Seoul Starts Vertical Farming

Vertical farming is a possible food production solution as suburban sprawl consumes arable land. The new style of farming essentially is a farm in a skyscraper; they have yet to demonstrate commercial value but it’s inevitable that these farms will be normal fixtures in urban centres; Korea wants to be on the leading edge of this.

The farms would be three stories high, with vegetables and crops grown on the second and third floors, while the first floor would serve as a classroom for teaching agriculture, city officials said Tuesday.

The farms will be computer controlled to provide the right light, temperature and humidity, and check carbon dioxide levels.

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Urban Living Cheaper, More Sustainable Than Suburban

UrbanVSuburban

Years of car-focused suburban designs have unleashed problems in the 21st century that we will have to deal with and accommodate. The years of the suburbs are coming to an end and it can’t be soon enough. With every passing years more and more municipalities discover that urban design is the better choice.

The above image is composed of data taken from a report done by Halifax in 2005. Undoubtably the costs of supporting suburban households has only increased relative to urban housing.

Recently, the New Climate Economy released a report titled Analysis of Public Policies that Unintentionally Encourage and Subsidize Sprawl and advocates for a change to policies to encourage better urban design.

The report, Analysis of Public Policies that Unintentionally Encourage and Subsidize Sprawl—written for the New Climate Economy by the Victoria Transport Policy Institute, in partnership with LSE Cities—details planning and market distortions that foster sprawl, and smart growth policies that can help correct these distortions.

Sprawl increases the distance between homes, businesses, services and jobs, which raises the cost of providing infrastructure and public services by at least 10% and up to 40%. The most sprawled American cities spend an average of $750 on infrastructure per person each year, while the least sprawled cities spend close to $500. In its Better Growth, Better Climate report, the New Climate Economy has found that acting to implement smarter urban growth policies on a global scale could reduce urban infrastructure capital requirements by more than US$3 trillion over the next 15 years.

The New York Times ran an article on urban versus suburban costs back in 2010.

So we set out to do the math, based on an apartment and a house in the New York metropolitan area. Here’s what we found: a suburban lifestyle costs about 18 percent more than living in the city. Even a house in the suburbs with a price tag substantially lower than an urban apartment will, on a monthly basis, often cost more to keep running.

It’s very clear that as we populations grow urban design needs to focus on sustainable infrastructure planning and all of us should encourage it.

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Seville is Spain’s Cycling Gem

It’s well known that the future of urban design and transportation will support the mass use of bicycles. Still, some cities are slow to catch on to this. In Spain where cycling is not nearly as popular in colder northern parts of Europe the city of Seville is leading the charge into the future.

How Seville became such a great cycling city is a far out tale:

“As soon as the building work was finishing and the fences were removed the cyclists just came. The head of the building team, who’d been very sceptical about the process, called me and said, ‘Where have all those cyclists come from?’ That’s when I knew for sure it was going to work. The came from all over the city.”

The net result is not Dutch or Danish levels of cycling, but nonetheless impressive. The average number of bikes used daily in the city rose from just over 6,000 to more than 70,000. The last audit, about a year ago, found 6% of all trips were made by bike, rising to 9% for non-commuter journeys.

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The 20 Safest Cities in the World

The Economist safe cities list (pdf link) has been released and the results are pretty neat! There are some cities that you’d expect to be there and some surprise too!

The analysts looked at digital, health, and personal security of every city on the list plus the condition of the city’s infrastructure.

Is you city on the list?

3. Osaka

The Japanese city of 2.6 million ranks second in personal safety and sixth in health security. As with Tokyo, Osaka is relatively wealthy, and it ranks second for GDP per capita among upper-middle-income cities.
The city ranks lower in digital security than Tokyo, as it has fewer cybersecurity teams and privacy policies.

See the full list.

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Copenhagen Designed a Neighbourhood to Cope With Climate Change

Climate change is happening faster than projected and this means that cities need to react sooner than anticipated. We’ve seen efforts in New York that will create barriers against rising sea levels and other cities have done similar infrastructure improvements. Copenhagen has taken the next logical step: converting an existing neighbourhood into one ready for climate change.

The redesigned chunk of the city use vegetation and reigned streetscapes for a future-proof city.

They went for the green option. “Adding sewers is insanely costly, so a green-and-blue [vegetation and water] approach is more economical,” notes Esben Alslund-Lanthén, an analyst at the Copenhagen-based sustainability think tank Sustainia. There was just one challenge: No city has ever tried climate-change-adapting a whole neighborhood using just plants and water. “It’s a huge amount of water that we’ll have to redirect when the next cloudburst hits,” says Flemming Rafn Thomsen of Tredje Natur, the Danish architecture firm chosen for the project. “We looked at St. Kjeld and thought, ‘That’s a lot of asphalt with no function. We can use some of that space for water.’” On top of having little function, the asphalt gave St. Kjeld, a somewhat rundown working-class neighborhood, an even more depressing feel.

The answer, Rafn Thomsen and the city decided, was to tear up the neighborhood’s squares and replace their asphalt covering with what’s essentially a hilly, grassy carpet interspersed with walking paths. Should a storm, flood or rising sea levels hit the Danish capital again, the bucolic mini-parks will turn into water basins, the hills essentially functioning as the sides of a bowl. Thanks to a new pipe system, the squares will even be able to collect water from surrounding buildings’ roofs. Surrounding streets will, for their part, be turned into “cloudburst boulevards.” Under ordinary circumstances, they’ll just be ordinary streets with raised sidewalks, but during floods and megastorms, they’ll become canals, channeling rainwater away from the squares to the harbor. Millions of gallons of water will be dispatched back to the harbor on such aboveground waterways, St. Kjeld becoming a temporary Venice.

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