New Chinese eco-city in Langfang to model cutting edge technologies

By : Jenny Marusiak on Eco-Business:

An artist's rendition of China's new eco-city in Langfang. Image: Southworth International

Plans for a new eco-city south of Beijing were unveiled on Thursday by former Australian prime minister John Howard.

Located in Langfang in the Hebei province, the 30 square kilometre development will feature a theme park and an exhibition centre, designed to be the world’s largest with over 1.3 million square metres. Green space will flow throughout the development and there will be restrictions on gasoline powered vehicles, according to the developers.

Speaking at the China Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting, Mr Howard said, “I am very pleased that Langfang is taking a leadership position in developing smart city technology.  This is an outstanding opportunity to build a new city from the ground-up with wired and eco-green technology that will pave the way for cities of the future around the world.”

A representative from global investment company Southworth International, which is developing the project in a joint venture with the privately held Chinese Bestsun (Baichuan) Energy Group, told Eco-Business they would be using “cutting-edge technology in energy, transportation, low carbon, water and wired infrastructure in the recreational business district and residences.”

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Food Revolution: Taking Control of One’s Food Supply (via Hwaairfan’s Blog)

Like many of us we depend on others for our food, our system depends on our trading our time (work) or accumulated wealth (past surplus) for storage capacity (credit) which we use in various forms to pay for our basic needs and to satisfy our desires. This disconnect is basic to living in cities and despite large scale interest in becoming ‘self sufficient’ – we are dependent on the system continuing to deliver us our needs and to provide a fair return to those who supply it for us. A laudable attempt to change this … which has little effect on us who live in a city!

Food Revolution: Taking Control of One’s Food Supply Food Revolution: Taking Control of One’s Food Supply By Hwaa Irfan A revolution can take many forms, but it is only a revolution when it succeeds in uprooting a fraudulent, and oppressive system. We have been witnessing by care of the media, protests mushrooming around the world, the most important of all being the Tunisian and Egyptian youths demanding dignity and respect. Unfortunately labelled the “Arab Spring” it has inspired others around th … Read More

via Hwaairfan's Blog


Here with a press release from Ilasa on last weeks awards, I hope to post in depth features on some of these over the next few weeks with more pictures and plans, The pictures are gleaned from the web as none are available from Ilasa   at his stage.

On 21 May Corobrik and the Institute for Landscape Architecture in South Africa (ILASA) celebrated 34 projects entered into the Awards of Excellence as well as the lifetime achievement of an icon of the landscape architectural profession:

Ann Sutton  2011 Icon of Landscape Architecture

Chosen as the 2011 South African Icon of Landscape Architecture, Ann Sutton is known as one of South Africa’s first landscape architects. Her lifetime dedication to the advancement of the profession of landscape architecture in South Africa has been nothing short of remarkable and tonight ILASA honours Ann for what she has achieved in her career, but also for the inspirational influence she has had on landscape architecture in South Africa. It would be true to say that without her inspiration landscape architecture in South Africa would not be where it is today.

Tonight ILASA honours Ann Sutton for her inspirational career – she has shown the way in contextual landscape design, making extensive use of indigenous plants and construction materials sourced from site. Her ability to design remarkable water features that capture the essence of a place is admirable. But Ann should also be acknowledged for her astute business skills – having shown that it was possible to be a successful woman entrepreneur in South Africa long before women received the recognition they deserve.

10 Award recipients

Out of the 34 entries 10 projects received 2011 Corobrik-ILASA Awards of Excellence – all in the category Planning & Design – Completed Projects. These were:

Eye of Africa

Eye of Africa Phase 1 by Landscape Architects Uys & White for Medallist

For its appropriate response to both the natural landscape and the infrastructural fabric of the residential estate Eye of Africa – Phase 1 receives an Award of Excellence. The seemingly effortless integration of parkscape and functional aspects – for example stormwater channelling – creates a serene setting for outdoor living. The selective introduction of elements in a vast landscape is successful in its attempt at place-making appropriate to a residential environment. Continue reading

Art + Botany: LeafSnap Field Guide Free App

For those of us who are not botanists and struggle to tell the difference between one tree and another, here’s and app for us – I,m not sure yet if it will help us much with our species here in South Africa, but the  idea is surely encouraging and a matter of time before this collaborative effort  reaches all corners of the globe: From Garden Design Magazine by  Anna Laurent 

PHOTO BY: LeafSnap

Fresh from the digital fields and humming with plant life, LeafSnap is a new mobile app that can identify a tree’s species by looking at a photograph of the leaf. It’s the first of app of its kind, and a field guide for the twenty-first century. Using facial recognition algorithms to analyze the leaf’s contour, LeafSnap then selects a match from its index of species. If it’s not entirely sure (let’s be fair—leaves of different species can look rather similar), it will bring up a list of possible identifications. You can then browse through the collection to determine which tree’s leaf you’re holding. To make this easy, LeafSnap has a botanic dossier on all of its trees, including all sorts of information about the tree’s habitat, growth, and critical specs (are the fruits poisonous or sweet?), as well as a collection of photographs that show the tree’s seeds, bark, flowers, and fruits. The tree’s entire life cycle is captured in a pocket-sized album, at very high resolution. Truly modern, the photographs can be magnified to examine the veins on a petal or the pollen on an anther. A wealth of information and a gorgeous gallery of botanic photography, the guide is also wonderful bedtime reading, when you’re not in the field.   Continue reading

Waste: the “ugly face” of Cape Town and Putting a Lid on America’s Trash Trail –

As with many global cities, Cape Town faces a problem: Where to put out trash?”, with low levels of actual recycling taking place older African cities with existing infrastructure tasking strain and more or less developed economy levels of consumption – according to Engineering News

” Cape Town’s 3,2-million residents produce some 6 000 t/d of waste, which 
is an average of 2 kg/d for each person. With waste generation growing at 
7% a year, the city’s landfill sites at 
Vissershok, Bellville South and Strand-fontein are almost filled to capacity.”

CAPE LANDFILLS The city’s landfill sites at Vissershok, Bellville South and Strandfontein are almost filled to capacity

– there has to be a better way than building massive artificial dunes, as at Strandfontein, Cape Town. Its not that its all doom and gloom, a lot is being done by South African authorities such as initiatives by the City of Cape Town , its just that our media driven consumptive lifestyles and outdated management paradigms are simply not coping with the mountains of waste we generate!

How we cause the change from these and other ways of living that cause the problem to ones that make us part of the solution is the cliche that needs the most research:

In a related a report from onearthKATHERINE BAGLEY discusses these problem in the context of New York:

New York City spends more than $1 million a day dumping its trash in other states. There’s a better way.”

Driving west out of Manhattan across the George Washington Bridge, Hilario Vergara rolled down his window and took a deep drag from his Sonoma cigarette. Balmy air rushed into the Freightliner 18-wheeler cab, rustling the yellow-lined paper on the dashboard. It was covered with hand-scrawled directions to the Conestoga Landfill.

The truck’s engine groaned under the weight of 47 tons of trash being hauled from New York City to Morgantown, Pennsylvania, a small community of 4,000 people that is also home to one of the state’s three largest landfills. Every day, trucks from New York and other parts of the Northeast bring approximately 7,000 tons of solid waste to Morgantown — enough to fill roughly 330 dump trucks.

Along Route 176-S, piles of shredded garbage clogged the drainage ditches. In the rearview mirror, I watched ripped plastic bags dance in the wind, stirred up by the back tires of our trailer. To the left, behind a single row of trees, perfectly shaped rolling hills ran alongside the road. “That’s Conestoga,” Vergara said, pointing to the mounds. “I’m guessing all this trash blew off the trucks coming in this morning.”

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Liveable v lovable

More on why these “Livable City” and Best Cities to Live in” Indices are not quite what they seem : Who compliles them and who are they for is questioned here in this  article By Edwin Heathcote 

Vancouver is Hollywood’s urban body double. It is famously the stand-in for New York, LA, Seattle and Chicago, employed when those cities just get too tough, too traffic-clogged, too murderous or too bureaucratic to film in. It is almost never filmed as itself. That is because, lovely as it is, it is also, well … a little dull. Who would want to watch a film set in Vancouver? To see its skyscrapers destroyed by aliens or tidal waves, its streets populated by cops and junkies, its public buildings hosting romantic reunions? Yet Vancouver (original name, Gastown) has also spent more than a decade at the very top of the charts of the best city to live in the world. Can that really be right?

No. Not at all. In fact, Vancouver’s boringly consistent topping of the polls underlines the fundamental fault that lies at the heart of the idea of measuring cities by their “liveability”. The most recent surveys, from Monocle magazine, Forbes, Mercer and The Economist, concur: Vancouver, Vienna, Zurich, Geneva, Copenhagen and Munich dominate the top. What, you might ask, no New York? No London? No LA or HK? None of the cities that people seem to actually want to emigrate to, to set up businesses in? To be in? None of the wealthiest, flashiest, fastest or most beautiful cities? Nope. Americans in particular seem to get wound up by the lack of US cities in the top tier. The one that does make it is Pittsburgh. Which winds them up even more.

The big cities it seems, the established megacities of the US, Europe and Asia are just too big, too dangerous, too inefficient. So what do these top cities have in common? How exactly do you measure “liveability”?

All the surveys use an index. But what is on it? “There’s always proximity to nature,” says Tyler Brûlé (editor of Monocle and patron saint of liveable cities and airport lounges, whose column appears weekly in the FT’s Life & Arts section). “Global connectivity is important, education and we’ve recently added chain store metrics – is there a Starbucks or a Zara?” he says”

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How smart should a city be?

From the perspective of a skeptic I often feel the dream of the ‘smart city’ equates tot the idea of Big Brother and the controls of the police state, the more smart it becomes the more controlled we are – indoctrinated by our media and our tools (smart phones) we buy and live as some “other’ global media conglomerate determines and never forgetting the nightmares of incipient intelligence a la “Minority Report” and other science fiction classics…. I thus welcome a more balanced and user friendly vision of technology in cities and the participation they might afford us by Gravitymax on [polis]

Imagine a city that can anticipate your needs and desires, and provide you with information you’ll need to know based on what it knows about you. Such is the vision of many in the field of urban and ubiquitous computing, and it is a discourse that is becoming more popular and powerful.
User experience designer and writer Adam Greenfield challenges this vision of techno-utopia. Instead of cities that are smart, he prefers ones that make us smarter. Greenfield believes that people will always be much better at making sense of the world than artificial intelligence. He proposes a network of open public “objects” (data collected from, and generated in, public space) that can be understood and used by the public.
Of course, this model is not without its challenges. Government policies surrounding privacy, corporate interests in ownership of data, and standardization of a presentation layer are just a few that come to mind. Tackling these challenges may seem like a daunting task, but hopefully these kinds of conversations will continue and attract the attention of people with the right amount of influence to make things happen.

Adam Greenfield is the founder of the urban systems design practice Urbanscale. He is also a former head of design direction at Nokia and has taught at New York University’s Interactive Telecommunications Program. 

Credits: Video from Blinkenlichten TV.

LIVING IN THE ENDLESS CITY – New Report Reveals the Dynamics of the 21st Century City.

A new book coming from The Urban Age Project  and the team from the London School of Economics that brought us the Endless City 

“The last decade has witnessed a major international re-evaluation of the importance of cities. With their rigorous studies of world cities like Istanbul, Mumbai and Sao Paulo, the editors Ricky Burdett and Deyan Sudjic have been at the forefront of this change. Living in the Endless City is a brilliant analysis of the social and political problems we face today and the importance that design plays in making cities more liveable. Read it now” Richard Rogers, Architect 

Combining smart writing, remarkable photographs and incisive research conducted by the Urban Age Project, Living in the Endless City is an investigation into the physical  and social aspects of the modern urban condition, written by esteemed thinkers from  all around the globe, under the leadership of Ricky Burdett of the London School of Economics and Deyan Sudjic of the Design Museum, London. With reports and data on vital themes including security, climate change, density and globalization, Living in the Endless City focuses on three of the most vibrant and fastest growing mega-cities in the world; Mumbai, India’s economic powerhouse known as the ‘Maximum City’; São Paulo, Brazil’s most populous and dynamic city; and Istanbul, Europe’s largest city and one of the most resilient urban economies in the world.

Living in the Endless City incorporates a wealth of research and analysis which has emerged from a sequence of conferences held by the Urban Age Project (organised by the London School of Economics and Deutsche Bank’s Alfred Herrhausen Society) for influential figures in the field of urban development – such as mayors, planners,architects, scientists and community groups – to study the growing, and in some cases shrinking, cities of the twenty-first century.  Continue reading

Culture as Second Fiddle

Is culture relevant today – is it not out-weighed by the contemporary blast of media – have we not risen above mere ethnic culturalism or is culture just found in the “arts” or historic ethnicity – this essay from ARCADE by Gregory Jusdanis examines some of these topics briefly

Always the bridesmaid, never the bride. That still sums up the way we view culture today. We undervalue its place in the world, always elevating the importance of the economy as a factor in social change. Culture, to change the metaphor, still plays second fiddle, following the lead of the economic conductor.

I thought the situation had changed until I sat in a seminar presentation recently in which the same arguments were hashed out: that the economy determines all social relations and that culture is derivative, responding to transformations but rarely generating changes itself. The discussion, in other words, zig-zagged between materialism and idealism. Is this conversation not tiresome?

What do I mean by culture? I have in mind both culture as the arts (popular and non-popular) and culture as identity (ethnic, racial, gender, national).

We underestimate the power of culture in social life. Beholden as we are to materialist explanations, we prefer the hardness of economic factors to what we consider soft ones such as gender, ethnicity, nation, love, art, and friendship. Continue reading

Winner of the Tianjin Samaranch Memorial Museum Competition

An collaboration between Architect,  Landscape Architects and Engineers yields an innovative and transparent  environment  celebrating the 2008 Olympics in form and features  from bustler 

Brooklyn/Copenhagen-based HAO / Holm Architecture Office in collaboration with Archiland BeijingKragh & Berglund landscape architects, and engineering consultants Cowi Beijing, has won first prize in a competition to design the Samaranch Memorial Museum in Tianjin, China.

Competition-winning design for the new Samaranch Memorial Museum in Tianjin, China

Click above image to view slideshow
Competition-winning design for the new Samaranch Memorial Museum in Tianjin, China

Juan Antonio Samaranch of Spain was the president of the International Olympic Committee from 1980 to 2001. Throughout his presidency he advocated for reform and inclusion and was a strong supporter of China’s bid as host city for the 2008 Olympic Games. Tianjin, a city of over 12 million people in northwestern China near Beijing, was the site of several Olympic events. The new museum and memorial will both highlight Samaranch’s professional history and look to the future, offering space for rotating exhibits of contemporary art and culture.

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