Sustainability Category

Connectivity is only the beginning – networking is the goal

For digital users 2010 was the year to get connected; 2011 will be the year to become networked. It is one thing to buy an iPhone, join Facebook and Twitter, get a blog, friend and follow. It is another to keep it all going. Already, people are being encouraged to unplug. But why unplug when […]

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Performance planning – beauty has a functional component

I spoke yesterday to Prof Jerold Kayden’s “Design Law Policy” class at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. My presentation “Performance planning – urban measurement, analysis & forecasting” can be downloaded from Slideboom.

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Spatial transformation – Berlin

The following images of Berlin have been prepared by Anna Rose and Christian Schwander at Space Syntax Limited as part of a wider study of the city. They show the pattern of “spatial integration” in Berlin at three key periods in history: 1940, 1989 and 2011. The colours read like a temperature scale, with highest levels […]

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Giving it all away? Space Syntax & the future of urban planning software

Notes for a lecture to be given at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, 23rd March 2011   Themes With notable exceptions, the current use of technology in planning and, especially, urban design/architecture practice is medieval. More visual than analytic. More about the “Wow!” than the “Why?”, the “Which?” or the “Will it?” Example of […]

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Achieving prosperous local communities – physical connectedness is key

Community prosperity means social, economic and environmental prosperity. Each of these dimensions is strongly influenced by the physical design of the places where people live. Physical design influences human behaviour, which in turn influences community prosperity. The most important aspect of physical design is connectedness. Connectedness can be measured scientifically. Its effects on societal wealth […]

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Millennium Development Goals

MDG 1 Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger MDG 2 Achieve universal primary education MDG 3 Promote gender equality and empower women MDG 4 Reduce child mortality MDG 5 Improve maternal health MDG 6 Combat HIV/AIDS and other diseases MDG 7 Ensure environmental sustainability

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Portland: city of hub and spoke centrality

Thank you to all the people that kindly hosted me in Portland over the past three days: Portland Bright Lights, the City of Portland, Portland State University, Ankrom Moisan and Portland TriMet. Thank you to everyone that came to hear me speak – five talks in three days was a challenge that I was happy […]

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Dharavi – slum for sale

Notes from screening at Harvard GSD The key issue is employment, not housing. Need to retain micro-industry as well as housing. Resident’s comment on high rise housing proposal (but no clear proposal for providing places of work): “Will the oxygen up there fill our stomachs?” Industry generates 750 million dollars per annum. Dharavi therefore as […]

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Connecting the disconnected – how much is enough?

Yesterday evening, Ed Parham gave a talk at the Graduate School of Design on Space Syntax’s work redesigning unplanned settlements in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Despite the really awful weather, which turned Cambridge into a pedestrian sludge, there was a full house. Ed showed how Jeddah’s unplanned settlements share a common spatial property of being locally […]

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From landscapes of extraction to creative industries of organic matter & waste

​​Monday, 14th February 2011 at 6pm Stubbins Room, Harvard Graduate School of Design, 48 Quincy Street, Cambridge, MA 02138 Participants Pablo Rey, Basurama Manolo Mansylla, Trashpatch Robin Nagle, anthropologist of material culture (waste) Scientist doing research in biomaterials (Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering/ Materials Research Science and Engineering Center – School of Engineering and […]

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Upcoming talk: “Planning the unplanned: An evidence-based approach to design in informal settlements”

Harvard Graduate School of Design, 18th January 2011, 6:30pm With the world population of slum dwellers set to increase to 2 billion over the next 30 years, the need to provide adequate living conditions for the urban poor is recognised as a major challenge. Political and economic pressure to implement improvements quickly, often means that […]

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If planning doesn’t work, is the answer chaos? Surely not…

“I mean, bluntly, there comes a question in life – do you believe planning works, that clever people sitting in a room can plan how people’s communities should develop? Or do you believe it can’t work? “I believe it can’t work, David Cameron believes it can’t, Nick Clegg believes it can’t. Chaotic therefore in our […]

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Social Entrepreneurship in the Built Environment

Tweetroll from an evening at the Harvard Graduate School of Design with actor/activist Edward Norton and developer Jonathan Rose Social Entrepreneurship in the Built Environment Piper Auditorium, 1st December 2010 Edward Norton quoting his grandfather Jim Rouse: The purpose of business is not profit but the provision of an authentic service from which profit is […]

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Much much more with much much less

Inspired by a comment by Rahul Mehrotra, “Much much more with much much less” is the theme of next semester’s Loeb Fellowship Public Seminar series. The four seminars in the series will take place at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. The working titles for the seminars are: Technology Resources, Money & Economy Food, […]

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Why it isn’t all about common sense…

There is a view that historic cities have all the answers and we just need to look at them. Or, in any case, it’s just common sense. If professionals had a bit more common sense they would make a better set of decisions. There are at least three reasons why this can’t be entirely the […]

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Technology – it’s the new concrete!

Stub… Pouring concrete used to be the “macho” expression of urban planning power. Today it is technology. “Macho” has translated into “cool”. Risk – we jump too quickly through the filter of common sense ie the “What’s all this for?” filter.

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Landscape Urbanism & New Urbanism: it shouldn’t be so divisive

Summary Despite the efforts of each party to highlight its differences, there is a significant overlap between Landscape Urbanism and New Urbanism, both positive and negative. Positive: a concern about urban harmony. Negative: a tendency to fragment (call it sprawl). Urbanists of both colours would do better to recognise this common ground and realise that […]

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Go looking for the thing you can’t see

Architecture is obsessed with what things look like. Hence the focus on form and style; on the materials that buildings are made from; on the processes by which these materials are brought together. In school, in practice and in the media. But this isn’t everything and it isn’t enough. Architecture is much more important. It […]

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Harvard Urban Planning Organisation

Today I gave a short presentation to urban planning students at the Graduate School of Design titled: “Urban sustainability: the social, economic & environmental influence of spatial layout”. Here’s the introduction… “In this presentation I will focus on one particular aspect of sustainability: the patterns of human activity – movement, co-presence and interaction – that […]

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“If we can get to flexible wood, I am totally going to cut my own leg off.”

Ashley Vance’s article in last week’s New York Times paints an enticing picture of a future in which 3d printing can conjure objects before us at the press of a button. A 3d Hewlett Packard in every home will spray up a new pair of Nike shoes in a few seconds. Science nonsense? Some might […]

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