What We’re TH!NKing About: This Month’s Round-up of our Favourite Digital Reads
The Reinventing Cities competition launched back in 2017 as a call for carbon-neutral regenerative projects from cities across the globe. The challenge, led by C40 Cities, asked cities to transform underutilized sites into beacons of sustainability and resiliency. After 230 Expressions of Interest, the 15 winning projects are now announced- 14 of the projects will take place across 5 countries in Europe and one will take place in Chicago. The winning projects inspire a welcomed optimism for a sustainable and resilient future, such as a biodegradable battery factory that’s powered by solar energy, and a parking lot turned carbon neutral hostel. Read more about the winning projects here.
Aspern, Vienna is one of the largest urban developments in Europe and also one of the continent’s most progressive. The city has paved the way for “gender mainstreaming” practices that might not be noticeable to the male eye. The planning team for the neighborhood found that two-thirds of on-foot journeys made were made by women, while two-thirds of car trips were made by men. This discovery has led to significant women-centered developments in the city such as improved street lighting, pedestrian-priority traffic crossing, wider pavements and public sports facilities that are more commonly used by girls rather than male-dominated basketball courts. After 26 years of gender mainstreaming practice, it’s now common place for the rest of Vienna to approach city living through a gender lens. Cities like Berlin, Barcelona and Copenhagen have also turned to gender-sensitive practices, and the UN Human Settlements programme has even recognized Vienna’s strategy as best practice.
“Innovation districts” are now common territory no matter what city you’re in. This is a drastic shift from the suburban post war industry boom that began with engineering behemoth Bell Labs’ retreat from New York City to suburban New Jersey. This trend continued throughout the 20th century when universities and businesses partnered together to develop powerhouse research hubs, such as Silicon Valley. Come 2008, cities realized their desperately need for economic diversity. As cities searched for models to create steady jobs, they reached for a promising group of entrepreneurs and innovators. This shift toward an innovation district was particularly visible in a once finance-focused New York, but today this push can be seen around the world.
Cities continue to shift towards becoming more pedestrian and bike friendly, but the chatter of autonomous vehicles pose a threat to this trajectory. AV’s are rapidly moving to the top of transportation planning priorities, pushing pedestrians and bikers further down the hierarchy. It’s quite possible that AV’s will be left empty a huge portion of the time, or predominantly single-occupancy otherwise. As stated in the article, “a vehicle with zero occupants should not be treated the same as a vehicle with one occupant, or two occupants, regardless of its level of automation.” Can he two initiatives co-exist, or does one negate the other?
Lead image: winning Reinventing Cities project, Urban Battery, by SIC Arquitectura y urbanismo via C40 Cities.