers, urban planners and designers, this new online tool allows anyone to view the staggering amount of publicly-owned lots that once had an urban renewal plan in the pipeline but were scrapped due to bureaucracy. By mapping out all of the vacant spaces across the city, 596 hopes that we as a community can take a top-down approach to turning these urban blights into public gardens, play lots, and spaces where people can “co-create.” — 6sqft
From 1949-1974 NYC took on an urban renewal project that resulted in the bulldozing of "slums" across Manhattan. The vast majority of the proposals planned for the land floundered and today nearly 15,000 lots across the city lay vacant. 596 Acres, a grassroots land access nonprofit, had developed...
The provisional conclusions of the study are that the brain behaves differently when exposed to contemplative and non-contemplative buildings, contemplative states elicited through “architectural aesthetics” are similar to the contemplation of traditional meditation in some ways, and different in other ways, and, finally, that “architectural design matters.” — theatlantic.com
One of my heroes for this kind of thinking is Denise Scott-Brown. Her application of historical, ethnographic and sociological thinking to urban design and architecture is still incredibly radical, but has been completely overwhelmed by Venturi’s obsession with signs and language. — Failed Architecture
"Automated design processes, critique on the profession’s culture, DIY-design and wider trends put pressure on the social and public relevance of the architect. On the other hand, architects are crossing boundaries, taking up new roles and experimenting with other approaches, while other...
The Second Avenue Subway is the stuff of legend in New York City, the locomotive who cried wolf. Plagued by funding shortages, the project has been stop-and-go since the 1920s. Now construction is back to go; in late September, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) [...] requested $1.5 billion [...]. Michael Horodniceanu, head of construction for the MTA, has stated that the long-awaited line may be ready by 2029. In the meantime, the MTA is learning about, and acting on, geology. — cafe.com
Are you in a hurry to catch your flight and still need to find a parking place? Meet Ray, a shiny robot that parks your car at Düsseldorf Airport in Germany.
Ray makes sure you don’t have to park miles away from the terminal, eliminating the hassle of finding a parking place. Just drop off your car within a few meters from the check-in area [...]. When you come back from a holiday or business trip, the robot will make sure your car is ready to go when you walk out of the airport. — popupcity.net
This new, partly digital sand table interface developed for military planning would seem to have some pretty awesome uses in an architecture or landscape design studio.
Using 3D terrain data—in the military's case, gathered in real-time from its planetary network of satellites—and a repurposed Kinect sensor, the system can adapt to hand-sculpted transformations in the sand by projecting new landforms and elevations down onto those newly molded forms. — BLDGBLOG
In Screen/Print #26: an interview with Jessica Walsh, currently half of design firm Sagmeister & Walsh, was excerpted, from the 2nd issue of Intern Magazine (devoted to "intern culture" in the creative industries). Darkman was confused "Strange choice to interview the most hated...
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