Divided Cities: Old and New

Guardian Cities recently released a documentary series called Divided Cities.

As our world grows more polarised, Divided Cities goes beyond Trump and Brexit to tell the story of five cities that reflect big global divisions in surprising and troubling ways.

The series provides a broader perspective on being divided in contemporary times. While it includes a classic example for a divided city through the case of Nicosia – “the UN-patrolled barricade that cleaves the island of Cyprus into a mostly Greek Cypriot south and Turkish Cypriot north”, it also expands it through the case of Memphis – “One of the worst of the country’s so-called “food deserts” is in Memphis, Tennessee, where many neighbourhoods lack what seems a basic right in richer neighbourhoods – a supermarket.”

Although I agree with the Guardian editors that divisions, segregation and exclusion in our cities are rampant, divided cities is hardly a new concept. Cities have been perhaps divided since they have been first founded. Miletos, Jerico, Ur, … they have all produced and reproduced various divisions, segregations and exclusions within.

For our contemporary cities, being spatially divided is perhaps another embodiment of divisions such as class or race. Although in contemporary cities official racial segregation has not been like the case as it was in South Africa and redlining in the US, it continues in more indirect,  or perhaps insidious, ways. Segregation by class, on the other hand, is normalised, accepted and happening full-fledged.

This normalised way of segregation and exclusion creates everyday discrimination against working classes. It becomes visible incident by incident when it reaches a truly outrageous stage. We have seen this in the case of a segregated playground where children living in social housing were not allowed to use the playground in a common area of residential development in London. Another example was the poor door incident, when the poor door practice – providing separate entrances for ‘market’ and ‘affordable’ housing residents in the same building – hit the headlines, it created such a reaction. However, these incidental reactions are hardly providing solutions for the main problem. Although these outrageous attempts might be taken under control, as it happened in London after the segregated playground incident, overall class-based segregation is normalised and accepted in contemporary cities. Otherwise, it would not be possible to displace hundreds of social housing residents to build more condos and so-called luxury housing developments in cities like London and Manchester.

Perhaps the solution lays behind to challenge the common-sense of our times that for the many it is good enough to live in good enough conditions and places, while the few are entitled to live in privileged places.

(Image Credit: The Guardian | Matt from London/Flickr)

UrbanitAs: Urban Animals as Other City-dwellers, 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

STORIES BEHIND: A Duke with a Cone?

Some statues 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.

 

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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 statue 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?

Despite the statue’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)

Also, 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 duke with a cone is a Rabelaisian act 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!

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(Image Credit: inews / eveningtimes.co.uk)

Cross Disciplinary Review of Placemaking Literature

This literature mapping focuses on place-making literature and presents a cross-disciplinary cut of current literature.

As part of the mapping process, ‘literature mapping’ is developed as a methodology to produce a broad literature mapping in a limited timeframe. This working paper presents the research methodology by discussing its development processes (comparing and contrasting available academic indexes, their limitations and strengths, and recommendations on their future use).

The mapping reviews the aspects of place-making literature through related concepts, emerging trends, sub-fields and emerging research interests from various disciplines.

The results show an extensive interest in various disciplines in place-making as a concept and in its various aspects, as well as demonstrating the increasing interest in urban design literature in social and perceptual aspects of design.

Check full text here.

For more publications by CaCHE click here!

(Image Credit: Place Brand Observer)

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…

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BEAUTÉ BRUT: Collegio del Colle, Urbino

 

Collegio del Colle, Urbino (PU), 1962-1965

Collegio del Colle is located in the hills of Urbino. It is the first one of four university colleges realized by De Carlo between 1973 and 1983. The sloping terraces follow the land shapes. De Carlo tries the interpenetration between the shapes of architectural volume and the morphology of Urbino. This section represents a cell, which is composed by two bedrooms in two different floors.
This group of building is mainly made of exposed bricks; the main structure and the cantilevered elements are made of reinforced concrete. Even if his architecture is a natural inclination of the hills, the materials he used underline their strong presence in the landscape. (Claretta Mazzonetto)

The early “collegio del colle” is formed by a central nucleus with collective services, surronded by several groups of small residential cells, lying on a hill near the city of Urbino. Concrete and brick constructive elements are in harmonic contrast with the landscape. The following three groups of “collegi” (vela, aquilone, tridente), were added between 1973 and 1983, creating a organic ensemble. (Francesco Di Bella)

 

Giancarlo De Carlo, Oscar Ferrari · Collegi Universitari a Urbino

 

Giancarlo De Carlo (1919-2005) has been one of the most influential figures of the Italian architectural scene of the second half of the twentieth century. A protagonist of the architectural debate since the mid-1940s, De Carlo visited Urbino for the first time in 1951, invited by the dean of the university, the writer Carlo Bo, who, in the following year, commissioned him the renovation of the ancient seat of the atheneum in the historic center of the city. Such a commission marks the starting point of the long relationship that ties the life and work of the architect to the city of the Marches: the collaboration first with the university and then with the municipality is kept alive up to last years before De Carlo’s death. (detailsinsection)

 

Giancarlo De Carlo, Oscar Ferrari · Collegi Universitari a Urbino

Giancarlo De Carlo, Oscar Ferrari · Collegi Universitari a Urbino

Giancarlo De Carlo, Oscar Ferrari · Collegi Universitari a Urbino

Giancarlo De Carlo, Oscar Ferrari · Collegi Universitari a Urbino

dormitory and cafeteria

 

Image Credits: sosbrutalism, istate, organiconcrete, wikimedia, spatialagency, divisare,

 

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.

 

Documentary: Paris MegaCities ShortDocs Citizen Film Festival

Short Documentaries filmed by Citizens to Show Existing Solutions and Inspire New Initiatives?

Megacities of the world present lots of opportunities, but are also full of challenges.

So we need your help to bring to light, through the lense of your documentary, local inspiring solutions that have been implemented by a person or a community, near your home that have met those challenges head on. Through your story you could potentially change the lives of a friend, a neighbor, a family in another Megacity.

Your short documentary will change the world. (megacities-shortdocs.org)