The Editor's News | Big City Forum ı The Club House

If you are in Los Angeles. Mark this date August 4th, 2012 in your calendar: Big City Forum: The Club House. What will this event be talking about?

Big City Forum will be presenting "The Club House" a two-week pop-up event at the new ForYouArt activity space on Willshire Blvd in the Miracle Mile district across from LACMA. BCF: The Club House will be a modular exhibition and lab for ideas that encourage cross-disciplinary explorations and exchanges centered around the idea of "maximum change".
At this moment of social and civic transformation in the public space and within a current moment steeped in uncertainty, how do we generate it, ensure it, and give it agency?
Leveraging an interdisciplinary focus, "BCF: The Club House" presents a collection of methods, actions, objects, artifacts, and proposals for envisioning what change looks like curated by leading culture makers in Los Angeles. Each curated setting will involve contemporary art works, architectural models, book and print materials, graphic design, photography, and product design. The goal is to create an expansive environment in which multiple disciplines can have a dialogue, held together by how the multiple practices explore change. BCF: The Club House will also be accompanied with a curated program of evening events such as literary readings, music performances, and film screenings.
Curatorial team is composed of Edie Kahula Pereira, Ana Llorente, Creative Migration, John Southern. 
Individual architects and firms including: Simon Storey/Anonymous Architects, Volkan Alkanoglu, Jennifer Bonner & Christian Stayner, Tim Durfee, David Freeland, Fievre Jones, LAYER, Osborn, Servo Los Angeles, The Rare Studio, Bureau for Architecture and Design, SwiftLee Office, Axel Schmitzberger, and Patrick Tighe.

Exhibition Dates: August 4-August 18, 2012

More: here.

Editor's Picks ı Summer Edition: Mapping London

My fascination for maps is fully satisfied with this blog The Mapping London edited by both Oliver 'Ollie' O'Brien and James Cheshire both researchers at the UCL CASA (Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis), London.
Take this Olympic Venues in London, a map created by Katherine Baxter (see also her website) and Steven Potter of LondonTown. The authors describe the point of departure of this map:

What makes the Olympics in London so different from any Olympics before is its use of the whole city throughout the Games. No spectators in central London will ever be more than 30 minutes away from an Olympic venue, with some of the capital's most iconic landmarks acting as a backdrop for the greatest show on earth. Most events will take place at the ground-breaking 2.5sq km Olympic Park in Stratford, a mere seven minutes away from the city centre by Olympic Javelin train. Other events will be scattered around in all directions at key venues a short journey from the center of town. 9.6 million tickets have been issued for the Olympics but the major ticket will be London itself, with the capital set to come alive throughout the summer.

Created at LondonTown.com

Geodemographics of Housing in Great Britain. A very interesting map in the style of Charles Booth's map, to paraphrase The Mapping London. This visualization is designed by Oliver O'Brien, one of the editors of The Mapping London. This map, Oliver O'Brien writes, illustrates the Index of Multiple Deprivation ranking deciles for London and the rest of England:
Geodemographics of Housing in Great Britain | The Mapping London ı 2012

The most deprived 10% of areas in coloured in dark red, the next 10% in lighter red, and so on. Instead of colouring as such. This stops parks and other uninhabited land from acquiring the colours of surrounding housing, although non-residential housing is unfortunately not excluded. This can be thought of as a primitive forma of dasymetic mapping. It is similar in concept to Charles Booth's Poverty Map of London from 1898-8, where he also coloured building areas based on the classification, although his map was at a much finer detail, being based on personal visits to the houses. The building outlines, along with roads, railways, water features and placenames, come from the Ordnance Survey's Vector Map District dataset, part of its Open Data suite.
In this blog you can find other maps such as Typographic Tube Map, London: A Year in Maps, to only limit to two of them.
Congestion Charge Shrinkage | Transport for London ı 2011
> "The New Mayor of London removed the Congestion Charge's Western Extension (WEZ), shrinking the zone back to its original area east of Park Lane" | The Mapping London
The Index of Multiple Deprivation 2010 | Chris Gale/UCL Geography
> Contains boundary data which is Crown Copyright and data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) [The London Mapping, 2011]
Map drawn by Londonist reader Simon Dovar/Simple shape
Originally appeared on The Mapping London

Suggested illustrator: Simon Dovar/Simple shape, a London based illustrator and designer inspired by anatomy, the natural world, typography and architectural form.

I also warmly recommend the reading of Eric Jaffe's article: The Coolest New Maps of London on The Atlantic Cities.


Infrastructure of transgression

Drug-smuggling tunnel. Originally appeared on The Gawker.
In just one week, three narco-tunnels have been discovered, with one located in Sonora and two in Tijuana. These are attributed to Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman who has, for years, been enlisting the help of engineers and architects in the construction of subterranean corridors in order to avoid customs and sneak drugs into the United States.
Miguel A. Rodriguez writes on the Gawker. These images illustrate the ingenuity of this or those who constructed these tunnels to carry drugs, weapons, money and people. An underground urbanism that has been put into the raw light. An underground urbanism that, to quote architect Teddy Cruz, worming its way into houses, churches, parking lots, warehouses, and streets.

Mexico-U.S. drug tunnel called a better-late-than-never find | Drug Enforcement Administration
[L.A. Times, 2012]

Suggested article: Teddy Cruz | Mapping Non-Conformity: Post-Bubble Urban Strategies

But first off, a one-story warehouse, part of a strip mall, William C. Rempel writes in the Los Angeles Times. It is common to find mall infrastructure in near the US-Mexico border, as described by Teddy Cruz:
Drug Tunnel | Drug Enforcement Administration
> The tunnel shaft on the U.S. side descends 57 feet from a small, nondescript warehouse in San Luis, Arizona. [L.A. Times, 2012]

Large freeway and Mall infrastructure runs the length of Coastal San Diego, colliding with a natural network of canyons, rivers, and creeks that descend towards the Pacific Ocean.

A vertical shaft line — a 0,10 meter-wide by 0,20 meter-tall — wooden planks that leads to a tunnel — a 18 meters in depth, 230 meters in length, 1.3 meters high and one meter wide. William C Rempel, describes the tunnel as an ingenious infrastructure that links Mexico to the U.S.:
Drug Tunnel | Photo: Randy Hoeft/Yuma Sun
> The one-story warehouse, Part of a strip mall only a few steps from the San Luis, Ariz., border crossing, had been under surveillance by DEA agent for several months as a suspected stash location [L.A. Times, 2012]

The "fully operational" tunnel is a 230-meter passageway, tall enough for a 1.80-meter person to walk through, that burrows under the border fence, a park and a water canal. It connects a small, nondescript warehouse on the U.S. side to an inoperative ice manufacturing plant behind a strip club in Mexico."

Other tunnels have been found in other areas, The Washington Post reports:
Drug Tunnel | Drug Enforcement Administration
> DEA agents found tons of sandy soil in the warehouse stored in dozens of 55-gallon drums,suggesting "there must be a tunnel" special agent Doug Coleman said. [L.A. Times, 2012] 

Two were found in the San Diego-Tijuana area, and another was found in a vacant strip mall storefront in the southwestern Arizona City of San Luis.

In addition with an uncompleted border tunnel near Nogales, Arizona. These sophisticated tunnels are well-equipped. Miguel A. Rodriguez writes:
[E]lectric installations, ventilation, beam reinforcements every 30 centimeters,  wood clad walls, a ceiling and floor, and carts to carry the drugs to a warehouse located in San Luis, Arizona.
One of these tunnels is also equipped with a railcar system. And William C Rempel reports:
Drug tunnel | Drug Enforcement Administration
> The 755-foot passageway is tall enough for a 6-foot person to walk through and is outfitted with lights, fan and a ventilation system. [L.A. Times, 2012]

The vertical shafts on both sides of the border descend 17.35 meters, creating what officials said were significant engineering challenges. […] Entry to the vertical shaft was underwater. Investigators had to drain a large tank to get to it.
But who is behind these tunnels? Perhaps engineers or architects. Indeed, such construction requires certainly a highly skillful contribution of architects and civil engineers, William C. Rempel notes. Reporting Doug Coleman, a special agent in charge of the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency)' Phoenix field office, Rempel writes:
I would suspect that professional engineers were cooperating with the builders, if not working on site.

One year to build this tunnel without being detected by Authorities. This requires logically the participation of skilled practicians like architects or civil engineers. These drug-smuggling tunnels are very expensive: $1.5 million to $2 million. The same Rempel writes
[E]stimates […] were based on initial analysis of the material used in construction.
Miguel Rodriguez reports for the Gawker that:

[T]he construction of tunnels is nothing new. [Joaquin] "El Chapo" Guzman [leader of the Sinaloa cartel] is said to have ordered the construction of one of them by the architect Felipe de Jesus Corona, whose work really pleased the narco-trafficker. The tunnel was 61 meters long and had an entrance which was elevated by means of a hydraulic system and opened through a false water valve. The architect was arrested and condemned in 2006 to 18 years in prison. Because of this and other precedents, it is almost certain that these narco-tunnels discovered are the work of Chapo Guzman, as they are becoming increasingly more sophisticated and are constructed with modern machinery that costs thousands of dollars, which only the Sinaoloa cartel can afford.

Another aspect to these tunnels is their sophistication. The tunnel found in San Luis is equipped with underground sensors and directional devices, to assure, Rempel continues, that the tunnel from the Mexico side actually met the vertical shaft under the San Luis warehouse. The Washington Post pointed out that:

The 240-yard tunnel in Arizona showed a level of sophistication not typically associated with other crude smuggling passageways that tie into storm drains in the state.

I however cannot affirm whether or not these underground sensors work as tracking device detector or as spy camera. But that is another story. 
Tunnel can be viewed as both political and economic contexts as it sustains illicit exchanges that connect Mexico with the U.S.. 

Suggested article: Subtopia | Tunnelizing Migration3: From Headwalls to Super Walls

Skirting the US-Mexico border, a border with evidence under highly surveillance, has been made easier along with these tunnels. These tunnels also highlight a conflict between formal and informal. An counter spatial procedure that as now becoming visible may push smugglers, immigrants and other users to find new ways to circumnavigate the US-Mexico borders.

Suggested article: Subtopia | Tunnelizing Migration4: An Exploration in Void Reclamation

If, as aforementioned, some tunnels are built by narco-traffickers as these articles show up, others however, are simply spatially hacked. Bryan Finoki, author of Subtopia (we will use the name of his blog Subtopia), a brilliant blog on urban military, writes:
If tunnels are being dug, or spatially hacked into and out of existing drainways (at least fiteen in the last few months), then the only thing proving successful to me is the illicit tunnel industry itself. The reality is that some of the tunnels were already there prior to the fence (some that latched onto preexisting infrastructure underground) while others were built as border security revved to full speed. 

Suggested article: Teddy Cruz | Trans-Border Flows: Urbanisms Beyond the Poverty Line
Those tunnels demonstrate a spatial hacking of landscape to generate an informal economy that have been very productive for more than 35 years. Teddy Cruz writes in Mapping Non-Conformity: Post-Bubble Urban Strategies:
Drug Tunnels | Photo: Randy Hoeft/ Yuma Sun
> DEA agents peer down the tunnel entrance on the U.S. side. [L.A. Times, 2012]

When Kevin Lynch was commissioned by a local environmental group to come up with a "regional vision plan" for the US-Mexico border zone in 1974, he dreamed of a Temporary Paradise. Addressed to the City Planning Commission of San Diego, his bi-national planning strategy focused on the network of canyons and watersheds that traverse the landscape on both sides of the San Diego-Tijuana border. Lynch could never have predicted that neither the natural landscape nor city planners would define the real action plan for trans-border urbanism and that, instead, it would be an emergent network of underground tunnels masterminded by drug lords and "coyotes", who would quietly and invisibly efface the formidable barrier that separates the two cities. Now, 34 years later, at least 30 tunnels have been discovered — a vast "ant farm"-like maze of subterranean routes, all of which have been dug within the last eight years, criss-crosses the border from California to Arizona. At the very least, this creates a permanent hell for the US Department of Homeland Security.

Drug-smuggling out of Mexico's frontiers can no longer be accommodated within the US territory due to latest technologies that reinforce surveillance: tracking devices, spy operation, ect. In this context, tunnels act as zones par excellence, shifting, scalable, and flexible by their use, in which drugs as well as illegal migration and diverse traffic can circulate. Subtopia writes:

[T]he tunnels are already serving numerous possibilities as we speak piping drugs and people across the border, water and oxygen, cash, weapons, rats, streams of piss, electric cables, newborn babies, mining carts and tracks, information, surveillance feeds, history, politics (take away the illegality of drugs and cross border migration and these spaces would not even exist: they are by definition anti-public).
It seems that the discovery of tunnels has placed the space of underground at the forefront of global consciousness and extended its illegal characteristics across a new interrelationship between Mexico and the U.S. and farther a geopolitical construction space. The tunnels can also be viewed as, I paraphrase Subtopia, footprint of a global city that cannot be seen:

Ghost cities of transnational capital - the tunnels as hard physical entrails of network infrastructure's global legacy. Smuggler urbanism.
Suggested article: Subtopia | Tunnelizing Migration1: The Border Tunnel Capital of North America

If I follow Subtopia — and I could not but agree with him — these border tunnels can be viewed as liquid landscape capable of circumnavigating anything. An interesting description of these liquid spaces can be found in Teddy Cruz's text Trans-Border Flows: Urbanisms Beyond the Poverty Line as such:
An archaeological section map of the border territory today would reveal an underground urbanism made of at least 30 tunnels, a vast "ant farm"-like maze of subterranean routes criss-crossing the border from California to Arizona — all dug within the last eight years — worming it's way into houses, churches, parking lots, warehouses, and streets on both sides of the border. The most outlandish and sophisticated of these tunnels, discovered by US border officials in January of this year, is clearly the work of professionals: up to 70 feet below ground and 2,400 feet in length, its passageways are five to six feet high and four feet wide to permit two-way circulation. Striking not only for its scale, but also for its "amenities," the tunnel is equipped with ventilation and drainage systems, water pumps, electricity, retaining reinforcements, and stairs connecting various levels. Beyond its use by drug traffickers, it was also "leased out" during "off" hours to coyotes transporting illegal aliens into the US, making it perhaps the first mixed-use smuggling tunnel at the border. Some might see this as a marvel of informal trans-national infrastructure, but most local understand it as just another example of the vigorous Mexican-American economy at work? Beyond the sensationalism that might accompany these images, it is the undeniable presence of an informal economy as well as the political informalities of density that surround the border what is producing a unique urbanism of mobility and contingency.
These tunnels reveal the power of transgression, this search for reprogramming and alienating existing infrastructural to skirt surveillance. Globalization will be likely to encourage or exacerbate these informal appropriation, manipulation, acts and transcription. Fitting the tunnel into a zone of circulation where flows of migrants, goods, drugs, so forth, can move illegally, drug-smugglers and "coyotes" have made the tunnel an invisible interface translated into a shared space, in a way.


Thousand excuses for a lack of updates but…

Dear all,
As a website that I may have quoted or shared a link seems to have been hacked, I cannot post any article for now and I am afraid you will need to wait for a couple of days (I hope). Please accept apologies for my absence. This however allows me for preparing some updates coming when I will be allowed to connect. Hope this website will check out his (or her) server rapidly. I confess I am impatient by nature. In consequence, if it's way too long, if I am forced to wait for a week, I will post them anyway.
I may include an interview with an architect that I appreciate his work. I look forward to sharing his work with you. It may be next Monday and in the podcast format (or I will transcript but the podcast format seems to be more appropriate). I will profit from this incapacity to post in this blog to choose between the podcast format or a transcription. New interviews, then, will be posted this August, if possible. And the end of September will be the launch of new features: videos of studio visit of young agencies in France. An enjoyable occasion and opportunity to have a look at what's new in the French architectural practice. There are very young and pose a new and fresh look at not only France's society as well as at a global scale, this new world.
Be patient, I will be back soon…


news: brown to grey to green: a linear urban forest in paris

"A linear urban forest will be planted in Paris", City of Paris announced earlier today. This will consist of a 11.500-square meter green promenade that will be linking Porte de la Villette and Porte de la Chapelle. A massively ambitious project that will be completed in 2030, the website announces. In short, Northeast of Paris is engaged in a long path from brownfield to greenfield. As a post-industrial city, Paris contains a growing number of vacant lots. Many of these lots are left vacant, or underutilized even undervalued.
Linear Urban Forest, Paris
Credit: Mairie de Paris, 2012

This site is an enormous land potential. Its conversion into a productive urban landscape will be a benefactor for not only natural world as well as inhabitants and entrepreneurs.
It is announced to be a pedestrian and cyclist-oriented green path, a public space that allows: observation of nature, recreation, promenade. This green site also aims to preserve natural habitats and bio-diversity. Three orientations that will promote a new type of design that can be adapted for and used by all users.

This urban forest also will serve as both a green link to re-connect these dislocated lands and a green wall to protect inhabitants from urban noises as it is showed up in the plan below.
Plan of the urban forest.
Originally appeared on Mairie de Paris
> The current freeway has dislocated the land into two distinct sites. By integrating an urban forest,
the site will be re-organized into an inclusive green space adapted for and to all users and
wild-life habitats. It will also regenerate more efficiently this place as announced by the
City of Paris. This urban forest is part of a large scale re-development of the northeast of Paris into
a sustainable community-based of place that promotes active design and sustainable design.

This will be the occasion to re-envision this zone in Paris which particularities is to be made up of dislocated and undervalued lands because of a freeway that separates the site into two parts. Paris — Le Grand Paris — is engaged in a long but sinuous road to a more sustainable, active metropolis. A vast program that aims at integrating all the functions and characteristics that will make Paris a smart green metropolis. It is obvious that a certain London Regeneration is behind this motivation to redeveloping Paris.
As the website announces, in conjunction with this urban forest project, a large scale urban project envisages the revitalization of the northeast of Paris: ZAC Claude-Bernard, Porte de la Villette, Porte de la Chapelle.
Plan of the urban redevelopment of Northeastern Paris
Credits: Dusapin & Leclerq Architects.
Originally appeared on Mairie de Paris
> A 200-hectar urban regeneration of Northeastern Paris including a sustainable
neighborhood and community-scale development — ZAC Claude-Bernard.
Accordingly, the reorganization of the site of Porte de la Chapelle/Parc de la Villette into an urban forest will regenerate this area of northeastern Paris. It will more specifically be solving some of worst post-industrial site problems such as the lack of amenities that translated this area into a highly inefficient and people unfriendly area that kept people away. In this context, a shift from brownfield to greenfield.
Not only will the inclusion of green elements encourage new orientations that generate sustainable mixed-use community, land use mix, walkability, bicycling, green infrastructure, parks and open space, but also this will be the opportunity to frame a shared place for natural world and human activities.

But this project raises myriad of questions such as integration of new features including urban farming, and energy. Can this urban forest be the opportunity to investigate new energy resources as well as a new economy? As known, trees better off city's livability by cleaning air and water, and embellishing streets, or the city at a larger scale. Green spaces can help reduce greenhouse gases in neighborhoods too. It can encourage new types of jobs by attracting entrepreneurs to leverage a sustainable economy, as well.

There are many projects of urban forests: BioMilano — a massive green ring that will surround Milan; Portland's urban forest, to limit to these two projects. The common denominator to these projects is to create green land that can connect green spaces to grey spaces to human activities, a space that will become not only an exciting cultural destination providing a new visual identity for the ecological part of this place as well as another approach to planning.

Suggested article: Kaid Benfield | BioMilano dreams a lusher, greener metropolis

I am particularly curious about learning more about this project. More in 2030…


Cooperation, shared spatiality, bottom-up as new approach to building and planning

Last February (the 28th), Richard Sennett lectured at Harvard GSD on his book titled Together: The Rituals, Pleasures, and Politics of Cooperation.
I unfortunately could not attend his lecture. This video is consequently an enjoyable occasion.
His lecture The Architecture of Cooperation tackles the question of shared space. More broadly central to this lecture is the concept of cooperation — similar to the concept of shared, or allow me for taking this risk of associating Heidegger's concept of dasein — central to his warmly recommended book Being and Time — with the notion of cooperation. How can people — who differ racially, ethnically, religiously, or economically— cooperate online, on street corners, at work, in local politics, on public space…, in short in a network-centric society? I will not talk over his book. However, I agree with his idea of placing the concept of cooperation as the most urgent challenge in this new era. In this instance, cooperation is the basis of what constitutes a built environment.
As Martin Coward, whose enquiry questions the relationship between cities, security and contemporary warfare, pointed out, the built environment can be seen as both a region and an equipmental whole. It is a very difficult task to sum up Martin Coward's thought in few sentences. In a nutshell, the built environment must be viewed as a shared space, a spatiality in which we co-appear and co-exist.

Suggested article: Martin Coward | Between us in the City

also Suggested book: Martin Coward | Urbicide: The Politics of Urban Destruction || Routledge, 2008 ı In particular Chapter 3: The Built Environment and Shared Spatiality pp 54-71. Based on the Heideggerian concept of dasein, Martin Coward addresses the question of shared spatiality at a urban military scale. But it seems to me that his concept of shared spatiality is particularly closed to the general meaning of cooperation.

Allow for placing these notions in a strictly architectural discussion. It seems to me that in this information age, these concepts of shared spatiality, cooperation, bottom-up will be central to shaping new approaches to building and planning cities, to reinvent new relations between citizens, and citizens with cities, and citizens and space, between citizens and buildings, buildings and dwelling, and we can continue the list.

Architects and planners will unsurprisingly be exploring these notions of shared spatiality, cooperation, bottom-up in the future. Many projects already address these questions at various scales. These include: Communication and bottom-up. The importance of the way stories are being told, Unknown Fields Division, Tomorrow's Thoughts Today, Lateral Office/InfraNet Lab, David Garcia Studio, Tactical Urbanism. The list will be growing fast.

Suggested book: The importance of the way stories are being told | VV. AA. || dpr-barcelona, 2012

Suggested workshop: Covert Operations: Hacking the Landscape || Unknown Fields Division

Some examples of planning cities based on these concepts of relations, shared spaces and cooperation can be found in Japanese architect Ryûji Fujimura and theoretician Atsushi Miura's recent book Design Architecture and Society in the Post-March 2011 (3•11後の建築と社会デザイン), or even, in sustainable communities-based planning, that promotes shorter commutes, walkable lifestyles, inclusive smart growth and green growth. The title of Mimi Zeiger's essay: The Interventionist's Toolkit: Our Cities, Ourselves deserves a particular attention.

Suggested article: Mimi Zeiger | The Interventionist's Toolkit: Our Cities, Ourselves || Design Observer, 2011

My take is that if I only put a focus on the title, it reveals an urgent task to reconsidering cities as being in relation with citizens, and even citizen being in relation with citizen who do not share same background, race, social class, religious, or sexuality.
In another scale is the importance of sharing, cooperation, bottom-up as new approach to building materials. Many architects and engineers implement research in building materials that link materials, buildings, environment, and users as the Architectural Design issue titled Material Computation: Higher Integration in Morphogenetic Design partly highlighted.

Credit: The Harvard GSD


Forthcoming: This Fall: New Video Projects…

It is a busy time for me this summer as this September will inaugurate new video features as announced in a previous post that will include some visit studios.
The first video project may be launched either this August or this September. Impatient and very exciting as I am, although I have already posted a short teaser in a previous post, I can't help but post one picture of the first video.
This video will review recent Paris-based firm of architecture ecdm's architectural project. I have already shared a certain interest for this French agency. A day nursery (crèche in French) implanted in the 18th arrondissement of Paris, a very colorful, multi-ethnic district, somehow very attractive.

Related post: ecdm | crèche and logement de fonction, rue pierre budin, paris xviii

For those not having the chance of visiting this project, check out the link above including a short preview. I hope this project will be launched very soon, in the coming weeks…
Day Nursery (Crèche et Logement de Fonction), rue Pierre Budin, Paris XVIII, © ecdm
Photo: The Architecture Post/ULGC


Maps, Maps, Early Maps,

Some of you may have bought the Icon Magazine issue 109 on maps. The magazine visited two important groups of radical geographers based on the west coast of America: Stamen and The Center for Land Use Interpretation.

Suggested interview and article: Paul Smith | Interview: Mike Migurski | 2012
Samuel Medina | An Online Map You'll Actually Want to Look At | The Atlantic Cities, March 23, 2012. Originally: Architizer

Suggested interview: Matthew P Carson | The Center for Land Use Interpretation - Interview with Matt Coolidge | International Center of Photography

This issue was a great occasion to unveil one of my passions: Maps. Indeed, I have been fascinated (if not obsessed) by maps for years (since I am 7 years old). In particularly Maps' graphic design. 
A website that many of you may already know — Rare Maps, also known as Barry Lawrence Ruderman Antique Maps Inc. — provides early maps, from The Renaissance to the Modern era (19th century). If you are a collector…

German map-maker Sebastian Münster (1488-1552) was considered one of the most important map-makers in the Age of Exploration. In this era, maps played a particular important role to document explorers' observations.
Data compelling were mostly based on available literary sources and travel. In the case of Sebastian Münster: available literary sources; original manuscript material for description of the countryside and of villages and towns; and travel (mostly Germany, Central Europe).
Technique adopted for this map was woodcut.
Based on an anthropocentric approach to mapping, precisely on explorers' observation, inserts such as the representation of Amerindians as 'Cannibals' in the South America are also included.
Sebastian Munster: Novae Insulae XXVI Nova Tabula. The first map of the continent
of America, 1552.
Originally appeared on Rare Maps
> A hand coloured depiction of the Americas in the Renaissance mapped by Basel-based
Sebastian Münster. Little information were known on America. Based upon an anthropocentric mode of mapping, note the inclusion of illustration of
Amerindians represented as cannibals in the South America (insert of a human leg).
This Novae Insulae XXVI Nova Tabula is dated of 1552. It represents Europe's discoveries of America.
This is the first map of the continent of America, named in Old German Die Nüw Welt (Die Neue Welt, The New World in English).
Map of Asia and Americas, Sebastian Münster, 1588
Originally appeared on University of Columbia
> Münster used mathematics to improve map-making techniques.

According to Rare Maps, while this map first appeared in Sebastian Münster's Geographia, published in 1540, it nonetheless was the 1544 edition of Münster's Cosmographia (Cosmographiae Universalis in Latin) that made America the name of the New World. Cosmographia was the first German description of the World. The book was released in thirty-five editions with versions in French, Latin, Italian, English and Czech.
Map of the Americas, Sebastian Münster, 1553
Originally appeared on University of Columbia
>  According to Indigenous Peoples Issues and Resources, Münster included Americasas part of Asia in a world with three, rather than four, parts

This Cosmographia consisted of six books. The America was part of the libri V (book V). These included Asia Minor, Cyprus, Armenia, Palestine, Arabia, Persia, Central Asia, Afghanistan, Scythia, Tartary, India, Ceylon, Burma, China, East Indies, Madagascar, Zanzibar.
The map contains errors based on Girolamo (da) Verrazzano's expedition.

Munster's map is the earliest map of all of America and the first to name the Pacific Ocean (Mare Pacificum). The depiction of North America is dominated by one of the most dramatic geographic misconceptions to be found on early maps — the so-called Sea of Verrazzano. The Pacific cuts deeply intov into North America so that the part of the coastline at this point is a narrow isthmus between two oceans. This was the result of Verrazzano mistaking the waters to the west of the Outer Bans, the long barrier islands along North Carolina as the Pacific. The division of the New World between Spain and Portugal is recognized on the map of the Castille and Leon flag planted in Puerto Rico, here called sciana.
Girolamo Verrazzano — young brother of explorer Giovanni (da) Verrazzano — himself confessed the 8th of July, 1524:

In XXV more days we sailed more than 400 leagues where there appeared to us a new land never before seen by anyone, ancient or modern. At first it appeared rather low; having approached to within a quarter of a league, we perceived it, by the great fires built on the shore by the sea, to be inhabited. We saw that it ran toward the south… We had seen many people who came to the shore of the sea and seeing us approach fled, sometimes halting, turning back, looking with great admiration… marveling at our clothes, figures and whiteness… [their] eyes [are] black and large, the glance intent and quick. They are not of much strength, in craftiness acute, agile and the greatest runners. from what we were able to learn by experience, they resemble in the last two respects the Orientals, and mostly those of the farthest Sinarian regions… We think that partaking of the Orient on account of the Surroundings, [local plants] are not without some medical property or aromatic liquor…

As mentioned in Cosmography, Sebastian Münster's mid-Atlantic coast of North America was represented as a narrow isthmus which led to the offset of the Northeast and a huge sea in Canada. The isthmus was found, Girolamo Verrazzano said:

[A] mile in width and about 200 long, in which, from the ship, was seen the oriental sea between the west and north. Which is the one, without doubt, which goes about the extremity of India, China and Cathay. We navigated along the said isthmus with the continual hope of finding some strait or true promontory at which the land would end toward the north in order to be able to penetrate to those blessed shores of Cathay

As Cosmography wrote, this isthmus was in fact the Outer Banks between Capes Lookout and Henry and his Oriental Seas was the Pamlico and Albermarle Sounds.

This map of the Americas also includes inserts such as elevation profiles, green features, place names, according to the Age of Exploration tradition. Note also the presence of a ship (The Victoria) on the Pacific sea. The map also shows 'India Superior' and Cathay coastlines, early representation of the Straits of Magellan, the Yucatan Peninsula as an Island, Cuba, Hispanolia (Dominican Republic and Haiti), Spain, and Africa. Place names are Terra Florida, Francisca (Canada), Hispania.
As mentioned by Rare Maps, it also shows the representation of the division of America between Spain and Portugal. Landmass in the South might be one of first representations of Antarctica.
In the 1553 version, continents are represented with colors: Francisca, South America, Cuba, a small landmass in the east (Spain) and India and Cathay are in pink, North America as well as a landmass in the south of South America (which may be Antarctica) in yellow and Central America and a landmass in the east (Africa) in green.
According to Map Forum, the Cosmographia was in the illustrative tradition of the hartmann Schgedel's Nüremberg Chronicle. This map of The Americas is one of my favourite in this period of Exploration (15th and 16th centuries)
Plan Routier de la Ville et Faubourgs de Paris | Jean Lattre, 1792
Originally appeared on Rare Maps
My second favourite map is the Plan Routier de la Ville et Faubourgs de Paris designed by Parisian Jean Lattre (fl. 1743-1793). Jean Lattre was a bookseller, engraver and map publisher. He worked with European cartographers such as William Faden and Italian cartographer Santini. This road map shows the organization of roads within Paris and distinction between buildings in pink, green features in green. L'Observatoire de Paris-Meudon (Paris Observatory), hospitals, Palais Royal are represented in red. Naming streets, cul-de-sac, churches, bridges, green features are highly detailed. A cartouche with streets, buildings and their functions (hospitals, churchs, colleges, communities of males and 'girls' (in French: Hommes for males, and filles for girls. I voluntarily opted for the translation of 'hommes' into 'male' and 'filles' into 'girls' after the original legend). New streets (nouvelles rues) are also included such as Rue Amelot, and Rue Guyot.
As, until the 1920s, Paris covered an area of 78 sq. km (30 sq. mi), Bois de Boulogne and Bois de Vincennes are excluded in this map. They were annexed in 1929 to bring Paris area to the present 105 sq. km (41sq km).
According to Rare Maps, this map is part of a composite atlas assembled by Jean Lattre.

And, collectors, these maps can be collected, unsurprisingly, at a very expensive price…

Source: Rare Maps, University of Columbia, Map Forum, Cosmography, Geographicus


Towards Consuming Cities?

Cities and The rise of the consuming class. The title of a recent survey directed by McKinsey Global Institute. At least, a part. It, nevertheless, may confirm, to paraphrase Mahanth Joishy and Parag Khanna, that worldwide, a new class of global cities is emerging combining mega-populations, massive markets, and international ambition.
Still, a certain Michael Bloomberg, Mayor of New York City recently said:

We're the level of government closest to the majority of the world's people. While nations talk, but too often drag their heels — cities act.
Put it simply, cities are becoming more powerful economic actors in the world economy… than states. According to McKinsley Global Institute, the '600 cities',also known as 'City 600', that will make the largest contribution to a higher global GDP will also generate nearly 65 percent of world economic growth by 2025.
The City 600 comprises over 440 cities in emerging economies, also known as Emerging 440. Or over half of overall growth, new candidates in the global consuming world.
These charts, below, do not need any explanation.
© McKinsley Global Institute
The City 600 population in 2010 © McKinsley Global Institute
This Emerging 440 will require more resources to respond to its consumers' needs, a population estimated at over 600 million, by 2025. These include: land, food, energy, goods and services, water, housing, transport…
The City 600 Population by 2025 © McKinsley Global Institute
Global Cities of the Future © McKinsley Global Institute
© McKinsley Global Institute
© McKinsley Global Institute
© McKinsley Global Institute
City 600 Total GDP in 2010 © McKinsley Global Institute
The City 600 Total GDP by 2025 © McKinsley Global Institute
The City 600 Per Capita GDP in 2010 © McKinsley Global Institute
The City 600 Per Capita GDP 2025 © McKinsley Global Institute


Today's chart: Land Value, Manhattan

A chart that I discovered on Twitter: Land Value. Precisely: Cost of land per square foot in Manhattan.
Land Value, Manhattan, | © Bill Rankin, 2006
Originally appeared on Radical Cartography

Below, a presentation of this chart:
Tax assessments are a tricky data source, since they do not measure market value — indeed, there are even tax-assessed "values" on public buildings and parks. (Here Central Park is "valued" at $1.9 billion). But they do give a rough sense of relative values within the city: the pocket of wealth up near the cloisters, and the relative sparseness of the lower east side.
Note: even though this map shows building footprints, the land value shown for each building footprints, the land value shown for each building is per square foot of lot size.

En route towards green cities…?

We dream of making green cities. A city is literally green as well as ecological. A city that produces food and energy, cleans its own water, recycles waste and holds a great biodiversity. A city that produces food and energy, cleans its own water, recycles waste and holds a great biodiversity. A city which might even be autarkic: A symbiotic world of people, plants and animals. Can this symbiosis between city and countryside offer essential argumentation to the global concerns regarding urbanisation and consumption? Can we realise in the next ten years an exemplary 'green' city which realises this synthesis? And could this be the Floriade 2022?
This is Winy Maas's comment about his master plan for Floriade 2022.
With Floriade 2022, Almere is announced to be becoming… a green city. Still, this time I paraphrase Bridgette Mainhold, the greenest city ever built!
A very ambitious master plan for the city of Almere and its population of 191,495 on a area of 248.77 sq km (96.05 sq mi). This will be for the Floriade 2022 horticultural expo and will include hotel, marina, offices and homes. This Floriade 2022 will sit in a 45ha-square peninsula situated on the lake to the south, Bridgette Mainhold notes.
Floriade 2022, Almere, The Netherlands | © MVRDV
Originally appeared on dezeen.

Basing on these renders, the project seems an enjoyable opportunity for the city of Almere. It is obvious that the aim behind MVRDV's master plan is to design a liveable city that puts green features as catalyser for the citizens. But what make cities liveable?
Floriade 2022, Almere, The Netherlands | © MVRDV
Originally appeared on dezeen

Apparently key elements to a liveable city must integrate resilience, inclusiveness and authenticity, as this infographic shows.
A livable and lovable city | The Philips Center for Health and Well-Being
Originally appeared on this big city

Still, many observers admit the important role that green growth can bring to urban and rural environment provided that it will be inclusive, as clean in its treatment of environment, efficient in its use of natural resources, resilient, and meets the needs of all people, as this infographic below shows.
Inclusive Green Growth | WorldBank
Also appeared on Sustainable Cities Collective
> Note how dominant is green color as indicative of a 'green' inclusiveness

Allow me for being skeptical with the notion of "green cities" and my fear of a "greenwashing" tendency that is growing faster as expected in such circumstances — this has nothing to do with MVRDV's proposal as it is not built yet. I have aforementioned 'inclusive green growth' as core element of a liveable city. But these recent years concepts that include "resilient city" "smart city", "inclusive city", "eco city", "biodiverse city", "electric city", "mobile city", "self-sufficient city" and so on, are flourishing. And 'green city' is just another one. And the list will not be unsurprisingly complete as new thoughts and ideas seem to arise every day, every hour, every minutes…
Perhaps the most urgent task is to pose this question of how relationship between city and green in another way: can city and green be related? Can cities be 'green'? If so how can cities and green features be related? Can the act of planting plants be sufficient to make cities "green"? Or should we rather rethink cities in a new way that includes or better generates new ideas, innovative research in terms of planning, designing and constructing that includes building materials? This leads to this question: can we continue to invest on current building materials?
I have already said it: new research and vision are arising. As such for some researchers something is wrong with today's architecture. One of them is Rachel Armstrong who says to New Scientist:
The issue with modern architecture is that it is imagined through the framework and technology of the machine. We think even of ourselves as machines. Machines are good at taking resources and making objects but they're impenetrable to the environment and they are extremely wasteful.
In her book Living Architecture, Rachel Armstrong calls for fresh thoughts and a new vision in terms of architecture. On the recent 3/11 events and reconstruction of the Tohoku, Japan, she writes:

[A] new approach to architecture must be considered. The buildings that house our lives and our technologies must be able to combat extreme acts of nature.

As such:

Today, all buildings are designed and constructed the same way. They are the product of industrial, machine-manufactured processes, that are functionally inert and both unresponsive and damaging to the changing environment; today, our building account for 40 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions, an even bigger carbon footprint than transport.

In this way, these green cities seem to have hear Rachel Armstrong's call for new vision and thoughts in terms of designing cities. But, as mentioned, planting trees, plants here and there will not be sufficient and efficient enough to respond to the urgent task to making our cities liveable, if, Rachel Armstrong points out, we still use today's materials and construction systems:

Our structures could become living objects, responding to the environment. Instead of our buildings remaining inert, they could adapt to or respond to the seasons, like parks and gardens, with living coatings responding to the availability of more or less wind, sunlight and water. Innovation in the technological functions of architecture is key to meeting these challenges.

Put it another way, green and city cannot be related if we do not reengineer city and building design that includes building materials in new ways.

All modern buildings are constructed in the same way: They employ industrial processes to use functionally inert materials that then form a barrier between human habitation and nature. Currently, the construction of our homes and cities from inert materials takes a toll on the environment, because buildings can't return anything of value to the biosphere. Instead, our buildings are little more than the site for the extreme consumption of fossil fuel.

In this context, if we follow Rachel Armstrong, green features and current building materials cannot match in harmony to make our cities liveable despite a progressive shift into admitting that a new approach to designing cities is highly needed. Put it simply, inclusive green features will not make cities green.
US Portal Service Green Roof | US Portal. Photo © pnwra.
Originally appeared on inhabitat

It is certain that it is too early to propose new materials capable of adapting or responding to environments — to limit to materials — as research and investment are needed. This may force us to try various scenarios and speculations to obtain the model of city that will fit with the 21st century challenging issues. Failure will be the key as new approach to designing buildings and cities for planners, architects, landscape architects, and collaborators. Test, fail, re-test, and perhaps, then after myriad of attempts, a new model of city may raise… providing that, to quote Rachel Armstrong:
architecture plays a smarter and more responsive role in the environment. 
Source: Inhabitat, dezeen

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