Pista Viva | Caracas Venezuela | Enlace Arquitectura

from World Landscape Architecture by Damian Holmes

In a city of the importance and scale of Caracas, offering ample and accessible recreational spaces for the enjoyment of its citizens becomes a social necessity. Protecting green areas for the ecological benefit of the city is also fundamental. The transformation of “La Carlota” airport into an urban park offers a unique and critical opportunity to value, protect and ensure a better social and ecological future for the people of the city.

The proposal is concentrated on three main gestures. The first is to understand the city as a interconnected network of public spaces, recreational areas and green corridors that clarify the city´s legibility and guarantee better pedestrian movement. The second is the concentration of social and programmatic activities into public nodes understood as a “System of Cultural Parks”, where “La Carlota” represents a catalyst toward its conceptualization and implementation. Lastly, attention is paid to the physical organization of “La Carlota’s” 405 acres which evolves through a process of determined phases. The organization of the park is composed of three “layers” that also reveal the history of the site. A line of indigenous trees delineate the topography of the site (the natural state), the runway is transformed into a boulevard (the present condition), and programmatic “cells” become the new addition and layer of the site (the green future).

Many of the existing hangars and buildings are recycled and converted into cultural and educational centers. New bridges over the Fajardo highway north of the site connect the new park with Roberto Burle Marx’s “Parque del Este” and other neighborhoods south and east of the park are connected by means of pedestrian bridges and new access points. Furthermore, two north-south traffic corridors are introduced traversing the park without interrupting the spatial continuity of the surface while significantly improving vehicular and public transportation mobility in the city.

Pista Viva | Caracas Venezuela | Enlace Arquitectura
Pista Viva (Alive Runway) – Revealing the landscape of the “Carlota”

Out of 104 teams, 69 submissions were entered and three teams received winning prices.
Enlace Arquitectura were chosen as one of the winning teams.

Project Team |
Elisa Silva, Ines Casanova, Leonardo Robleto Costante, Sergio dos Santos, Katherine Aguilar, Valentina Caradonna

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Living Like Bees | Bolzano Italy | OAM Architecture

From ARCH6

Living Like Bees | Bolzano Italy | OAM Architecture
The city is our space and do not possess other, Perec writes, but when a place becomes truly our city? And ‘in the cracks of corrugated spaces, polymorphs and changing urban horizon, real and imagined a city in the light of other ideals (from’ intercultural, peace, to-do city ….), who must progress the evolution of places – in the dialogue – against the perimeter of the space, against the logic of belonging and identity that determine closures racism, self-centered and exclusionary visions, to instead help to promote a city-permeable, woven of relational webs, crossed by sociality in motion, where differences give rise to dialogue, rather than to processes of marginalization.

Living Like Bees | Bolzano Italy | OAM Architecture
Living Like Bees | Bolzano Italy | OAM Architecture
Living Like Bees | Bolzano Italy | OAM Architecture

OAM Architecture project a new sculpture/architecture for an art park in Bolzano.

Imagining in the Urban Wild

From Stantec  by Stephen Plunkard

Example “adventure playground” (from Web Urbanist)

About a week ago I was in a discussion with some public officials about parks planning and design. I learned that their primary concerns were that the grounds could be mowed with a gang mower and that we select one of three certified playground manufacturers. The conversation prompted me to start thinking about places that I used to play as a child versus the many “manufactured” playgrounds of today. Could an interesting, creative and challenging outdoor experience be an alternative to video games? Would it encourage girls and boys to become planners, designers and engineers?

I grew up in three countries – in densely urban areas, fringe cities and suburban areas.  Wherever I lived my friends (boys and girls) and I would seek out wild areas to explore on both private and public lands. While never officially stated, I think we would seek out areas that were secluded with ready access to a dump or place that had scrap building materials. Finding an area close to a project under construction had some obvious benefits too. Our premium sites would be conducive to having fires and/or have access to a stream (fish, beavers, tadpoles, frogs, snakes, etc.). Thinking back some of the building materials might have actually been stolen. If another group of boys and girls were building another settlement nearby we would often create flags a variety of signs and other symbols that would clearly brand our operation.

Glamis Adventure Playground (courtesy of 

We would normally start a construction project as soon as we were released from school for the summer. Projects were as simple as cutting a path through some high weeds to a secluded clearing or as complex as building tree forts and clubhouses. If we were close to a stream, we would build a stone and earthen dam to create a swimming hole, maybe with a wooden or rope bridge. In some cases we spoke different languages but we had a common interest using our collective imagination—building things, taking risks and changing our little corner of the world.  Out of the watchful eye of our parents and teachers, we were in control with no restrictions on our creativity. Our constructions would only last through the summer months but were sometimes revisited in the following year and modified by another group of young builders.

As I thought more about spaces for children in the urban wild, I reached out to former Louisiana State University professor Max Conrad, and he reminded me of the concept of “Adventure Playgrounds,” which was first formally introduced in the early 20th century. Doing a bit of research on the web, I learned that C. Th. Sørensen, a Danish landscape architect, noticed that children preferred to play everywhere but in the playgrounds that he built. He came up with a concept of essentially creating junk yards for kids to play in, from which the “adventure playground” movement was born.

The first adventure playground opened in Denmark in 1943, and the idea quickly spread into other parts of Europe. While today there are over 1,000 adventure playground across Europe and many in Japan, funding, land ownership, and liability issues have thwarted the spread of the idea across the US, where only three still exist, both in California.

The little adventurer, Stephen Plunkard

The whole concept has me asking a number of questions. Is it time to reintroduce, in a big way, the idea of “adventure playgrounds” in our urban wild areas in North America? Would childhood obesity and inactivity be less of a problem if our youth were given the opportunity to play their way? Are we leaving areas of urban wild in the communities we are planning and designing today? Do we need to program or plan everything, or can we set aside unplanned areas for creative young minds? Is land for this kind of use something developers could sell as an added value to their planned communities? Perhaps, most importantly, will young people have any interest in building real things or will they be content living in a virtual world?

As a young school boy growing up in England, building my little settlements, I had no idea that I was actually part of a worldwide movement. Perhaps I should rejoin!

Landscape Urbanism…Decoded?

From World Landscape Architecture by Damian Holmes

The Master Plan for the Central Delaware reflects an increasingly mainstream acceptance of landscape as the framework for urban design. image © Kieran Timblerlake / Brooklyn Digital Foundry

The Master Plan for the Central Delaware reflects an increasingly mainstream acceptance of landscape as the framework for urban design. image © Kieran Timblerlake / Brooklyn Digital Foundry

“What is landscape urbanism? Is it a method, a practice, or a result? What does this term mean to contemporary practitioners of landscape architecture?”

These were questions that inspired the latest installation of OLIN’s Theoretical Symposium, which I moderated with my colleague Katy Martin. Katy and I both knew that this would be a daunting topic, raising all manner of opinions and added questions, so we broke up the discussion into a few key stages. In the days before the symposium even kicked off, we posed these questions to the studio and collected the answers. On the day of the event, we started things off not with the questions, but with a history of “landscape urbanism”—the people, projects, and practices that influenced the concept and led to the coining and popularization of the term itself. We then suggested four definitions of landscape urbanism and used each as a framework for the studio’s theories and questions:

1.) Landscape urbanism as diagnosis
2.) Landscape urbanism as framework and process
3.) Landscape urbanism as green infrastructure 
4.) Landscape urbanism as landscape + urbanism

Our format was straightforward, and our goal was clear: to see if our studio could help clarify a potent but increasingly elusive term in landscape discourse.


The development of landscape urbanism as a theory and practice is the result of an evolving body of work by a number of people. In the 1870s, forefathers of landscape architecture such as Fredrick Law Olmsted and Ebenezer Howard demonstrated how the many environmental problems that plagued American cities could be mitigated by planned open space which served both infrastructural and recreational purposes. In the 1960s, Ian McHarg wrote Design with Nature, the first book to describe an ecologically sound approach to the planning and design of communities. However, it was not until the late 1990s that Charles Waldheim popularized the term landscape urbanism. In his 2006 book, The Landscape Urbanism Reader, Waldheim defines the term as follows: “Landscape urbanism describes a disciplinary realignment currently underway in which landscape replaces architecture as the basic building block of contemporary urbanism.”

Landscape Urbanism as Diagnosis
Landscape urbanism as diagnosis relates specifically to Charles Waldheim’s academic analysis of post-industrial North American cities, described in many of Waldheim’s lectures and writings, such as his 2001 book Stalking Detroit. Waldheim describes the existing condition of metropolitan dispersion, which he argues has been caused by the decline of manufacturing, decentralization of transportation, and continued suburbanization. The term further recognizes the emergence of un-designed landscapes in the voids left by dispersion and questions whether the redevelopment of a dense, architecturally defined urban core is possible or even desirable in a declining, post-industrial city like Detroit.


A figure ground of Detroit’s increasingly porous urban core illustrates the reality of decline and dispersion to which early landscape urbanists like Charles Waldheim were responding. Source: Stalking Detroit, Waldheim et al, 2001

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Enrique Peñalosa to UN: “Mobility Rights are Human Rights”

Having recently travelled through Hong Kong, Bangkok , Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, I can fully agree with Enrique Penalosa that the quality of a city can be judged by the effort it takes to protects its pedestrians rights and how seriously it takes the necessity for providing for its citizens mobility.  In this regard Hong Kong is exemplary, Bangkok is starting to get it right with its river ferries and sky trains but the two Vietnamese cities have lost it with the rights to the sidewalks being dominated by motor bile parking and street traders, leaving no space for  pedestrians to walk, but in the street and having non-existant or minimal public transport, whatever is there is bogged down in the incessant traffic. From IDTP

On Monday, January 21, ITDP board president Enrique Peñalosa addressed a standing-room crowd of more than 80 at United Nations headquarters on the pressing need to promote sustainable transport as a means to poverty eradication. Mr. Peñalosa spoke on the need for a rethinking of transportation priorities, particularly in developing cities, where the majority of the population are often subject to unsafe and inefficient transportation options, while resources are diverted to build roads and highways for private car owners.

“Road space is the most valuable commodity a city has, and what do we do with it? We give it to private cars, and make people compete with cars for walking space,” said Mr. Peñalosa, “Sidewalks are the most important element of a democratic culture. Good sidewalks are the most important thing a city needs to have, but the most [politically] difficult to make happen.” Taking space away from cars is political, he explained, and difficult, as car owners have much more political power than pedestrians in most cities. Yet, building cities for people instead of cars is essential to keeping cities moving. “Trying to solve traffic jams by building bigger roads is like trying to put out a fire with gasoline,” he said, “The only way you can keep cities moving is to take space away from cars, and move more people with surface transport.” Subways can be part of the solution, he said, but even in cities with massive metro systems, such as London, “buses move 64 percent more people than the metro.”

The event, “Lunchtime Discussion on Sustainable Transport: Poverty Eradication through Sustainable Transport”, was organized by the UN missions of Thailand and The Netherlands in cooperation with the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs and was a follow-up to a panel discussion held at the Netherlands Mission in November. The panel included Mr. Peñalosa, Robert Guild of the Asian Development Bank, Michael Replogle, Managing Director for Policy and Founder of ITDP, Cornie Huizenga, of the Partnership on Sustainable Low Carbon Transport (SloCaT), Ambassador Herman Schaper, the permanent representative of the Netherlands to the UN, and Andreas Kopp of the World Bank. Attendees included officials from the UN missions of several dozen countries, including a number of UN ambassadors.

The event is part of an ongoing effort to ensure recognition of sustainable transport’s vital role in sustainable development in the post-2015 global development agenda, and to leverage the $175 billion committed to more sustainable transport by the world’s 8 largest multilateral development banks at Rio+20. 2015 is the deadline for the Millennium Development Goals, targets for poverty alleviation and social development.

“When transport is subsumed under energy policy, key elements like traffic safety get left aside. When transport is subsumed as one element of sustainable cities, then intercity mobility and freight are sidelined,” said Cornie Huizenga of SLoCaT, a partnership of 68 organizations including MDBs, NGOs, UN agencies, national research centers, and others. “Sustainable transport needs to be recognized as its own sustainable development goal.”

Mr. Peñalosa said that good quality sidewalks for pedestrians is “the most important indicator of a democratic city”, and discussed how, as mayor of Bogotá, he was almost impeached for taking cars off the sidewalks.

“Transport, like energy, is an essential enabler of poverty eradication. Meeting these targets is not possible without improving access to jobs, markets, schools and hospitals. This will require more investment to address the mobility needs of the poor, who mostly use public transport, walk or cycle,” said Michael Replogle, Global Policy Director of ITDP. “Sustainable transport goals and indicators need to be an integral part of sustainable development goals, enabling better targeted transport spending by national and local governments and MDBs,” he said.

Why Walkability Isn’t Just About Proximity To Shops

From Walkonomics

Walkability is won and lost at street-level

Campoli acknowledges that having destinations nearby is essential for getting more people walking, but she adds to this several other key qualities of walkable urban neighbourhoods:

  • Connections – a fine grained network of sidewalks and footpaths with plenty of intersections;

  • Tissue – Great architecture with small human-sized buildings, not big boxes!

  • Density – of housing and population;

  • Streetscape – well designed streets with wide sidewalks and crossings, that are easy and safe to walk in;

  • Green networks – plenty of street trees and green spaces.

But these key factors aren’t just the personal preferences of the author, instead they are derived from detailed studies of 12 walkable neighbourhoods in the US and Canada, which are described using beautiful panoramic street-level photography and geo-analysis.

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I don’t think there is some secret recipe – its well known – involve both users and professionals who care about the site – not those who fly in and fly out- even if they don’t get on – they need each other and once its built then they still need to be involved in its management – i.e. only trust people who have “Skin in the game’ in the words of Nicholas Taleb author of “Anti-Fragility”


Doesn’t sound like it. Both developed and developing world cities are still struggling to get urban development right, said some of the world’s leading urban experts at the Transforming Transportation conference organized by the World Bank Group and the EMBARQ program of the World Resources Institute (WRI). Successes, failures, and the places in between were examined in a set of presentations and debates.

Mexico City may be in between — not quite a total failure or success. It’s struggling with intense population growth, rapidly diminishing natural resources, and falling water tables. While Mexican civilization has 3,000 years of experience with urbanization, unfortunately, for the most part, its capital, Mexico city, hasn’t applied that accumulated knowledge well in the 21st century, said Salvador Herrera, EMBARQ Mexico. The city has grown into a massive agglomeration, with multiple sprawled-out satellite cities forming at its edges. Some five million or more people in…

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Integrated transport and street design is great but who will actually use the system – its not just a case of build it and people will come – the flow is as important as the network – they are related – actor-network.

The power of the network

This morning’s announcement by the UK government about the preferred route of the proposed ‘High Speed 2’ rail line north of Birmingham raises, quite rightly, the issue of economic impact and its geographic spread. Will the line draw commerce north, or make it even easier to pull southwards towards London’s greater critical mass?

One way in to the problem is to ask: who will take these trains, or rather: where will they have come from when they get on and where will they be going once they get off? In other words, to consider the total passenger journey.

History tells us through the footprint of human settlement worldwide that economic production is greatest in urban centres. The planet’s continued growth towards cities, despite all recent developments in mobile and online communications, suggests the trend is here to stay. HS2 should bear this urban imperative in mind.

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Detroit Future City

Released earlier this month, Detroit Future City is a 50-year blueprint for the revitalisation of Detroit.

The city — which lost a quarter-million people in the last decade — currently has at least 30,000 empty homes and 20 square miles of vacant land. The 349-page strategic framework focuses on job growth, land use, improving neighbourhoods and rebuilding infrastructure.

Boston based planning studio Stoss Landscape Urbanism developed the long-term open space framework within the plan, which is based on tactical redistribution of key resources including hydrologies, transit, food and waste systems. According to Stoss, “The plan positions landscape as 21st century infrastructure and looks to landscape as a catalyst to transform vacant land.”

Writing in Topos 80, academic Jane Amidon (North-eastern University School of Architecture) describes Stoss’ approach as a good example of “resourcing versus resolving” – a resource scenario (as apposed to a concrete master plan) doesn’t solve but rather identifies what’s viable, while illuminating the messy contingencies involved. She writes: “The big ideas of the Detroit Works Project include ecology as urbanism and identity; the spatialized applications include linking vacant lots and under-utilised zones into blue and green corridors for storm water management, habitat, recreation and academic research. The focus on resource distribution versus formal solutions allows flexibility in discussion of how things will turn out.”

If you’d like to keep up to date with the Detroit Works Project, you can follow their Facebook Page here.

A copy of Detroit Future City is available to download here.

To purchase a copy of Topos 80 – where you can read the full article by Jane Amidon, visit the Callwey Shop.

And just for fun, potentially the most dramatic planning-film ever made: