The value of combining value in monetary terms and in spatial evidence is demonstrated in tradrional enviroments – it would be interesting to see similar research carried out in informal environments such as found in South Africa

The power of the network

My slides

This first part of this presentation introduces a new approach to valuing urban design – one which allows design decisions to be embedded in real estate valuation calculations. The approach connects design to the rateable value of retail, commercial and residential property offerings. It allows investment decisions to be related directly to design proposals, showing how Proposal A will generate more long term value than Proposal B. The tool is already being used in practice.

Part Two describes Space Syntax Limited’s plans to disseminate its science-based, human-focused approach to urban planning and design. Key to this is the creation of an Academy to provide training to professional and non-professional stakeholders.

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West 8 wins Yongsan Park competition in Seoul

West 8 has won International Competition for Master Plan of Yongsan Park, Korea. On the 23 April, the organizer of the competition, the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs of the Republic of Korea announced the exciting news.

The project site is a large area in the centre of Seoul with a total area of circa 243 ha that has been in use as a military base for an extensive period both during the Japanese occupation and under post-War American protection. The vision of the competition, as described in the brief, is to create a park in which nature, culture, history and the future are in harmony. It will be a park which restores, sublimates, and expands upon the history and local characteristics of the area. This park shall regain the respect for nature and reclaims the lost and damaged ecological system. It will eventually become a park of new urban culture for the preservation of green spaces and a sustainable future

The new Master Plan for Yongsan National Park proposed by West 8 + IROJE has been developed through an interactive process that has consistently returned to the fundamental concept of healing. The act of healing is a process that transforms the existing site through an awareness of its history into a world-class park that inspires illusions of nature, ecological restoration and a wide ranging urban park culture. Continue reading

URBANIZED: Conversation

A discussion between Gary Hustwitt, James Corner and Ricky Burdett on the movie URBANIZED, a documentary film by Gary Hustwit

Urbanized is a feature-length documentary about the design of cities, which looks at the issues and strategies behind urban design and features some of the world’s foremost architects, planners, policymakers, builders, and thinkers. On April 12, PennDesign Dean Marilyn Jordan Taylor joined filmmaker Gary Hustwit in conversation with two of the film’s participants, James Corner, Professor and Chair of Landscape Architecture at PennDesign and Principal, James Corner Field Operations and Ricky Burdett, Professor of Urban Studies and Director, LSE Cities and Urban Age/Global Distinguished Professor, New York University, following a screening of the film. Sponsored by Penn IUR, Cinema Studies and Urban Studies. For more information,

The invention and reinvention of the city: interview rem koolhaas

An interview with Rem Koolhaas from  World Policy Blog via World Landscape Architecture

The following interview is an excerpt from the Journal of International Affairs spring/summer 2012 issue, “The Future of the City,”

As cities grow in importance, so too does architecture. Architects are playing a leading role in thinking about the future of cities and building structures that will define urban life for hundreds of years to come. Rem Koolhaas is a leading urban theorist and a Pritzker Prize–winning architect who is engaged in building projects around the world. He co-founded OMA, the Office for Metropolitan Architecture, which is receiving international attention for its recent completion of an enigmatic new headquarters for China Central Television in Beijing. In an interview with Paul Fraioli of the Journal of International Affairs for its latest issue “The Future of the City,” Koolhaas discusses how the economic and cultural changes of the 21st century are transforming world cities and also the practice of architecture.

Journal of International Affairs: Globalization is making it easier for corporations and developers to do business in cities around the globe. Is this having an effect on the practice of architecture in cities or on the kinds of projects that clients are demanding?

Koolhaas: The question is so pertinent that it is almost unanswerable. Things are changing enormously in almost every sense. The effects of globalization have been positive and negative. My generation of architects is the first that could work almost anywhere in the world. We had the option to repeat the same building everywhere or to push ourselves forward, to create an encounter between ourselves and the local culture. This has been incredible for OMA because we have had a deep encounter in China creating the CCTV building and another in Qatar. It is a three-dimensional anthropology lesson and I think our entire office has been transformed by these encounters. If you take architecture seriously and assume your responsibilities, exchange can be a very rich thing. The downside is that profit-driven repetition is so common.

Journal: How do major urban architectural projects impact the national and cultural identity?

Koolhaas: This repetition I just mentioned causes anxiety about identity. There is a natural reaction from citizens and from governments when their cultures are not reflected in urban building projects. This often comes up in the Middle East. So many international architects make it their business to be contextual. As a result, their projects will feature doves, camels, falcons and other first-degree symbols of local history.

This issue is fascinating because if you look back a hundred years, you find that there was still such a thing as Indian architecture, Thai architecture, Chinese architecture, African architecture, Dutch architecture, and Russian architecture. But now, almost all of these languages have disappeared, and are subsumed in a larger and seemingly universal style. The process has been like the disappearance of a spoken language.

Remnants of these differences still exist. For example, a high-rise in Singapore is inhabited in a very different way from a high-rise in the suburbs of Paris or a high-rise in China. Each of these cultures, which once had its own form of speaking, is not trying to resurrect its old language, but is interested in defining and asserting its uniqueness again.

Continue reading

bracket [goes soft]: Dredge Locked

A system to contain dredged material that is then used to create a natural-ized wetlands -where nature is contained in a man made envelope from Archinect

View of wetlands/locks—–continually in construction/remediation.

View of wetlands/locks—–continually in construction/remediation.

In anticipation of today’s event, Publish Or… bracket [GOES SOFT], we are showcasing a piece from the book each day this week. We hope to see you tonight!


Dredge Locked
by Alex Yuen

Unnoticed by many, Houston’s shipping channel, like many such commercial waterways around the globe, is subjected to a continual process of dredging, in order to maintain a certain breadth and depth to accommodate the vessels that enter and leave Houston every day.  This material, however, is seldom regarded as anything but waste and is deposited and contained, either within the channel or on shore, taking up space and spreading the harmful bi-products of the petrochemical facilities in the area.  Up to this point, such actions have rarely been scrutinized and this system of isolating and hiding the contaminated material, even at such a massive scale, continues.  Yet as the world and Houston move into a new era of awareness and accountability, major possibilities are lost by simply sweeping these materials under the rug.

“Especially near coastal areas, where the need for confined disposal facilities (for dredging) is the greatest, the competition for other land uses such as housing, recreation, and nature reserves is great”

– The International Association of Dredging Companies

Image: A new hybrid infrastructure serves as a container for dredged material, a fi lter for contaminated liquid and housing units or parking structures, becoming the main building block for a new ecology and urbanity

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Neighborhood Visualizer: Revealing Material and Energy Use in Cities

The Neighborhood Visualizer , developed by MIT PhD candidate David Quinn and Lisbon research student Daniel Wiesmann, aims to bring about a better understanding about urban patterns that relate to material use and energy use.

Built on top of a selection of open-source tools, the web-based map reveals the currently available data on material (i.e. kg/person) and energy use (i.e. kWh/person) in about 42 different US cities. ‘Materials’ include parameters like asphalt or gravel roads, or the use of masonry, glass or timber in residential housing, all based on estimations of urban form. Users can select specific neighborhood areas and create heatmaps that are normalized by population or household size. Further analyses are automatically generated as PDF files.

The World Happiness Report Explains What Makes People Happy

From Co-EXIST  by Ariel Schwartz What are the secrets from the happiest people on Earth? Some make sense: Be wealthy, married, and have a job. From there, though, it gets more complicated – do bright colours make us happy must do based on  the choice of image?

Happiness isn’t easy to quantify, but a lot of people have tried: Bhutan has its Gross National Happiness survey, global research company Ipsos has its annual world happiness poll, and now Columbia University’s Earth Institute has put out the first World Happiness Report, which has the ambitious goal of surveying the state of happiness in the world today and looking at how the science of happiness plays into it.

The report, commissioned by the United Nations Conference on Happiness (yes, that exists), contains over a hundred pages of musings on world happiness. Here’s an ultra-abridged version of the findings.

  • Richer people are happier than poorer people on average, but wealth is only one factor in overall happiness. The same goes for countries, where factors like personal freedom, lack of corruption, and social support are more important.
  • Unemployment obviously reduces happiness, but not because of what you may think. It’s not the loss of income, but the loss of things like self-esteem and workplace social life that lead to a drop in happiness. High unemployment rates can trigger unhappiness even in the employed, who suddenly become fearful of losing their jobs. According to the study, even low-quality jobs yield more satisfaction than being unemployed.
  • In some countries, the self-employed report higher levels of job satisfaction than the employed. The study found a positive correlation between happiness and self-employment in both American and European data, but not in Latin America. The possible reason: Self-employment may be a necessity in developing countries where formal employment is not as readily available. When it’s not a choice, it doesn’t lead to happiness.
  • Higher living standards correspond with increased happiness in some countries, but not all. In the U.S., for example, happiness levels have remained stagnant while living standards have risen over the past 50 years or so.
  • Levels of trust (i.e. whether you think someone would return a cash-stuffed wallet) have fallen dramatically over time in certain countries–including the U.S. and U.K.–but risen in others, like Denmark and Italy. One explanation may be that overall life satisfaction has dropped in the former countries, but has risen in many continental European countries.
  • Lack of perceived equality can reduce happiness. The report explains: “The most positive results are in an interesting time-series study using both the U.S. General Social Survey and Eurobarometer. This finds that in both the U.S. and Europe increases in inequality have (other things equal) produced reductions in happiness. The effect has been stronger in Europe than in the U.S. This difference probably reflects ideological differences: Some 70% of Americans believe that the poor have a chance of escaping poverty, compared with only 40% of Europeans.”
  • Mental health is the biggest contributing factor to happiness in all countries, but only a quarter of mentally ill people get sufficient treatment in the most developed nations.
  • Married people across the world (studies have been done in the U.S., EU countries, Switzerland, Latin America, Russia, Eastern Europe, and Asia) claim that they’re happier than single counterparts. A stable family life also contributes to happiness.

It’s not hard to conclude from these findings that gross domestic product is not the ultimate indicator of happiness.

The report sums it up well:

“GDP is important but not all that is important. This is especially true in developed countries, where most or all of the population has living standards far above basic material needs. Except in the very poorest countries happiness varies more with the quality of human relationships than with income. And in the richest countries it is essential not to subordinate the happiness of the people to the ‘interests of the economy,’ since the marginal utility of income is low when income is so high. The economy exists to serve the people, not vice versa. Incremental gains in income in a rich country may be much less beneficial to the population than steps to ensure the vibrancy of local communities or better mental health. “

Check out the whole report here (PDF).

Are spaces of extreme control such as theme parks good models for urban design?


Total Landscape, Theme Parks, Public Space employs the theme park in identifying, dissecting and describing the properties of PROPASt – privately-owned publicly accessible space in a themed mode – a hybrid form of public space emerging in urban environments worldwide Mitrasinovic does not propose that theme parks and PROPASt are, or will ever become, desirable substitutes for democratic public space, but deliberately cuts across the theme park model in order to understand the principle of systematic totality employed when such a model is used to revitalize urban public space in the United States, Asia and Europe. In doing so, Mitrasinovic has created compelling and multifaceted inferences out of a plethora of minute details on the design and production of theme parks across continents. Mitrasinovic s central argument is that the process of systematic totalization that brings theme parks and PROPASt into the same conceptual framework is not only obvious through…

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How can public space become valued – I mean economically valued is research I would like to hear about – this topic centers on the value of urban space – but both the authorities and urban property owners are unlikely to feel the same way – as highlighted by increasing regulation of the urban realm and increasingly the level of surveillance


“Architecture is the making of the city over time.” – Italian architect Aldo Rossi

Mark Raymond, president of The Trinidad and Tobago Institute of Architects, argues that, in order to achieve a more equitable society, cities must design public spaces that facilitate greater participation. He criticizes the privileging of architecture as visual commodity over more pragmatic aspects of design like how a space will be used. Instead of creating cities that boast spectacular buildings designed by star architects, the focus should be on the production of spaces that bring people together. I wholeheartedly agree and recommend that you watch the video. However, I find it surprising that he mentions Barcelona as a blueprint to follow. What one can and cannot do in public space in Barcelona has progressively become more restricted since the passing of the Laws of Communal Living in 2005. Also, the image of Barcelona is tied precisely…

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As always I am fascinated by maps and their ability to both reveal and conceal…


Urban Cultural Studies posted “The City as You’ve Never Seen it Before” and it got me thinking about mapping and the Situationist Interntional. The Situationist International, an international group of revolutionary artists, philosophers and architects, was founded in 1957. The S.I. fought against the capitalist system and advocated for an alternative life style. In response to the city model Parisian urban planners were developing, the S.I. used the map of Paris to reconfigure the experience of the city by constructing situations that playfully and inventively explored the urban.  Psychogeography was one of the particular strategies that the S. I. used to lead pedestrians off their predictable passageways and conduits within the city and  surprised them with new experiences or insight of their urban landscape. By manipulating the map itself, they intervened in the logic of the city, constructing an alternative geography as well as a providing a different perspective of…

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