Cities

Abandonment issue solved

Amusement park grows amid rail line ruins

Photo: TreeHuggerIt’s one of Lima’s most unusual spaces: a set of structures that were going to be the railways of an electric train. In 1986, the project was dropped and the construction was left as-it-was. For years, these concrete columns and pass ways ‘adorned’ Lima’s landscape with no purpose, until this February. Spanish group Basurama, known for projects like the ‘You are what you drop‘ installation, thought this was an amazing place to make an urban intervention and came up with an amusement park. The Ghost Train park features amazing bright colors and games made with recycled materials such as …

Is that a lettuce in your pocket?

The incredible edible urban jungle [SLIDESHOW]

How does your garden grow? Deeply urban denizens are ingenious at getting their greens. We’ve searched out some of the more outrageous efforts.  

Do I get my own balance beam?

Old Olympic village for rent: cheap!

Photo: Energy AustraliaWant to live rent free for a year, and pay no costs for energy and water needs? Not enough incentive for you? How about the possibility of having a plug-in electric car in your garage, as well? This is the deal that Energy Australia is offering, in concert with Sydney Water. They’ll be interviewing successful applicants, who will ideally be a family with kids to spend 12 months live-testing an energy and water smart home in the west of Sydney. The project that has been described by the NSW state government, one of the backers, as a ‘bit …

Innovation ≠ technology

Why Bill Gates is wrong

Bill Gates is sad that David Roberts thinks he’s wrong.Photo: redmaxwell via FlickrBill Gates, the Microsoft founder and philanthropist, made waves last week when, at the much-celebrated tech conference TED, he proclaimed that climate change is the most important problem facing the planet. Wo0t! Obviously having someone of Gates’ stature supporting the clean energy race is an unqualified good. (See Alex Steffen on Gates’ talk.) That said, Gates has burst on to the energy scene with some rather ill-considered thinking. To get a flavor, see his blog post, “Why We Need Innovation, Not Just Insulation.” The idea is that “conservation …

getting out of the gridlock

Smarter grids, appliances, and consumers

More and more utilities are beginning to realize that building large power plants just to handle peak daily and seasonal demand is a very costly way of managing an electricity system. Existing electricity grids are typically a patchwork of local grids that are simultaneously inefficient, wasteful, and dysfunctional in that they often are unable, for example, to move electricity surpluses to areas of shortages. The U.S. electricity grid today resembles the roads and highways of the mid-twentieth century before the interstate highway system was built. What is needed today is the electricity equivalent of the interstate highway system. The inability …

Better safety than sorry

Is public transportation scary for women?

This article is part of a collaboration with Planetizen, the web’s leading resource for the urban planning, design, and development community. Transit agencies are failing to bring women into the planning process, according to a new report from the Mineta Transportation Institute. I talked with UCLA’s Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris, author of the study, about what she uncovered in her research and strategies for improving the perception of safety on transit for women. Loukaitou-Sideris is no stranger to the issue of safety and transit. In 1998, she authored a study with her colleague Robin Liggett looking at 120 bus stops around Los …

Transportation today and tomorrow

Two books that blew my mind

I have a piece in the latest issue of the American Prospect called “This Is How You’ll Get There.” It’s a review of two books: Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us), by journalist Tom Vanderbilt, and Reinventing the Automobile: Personal Urban Mobility for the 21st Century, by three brilliant supergeeks (two from GM’s advanced auto division; one from MIT’s Smart Cities program). I know book reviews aren’t the most exciting genre in the world, but I quite like this one, mainly because the books kind of blew my mind. The first is …

Take this show off the road

Want to green the Olympics? Stop moving them around

Photo courtesy BinoCanada via FlickrFor all the efforts to minimize the impact of the Olympics, one big solution never gets taken seriously. So much of the environmental and financial cost of the games comes from cities trying to build facilities that suit both a massive, two-week influx of athletes and spectators and also the long-term needs of locals. So you get things like Montreal’s Olympic Stadium, built for the 1976 summer games and not paid off in full until 2006. Or the “spookily quiet, deserted” Olympic village Tom Philpott saw in Turin, Italy, two years after the games there. The …

If only they had snow

The 10 greenest and brownest things about Vancouver

Courtesy Ecstaticist via FlickrAll eyes are on are Vancouver this month — not just on the Olympics, but on the city itself.  Is the world’s biggest athletic circus making the city a better place to live in the long term?  A worse one?  Or is it just putting the global spotlight on strengths and weaknesses that will persist long after the games?  The David Suzuki Foundation, a prominent Canadian environmental group based in Vancouver, has a mildly optimistic take. It gives the games a “bronze” medal for green efforts, praising the smartly designed venues, fairly compact layout of the games, …

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