Excerpts from: 100 resilient cities

Source: http://www.100resilientcities.org/pages/100-resilient-cities-challenge#/-_/


by John Bela

Editor’s Note: This piece, which is cross-posted with special permission from NextCity, discusses how urban design innovators achieved broader public acceptance and helped neighhorhoods identify better uses of certain public spaces, which helped them meet lingering needs. And it’s a powerful example of how city- and neighborhood-specific interventions can scale to have a huge impact on cities.

Park(ing) Day 2009 outside of SPUR’s office in San Francisco (Photo by Colleen McHugh)

In the winter of 2005, I, along with a few colleagues from the Bay Area urban design collective Rebar, liberated a parking space for human use. We transformed a single metered spot into a temporary public park and called it Park(ing).

My Rebar co-conspirators and I were prepared for the worst. People in crowded San Francisco tend to be touchy about parking.

Soon enough we did indeed hear from the city. But instead of the angry summons we expected, we had been invited to meet Marshall Foster, Mayor Gavin Newsom’s director of city greening, at a dark tavern near city hall. “How can we get you to do more of these?” Foster asked. We were floored.

Rebar started as a group of artists and urban interventionists. Our position outside the city-making technocracy allowed us the freedom to experiment with our chosen medium –public space – without the risks inherent in public bureaucracy. Now the bureaucracy was asking how to get in on the hack.

We masked our shock and suggested that the Newsom administration make Park(ing) an official city program: The city could create an avenue for businesses and residents to apply for a permit to convert underused street space into an amenity that served the community better.

A parklet designed by Rebar outside Tony’s Pizza Napoletana in San Francisco (Credit: Rebar)

“That’s the last thing we should do,” Marshall responded. “That would absolutely suck the life out of it!”

But why did scaling up a good idea have to mean ruining it?

There is a fervent debate happening at the moment about tactical urbanism and its relationship to social equity. As a veteran practitioner of tactics, I’m also curious about their potential to catalyze long-term urban transformation and institutional change.

In the case of Park(ing), our team at Rebar decided to scale up things on our own. First we created a how-to manual that would result in our two-hour urban intervention blossoming into a public participatory art project called Park(ing) Day, a day-long peaceful takeover of parking spaces in cities all across the world. The global participatory project eventually helped to seed the creation of a parklet program in San Francisco, Pavement to Parks, that allows businesses and neighborhood groups to turn underused street space into small parks where benches and tables, or even a tiny mini-golf course, can be installed.

Over the last decade, our own Rebar team has evolved from an informal art collective into a professional art and design practice. Former Rebar partners Blaine Merker and I joined forces with Gehl Architects last year to found Gehl Studio, and Matthew Passmore founded Morelab, Oakland.

By far the biggest change within all this has been the pace at which bureaucracies have begun to adopt tactics to catalyze urban change. By now, there are hundreds of Marshall Fosters in cities all across North America asking how to hack public space.

An installation designed by the Exploratorium as part of the City of San Francisco’s Living Innovation Zone program, a program created in collaboration with Gehl Architects.

From very early on, Rebar’s most successful projects were those that used tactics with strategic objectives. The Park(ing) Day to Parklet story is one example. Our second urban project, Commonspace, a yearlong exploration of San Francisco’s Privately Owned Public Spaces (POPS), is another example of an artist-led urban intervention that catalyzed institutional change.

Meanwhile in New York, Janette Sadik-Khan, the transportation commissioner under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, had begun to use guerilla tactics to activate public space. It was an interesting reversal: Guerilla tactics were coming from the top down. Frustrated by political roadblocks preventing the mayor from passing ambitious policies like congestion pricing, Sadik-Khan and her colleagues at the DOT discovered that framing new initiatives as “pilot” projects enabled them to circumvent the typical lengthy environmental review. Empowered by Gehl Architects’ evidence-based design approach, the Public Space Public Lifeframework, and by a formative trip to Copenhagen, Sadik Kahn and her colleagues used tactics like parklets and painted bike lanes to transform Times Square and Broadway.

In a virtuous urbanist circle, San Francisco created its Pavement to Parks program after visits from Sadik-Khan and Gehl in 2008. Yet by 2011, doubts about the model had begun to creep into debate. In San Francisco, SPUR held a panel discussion “The End of Temporary” that positioned non-permanent parks and installations — many of which surfaced during the Great Recession — as tools that had outlived their utility. The questions deserved a response. I call mine “Iterative Placemaking.” Best exemplified in San Francisco by the Jane Warner Plaza project, and in New York City by the transformation of Times Square and Broadway, Iterative Placemaking consists of a phased series of physical interventions followed by evaluation to shape a place over time. It puts tactics in the context of longer-term change.

Project for Public Spaces calls this “Lighter Quicker Cheaper.” Here at Gehl, we call it Measure Test Refine, and now offer a service called Early Activation, which is akin to what the private development community calls it Phase 0. Early Activation can seed culture, commerce, recreation and play on a site or in a neighborhood prior to permanent brick and mortal construction begins.

A large temporary plaza built by Rebar on the Embarcadero on San Francisco’s Pier 9 (Credit: Rebar)

Temporary use — which has always been a part of urban growth and development — now has new currency in the making of cities. Informed by tactics used in times of resource scarcity, Iterative Placemaking appears to have utility for both public sector and private sector agents of urban change as a tool to guide and focus strategic investments. Iterative Placemaking can generate cultural capital that translates to real estate equity, or political will to realize major urban transformations.

It appears that this approach is here to stay. Guerilla bureaucrats within government are increasingly using tactics to circumvent their own organization’s inherent tendency to resist change. But what happens when city bureaucracies and private developers adopt the tactics of guerilla artists. Do they lose their potency and radical potential? Do they actually result in more resilient and just neighborhoods? Can tactical urbanism catalyze institutional change?

Painting the street for a tactical intervention in Mar del Plata, Argentina (Credit: Gehl Studio)

These questions become critical when asked within a larger dialogue about equity. Part of a bureaucracy’s role is to ensure that public resources are shared equitably across a city. That can get complicated when the bureaucracy is relying on private partners to supply the resources. In San Francisco, we learned this lesson the hard way when parklets began to be associated with gentrification because they were first rolled out in affluent neighborhoods that could afford to make them happen. In the neighborhood where I live in the Mission District, the local neighborhood association has blocked parklets because of concerns about rising real estate values and displacement. In contrast, Philadelphia’s parklet program has implemented their program differently and from the outset sought to introduce the open spaces to neighborhoods with varying demographics and income levels. There has been far less controversy.

Park(ing) Day in Krakow, Poland (Photo by Gosia Malochleb)

Aware of their own limitations, the savvy folks within the City Design Group within San Francisco’s planning department are attempting to use tactics to hack their own technocracy. Inspired by the Park(ing) Day to Parklet story, by the Urban Prototyping Festival, and informed by Gehl’s evidence-based design approach, and the Living Innovation Zone program, The City Design Group has created the Market Street Protoyping Festival; a user generated, tactical urbanist approach to generate novel ideas, and potentially, new permit instruments or operating procedures to transform Market Street, San Francisco’s main commercial spine. The machine is attempting to hack itself by generating citizen-led innovations in order to circumvent its own lethargic bureaucracy.

Empowered by the success in NYC, the Gehl Studio offices in NY and SF are utilizing a combination of strategy and tactics in an effort to catalyze transformation of cities worldwide. Having recently completed a set of pilot projects in collaboration with the City Authorities from Sao Paolo, and Mar del Plata in Latin America, to closer to home in San Jose, we will be intently observing the evolution of iterative placemaking in the context of bureaucracies large and small.

As the tactics of guerilla artists become adopted into the operating procedures of city government, this draws a new frontier for further tactical action. Today’s tacticians must push beyond the pop-up and the temporary and seek to hack the DNA of organizational structures themselves.


Source: http://sustainablecitiescollective.com/global-site-plans-grid/202866/beijing-develops-tongzhou-new-city-its-sub-center

Beijing Develops Tongzhou New City as its Sub-Center

On June 29th, the eleventh Beijing Municipal Party Congress positioned the development of the Tongzhou New City as “the sub-center of Beijing.” Liu Qi, Secretary of the Beijing Municipal Committee of the Communist Party of China said in the government report that it’s time to speed up the pace of urbanization, and to further implement the strategy of focusing on the Tongzhou District by building a fully functional sub-center.

Rural Beijing and Outer Suburbs

The sub-center is planned to be a livable city with commercial, residential, entertainment, and tourism functions. Moreover, the sub-center will spatially support and functionally complement the city center while being a relatively independent Central Business District. Like Tokyo, London, Paris and other major international cities that have sub-centers, Beijing also needs a sud-center to relieve the pressure of rapid urban development, and increase the carrying capacity of the city.

In March 2009, Beijing unveiled the Beijing Municipal Master Plan (2004-2020), which will adjust the spatial layout of Beijing and proposed to build 11 new satellite cities, among which the Tongzhou District will have prominent advantages in transportation infrastructure, and natural and cultural resources. Moreover, Tongzhou is adjacent to Langfang and Tianjin, which are important transport corridors of the Bohai Sea. As a result, building the sub-center in Tongzhou will greatly increase regional connectivity.

Tongzhou, Beijing

Tongzhou’s supreme natural environment, advantageous policy, convenient transportation and comprehensive business infrastructure have attracted a series of well-known real estate developers to build high-end housing. The new city’s livable environment is especially marketable to homebuyers. In October 2010, the city opened the Tongzhou Canal Forest Park, which added fifty million square meters of open space to the city.

Do you think the Tongzhou New City development will relieve Beijing’s housing and transportation pressures?

Credits: Images and data linked to sources.

The original article, published in Chinese, can be found here.

Authored by:

Global Site Plans – The Grid

THE GRID began in 2010 with Renée van Staveren, the Founder of Global Site Plans, blogging about branding, social media, content, and more – all related to environmental designers. Since its inception, the blog has grown to run weekly. Every weekday of the month The Grid is your destination for blogs related to architecture, engineering, environmental non-profits, landscape architecture, …

Promoting Urban Futures 2050

Source: http://www.boell.de/de/urban-futures-2050


Grid image

Mit „Urban Futures 2050“ knüpften wir an die Konferenzen „Urban Futures 2030“ (2009) und„Die große Transformation“ (2010) an. Es ging darum, die Zukunft der Städte neu zu denken und praktisches Handeln zu inspirieren. „Urban Futures 2050“ brachte Stadttheoretiker/innen und Stadtpolitiker/innen, Architekt/innen und Planer/innen zusammen, die den Übergang ins post-fossile Zeitalter gestalten wollen.


cover urban futures 2050

Schriften zur Ökologie 18: Das 21. Jahrhundert ist das “Jahrhundert der Städte”. Bis 2050 werden etwa 80 Prozent der Weltbevölkerung in Städten leben. Es verwundert nicht, dass utopische Stadtentwürfe wieder Konjunktur haben.


In seiner Begrüßungsrede spricht Ralf Fücks die Bedeutung der Städte in der Zukunft an, erläutert kurz das Programm und dankt allen Organisator/innen, Kooperations- und Medienpartner/innen.
Zwei Tage lang diskutierten Stadttheoretiker und Stadtpolitiker, Architekten und Planer mit mehr als 400 Teilnehmer/innen, wie Städte die bevorstehenden sozialen Herausforderungen meistern, wie sie Klimawandel, Energie- und Ressourcenverbrauch bewältigen können, um lebenswert zu bleiben beziehungsweise es zu werden.
Mit „Urban Futures 2050“ knüpfte die Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung an die Konferenzen „Urban Futures 2030“ (2009) und „Die große Transformation“ (2010) an: die Zukunft der Städte neu denken und praktisches Handeln inspirieren. Hören Sie hier die Audiomitschnitte der Konferenz.

Lecture Series at FH Erfurt (Summer Term 15, Tue 6.00 pm)


Gemeinsame Ringvorlesung der Fachhochschule und Universität Erfurt

Thema: Globale Herausforderungen – Regionale Entwicklungen

Globalisierungsprozesse und damit verbundene Krisenszenarien sind seit Jahren in der Diskussion, vor allem auch hinsichtlich ihrer Herausforderungen und ihrer Wirkungen in den regionalen und lokalen Welten. Im Kunstwort glokal wird darauf hingewiesen, dass es einen engen Zusammenhang zwischen globalen Prozessen und regionaler Abbildung und Wahrnehmung gibt.
Die Ringvorlesung will zum einen exemplarisch Herausforderungen hinterfragen und sie im Kontext regionaler Entwicklungsprozesse spiegeln, zum anderen sollen aber auch, ebenfalls exemplarisch, regionale Entwicklungsansätze bzw. eher das regionale betonende Konzepte erörtert werden, die aus der Region heraus Lösungen für unterschiedliche globale Fragestellungen anzubieten scheinen.

Die Veranstaltungen finden mit Ausnahme der letzten (07.07., Audimax der FH, Altonaer Str. 25) im Rathausfestsaal, Fischmarkt 1, statt. Der Eintritt ist frei. Platzkapazität 198 Plätze.

14.04. Prof. Dr. Wolf Wagner, FH Erfurt); Globale Herausforderungen: Ewiger Frieden oder Katastrophe

21.04. Prof. Dr. Hanns Wienold, Uni Münster; Geglaubt wird überall. Religionen auf Reisen

28.04 Oliver Nachtwey TU Darmstadt; Abstiegsgesellschaft. Zu den Folgen globaler ökonomischer Stagnation

05.05. Prof. Dr. Sandra Fleischer, Uni Erfurt; Globale Medienmarken für Kinder – mediatisierte Kindheit als Mainstream?

12.05. Dr. Christine Rehklau, FH Erfurt; Flucht und Vertreibung: Anforderungen an ein humanitäres Aufnahmekonzept

19.05. Dr. Annamarie Bindenagel-Sehovic, FH Erfurt/Uni Erfurt; Von AIDS bis Ebola: Entgrenzung der Gesundheitsrisiken

02.06. Elisabeth Voß, Berlin; Lokale und Regionale Ökonomien: Nischen – Alternativen – Herausforderungen?

09.06. Ralf Fücks, Heinrich Böll Stiftung; Grüne industrielle Revolution – Ausweg aus der ökologischen Krise?

16.06. Prof. Dr. Katrin Großmann, FH Erfurt; Schrumpfende Städte international: Paradoxon im Zeitalter globaler Urbanisierung

23.06. Prof. Dr. Matthias Gather, FH Erfurt; Globale Mobilitätsentwicklung und lokale Verkehrssysteme

30.06. Prof. Dr. Birgit Blättel-Mink, Uni Frankfurt; Regionale Entwicklung und Solidarische Landwirtschaft

07.07. Prof. Dr. Bärbel Kracke, Uni Jena; Welche Bildung in einer globalisierten Welt?

Datum: 14. 04. 2015
Beginn: 18:00
Veranstalter: Prof. Dr. Ronald Lutz
Ort: Fischmarkt 1, Rathausfestsaal

Urban Research Institutes (list)

Here is a list of a great number of globally operating reseach institutes in the field of urban studies:

Websites of other Urban and Housing – Research and Policy Organizations


Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
Canadian Housing and Renewal Association
Canadian Urban Institute
Centre for Human Settlements, University of British Columbia
INRS – Urbanization, Culture and Society, University of Quebec
Institute of Urban Studies, University of Winnipeg


Center for Urban and Regional Policy, Northeastern University, Boston
Center for Urban and Regional Affairs, University of Minnesota
Center for Urban and Regional Studies, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Centre for Urban Development Studies, Harvard University
Center for Urban Initiatives and Research, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Centre for Urban Policy Research, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Centre for Urban Progress, Howard University
Center for Urban Research, City University of New York
Center for Urban Research and Policy, Columbia University
Center for Urban Studies, State University of NY, Buffalo
Center for Urban Studies, Wayne State University
Institute for Local Governance and Regional Growth, State University of New York, Buffalo
Institute of Urban and Regional Development, University of California, Berkeley
Joint Center for Housing Studies, Harvard University
Taub Urban Research Centre, New York University
University Center for Social and Urban Research, University of Pittsburgh
Urban Affairs Association
Urban Institute, Washington, DC


Centre for Housing Policy, The University of York
Centre for Neighbourhood Research, Economic and Social Research Council
Centre for Urban and Community Research, University of London
Centre for Urban Studies, University of Bristol
Centre for Urban and Regional Studies, University of Birmingham
Department of Urban Studies, University of Glasgow
European Institute for Comparative Urban Research, Erasmus University, Rotterdam
European Network for Housing Research
European Urban Research Association
Global Urban Research Unit, University of Newcastle
Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies, Rotterdam

Institute for Housing and Urban Research, Uppsala University
OTB Research Institute for Housing, Urban and Mobility Studies, Delft University of Technology


Asia-Pacific Network for Housing Research

Australian Chapter of the Asia-Pacific Network for Housing Research
Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute, Melbourne
Australian Housing Information Network,
Institute for Social Research, Swinburne University


Centre for International Health, University of Toronto
Cities Alliance
Global Campaign for Secure Tenure, UN-Habitat
Global Campaign on Urban Governance, UN-Habitat
Global Urban Observatory, UN-Habitat
Research Committee on Housing and the Built Environment, International Sociological Association
Housing Information Gateway
Housing Policy and Development, UN-Habitat
International Development Research Centre, Ottawa
United Nations Development Programme

Sourche: http://www.urbancentre.utoronto.ca/urbanresearchlinks.html