Friday Brew: to-read list

Lack of infrastructure: Monday 12, I found an essay titled Unplanned urban development worsens Afganistan's water crisis in This Big City (that I warmly recommend). This blog reports that only 48 percent of population have access to safe drinking water and only 37 percent use improved sanitation facilities.
Originally appeared on IRIN News
> Bathing man, donkey and boy share water from this canal in Falzabad,
capital of Badakhshan Province, northeastern Afghanistan © Mohammad Popal/IRIN

70 percent of the urban population live in unplanned areas or informal settlements. 95 percent lack access to improved toilets. In Kabul 80 % of the population live in unplanned settlements and suffer from a lack of access to safe water. The reason? A serious lack of infrastructure due to three decades of turmoil.
Originally appeared on IRIN News
> Girl collects water from a tank installed by an NGO to help
displaced persons in the western outskirts of Kabul ©Mohammad Popal/IRIN

Environment: Inhabitat reported that MIT unveiled a flexible solar cells printed on paper. This is precisely a new type of cell that can be printed onto paper or fabric. Inhabitat added that the flexible photovoltaic cells are not energy intensive to produce and they can be folded over 1,000 times without any loss of performance. As Vladimir Bulovic says, MIT has demonstrated the robustness of this technology. Because of the low weight of the paper or plastic substrate compared to conventional glass or other materials, MIT (…) can fabricate scalable solar cells that can reach record-high watts-per-kilogram performance. For solar cells with such properties, a number of technological applications open up."

Image of the day: The Solar Sinter by Markus Kayser
The Solar Sinter © Markus Kayser. Originally appeared on dezeen
Dezeen reviewed German designer Markus Kayser's 3D-printing machine that uses sunlight and sand to make glass objects in the desert. You may have already checked out the video that Marcus Kayser posted in his website on this Solar Sinter. If not, I warmly invite you to watch it.
The Solar Sinter © Markus Kayser. Originally appeared on dezeen

Smart Marketability: Smart Cities once again. Hayley Peacock wrote in the Urban Environmentalism an interesting essay titled Cities in Competition: Branding The Smart City. As smart cities projects grow, competition between cities becomes severe with the risk of becoming "marketable" smart cities. Let's quote Hayley Peacock: "The concept of urban competitivenss is  on the rise and is applicable not jst through cities, regions and nations. Its competitiveness is just as blurry as the concept of smart, with privatisation of services and the blurring of the responsibilities of the public and private sectors complicating matters, with governments making increasing use of the terminology and priorities of businesses. Companies are using the city as a neoliberal space for experiment, and their smartness as the emblem of the city of tomorrow. In a world where increasing precedence is on our cities being smarter, more intelligent or ubiquitous, I'd better go finish War and Peace before the city beats me to it."

Video of the week: I found this video on twitter "The Just City: A Ford Forum on Metropolitan Opportunity" by Ford Foundation.

Video © Ford Foundation

New form of urban sprawl, another consequence of competition between megacities: As its population grows, Moscow is becoming overcrowded. Russia just announced a plan to double in geographical size to ease this overcrowding phenomena. Here is a very interesting report by Miriam Elder of The Guardian. Yet this plan contains risks of, firstly, impending enviromental disaster. Secondly what about the population living around Moscow? And its so famous and beautiful dachas? Apparently, as Alexei Yaroshenko, of Greenpeace Russia, concluded "first money and then people follow"…

Europe to Africa to Europe…: bldg blog wrote an interesting post titled "Geopolitical Redesign, or: A Bridge Between Europe and Africa". This post reports a project launched by Domus, precisely "Your ideas for a connection between Africa and Europe across the Straight of Gilbraltar". Yesterday, Thursday, 21 July (2011), at the Gopher Hole, about 300 different responses were on display.
> A cable car connects Europe and Africa, by Fabio Tozzoli and Eliana Salazar,
Bologna, Italy. Image originally appeared on Domus and bldg blog
> Call for ideas on a Eurafrican bridge Postcard © The Gopher Hole

Conflict: How to build in complex environments such as Caracas or Tijuana? Alfredo Brillembourg and Hubert Klumpner of Urban-Think Tank give some keys with this brilliant essay "Build Simply: South of the Border" published in this very interesting publication Mas Context (I advice to check out their website and to have a copy of this publication, in case you don't know Mas Context yet). This 10th issue deals with Conflict and proposes a series of essays among others, that of Alfredo Brillembourg and Hubert Klumpner, and that of Ethel Baraona Pohl (of dpr-barcelona). The Issue #10 is available here.

Interview of the day: Elemental (Alejandro Aravena and Quinta Monroy) talked with Actar Editorial on their recent project in the framework of Actar Editorial's project Total Housing.

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