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News & Notes

Laneways a resource for livable cities [The Star Phoenix]

Laneways [American = alleys] typically make up about 20 to 30 per cent of urban space – more than parks – yet about all they are used for is garbage pickup, utility lines and deliveries. They are often dirty, ugly and forbidding. In progressive cities a “livable laneways” movement is catching on and the greening of alleys is adding to the vibrancy of neighbourhoods, especially downtowns.


The Curious Case Of The Vanishing Chinese City [NPR]

“Anhui province is today announcing the cancellation of Chaohu city,” the broadcast said. It went on to explain that the city once known as Chaohu had been divided into three. The nearby cities of Hefei, Wuhu and Ma’anshan each absorbed a piece of territory. The broadcast confusingly described the move as “an inherent need at a certain level of economic growth.”

“Chaohu’s development hasn’t been good, but Hefei is industrializing and urbanizing. It needs land, so absorbing Chaohu will benefit Hefei. The government hopes that redistributing the land will improve the entire province’s GDP,” he says.

Central Falls on a Chinese scale.


Wellington: A sensible tourist on the cable car [Human Transit]

Jarrett Walker takes a ride on Wellington, New Zealand’s cable car funicular railway.


Trees In Transit [Next American City]

Most of us like trees. These incredible organisms clean our air and water, provide valuable habitat for wildlife, increase our property values, and make us feel happier through their beauty. They also seem to make urban roads safer. Most of us don’t think of trees as infrastructure, but in an urban context they are just that. Research indicates that they can play a powerful role in traffic calming, especially through their impact on three vehicle-related risks: speeding, road rage, and pedestrian/bicyclist injury.


Beyond Foreclosure: The Future of Suburban Housing [Design Observer | Places]

That is, until recently. The accelerating decline of suburban neighborhoods from Florida to California suggests that the contradictions of the system are finally catching up with it. The Great Recession is challenging not only the economics of homebuilding but also the essence of the suburban dream. Residential construction has slowed dramatically, and yet there remains a massive oversupply of single-family houses, especially on large lots. This raises a difficult question: What to do with that oversupply, with the millions of houses now in foreclosure, many deteriorating or abandoned?

Across the country ailing subdivisions are being abandoned and left to ruin. These are not atmospheric or appealing ruins | the heavy-timbered warehouses or spacious former factories that lend themselves to loft-style living or entrepreneurial start-ups | but instead cheaply built shells of wood-frame construction, quick to decay and often remote from urban centers or amenities.

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One Response to News & Notes

  1. Andy October 5, 2011 at 2:47 pm #

    Yay! Laneways are slowly coming into Providence i.e. Martha Street behind the Mercantile Block (noted in a previous GC:PVD thread) and soon to be Fulton Street between The Peerless and Smith Buildings downtown.

    Love trees in transit! Confused however as to what the logic, design or reasoning is to smoosh tree wells into already narrow sidewalks and ped access spaces throughout Providence?

    Dean St. by the Police Station is a great example as well as tree wells being planned on the inner side of a sidewalk– closer side to property lines rather than curb side. Thought trees were supposed to be used as a buffer; traffic calming tool between peds and vehicles?

    Also, I think our metro-area trees would have a longer life span if we were to provide them with tree grates. Tree grates help to protect top soil, roots and the base of the tree as well as to provide additional walking space for humans out from the dirt, mud and exposed roots. They too provide for a more traditional and complete urban landscape than a dirt pit and some mulch.

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