Seemingly everywhere there’s a crunch on housing and there’s a surplus of roads, so let’s change some car space to sleeping space. If we take away even just one lane of parking for cars we can create towers of housing for people. Cities can benefit from increased revenue since housing makes more money for cities than stationary cars. What’s more, when a developer wants to build and take away a lane then part of the development fees can be specified to increase transit and biking infrastructure.
He argues that highway conversions make more sense than using lanes on regular city streets for housing, at least in most cases. “Most street right-of-ways are can only be reduced by a lane or two, which can generate enough extra space for a bike lane or expanded sidewalk but not enough for the addition of housing,” he says. “Moreover, trading street width for a housing tract typically requires a public/private land swap. These are possible, but add enough red tape to only make sense when a significant amount of housing can be added.”
In Boston, Speck’s firm is working on a plan, now in its second design phase, to use excess road space in Kenmore Square to add new housing and public space. “The plan results in considerably more housing than originally conceived, plus a beautiful plaza,” Speck says. The plan would also more than triple the space available for pedestrians.
Currently earthquakes cause buildings to collapse and are therefore quite deadly, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Already there are modern high tech solutions that many earthquake prone areas use to ensure buildings don’t collapse during extreme shaking events. We can augment our current systems by using those from the past. In India the traditional kath kuni architectural style is designed to handle seismic events and has been refined over centuries. The techniques used in creating these kath kuni structures can be applied to buildings today to ensure a higher level of safety and thus make earthquakes less deadly.
In the mountainous region of Himachal Pradesh in India, near where the Indian Plate is colliding with the Eurasian Plate, many structures built in the kath kuni style have survived at least a century of earthquakes. In this traditional building method, the name, which translates to “wood corner,” in part explains the method: Wood is laced with layers of stone, resulting in improbably sturdy multi-story buildings.
It is one of several ancient techniques that trace fault lines across Asia. The foundations for the timber lacing system of architecture may have originally been laid in Istanbul around the fifth century. Stone masonry and wood-beam construction can still be seen in Nepal as well as in the traditions of Kashmiri Taq and Dhajji Dewari and Pakistani Bhatar. Even Turkey has a long tradition of similar construction methods. Despite their ancient origins, this model of construction has mostly fared better over centuries than much of the contemporary building across the continent’s many active seismic zones.
Where you live matters in almost every way imaginable, and there’s now more evidence that your location impacts your mental health. We now know that what has been colloquially known is now provably true: rates of depression are higher in suburban communities than elsewhere. Of course, you’re probably thinking that the rural lifestyle is that one that provides the best mental health, but what you probably don’t realize that urban living is also really good for you. So if you’re living in an in between sub-urban and sub-rural area and not feeling great than maybe you should move out the country or in to the city.
We think the relative higher risks of depression found in sprawling, low-rise suburbs may be partly down to long car commutes, less public open space and not high enough resident density to enable many local commercial places where people can gather together, such as shops, cafes and restaurants. But of course, there may be many other factors, too.
This doesn’t mean there aren’t potential benefits to living in the suburbs. Some people may in fact prefer privacy, silence and having their own garden.
We hope that this study can be used as a basis for urban planning. The study provides no support for the continued expansion of car-dependent, suburban single-family housing areas if planners want to mitigate mental health issues and climate change.
The global housing crisis has numerous causes, and one of them is AirBnB. Of course there are competitors to the short term rental company but the impact of their presence on the housing market has been staggering in places with high level of tourism like Montreal. Back in March people died when a fire broke out in an AirBnB, the hotel wasn’t obeying occupancy laws among other issues. The public outcry at this tragedy was meaningful and led to policy changes. The Quebec government has introduced legislation to curtail the exploitation and high risks of running a AirBnB. Not only will the policy protect occupants of AirBnBs it will help alleviate pressure on their housing market.
“This new law represents a pretty significant step forward there, because it is really kind of tightening the constraints,” said McGill University Prof. David Wachsmuth, the Canada Research Chair in Urban Governance.
“That’s a really good template that I think other provinces, and certainly Ontario and British Columbia, the other big provinces, should be looking to emulate.”
Under Quebec’s new proposed law, titled “An Act to fight illegal tourist accommodation,” rental companies such as Airbnb would be obligated to keep records of each advertised accommodation’s registration certificate.
They would also have to validate the registration numbers of those establishments and designate a Quebec-based representative to make it easier to actually reach someone from the rental company.
The bill also provides for the creation of a public registry of tourist accommodations, to be maintained by the tourism minister or by a body recognized by the minister.
Fines against individuals who don’t comply would range between $5,000 to $50,000, while companies could face fines of $10,000 to $100,000 per posting.
Building buildings takes a lot of energy and once done the built structure continues to consume energy and have a carbon footprint. Many options exist to reduce the carbon impact of buildings from the point of construction all the way to deconstruction, but the industry still needs to adopt these measures. Things are getting better though as more people in the industry understand how to think about the carbon footprint of the construction industry.
Take Whole Life Carbon Perspective
By plotting the impact of a building over time, we observed the tensions between upfront impact strategies and long-term solutions. Our class first employed a “whole life carbon” approach to assess emissions associated with the construction and performance of a range of façade systems, discovering that the bulk of an enclosure system’s upfrontemissions stem from window systems reliant on carbon-intensive framing materials, such as aluminum or polyvinyl chloride. Last fall, we scaled our investigations up to the whole building, finding that the actual operational data uniformly eclipsed modeled emissions, and that the balance between embodied and operational emissions varied significantly across the campus’s buildings.