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The Community Is an Urban Design Asset

James Byrne, Sustainability Advisor
Wednesday, September 3, 2014 13:30 EDT

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CitySolver
CitySolver  
9/18/2014 6:29:26 PM
User Rank Blogger
Social network
Hi Amy, thats true, even people who are on the fence or not too bothered can be persuaded to hit the like button for a particular cause and generate interest and momentum to a campaign. I have always been skeptical about whether social media is a player or merely a reporter of trends, but I see it doing good things quite regulalry, and its so easy to upload things to youtube or facebook now, you can get instant feedback to your ideas.

Amy Rogers Nazarov
Amy Rogers Nazarov  
9/18/2014 12:53:25 PM
User Rank Urban Legend
Re: Past Imperfect
Ugh, how heartbreaking. 

It used to be the norm was that a celebrity (lke Jackie Onassis) had to spearhead a mission to rescue a Big Old Beautfiful Thing *BOBT (like Grand Central). Now we have at our disposals the means to sign a petition to save something worth saving, or to Like the fact that it's being saved on Facebook, or to tweet to politicians and developers or reporters or other interested parties our opinions why a specific BOBT should be preserved.  And, using these methods to link up with similarly galvanized folks. There is still strength in numbers, even in this fragmented world. 

CitySolver
CitySolver  
9/12/2014 2:40:04 PM
User Rank Blogger
developers
Hi Dave, thats really bad. Why are they so passive. Surely they should at least talk to you?

CitySolver
CitySolver  
9/12/2014 10:51:39 AM
User Rank Blogger
Victorian Architecture
I think we need to start rating our built environment in terms of its build quality as an asset. For example, alot of older architecture is superior in terms of strength (solid walls, expert carpentry). This is not wistful, its fact. Therefore it also has a low embodied energy as it has been in service so long. Plus its aesthetic qualities will never be beaten, or the effort put into making them decorative and tasteful will never be done again, again fact, not wistfulness. So We have to start really valuing our older, structurally sound built heritage in terms of practicality, aesthetic value and its embodied energy. When these all correlate as good, you know you have a keeper on your hands and to knock it down should then be incredibly hard for a developer to do. Often economic circumstance overrules everything else, and when everything else matches up, these positives should be given added value in the planning process and should act as a barrier to demolishing quality built assets in our communities.

kq4ym
kq4ym  
9/10/2014 8:27:47 AM
User Rank Urban Legend
Re: Past Imperfect
In my  town several years ago, a charming nearly 100 year old building was taken down to be replaced by a McDonald's franchise owner's office. Of course, the new office building had no charm whatsoever. One would hope that community involvement if it had occurred in this instance might have persuaded the building owner to construct something more in keeping with the precious architecture, or even a renovation of the older structure.

Davedgreat2000
Davedgreat2000  
9/9/2014 5:14:13 PM
User Rank Urban Legend
Re: Urban Designing
Terry, Good Question, right now its all the development going on. Building more apartments but no public transportation or plans for extra traffic.

We've been to several council meetings where you speak and they dont listen, they are looking at their phones or tablets or laptops and they just say thank you. It all goes on record by the clerk but they just dont listen.

And yes I have to become a developer with big bucks to get listened to on the city council.

CitySolver
CitySolver  
9/6/2014 2:22:02 PM
User Rank Blogger
Too many cooks
Very good point Terry. Yes its a fine line. And as a former Archtitecture student I do think some designs are best served up by a Prima Donna. As you say you know that even if it doesnt cover all bases at least the basics are done well. However if basics are being overlooked, such as air quality to exisiting housing, traffic problems, the eroding of public green space, we sadly do still need advocates to fight those corners. The planning system is just not powerful enough on its own, which can be seen as a good thing, if communities fill in the gaps. Its a complex issue as you say.

CitySolver
CitySolver  
9/6/2014 2:18:24 PM
User Rank Blogger
Post Rationalisation!
Hi Dave, yes that really gets my goat, when consultation is brought in after outline designs have already been paid for, its mad and it happens to often.

CitySolver
CitySolver  
9/6/2014 2:16:58 PM
User Rank Blogger
Street grid join the dots
Hi Amy. yes I do agree that some Urban Designers fall into the lazy join the dots approach of looking at historic street grid and using it to give cultural and planning apoproval which if done poorly is lazy and conceited. When done well however it can reduce embodied energy and really bring out the little gems in a run down area and give it back some pride. I guess the result depends on two things-1, The quality of the Urban Design team, and 2, the quality and quantity of community involvement whcih is why its so important to get that input in from day one, so poor designs can be discarded before it gets too far down the line in the development process. I also think there is place for independent consultants to do some good here and perform environmental appraisals as well as the design teams urban design appraisals so that common themes can be highlighted and brought forward.

CitySolver
CitySolver  
9/6/2014 2:09:54 PM
User Rank Blogger
Council Meetings
Yes a large supermarket wanted to bulldoze half of a local town near me to expand its superstore recently. I was on student placement at the planning office at the time. I attended the planning review meetings and saw a huge turnout of local opposition to the scheme. I actually produced an alternative design plan that used less land which was seen but not really looked at. The planners seemed to be extremely polite to the representative of the supermarket and combatative to opposing views. It was a neutral environment on paper, but there was still the bias in favour of investment at whatever cost, in a recession of course. But what gave me heart was that despite that, the scheme was overturned. There is strength in numbers and if you push people too far they will, usually, fight back, which is good news for us environmentally aware citizens. 

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