Cities

to-go, please

Do you prefer your green space pre-packaged?

This enlightened group of Spanish nightstalkers are fed up with shrinking urban green space. Worried that the most greenery people see nowadays comes in plastic containers with a sell-by date, they decided to prank up the limelight on an ugly corner of Madrid with their Packaged Vertical Garden. We think their style packs way more of a lunch punch than the way others just vine and moan about these sorts of problems. Gustavo Sanabria, Luzinterruptus Luzinterruptus via inhabitat —————————————————————————————————————————————————– Like what you see? Sign up to receive The Grist List, our email roundup of pun-usual green news just like this, …

holy hole-in-the-ground

Weird and wonderful places to live

The New York Times Magazine did a photo spread of some rather extreme conversions of churches, shipping containers, water towers, and even caves. We do our own roundup of TreeHugger favorites: A chapel converted to residence by ZECC Architects. Churches ZECC Architects, beloved of their conversion of a water tower into a residence, are at it again with this conversion of a Dutch chapel into a single family residence. In some ways it is a bit sad, when formerly public spaces get converted to private residences, but not every church can be converted into a bookstore or other public use, …

Meet me at the food court

The secret mall gardens of Cleveland

Photo: Gardens Under GlassThe shopping mall is not dead. In Cleveland, in fact, it’s growing green: cucumbers, lettuce, herbs and even flowers.   In the former Galleria at Erieview mall, a project called Gardens Under Glass is taking root, part of a grand plan to transform malls into greenhouses. It’s just one of many Cleveland-based projects, suggesting that this rust belt city might have a few sustainabilty tricks to teach urban centers everywhere. Vicky Poole, who heads up marketing for the Galleria, conceived this project after looking at a photograph of plants growing in a cafe window. Hmmm, she thought, imagining …

HOUSE RULES

For green homes, should energy trump everything else?

Pam Worner runs a business near Seattle helping home builders adopt “green” building practices. She’s fond of the phrases “tangled up in green” and “I don’t care what your countertop is made out of.” There’s a lot packed into those sayings—the first pinpoints a classic problem with green building, while the second suggests a solution.  “Tangled up in green” gets at the overwhelming array of eco-friendly building options.  A given structure might have high-efficiency appliances, state-of-the-art insulation, a solar water heater, eco-certified hardwood floors, a permeable driveway, indigenous plants in its landscaping, easy access to a light-rail station and grocery …

A lesson from Denmark

Carbon neutral caution

There’s been a lot of ambitious talk lately about carbon neutrality. It’s exciting stuff, but it’s worth pausing to consider just how huge that challenge is. And what, precisely, does it mean? Zero emissions, or lots of offsets?  I thought it was interesting to take a look at the climate action plan from the city of Copenhagen. It’s certainly a contender for the title of the greenest and most progressive city on earth, and it’s a city that has pledged to become carbon neutral by 2025. But what you find is that even for the Danes, carbon neutrality is more …

autoneurotic

Streetfilms: Fixing the car-centric city [video]

“Fixing the Great Mistake” is a new Streetfilms series that examines what went wrong in the early part of the 20th Century, when our cities began catering to the automobile, and how those decisions continue to affect our lives today. In this episode, Transportation Alternatives director Paul Steely White shows how planning for cars drastically altered Park Avenue. Watch and see what Park Avenue used to look like, how we ceded it to the automobile, and what we need to do to reclaim the street as a space where people take precedence over traffic. For more of this fantastic series, …

Pimp my double wide

McMansion modular

Remember when modular homes were going to be part  of the “green” future?  In the post-Dwell, post-postmodern architecture era, pre-fab was going to be cheap, green, hot and hip.  Yes, finally, an antidote to McMansions and an affordable alternative to ballooning home prices.  As if that were not enough,  these stylish boxes were set to erase our previous connotations, where modular meant mobile home and pre-fab equaled Lubbock double-wide. Photo: Heather Lucille FlickrExcept it didn’t happen.  Modular homes, like all homes, suffered the housing crash, though as we reported last year, there never was quite enough demand to make modular …

PAINT A BRIGHTER PICTURE

We all know how bad it can be. How good can it be?

A few reader comments worth highlighting from this story on envisioning a sustainable future: davefinnigan: We need a film, 2 hours in length, with a plot and story line, that shows the world in 2050 if we do what we know we should to solve environmental problems. Who could produce that? George Lucas, James Cameron? Saucerman: Well, we have the 90-minute polished film that shows the world in 2050 if we DON’T do what’s needed – it’s called the Age of Stupid http://vimeo.com/6143388 davefinnigan: @Saucerman But it is precisely because of all the DOWNER films that we need one we …

Some guy in L.A. says...

Your street is fat

These California designers and their imaginations. Steve Price shows people what their towns might look like if they were rebuilt along Smart Growth principles. At Narrow Streets: Los Angeles, David Yoon takes comically overbuilt streets in L.A. and Photoshops them down to a human scale. Here’s his reinvention of Sunset Boulevard in Echo Park: On Yoon’s site, when you click the fat version of a street the skinny image pops out alongside. It’s fun. He also takes location requests. “I’m not saying that Narrow Streets is meant to be taken literally,” Yoon says. “I think of it as concept art, …

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