Last stories on 'Buildings and urban planning'
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Jean-Paul Rouge
yesterday
Jean-Paul Rouge
Independent professional

When a short trial of an autonomous bus first ran in Helsinki, Finland, in 2016, most riders saw it as a novelty. But by this fall, if you work in downtown Helsinki, you might start riding the city’s robo-bus as part of your daily commute. The city is one of a handful to launch a longer-term trial of the technology, running along a regular bus route.

“If we want to get real data, we need to have it in an area where the same people will be every day,” says Harri Santamala, who directs a smart mobility program at Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences and is coordinating Sohjoa, a joint project that is testing the autonomous shuttles. “So we are now aiming toward the local people, feeding them to the tram or metro lines… We need strong, long-term experiences of how people will really use an autonomous bus, and what happens when the novelty value of the bus wears off.”

The tiny bus, which can hold 12 passengers and travels at a sedate seven miles an hour–slower than an average cyclist–runs on electricity. If someone cuts in front, it stops itself; like other autonomous vehicles, it holds the promise of reducing or even eliminating traffic deaths. In trials, a human is onboard in case of emergency, but in a driverless future, it will be cheap enough to operate that it can fill in transit gaps, helping people drive less. That time may be nearly here; cities just have to take a few more steps to understand how the technology can best be used.

LABCITIES
2 days ago
LABCITIES
By Joan Torres

One day, I’d like to design a truly modern, functional city with the character of a medieval hill town.

Rather than a blueprint, I’d like to design a series of recipes for how to create it, from the community to individual human level, from street plans to door handles. This outlines how and why that approach could work, compared to how cities are designed today.

If you designed a fruitcake the way buildings are, you would specify the coordinates of every nut and raisin. Every cake would look the same and there would be something distinctly non artisanal about it.

But cakes aren’t designed, they are created from recipes and the end result is slightly different for each one because of the action of the person applying the recipe and subtle variations in the environment. The more a product made from a recipe is connected to individual human interaction and its local environment, the more local and artisanal it looks, and people often pay a premium for hand made artisanal products rather than factory made ones.

To summarise: things made from a recipe rather than a design have more character, and hand made things made from recipes have even more character, still.

LABCITIES
last week
LABCITIES
By Joan Torres

Very few buildings are taller than 500 meters because of the limitations of those everyday devices that make high-rise buildings practical in the first place – elevators. Traditional, steel-rope-hung elevators can travel only around 500 meters before the weight of the rope itself makes it inconvenient. That takes more and more energy and space – which all costs developers money.

Replacing steel ropes with carbon fiber ones can save energy and space. But even so, people who want to go to the uppermost floors from the lowest floors don’t want to wait for the elevator to stop at the dozens of floors in between. That means developers need to make room in their buildings for multiple shafts, for express and local elevators, and for “sky lobbies” where people can switch between them. All of that space devoted to vertical transportation reduces the amount of rentable space on each floor, which makes the economics of the building more difficult the higher it gets.

A new elevator system u...

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Jaime González
last week
Jaime González
Independent Professional

The world is rapidly urbanizing. The United Nations predicts that the number of people living in cities could double by 2050 — to 6.5 billion.

To accommodate growing populations, cities like Paris, New York, and Tokyo are building more housing and public resources, including parks, schools, and subways, as part of large redevelopment plans.

Salud Ruiz
2 weeks ago
Salud Ruiz
Smart City Expert

“We are living on this planet as if we had another one to go” Terri Swearingen

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