mfioretti: urban planning*

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  1. The key concept to grasp with driverless cars is that they truly redefine all of our assumptions and preconceived notions. Combustion engines are replaced by two small electric motors, the dashboard and steering wheel are unnecessary, and safety features are redundant when the cars don’t crash.

    Driverless vehicles are simply rooms sitting atop an all-electric drivetrain and rechargeable battery pack with a few extra visual, laser or radar sensors.
    Tesla Powertrain

    In a Tesla Model S there are only 18 moving parts compared to the 1500 in an average internal combustion engine vehicle. As such it’s predicted that by 2025 all new vehicles produced will be 100% electric and cost much less than the cheapest combustion engine vehicles sold today.
    Tags: , by M. Fioretti (2018-01-07)
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  2. In the city of Kampot in southern Cambodia, the extraction of sand from an estuary on the Praek Tuek Chhu river is increasing and sand extraction is so common in Asia currently that the continent may deplete all of its sand in the not-too-distant future.

    A 2016 investigation revealed that Singapore imported some $752 million in sand from Cambodia. However, Cambodia only reported that they had exported $5.5 million worth of sand to Singapore. The discrepancy between the figures compelled officials in both countries to curb all sand exports in July.

    "It was a systematic fraud," said Alejandro Gonzalez-Davidson, co-founder of Mother Nature, an environmental group in Cambodia. "Taxes were evaded for 95 percent of the exports."

    Other countries in Asia, including Indonesia and Vietnam, have restricted sand exports over the last few years due to environmental damage. In the same vein, India had limited licenses for sand exportation.
    Tags: , , , by M. Fioretti (2018-01-07)
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  3. From 1900 to 2010, the amount of materials accumulated in buildings and infrastructure across the world increased 23-fold. We are depleting our resources at unprecedented rates. Instead of extracting dwindling raw materials from nature at ever-increasing cost, the time has come to start re-using materials from buildings and infrastructure in our cities.

    We have been working on identifying the material resources in cities that could be “mined” for re-use. In a case study, we modelled more than 13,000 buildings in central Melbourne, Australia. We estimated the quantities of construction materials as well as the embodied energy, water and greenhouse gas emissions associated with constructing these buildings (if they were built today). We also modelled the replacement of materials over time and into the future.

    Further reading: The 20th century saw a 23-fold increase in natural resources used for building

    The extraction and transformation of resources have broad environmental effects. These include resource depletion, loss of biodiversity, soil and water pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions, which drive climate change.

    Adding to these challenges is the amount of waste generated, especially by the construction sector due to construction, renovation and demolition activities. Every time a construction material is discarded, all the embodied energy, water and emissions that went into producing it also go to waste.

    In our two recent studies, we propose a model that can help us “mine” our cities and quantify the environmental benefits of this urban mining.

    These maps allow us to start thinking of cities as urban mines and places of material production (supply), rather than just consumption (demand).

    We can imagine how a new construction project could survey what materials would be available at its start and how it can best re-use these and incorporate them into the design. This would save large amounts of energy and water, while avoiding greenhouse gas emissions and further ecosystem degradation from raw material extraction (usually far from the city).
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  4. Mr. West also provides an elegant explanation of why living organisms have a natural limit to growth and life span following a predictable curve, as an increasing proportion of energy consumed is required for maintenance and less is available to fuel further expansion.

    When he turns to cities, Mr. West shows that infrastructure growth scales in analogous sublinear fashion. Hence, the number of gas stations or length of roads needed when a city doubles its size reflects similar economies of scale. But relevant socioeconomic qualities actually scale superlinearly by the same factor. And while it is good news that large cities produce higher wages and more patents per inhabitant, they also generate relatively greater crime and disease. This conundrum is at the heart of Mr. West’s sustainability concerns. Theoretically, unbounded growth of cities generated by superlinear scaling “if left unchecked, potentially sow s » the seeds of their inevitable collapse.”

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    Despite his reliance on the analysis of huge troves of data to develop and support his theories, in the concluding chapters, Mr. West makes a compelling argument against the “arrogance and narcissism” reflected in the growing fetishization of “big data” in itself. “Data for data’s sake,” he argues, “or the mindless gathering of big data, without any conceptual framework for organizing and understanding it, may actually be bad or even dangerous.”

    In presenting his own provocative and fascinating conceptual framework, Mr. West manages to deliver a lot of theory and history accessibly and entertainingly. Yet it is not clear whether that framework is robust enough to be applied productively to the business realm as he attempts to do.

    Mr. West concedes early on that the strength of mathematical correlations on which he relies decreases as he moves from the biological to the urban to the corporate.
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  5. According to a report from the Governors Highway Safety Association, the United States saw its largest annual increase in pedestrian fatalities since such record keeping began 40 years ago. "The association » estimated there were 6,000 pedestrian deaths in 2016, the highest number in more than 20 years," reports CNN. "Since 2010, pedestrian fatalities have grown at four times the rate of overall traffic deaths." From the report:
    The thing that has changed dramatically in recent years is smartphone use. The volume of wireless data used from 2014 to 2015 more than doubled, according to the Wireless Association. Drivers and pedestrians who are distracted by their smartphones are less likely to be aware of their surroundings, creating the potential for danger. The Governors Highway Safety Association looked at data from the first six months of 2016 that came from 50 state highway safety offices and the District of Columbia. The complete data will be available later this year. The findings come as traffic safety experts have called for totally eliminating deaths on roadways. Near-term solutions include designing roads and vehicles to be safer. Cutting down on speeding and drunk driving are obvious targets.
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  6. occorre che sopratutto il "popolo condominiale" diventi consapevole che buona parte dei fabbricati storici e quelli costruiti oltre cinquant'anni fa in cemento armato, ha superato da un pezzo il cosiddetto "ciclo vita edilizio", pertanto pronto per il suo pensionamento e sostituzione urbanistica con un nuovo e migliore organismo.

    Da qui trae inizio l'esigenza della tanto acclamata "rigenerazione urbana".
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  7. Mallach’s non-profit focused on revitalizing distressed neighborhoods, particularly in “legacy cities.” These are towns like St. Louis, Flint, Dayton, and Baltimore, that have experienced population loss and economic contraction in recent years, and suffer from property vacancies, blight, and unemployment. Mallach is interested in understanding which neighborhoods are likely to continue down that path, and which ones will do a 180-degree turn. Right now, he can intuitively make those predictions, based on his observations on neighborhood characteristics like housing stock, median income, and race. But an objective assessment can help confirm or deny his hypotheses.

    That’s where Steif comes in. Having consulted with cities and non-profits on place-based data analytics, Steif has developed a number of algorithms that predict the movement of housing markets using expensive private data from entities like Zillow. Mallach suggested he try his algorithms on Census data, which is free and standardized.

    The phenomenon he tested was ‘endogenous gentrification’—this idea that an increase in home prices moves from wealthy neighborhoods to less expensive ones in its vicinity, like a wave. In his blog post, Steif explains:
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  8. Last December, Daniel Kolitz wrote a cover story for Hopes and Fears reminding us of Moses's public declarations about the racist character of the streets, buildings and infrastructure he planned, like his rationale for putting still-fatal low bridges over the Long Island Parkway to keep urban black people from traveling by bus to the de-facto whites-only beaches he built; or his decision to put his legendary parks, pools and playgrounds as far as possible from black neighborhoods (the one pool he did install within walking distance of a black neighborhood was kept "deliberately icy" because Moses had heard that black people wouldn't swim in cold water).
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  9. China’s real estate market has induced confusion in many of the financial circles of the world due its seemingly volatile nature: prices rising to unsustainable heights just to drop a little before shooting back up again, over and over without ever really crashing. The fact of the matter is that an over-inflated housing market is one of the biggest cash cows the Chinese government has, so the last thing they want are plummeting prices. Taxes and fees can account for upwards of 60% of a house’s final price, not to mention the spoils that are derived from selling land to developers.

    “With one hand on a patchwork of controls aimed at taming record house prices, governments with their other hand are at the same time selling land to developers at rising prices,” wrote Xiaoyi Shao and Koh Gui Qing for Reuters.

    When looking at China’s housing market one key point to remember is that this isn’t really a free market and can’t be expected to behave like one. Behind the scenes are governmental ventriloquists pulling at proverbial strings, controlling supply and engineering just the right amount of demand.
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  10. In 2040, one generation from now, I will be more than 70 years old and hopefully surrounded by my first great-grandchildren. What I’d like to share with you this morning is how I imagine* the Urban Commons will be by then – and how I’d like my grand- and great-grandchildren and me to enjoy them and care for. Actually, first of all: While rethinking the issue of this conference, I realized that it should read: Imagining the „Rurban Commons.“ Because this seems to be one of the most important patterns: Interconnecting Urban and Rural. The so called Urban Agriculture or rural Maker-Spaces like the OTELOs throughout Austria are pioneering this inter-connection.
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