Cities

hip to be square

Modern modular done right

Photo: Treehugger A lot of lessons have been learned over the last decade as architects and manufacturers try to make modern green prefab affordable and accessible to a wider audience. A new entry into the market is Challenger, a modern architect-designed line of houses from Manitoba, Canada’s Conquest Manufacturing. They recently displayed a new model, the Cube, at the National Home Show in Toronto.   Our friends at Treehugger have four reasons (and more photos) proving why the Challenger line does just about everything right.

Can Farming Save the Motor City?

Demolishing density in Detroit

Photo: Fast Company So it’s come to this: Unable to provide basic services for all of his constituents, Detroit mayor Dave Bing is drafting plans starve his city down to a manageable size. Using proprietary data and a survey released by Data Driven Detroit, Bing and his staff will pick “winners and losers” amongst the city’s neighborhoods and seek to resettle residents from the losers, those deemed most unlivable. With Detroit’s tax base withering from the implosion of two-thirds of the Big Three, the housing crisis, and an ongoing exodus, Bing believes he has no other choice. “If we don’t …

A Flash animation is worth a thousand words

Digital designer shows what future towns could look like

Honolulu, HawaiiIllustrations courtesy Urban Advantage Imagine some ugly, underused street in your town, marked by drab buildings, wide streets, and forbidding expanses of parking lot. If you have to go here at all, chances are you’d prefer to drive. Now imagine it remade into a place where you’d actually want to walk or bike. There would be broad sidewalks, trees, and streetfront buildings with ground-level windows. There would be other people walking around too. Picture this in your mind, if you can. If you can’t, digital artist Steve Price might be able to help. Price builds Flash animations that show …

Link love

Streetfilms: Seattle’s Link Light Rail the start of something big [video]

Right now, Seattle is making as serious a commitment to transit as any city in the nation. Recently, Streetfilms got to take a tour of the newest addition to the city’s network — the 13-station Link Light Rail, which opened in mid-2009. The route is beautiful, swift, and has great multi-modal connections. Service is frequent, with headways as short as 7 minutes during rush hour, and never longer than 15 minutes. And like many of the newest American light rail systems, the stations feature copious art. Seattle has a lot of car commuters, but in a sign that many are …

Walk it out

What to do when haters diss livable communities

Haters gonna hate. Click to see him walk it out, for realz.Omar Noory, http://thisisallido.com/work.html We can’t be certain, but we’re pretty sure this comic is commentary on a recent heated exchange between the Secretary of Transportation and a certain Missouri senator who be hatin’ on sidewalks and “livability”: “When did it become the responsibility of the federal DOT (Department of Transportation) to build sidewalks?” 1991, to be precise. If haters gonna hate, just put on your Happy Feet and walk it out. (Hat tip to Kevin Buist’s blog on the image.)

car culture

Nothing will drive the suburbs away

Photo: FrankMaurer FlickrThe news that GM will cease production of Hummers revived the brewing argument that suburbia is in fatal decline.  Hummers are the perfect corollary to McMansions, symbols of excess, leftovers from the roaring aughts that now seem outlandish, indulgent and environmentally offensive. No buyers for Hummers plus no buyers for homes in far flung suburbs equals The End.  NPR’s Marketplace recently reported that “drive-until-you-qualify” suburbs are facing a rash of foreclosures because high gas prices make them undesirable; even a decent mortgage rate can’t compete against $3-a-gallon gas.  Ghost Town Suburbia, a made-for-TV movie in the making. Which …

Density is destiny

Teeny tiny tiny digs [slideshow]

Urban apartment dwellers are nothing if not scrappy. New Yorkers, of course, are famous for stuffing themselves into shoe boxes with hotplates.  But there’s more to the story than affordability. More of us are choosing to minimize our footprint. Less space, less stuff, less stress. The cliche holds true in this sense: the less space we require, the more sustainable our cities become. If density is destiny, the apartments in the slideshows below are over-achieving examples.  You’ll never complain about closet space again. Got a closet?  You’ve got a bedroom.   No closet for  your bedroom?  Then, by all means, …

Paved paradise?

Asphalt becomes a developer’s best friend

Photo: jgrimm FlickrNobody loves a parking lot, its endless heat-trapping concrete where visitors wander for what feels like eons, searching for their car. At least, nobody loved them until recently. Suddenly, greyfields–underutilized squares of asphalt–seem like goldmines. (Okay, this happens to be the title of a book on the subject, though it covers dead malls more than parking lots). In municipalities across the country, parking lots are getting reincarnated as everything from outdoor food markets to condos. But those are individual projects. In Long Island–itself a region so caked with traffic that people refer to its central highway, the Long …

Congestion engine

London’s transportation transformation for the 2012 Olympics [Video]

Congestion pricing has been a huge success in London — reducing traffic and making money for the city. What’s more, it challenges the notion that cities should be designed around cars rather than people. But as we’ll learn in this episode of e2, congestion pricing is the core of a much more sweeping vision that could transform London into a transit-efficient and pedestrian-friendly megacity in time for the 2012 Olympic games.