Monday, January 31, 2011

Reviving New York's rivers -- with oysters!

"Architect Kate Orff sees the oyster as an agent of urban change. Bundled into beds and sunk into city rivers, oysters slurp up pollution and make legendarily dirty waters clean -- thus driving even more innovation in "oyster-tecture." Orff shares her vision for an urban landscape that links nature and humanity for mutual benefit". (from

Similar posts;
Delicious healthy "fishfarm"
Ecosystem services- a lesson about
Wales captures carbon emissions

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Moving without car

I grow up without a car. We took the bus to viola lessons, ballet class, walked to school and went by tram to visit my mother. Our holidays spent in the archipelago with grandma was a fast one-hour trip by car and then we move it not before going home again. My father never had a driver's license, even if he "drives" a whole orchestra almost every day in his work as a conductor. Never did I have one, or any of my seven siblings, except of one, my father's youngest. He was tired of the bus, same bus my dad took every day, year around to get to work. Now my brother lives in the middle of the city, in a walking distance to his work. And his car is in my garage.

When I was in my first school grade, school linked us together in "walking teams"- we had to wait for some other kids to walk to school or home. I had two walking friends. They lived in the same neighbourhood and I lived in another. Sometimes they had to wait for me, sometimes the other way. When we got a little bit older we started to bike to school. And it was the same team. By walking to school took us around 45 minutes. By bike maybe 20. We had a great walking and bike path to school seperated from cars, along nice houses and gardens, with safe pedestrian crossing.

A few times in life, I've been addicted to a car, for example when going to ride horses, anyhow I live in a walking distance to a stable where I live now (not in the countryside) so reason is not that they are unreachable without a car. Other times are when heading to the recycling center (paradoxically) and when to move from one place to another. One time when I had to move, we drove all the way through Finland to reach North Sweden in a big GMC van, in which we also had to sleep in (trip was a great memory) but other times I just took my things with a small push cart, but that was at that time while package was small. As older we get, as more things we have. Bookshelves, sofas, desks, kitchen tables, paintings, books, millions of shoes and clothes and things (not so easy to take on the train anymore, even if that have happen).

Recently I bought skis to enjoy some of the nice snow we got in the country. I been to Olso in Norway with them, and I've been at the tram, bus, subway and train with them now several times. They are a bit big and with another ordinary travel bag besides the skis, I'm a bit clumpsy and big, all of me. But besides that, I really enjoy travelling like this. It's just me and my bags. When I reach my distination, I can just walk away. No extra bags, seaching for a parking lot, find money to pay or anything. It's just me.

In Oslo, when prepare for skiing, we just took our ski shoes on in the apartment, took the skis under the arm and walked to the subway. When reached our distination, we walked 10 meters and then off we went! Soo relaxing. Soo much freedom. We were not the only ones in Oslo doing this. It was, were I lived, almost like an alpin village with people carring skis alover.

Another way of doing without a car or bus, train or tram would be to bike or run. After a whole life without any special exercise I started with running. What I found out in the summer was a trail  from my brother, all the way in the forest to my ordinary running trail. It is almost 10 km in the forest and it is a beautiful forest, with a spectacular view in the end, seeing over the city and I can almost see all the way to the ocean. To combine time when you have to move in some sort of a way, with excercise is not just environmental correct but time saving! To take the bus to my brother takes me 45 minutes sometimes one hour. To run, around one hour. So, combine, and I save a lot of time. To not talk about to save the unpleasure to change bus three times, miss the crowd and to have my own decision where to go and how fast. If you are lucky to have a shower at your work, this is the inspiration video for you; take your legs to work.

In the utopian future, we live in a world without cars. Cars should just be for transportation of gods and work situations where cars are the only choice, think investigations of environment, construction of infrastrucure and sorts like that.

If a society would be built up in this way, would it take the freedom away from people?! Hold that question for a while.

Take a look at the site parking lots to see what you can do instead of parking lots. Another fun site is walkscore, where you can try your own street and see how "nice" it is to walk on. In a project in Falun and Borlänge, two small towns in middle Sweden, you can be a part of theirs winter project called the "winter biker" to lead more people to use their bikes in the wintertime. The project is held from the municipailty and give participants winter tires, saddle cover and a cyclocomputer to reports their travels. See more about the project here at their homepage vintercyklisten. A similar way of encourage people to drive less is a project in Belgium were environmental organisations and local stores promots peoples daily shopping by bike; every time you drive your bike to the store you got one stamp, and when you got 8 of them you can order a bike bag from the designer Walter Van Beirendonck. See more about that project at (in Flemish).

Terrible without a car? Terrible with? You deside, but most important and not to forget; The shortest distance between two points is achieved by moving those points closer together. I.e we need to change the way we build communities.

More from this blog:
What happen to the ferries
New York, car free plaza
Low density, high density
Bike lines and bike roads
These cars
Theme; public transit
Let’s build cities for people (not cars)

Friday, January 14, 2011

Ecocity buildings all around

Some girls are enjoying the green roof in a summer day of 1926 in Berlin

Fukuoka Prefectural International Hall, Japan. From the architect Emilio Ambasz. See more info from this project at

 Nanyang Nniversity in Singapore. See another green roof project here; Stunning Green Roofed High School by Off Architecture.

Futuristic pictures found at the web long time ago. Take a closer look by dubbel-click on picture.

A picture used for the book The world without us, from the author Alan Weisman.‘Warsaw Without Us’ was a cover piece commissioned by Focus Magazine in Poland from Mondolithic Studios.

Ecocity San Francisco by Richard Register. See his organisation's homepage Ecocity Builders for more.

I found a lot of pictures at, some very similar to what a ecocity building could look like. BUT no ecocity building lives alone. The building itself have to to be very large on it's own to be a full city, something explained by Paolo Soleri in previous posts, or the building have to be connected to other buildings.

Cottages at Fallingwater by Patkau Architects

Training centre by Chartier-Corbasson

East Mountain by Johan Berglund

Composting Shed by Groves-Raines Architects

Spanish Pavilion at Shanghai Expo 2010 by EMBT

Trestles Beach footbridge by Dan Brill Architects

More about ecocity buildings and features in this blog;

Make'n a good feeling in the city?
Eco-town Amersfoort
Green walls
Animals in the city
Urban agriculture
Streets in greenery
Greening the streets
Garbage solutions
These cars and carfree cities
Interaction human-street
Bike lines and bike roads
Through Europe with one ticket

Pictures from South Germany
Example from Tübingen
Freiburg, The Green City
Le Halles, in Paris
Göteborg and Älvstranden in Göteborg
Green spots in Istanbul
Cars and ugly spots in San Francisco Bay Area
The city forest in Alingsås
The "ecopath" in Hjo
Hammarby Sjöstad in Stockholm
The Western Harbour in Malmö
Houses and green spots in Copenhagen
Terrace house and green spots in Warsaw
Green spots in San Francisco
Slope houses in the hill of Berkeley
The old bewery house in Skövde
Ecoarchitechture house in Uppsala
Why so ugly?
Public transit over the world

What is an ecocity? part 2
What is an ecocity?
Face of an ecocity
A city perspective in your own imagination
Living in the future with some examples

The Boverian house  (winter-garden greenhouse with apartments connected)
New York with car free plaza
15 examples of green cities
Vancouver EcoDensity Initiative
Plans for sustainable cities and ecocities
Ecoplans for Treasure Island, San Francisco

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Let’s build cities for people (not cars)

"I heard the great urban planner Paolo Soleri speak way back in 1965 about the benefits of a compact city designed for pedestrians—ie, humans—instead of sprawling, anonymous suburbs built for cars. I took his notions seriously.
In Soleri’s notion, the compact city was more like cities in Europe than those then spreading in a thin veneer across the United States. The car would be replaced as the primary mode of motorized transportation by the streetcar and the elevator.
If we could push the idea of the compact city of enormous variety—Soleri used the words “complexity” and “density”—the whole thing could run on something like a tenth of the energy, all renewable, and cover just a fifth of the land, compared to a sprawl city of the same population, making it possible to have nature and agriculture immediately next door. Just take the stairs or an elevator ride and you could walk or bike out in the country in a matter of a few short minutes.

Bottom line: we need a geographically smaller city, but that is possible only if we shift from two-dimensional design dependent on cars to a more three-dimensional city designed around the human body. The new city needs to grow upwards, not outwards.
Elsewhere, major district centers would become small cities or towns in their own right and neighborhood centers would become villages of varying sizes, each with its own character. Buildings would, on average, be higher, houses would be replaced by apartments and cars by bicycles, walkable streets, streetcars, and elevators. Pleasurable and beautiful places like rooftop gardens and restaurants, multi-story solar greenhouses and bridges with spectacular views connecting buildings would predominate, along with renewable energy and closed-in organic agriculture. It would be the start of a new green economy.
Such cities would be places to further the ecological health of human society and whatever we mean by “nature” on this planet. But, equally important, such cities would be places to grow and develop ever more “human” humans. Thus we help further both ecological health and our own evolution at the same time."

Richard Register from Ecocity Builders writes at What matters. Read the full article here; Let’s build cities for people (not cars)

Friday, January 07, 2011

The long tomorrow


Got a tip about the comic The long tomorrow from a close friend after reading last post. The comic was made by Dan O'Bannon in 1975. Picture from the front page, showing the city in the ground.

Comic illustrated by Moebius and later inspired the movie Bladerunner. The city has several layers, where the ground is ontop of the roof. If this would be a sustainable city, we could see it as forests and small agriculture spots at the roofs, maybe some wind power and solar panels. Another interesting thing with this drawing is the seperation of cars and pedestrians and the many paths between buildings, this means that a city is not 2 dimentional, but 3. A very important feature in a future.

A real building, digged out from the ground. The building is used for living and as a studio for boat building and carpentry. Buildings like this is also good for biodiversity, but why not just for our inner peace and harmony. Some space to be private even with a lot of people living close or in same building.

Drawing from Richard Register. Close to both the other picure above. A close to everyday need. A city where creativity flows and happiness is all over. But cars has to stay outside.

A real building in the mountain. Very similar to next picture and the picture above in the dirt.

Drawing from Richard Register.

Paolo Soleri

See also:

Eco-city 2020

Plans is in Russia to build an underground city. The city could become home to up to 100,000 people. Read the article at and see more pictures at AB ELISE, ltd

The eco-city plans looks very similar to Paolo Soleris' Babel and Arcosanti drawings. Is it time to see those things be built?!

Read more at this blog:

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Small Scale, Big Change: New Architectures of Social Engagement

The exhibition about how to make architecture more than just buildings is about to finish at Museum of Modern Art in New York.

One of the projects is the Metro Cables from a slum area in Carcas, Venezuela to other parts of town, a project very similar to what happened in Medillin, Colombia. Klumpner and Alfredo Brillembourg, architects of the project from Urban Think Tank recieved the Ralph Erskine Award in Stockholm, for their innovation in architecture and urban design with regard to social, ecological and aesthetic aspects.

Other projects showed at the exhibition are; a small primary school of Gando, Burkina Faso; Quinta Monroy Housing in Iquique, Chile; Innercity arts in Los Angeles; a Handmade School in Rudrapur, Bangladesh; the running project of Casa Familiar: Living Rooms at the Border and Senior Housing with Childcare in San Ysidro, California; Housing for fishermen in Tyre, Lebanon, the $20K House VIII (Dave's House) from Newbern, Alabama; Manguinhos Complex in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Transformation of Tour Bois-le-Prêtre in Paris, France and Red Location Museum of Struggle in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. See all projets at exhibition page.

Beyond the exhibition (from MoMas' homepage): Internet-based architecture communities such as the The 1%, urbaninform, and Open Architecture Network are forums for the dissemination and development of knowledge, expertise, and innovation among architects and other contributors. Open-source sharing—wherein concepts, proposals, and sometimes architectural plans and drawings (for built and unbuilt structures) are made freely available—is a common feature of these networks and a catalyst for the actualization of projects or the recycling or improvement of ideas. This in turn enables architects to respond efficiently to the needs of underserved communities. While their methods and results are varied, each of these three networks is founded on the belief that architecture and architects have a social responsibility that can be advanced and facilitated by the Internet.

More to read
A better kind of wrongness
Cities which have succeed
We can build a sustainable world, but we need to re-think
Better city, better life
Living in future