Why Urban Areas Are More Efficient Than Suburban Areas

It’s been known for years that urban centres have a lower carbon footprint than the lands of urban sprawl. This is a for a variety of reasons and it’s rather complex, sure most of it comes down to density, but the exact know how is still being figure out.

Over at Alternatives Journal they looked at how building sustainable cities makes better cities overall. This is how and why people make resilient cities.

FOR EXAMPLE, existing low-density suburban developments “actually increase the damage on the environment while also making that damage harder to see and to address,” wrote Green Metropolis author David Owen. Although Forbes ranked Vermont as the greenest US state in 2007, Owen’s 2009 article revealed that a typical Vermonter consumed 2,063 litres of gasoline per year – almost 400 hundred litres more than the US national average at that time. This vast consumption is primarily due to single-use zoning and the absence of a comprehensive public transit system. Contrary to popular belief, dense cities such as New York City typically have the lowest carbon footprints. NYC emits 7.1 tonnes of greenhouse gases per person per year, or less than 30 per cent of the US national average. This is due to its extreme compactness. Over 80 per cent of Manhattanites travel to work by public transit, by bicycle or on foot. Population density also lowers energy and water use, limits material consumption and decreases the production of solid waste. For example, Japan’s urban areas are five times denser than Canada’s, and the consumption of energy per capita in Japan is 40 per cent lower.

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Watch Streets Evolve From Car-Focused to People-Focused


Streets were for people, then cars took over and ruined cities. For the last hundred years cities transformed themselves from walkable places to sprawling buildings which were designed for heavy car use. Now, cities have seen how that’s a mistake.

A design firm, Urb-i, has used Google street view to catalog how cities are making themselves good places to be. Hopefully this trend of making cities human-focused instead of car focused continues!

In São Paulo, Brazil — which boasts over 10 million residents — a third of the people travel by car, another third takes public transit, and another walks. Yet cars take up a majority of the roads and public spaces.

Seeing that, a Brazilian urban planning collective called Urb-i set out to demonstrate that imbalance and show off examples of more people-friendly design. They scoured Google Street View images to find the most stunning public space transformations from around the world. The results give us hope that our cities are becoming more beautiful places to live.

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Artists Bring Peace to the Streets

le-policier-amoureux (digital)

Street art about peace is getting special attention in London these next few weeks. Artists from all over the world are going to explore the idea of ‘peace in our streets’ and what it means to them. It looks like it’ll be a great exhibit.

If you’re in London you should check it out.

The show will be titled Peace from the street up! and will feature work inspired by the theme of ‘peace in our cities’. The artists, some of whom come from conflict-affected regions, will reflect on opportunities for peaceful change in an increasingly urbanised world.

“Urban and street art has a long history of engaging with important social issues and harnessing peaceful social change through creativity and humour. We thought it would be fascinating to invite urban and street artists from around the world to reflect on what peace in their cities could look like.”

The exhibition will be part of Alert’s second Talking Peace Festival, a month-long series of events designed to spark conversations about peace through creativity. Exhibition and auction information, and a full list of participating artists will be available on www.talkingpeacefestival.org.

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Living Architecture Tour of Toronto

If you’re in Toronto or visiting you can now go on a special tour of the city that will reveal all the cool living architecture! It’s a free tour that you can download and go on anytime you’d like.

Toronto abounds with green roofs and walls, but most people aren’t aware since living infrastructure is often hidden atop buildings or behind closed doors. This tour reveals our city’s vegetative roofs and walls.

Living architecture offers a cornucopia of benefits, which you can experience by looking, smelling, touching and listening. #LivingArchTOur helps Torontonians and visitors to our wonderful city experience these benefits for themselves.

Try the tour!

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A Futuristic Conclusion to HIGHRISE

HIGHRISE is back with another look into how we humans live in our built environments. We’ve looked at HIGHRISE before (Out My Window and One Millionth Tower) and this last iteration is just as captivating.

We are becoming a vertical—and digital—species. Billions of us live in highrises, and three billion of us are connected to the Internet. Universe Within takes us into the apartments, hearts, minds and computers of vertical citizens around the world to reveal the digital human condition in the 21st century. Trapped in our highrise units, can we find love, hate, peace, God, community—or a better world—online?

Stories include a mother in Ramallah who tries to stay connected with her family in Gaza; a team of competitive video game players in Seoul who live, work and train together in a highrise compound; a Mumbai teenager who records corrupt government officials in the hopes of saving her building from illegal demolition; as well as young Iraqi refugees in a Toronto suburban highrise, taking part in a “Girls Learning Code” program to learn how to create video games.

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