7/06/2011

To-read list: Architecture (Wednesday) Brew

Surveillance Urbanism: Political Equator 3 Reimagining the Border. An architecture report from Tijuana by Teddy Cruz. Domus pursues its Political Equator series with this text written by the architect Teddy Cruz. I have been following his architectural projects and his written since 2007 or 08. Teddy Cruz is a political-engaged architect who attempts to improve the quality of life of the community who lives near the border fence between Mexico and the United States. This text focuses on this issue of surveillance infrastructure such as this highway of surveillance, as Teddy Cruz writes, or the border fence that separates San Diego and Tijuana. Such as cause and effect relationship, surveillance supposes conflict because of the marginalisation of the population who lives near this border. The following quotation constitutes a perfect illustration of this cause and effect relationship: "Renewed investment in surfeillance infrastructure along the US-Mexico border has further marginalized the communities adjacent to the border fence. The need to re-imagine the border through the logic of natural and social systems is the foremost challenge for the futurue of the San Diego-Tijuana region and of many other geographies of conflict across the globe" See also Political Equator 3 where you will find all the information of this project and its previous editions.

Population growth: The China Post posted an article titled Asia Cities to see huge population growth. This is in fact based upon an interview of Richard Burdett with the AFP that is featured in a set of newspapers such as the China Post, Melbourne's The Age, the Free Malaysia Today, the Bangkok Post, the Star Phoenix, the Vancouver Sun, Le Nouvel Observateur, the Szatmar, 20 Minutes, the Singapore Philippines Online, Karpatinfo, and The Terhan Times. I selected the China Post's article announcing that Asian urban population will grow up fast and huge. As the Asian Development Bank (ADB) reports to the China Post: "by mid-2022 there will for the first time be more people living in Asia's urban areas than in the countryside as 'a tidal wave of humanity' surges towards the cities in search of jobs and a better life." As a consequence, new cities will be built in this region. The question to ask is how these new residents will be housed… "The more the population grows, the more important critical issues — lack of good infrastructure, water and air issues, healthcare, living conditions, jobs, housing… " a French Demographer told me 3 years ago at the EHESS.

Land Grab: How a land grab in China led to one desperate stab and two deaths in Taiyuan, in Shanxi Province, North China, the China Daily reports.

An object of desire: Infrastructure: Infrastructural Fields by Kazys Varnelis for Quaderns. An abstract of his interersting essay: "It is time for architects to understand that the structures of infrastructural modernity are just so many ruins and, in conveiving of new infrastructures for the millennium, to learn how to embrace the new modulated world of invisible fields."

Ah My City… Oh My StressThis City is Driving Me Nuts by Mark Lamster for Design Observer. Mark Lamster responds to a study, conducted by a team from the University of Heidelberg, which aims was to help explain the greater incidence of schizophrenia in urban dwellers. Apparently the bigger the city, the greater the incidence. Well, it appears that stress appears to be linked to city. If you want to live in city, you must accept stress as part of the conditions. I truly do not know what to think of this… I am myself prone to stress… but gently…

Cartography of the day (Wednesday 29 June): The New Normal Temperature. I found this map on The Map Room, a blog about maps edited by Jonathan Crowe. According to Dan Satterfield "Climate change is expected to be stronger in northern areas of North America and that trend continues to show up. It is also expected to be more noticeable at night and in winter and that too shows up clearly (…)".

Reverse Great Migration: The Reverse Great Migration and Urbanism by The Black Urbanism. Basing on an article published in the New York Times, the Black Urbanism reacts to this new tendency of reverse great migration of African-Americans from the North to the South. According to the New York Times, the reasons are a lack of jobs for young Black graduates, an ability to purchase property and retire in comfort for elders, and a flip-flopped racial climate. And of course many of these African-Americans are from the South. But according to The Black Urbanist, these reasons do not clearly explain this reverse migration to the South. For her, this migration reflects a desire of better pace of life. As she writes "Practitioners should make sure that community organizations and neighborhood groups can express concerns and even participate in the design of retrofitted and new (…) developments. (…) The key is to make sure it's presented in language that they understand. (…) Let's make sure we help them in that ownership and move them to something that will produce the greater wealth and well-being they desire."

Aercheology: Cities without no streets is the title of a post I found on Deconcrete. The city is Catal Höyük, Turkey, where there used to be no streets or pathways, but facades walls that touched each other without any gap in-between… Here is Catal Höyük. Excavations of a Neolithic Anatolian Höyük, a website dedicated to the excavation of the ancient city of Catal Höyük. This city was first discovered in the late 1950s and excavated by James Mellaart between 1961 and 1965. For instance, a building called Building 80 has been excavated under the stack of later houses (buildings 75, 65.56, 40 and 10) all excavated by Roddy Regan and his team. The website includes a look inside of the building 80 that I found very intriguing. I warmly recommend to check out this website.
Catal Höyük. 50 has been excavated over recent years under the stack of later houses.
The walls in the north and east of the building stand 2.5 m high and so
the building gives the current team the best indication yet of what it was
like to move around these houses (source: Catal Höyük. Excavations of a Neolithic Anatolian Höyük)
Incompleteness: of cities is the concept that Saskia Sassen uses to name cities in her essay Open Source Urbanism, published in Domus. First, I find this concept of incompleteness very interesting. It defines a city that can be constantly remade, for better or worse, as Saskia Sassen writes. These growing smart cities — she apparently prefers the term of "intelligent" — seem to represent closed systems which would make them rapidly obsolete. This is very important to take this point into granted. I consider city being and acting as organism. So it will continuously be in mutation. It is certain that technology will have a strong impact on cities, be it positive or not. Yet, city will absorb it, and then, be remade. This can be closed to her idea of "cities talk back", these notions of incompleteness and open source urbanism. Open source urbanism, or "the city as partly made through a myriad of interventions and little changes from the ground up". I like her definition of open source as "DNA that resonates strongly with from people make the city theirs or urbanize what might be an individual initiative" and not "these technologies and technological applications" that are modify gradually cities in depth. As for this "urban Wikileaks [that] would take cities in a very different direction from the intelligent city model", the question is now open… (the concept of urban wikileaks means "vertical institutions that begin to leak and thereby enable citizens to work with at least some of what is useful in those leaks in the ways they see fit.")

10 Most Resilient Cities: Grist published a Global Ranking of the Top 10 Resilient Cities reblogging Boyd Cohen's ranking the top 10 cities around the world with the policies and the political will to best face the challenges ahead. The 10th is Tokyo, the 8th is New York City, the 6th is Paris… and guess which cities are the 3rd, the 2nd and the 1rst?

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