UrbanitAs: The Other City Dwellers aka Urban Animals, Sweden Edition

UrbanitAnimals. We live side by side. We call them pests, vermins, #mprracoon, pets, …

As a common human behaviour, we exterminate the ones we afraid of, and do everything for keeping the ones we like around. The only thing we cannot do is to accept them as city-dwellers, just like us humans.

Here I present you UrbanitAs: The Other City Dwellers aka Urban Animals. This is a photo series formed by the photos I took at different times and in several cities.

I believe we are too late to acknowledge that we are just another species dwelling here on this planet. But, perhaps looking around while strolling on the streets and realising that we are already living with a bunch of others side by side even in the most human-made environment (aka cities) may change our perspective.

I was in Sweden for a conference and visited Uppsala and Stockholm. This edition is dedicated to UrbanitAs living in (and mostly flying over ) these two cities of the North.

 

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BEAUTÉ BRUT: Preston Bus Station

Completed in 1969 by Keith Ingham and Charles Wilson, a pair of architects working for British firm Building Design Partnership (now known as BDP), the 170-metre-long structure became the largest bus station in Europe and a poster child for the Brutalist style.

The colossal scale of the structure – it boasts 40 gates for double-decker buses on both its east and west sides – is seen as both the building’s greatest feature and, by some, its failing. It faced demolition in 2013, following reports that a much-needed renovation could cost as much as £23 million due to the size of the project. But its popularity amongst both local residents and architects led to a heritage listing that blocked any future redevelopment of the site. (Dezeen)

Now, as its renovation is completed, it’s plain that the bus station deserves to stand alongside the other robust civic masonry that Preston, like many industrial cities, boasts: the neo-Greek Harris Museum and Art Gallery; the Edwardian baroque Sessions House. (Guardian)

Preston Bus Station by Building Design Partnership

Preston Bus Station by Building Design Partnership

Preston Bus Station

Image result for Preston bus station

Preston bus station © Alamy

 

 

Image Credits: Wikipedia, Lancashire Council, 20th Century Architecture, Dezeen, Tom Clarke, theplanner

BEAUTÉ BRUT: The Brunswick Centre, London

Brunswick Centre Bloomsbury

The Brunswick Centre – an early experiment in planned mixed-use development of housing with retail and commercial uses – occupies a city block between the Russell and Brunswick Square Gardens, with Coram’s Fields lying to the east. The centre is well served by the nearby Russell Square underground station. (academyofurbanism)

 

Brunswick Centre

The Brunswick Centre ile ilgili görsel sonucu

The site was originally occupied by Georgian townhouses on the estate of the Foundling Hospital. During the mid 1950s this was bought by a private developer whose plan from the outset was to clear the site to make way for two 25-storey tower blocks containing luxury flats and retail. These proposals were resisted by the borough of Camden and the developer was recommended to the consult the renowned post-war architect Leslie Martin. He championed low rise development and maintained that an equal density of development could be achieved on the site with two parallel blocks. At this stage he handed the project to Patrick Hodgkinson to take forward. (academyofurbanism)

Development commenced in 1967 and was finally completed in 1972. However, the original developer went bankrupt during construction and the project was sold to Sir Robert McAlpine construction. The housing element was bound into contractual obligations and completed as per the original design. After the 1964 general election, furnished tenants were given security of tenure, and Camden Council agreed to rehouse in social housing all existing tenants. (academyofurbanism)

 

Brunswick Centre

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The compound appeared in various popular media pieces such as in the movie The Passenger (1975) as Jack Nicholson visiting the centre and even the Finnish group Lodgers wrote a song for the Brunswick Centre. It has been more than a half of a century, it is still alive and kicking!

(Image Credits: e-architect, Guardian, londonist, academyofurbanism, timeoutlondon,

Stories Behind: A Duke with a Cone?

There are some statues that mark their presence with a twist. And, this is one of them: the statue of Duke of Wellington in Glasgow.

The statue is a part of the cityscape and famous with its cone on top of it.

The statue was erected in 1844. So, the story goes back some time. Not a definite one. It is not certain when the cone was first placed. But, one day, people of Glasgow woke up with a scene that an equestrian statue of a mighty Duke appeared to have a traffic cone on its head.

The statue was listed one of the top ten most bizarre monuments on Earth by Lonely Planet (inews). The statu is loved by the public and the tourists that it has many appearances such as the one below: a replica of the statue erected in the opening ceremony of Glasgow’s 2014 Commonwealth Games. Lovely, isn’t it?

duke of wellington cone statue

Image Credit: inews

Despite the statu’s popularity, the cone was removed and put back several times. The council even enacted some plans to end this tradition of putting the cone back. The plans were backfired, for obvious reasons. Who does not like a Duke with a cone? Why would it be another boring man with a horse?

The council had said that raising the height would end a practice which projected a “depressing image” of Glasgow and would save the £10,000 cost of removing the cone 100 times a year. The scheme would have seen a new granite-clad concrete base of 86cm (34in) added to the memorial to raise its overall height.

However, the council has reconsidered its decision after an online petition called “Save Wellington’s Cone”, which gathered thousands of signatories in just a few hours, and a Facebook campaign which had planned a rally in support of the cone.

A council spokesman said: “The wording of the report was appalling and the leader of the council (Gordon Matheson) has instructed officers to withdraw the planning application.” (BBC)

In addition, as the campaigners state “The cone on Wellington’s head is an iconic part of Glasgow’s heritage, and means far more to the people of Glasgow and to visitors than Wellington himself ever has.” (BBC). Also, in the campaign, there are a couple of good points which may affect the council’s decision such as  “does anyone really think that a raised plinth will deter drunk Glaswegians?”. Well, I agree with that!

There is one point we are not quite sure: What would Duke Wellington think about this? Luckily we have historians! According to inews, Dudley-Edwards argues that “Wellington himself would have been amused by the practice and embodied the ‘keep it coney’ ethos” as “He liked to keep it real”.

At the end of the day, the pair of the statue and the cone is a Rabelaisian embodiment, a standing in-your-face against mightiness of equestrian figures. While equestrian figures are usually associated with power and glorification of a person, the cone turns the statue into a human being again. It leaves you with a smile (and with a selfie apparently if you are visiting the city).

Even better, the statue is located right in front of the Gallery of Modern Art as the second twist in this story.

Yes, that is right. There is a classical equestrian statue right in front of a modern art gallery and it has a cone on the top of its head!

Bonus: A rare shot of the statue without a cone, but with a seagull!

 

(Image Credit: Top inews )

Walk, Cycle, Run: Glasgow in Motion

The Urban Big Data Centre works on the cycling, walking and running activities of people living in Glasgow in the project of Glasgow in Motion:

By 2030, over 90% of the UK population will live in urban areas. It’s more important than ever to understand how we live, work, and travel in our cities. Imagine you could know the most popular cycling route to work, the quality of air on your journey, or how pedestrians respond to weather. Through Glasgow in Motion, you can view and interact with data through time, to better understand movement and other factors that affect Glasgow residents every day.

It is a great project which returns the collected data to the use of citizens after anonymizing it. The interactive map shows busy and popular routes for walking, running and cycling. The range of data presented goes back to 2013 and the mst recent data is from 2016.

Check here for the details and exploring the interative maps.

Measuring Magic: It is All About Love Dear!

As folks of great Earth, Wind and Fire told us, it is All About Love, and Fred Kent of the Projects for Public Spaces cannot agree more!

Places exude a kind of magnetism, a draw that brings people closer together—lovers and strangers, alike. Whether sharing a kiss, or simply sharing a bench, there are endless examples of closeness and affection all brought about by great public spaces.

This affection isn’t just icing on the cake; it’s a basic human need. “It’s a big idea, affection,” observes PPS founder Fred Kent, “because it’s everywhere. Every community, every culture, every human being has a need for affection, for engaging with people, for connecting with people.” As our recent Healthy Places report reveals, social support and interaction provides important benefits to mental wellbeing and feelings of safety. Meanwhile, social isolation contributes to depression, stress, and can also undermine a community’s resilience in the face of disaster.

But affection relies on a deep sense of comfort. People must feel physically and mentally at ease before they open up to show signs of love and friendship. (Project of Public Space)

Check this great article on what makes public spaces places for people!

Or you can just listen the folks below.

The trees and the birds
And if there ain’t no beauty
You gotta make some beauty
Have mercy
Listen to me, y’all

 

Housing Placemaking: What is the value of design?

We have started a new project on the value of urban design.
See below a brief definition of the project published on CaCHE blog.

The impact of housing and neighbourhood design quality on wellbeing is achieving increasing recognition (Klienert and Horton, 2016), but there is little evidence to back up these claims in a format that is useful to decision makers (Samuel et al., 2014). The UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence (CaCHE) is seeking to change this with a new strand of research on understanding and evidencing design value.

The need for standardised design guidance and consistent design control across local authorities has been recognised, for example, with a recent consultation document on ‘planning for the right homes in the right places’ (UK Gov, 2017) and, more broadly, in the academic literature on design governance and placemaking (e.g. Carmona 2016; 2017; White 2015).

Currently, decision makers suffer from an absence of coherent evidence to enable built environment professionals in the public and the private sector to make decisions about new housing and neighbourhoods…

View original post 326 more words

How Utopia Became a Real Estate Leaflet?

When it comes to gated communities, recurrences of similar everyday life images and spatial representations in mass media form a discourse of the future everyday life. It depicts an ideal living environment that aligns neoliberalization with an idealization of private urban services, commodified forms of housing production, enclave living and exclusiveness, as well as the glorification of consumerism. This aligns with neoliberalism’s “pervasive effects on ways of thought to the point where it has become incorporated into the common-sense way many of us interpret, live in, and understand the world” since the 1970s (Harvey, 2007, p. 3).

Understanding the role of this discourse in the imagining and producing of future everyday life in cities is critical for the production of urban space in the future and for the role of utopian thinking. In this respect, a critical investigation of the representation of future everyday life in housing developments would provide some insight on these issues. This particular case study focuses on mass media representations of the branded housing projects developed in Istanbul, which provide some clues.

To read the full short article on Public Seminar, click here.

 

Brexit and the City: Exodus from London?

Brexit is expected to effect many industries in the UK and the finance is on the top of the list. There are various assumptions, predictions and possibilities discussed since the Brexit vote.

Reuters has recently published an analysis on the change in the city related to finance sector in London.

Will Britain’s decision to leave the European Union in 2019 damage one of its most successful industries? Some politicians and economists predict London will lose its pre-eminence as a financial centre after Brexit, although supporters of leaving the EU say Britain will benefit over the long term by being able to set its own rules. Reuters assesses the fortunes of the City through a series of indicators that suggest signs of a slowdown, but no transformative decline. (Reuters)

One of the most important indicator is the jobs in this sector in London. Although it is too early to conclude a complete exit from London. The numbers show a tendency of dropping creation of new financial jobs.

The recruiter found 51,922 new financial services jobs were created in the first seven months of this year, a 10 percent drop compared with the same period last year. This was the lowest number of jobs available since 2012. (Reuters)

(Image Credit: Reuters)

The analysis also shows a decrease in transportation.

The number of people using the underground rail network at Bank and Monument stations in the heart of the City is on course for its first fall since the final year of the global financial crisis, according to Transport for London data. In Canary Wharf — a once defunct docklands now transformed into another hub of global finance in east London — the number of people using the station continues to rise but the pace has slowed.

London City Airport, favoured by executives for flights to European cities and beyond, had a slight increase in passengers in the first six months of this year with recent figures in decline.(Reuters)

(Image Credit: Reuters)

The analysis shows that it is early to conclude a total financexit from London. However, there are strong signs of its decline in near future. All these perhaps up to the results of the Brexit negotiations undertaken currently and their results will determine the finance industry’s condition and its effects on the city itself.