5/28/2012

The Editor's Pick: this Monday we read…

This Saturday, The Architecture Post The Review is coming back with a review of a French young journal of Architecture Cosa Mentale, that I discovered this year, in the weeks following my come back from Tokyo. Three of the editors joined me last week in a café at Belleville, to discuss the journal. The podcast will be posted this Saturday.
Then I hope to interview editors of San Rocco about this little publication. San Rocco recently launched the fourth issue Fuck Concepts! Contexts! Of course, I would like know more behind this issue, and about the history of this magazine. I also hope to catch MAP's editor David Garcia (if I finally grab the fifth issue entitled Chernobyl which is hard to find in Paris) and Volume Magazine's editors about the 31st issue Guilt Landscape.
Another project on which I am working is a video series on Architects and Housing in France. But as this project is still in a very blurry phase, I can't say more but news are coming fast so stay tuned.

This monday, the Editor's Picks is back with a series of to-read list from planning to landscape architecture, to urban archaeology, to architecture.

As many of us have noticed, we are entering an age of flattening cities. 'Emerging cities' tend to be modelled as western cities. China is an example among many others. The risk is countless: loss of identity, loss of heritage value, loss of memory, and so forth.
As Indian cities are growing, spotlights are slightly turning towards Indian urban planning. According to Rahul Mehrotra, an Indian urban planner, who recently talked to The New York Times, Indian cities will challenge twofold:
At the micro level our biggest concern is going to be that of the immense polarization that is occurring in our built environment. The between what we call slums or the informal city and large-scale infrastructure and global architecture is going to set up enormous social tensions in our society. Global capital is landing in our cities and bullying its way physically to create a presence and a polarization which will be hard to reverse and resolve as we go on unless we address this issue very quickly.
What results from that polarization are conditions like gated communities, whether they are vertical gated communities or communities at the edge of the city. Because gate communities usually have their own water supply, sewage disposition, they are actually parasitic on the city because they don't give to the city. They exclude the city but engage with the city on their own terms, and so it's not a two way kind of exchange.
At the macro level what is happening is very interesting because while the intelligentsia and the elite are focusing on the seven or eight big cities, the real urban time bomb are the 392 towns that make up the larger landscape of India. These 392 towns currently contain approximately 50,000 people each and are projected to grow up to 100,000 people that in 20 years might even be a million people. So potentially between 250 and 400 million urban Indians will live in towns that are not even on radars currently.
Now what's interesting about this landscape is that the levels of contestation in these places are not so charged, which means that the possibility for planners and governments to intervene yet exists and is not as complicated as it is in the megacities.
Taking Dharavi as example of the lack of interaction between informal settlements and gated communities within or at the edge of cities, Mehrotra called this specificity involution:
I use the word "involution" to describe what's happening in Mumbai, it's a term I borrow from the anthropologist Clifford Geertz who wrote about agricultural involution in Indonesia.
Involution is about creating an internal complexity that makes any mechanism highly efficient but also highly susceptible to malfunction. Whereas an evolutionary gesture is how species evolve to be able to broaden and make more robust their ecology.
I think in Mumbai in the 1950s, '60s and '70s with ideas for New Bombay and new metropolitan imaginations was all about evolutionary gestures. But today in Mumbai we celebrate involutionary gestures — how we fix sidewalks and upgrade slums.
It's not that these gestures are not important, but what is crucial is that we simultaneously address both ends of the spectrum — that is, celebrate internal complexity but as also diversify into more dynamic modes.
So I think Mumbai is at a point where it really has to make a decision because if it keeps becoming more internally complex it will just completely fail. And so for me, the most crucial questions at this moment are how we can begin to engage with our metropolitan region again: think of how we can create self-sufficient neighborhoods, facilitate public transportation, how we can open up land for more affordable housing.
Studio 10 Design in collaboration with Buro Happold recently unveiled a gateway bridge for the Shizimen Business District in Zhuhai, a prefecture-level city on the southern coast of Guangdong province, in China, with a population of 1,560,229 (2010), a density of 940 pp/sq km (2,400 pp/sq mi) for an area of 1,653 sq km (638 sq mi).
Infinite Loop Bridge © Studio 10 Design and Buro Happold.
Originally appeared on Domus.

A landmark-typed bridge, simple in form — a free standing arch — but elegant, will link Shizimen Canal to the Pearl River Delta. According to Domus, this bridge also marks the access to south China's new planned commercial hub.
       —> More on the Shizimen Central Business District: Here.

According to the team:
Infinite Loop Bridge © Studio 10 Design and Buro Happold.
Originally appeared on Architecture VS Nature Design.

Complex coastline conditions created an odd and asymmetric span, however we realized that by tying two simple parabolic arches together in a single ribbon form we could split the bridge into two simpler spans," says the winning team. "Thereby keeping a rational structure while making a strong formal statement, in that the bridge when reflected off the water created a double 8 figure, a sign of prosperity in Chinese culture.
Infinite Loop Bridge © Studio 10 Design and Buro Happold.
Originally appeared on Architecture VS Nature Design.
> The location of this bridge provides great view to varying
views: Macau, CBD Tower, CBD Convention Center
and Tower, and The Marina
Note this free standing infinity loop, simple in form but
playing an important role as connector.

The Dirt looks over China's Landscape Architecture which aims at "undoing the the damage". Chinese landscape architects' task will be growing fast as long as China will continue its urbanization. We learn that, by 2020, about 65 percent of China's territory will be urban.
Beijing Olympic Forest Park © Hu Jie, ASLA,
Landscape architecture department at THUPDI.
Originally appeared on Gardenvisit.
> "A mountain, Yangshan Hill, was built out of the reclaimed
debris from the new Beijing subway and Olympic stadium
construction projects. In the same way, as well runoff,
rain, and flood water, is cleansed through a man-made
4-acre wetland, where it's then used to maintain the landscape.
Hu and this system also helped preserve the native
"mountain and water tradition" while creating a new landmark."
The Dirt.
The purpose of these landscape architects is to put landscape in the center of planning. As Liang [Wei] said:
Through landscape, we can create a new structure for the city. Landscape architects can also be infrastructural engineers.
Vast ambition as landscape architecture can help connect urban development, ecology, architecture, and infrastructure. This 680-hectare Beijing Olympic Forest Park is an example illustrating landscape architects' seek for combining urbanization, quality of life, environment, and wellbeing.

 —> More on The Beijing Olympic Forest Park: here.

One of the ancient world's most important cities, Babylon, is endangered by an oil pipeline which is announced to pass through the wall of the 1,400 year old castle known as the Babil Fortress. This project is part of Iraqi Oil Ministry's plan. This is not the first time that this ancient city is threatened, as the Jewish Press reports:
Ancient site of Babylon.
Photo credit: screenshot.
Originally appeared on The Jewish Press.

The site has been harangued by constant threats in recent decades, including the construction of a palace for Saddam Hussein, the digging and leveling of terrain near the Ishtar Gate for the construction of a US military base and the extension of earlier pipelines in the 1970s and 80s.
 A Post-Hipster city, Aurash Khawarzad says to Tida Tippapart:
Appeared on The Huffington Post and Occupy Illuminaty.

[I]s a city where we are stopping DIY- displacement, and we're focusing on creating equitable communities. Society has been subjected to an incredible increase in the disparity in wealth — a significant contributor to that is hipster-level consumption. I think we're now at the point where many of us, even hipsters, see that the disparity in wealth and rapid gentrification have brought the city to a tipping point in losing what makes it special, which is diversity and a healthy commons, among other things. Now is time to pull back, and focus on contributing to a better city, not only consuming it.

Source: Domus, Architecture Vs Nature Design, The New York Times, The Dirt, The Jewish Press, The Huffington Post, Occupy Illuminati.

1 comment:

John Aguilar said...

Indeed a lot of the cities are Westernized. I wouldn't mind however among these things: loss of identity, loss of heritage value, loss of memory, and so forth.
Life simply goes on.

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