cities (248)

When it rains…

Crazy day in Edinburgh yesterday. Soccer fans throughout city, celebrating, drinking, then whammo, skies opened up and it must have rained 2″ in an hour. We huddled under an umbrella and in doorways for half an hour.
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Glasgow is meaty, hearty, deep, vibrant. It’s a kick-ass city.

Edinburgh is more refined, elegant, serene. What a duo of cities! 42 miles apart.

Admittedly these conclusions are from a traveller, just jump-the-gun, off-the-top impressions. But I just love these 2 cities.

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Fixer-upper in Berkeley

This is exactly the kind of building I’d be looking for if I wanted to live in a city (or town) these days. I’d first check to see that the foundation was solid, and there were no rotting floors to deal with.  (The roof looks pretty good, and the eaves do not seem to be sagging, which usually indicates the foundation is not disintegrating.) It would be exciting to fix a place like this up.

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Design Revolution in China

In the mail today from architect Peter Calthorpe:

“We have just had a major victory for sustainable urbanism in China. Over the last six years, Energy Foundation and ClimateWorks sponsored us and many others to test and advocate a set of design principles that were antithetical to common practice throughout China. When we started, isolated  superblocks were the norm, and few thought it could change. Now the central government has issued new standards that not only require open, mixed use and walkable communities, but actually attempt to open existing gated superblocks. With newly issued TOD guidelines and  standards issued by the State Council there is much more.

The new standards are a urban design revolution: they overturn the destructive Chinese model of superblocks, gated communities, and giant streets that has been eroding the livability OF their cities. They are perhaps the most important application of global best practices in smart growth to date: Urban Growth Boundaries, compact mixed-use development, walkable environments, infill development, bikeways, auto free streets, Transit Oriented Development, green buildings, and the preservation of history, culture, agriculture and natural ecologies in urban development. They have been testing these ideas for years, but now they are moving them to a scale that is unprecedented. See the following article for a summary:

Liuyun Xiaoqu is a livable community in Guangzhou. It’s not gated, but its public spaces are only open to pedestrians. It is a sustainable and vibrant example of what the new guidelines would support. Image: CC Huang.

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Missouri City Fines Residents for Chipped Paint, Mismatched Curtains

Pagedale, Missouri In this suburb of St. Louis, residents have been ticketed and fined by the town’s police force for violations that don’t even begin to make rational sense.

One resident, Valerie Whitner, has been fined for having chipped paint on the outside of her home and for not attaching a screen door to her back door. She’s been told by city officials she must replace her rain gutters, her siding and put up storm windows. They also told her to mend her fence, cut her lawn and seal up cracks in her home’s foundation. She owes the city more than $2,400.

Photo above: Mildred Bryant, an 84-year old grandmother, has received citations from the city for having mismatched curtains and failing to have blinds in every window.

Photo by Institute for Justice

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