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Posts Tagged ‘data’

Five Borough Farm: Measure Your Goodness isn’t so much a primer on New York City urban farming, but a plan to codify all the things urban farming can do. An initiative by the Design Trust for Public Space (covered in the November 2014 issue of LAM), Five Borough Farm advocates for a citywide urban agriculture policy and plan that can help urban farmers make the case for why what they do is important.  It’s a data collection tool kit developed hand in hand with urban farmers that offers simple best practice checklists that take the cheery notions of regeneration seen in urban farming and turn them into quantifiable data: food grown, education programming offered, food waste diverted.

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This presentation of the Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD) Realities and Realms colloquium examines how landscape architecture is ingesting computation, robotics, and the reams of data that designed environments now produce second by second. In two lecture videos titled Realities and Realms: Responsive Technologies in Ecological Systems, the GSD invites practitioners, researchers, and academics to envision how “anthropogenic perception and technological mediation” will meet in landscape design. (more…)

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BY ZACH MORTICE

An abandoned island is the Venice Lagoon. Local Code by Nicholas de Monchaux, published by Princeton Architectural Press 2016.

An abandoned island in the Venice lagoon. Local Code by Nicholas de Monchaux, published by Princeton Architectural Press, 2016.

In his new book, Local Code: 3,659 Proposals About Data, Design, and the Nature of Cities, the University of California, Berkeley architecture and urban design professor Nicholas de Monchaux develops new tools for the mass customization of underused and vacant urban lots, highlighting the limits of inflexible systems thinking. His book charts a way forward with an eye on past failures, and new possibilities founded in corrective measures that have proved to work.

American cities’ first encounters with data, he writes, happened after World War II. That’s when protocomputing power, developed by the military and Cold War consultancies such as the RAND Corporation, merged with tabula rasa modernist urban planning. These binary solutions to complex built environments (remembered most vividly as Robert Moses-style urban renewal that tore down anything old and dirty) became what de Monchaux calls (more…)

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Compiling satellite data from the past few years, NASA recently put together a visual detailing the average biosphere cycle of the Earth. Waves of dark green wash between the northern and southern hemispheres and highlight a greater density in plant growth during summer months, leaving in their wake beige tones on land and dark blues in the water, representative of winter when plants become dormant or die off. These fluctuations show the trade in seasons between the north and south. For more information, visit NASA.

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BY TIMOTHY A. SCHULER

Our cities' aging populations require new approaches to urban planning.

Our cities’ aging populations require new approaches to urban planning.

From the June 2015 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

In December 2013, a massive ice storm crippled Toronto, killing 27 people and knocking out power for 600,000 Ontario residents. Without electricity, elevators in Toronto’s residential high-rises stopped working, and many elderly people were trapped. “I know that there were elderly women up on the 18th floor in a tower near our office who were trying to make tea on a little gas burner,” recalls Patricia McCarney, the director of the Global Cities Institute (GCI) at the University of Toronto. “The elderly were going between two floors to help each other for four days while they didn’t have power. They were actually having small tea parties up on these high floors! So there is a social capital out there, but if that went on any longer, who’s going to take groceries up to them? Who knows they even live there?”

McCarney’s story illustrates both the vulnerability and resiliency of our cities’ older people, a population that planners and designers of all types must increasingly account for. As the world becomes more urbanized, those urban centers are rapidly aging. In the next 25 years, the number of New Yorkers older than 65—currently 12 percent of the population—is expected to increase by 50 percent. According to a recent GCI report, the number of people in the world over 65 years of age will increase 183 percent by 2050, and according to the AARP, most of those elderly want to age in place rather than move to a traditional retirement community.

But building more “age-friendly” cities will be difficult without reliable city-level data about health care, housing, infrastructure, and other quality-of-life indicators. “City data is often either nonexistent or it’s very weakly constructed,” says McCarney, explaining that global statistics for things like mortality rates are often presented at the country, not city, level. McCarney and her team worked with 20 different cities, including London, Shanghai, Helsinki, Dubai, Boston, and Johannesburg to develop a standardized set of 100 indicators organized around themes like safety, recreation, governance, and urban planning. The result, published in May 2014, was ISO 37120, Sustainable Development of Communities—Indicators for City Services and Quality of Life, the first international standard for city-level data. (more…)

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