Working on sustainable and healthy cities is now the objective of almost all spatial development in the Netherlands. Yet we see that the current way of working does not lead to essentially sustainable and inclusive cities. In our view, we therefore need to think fundamentally differently about the way we design our cities. To do this, we need to think beyond the economic growth paradigm and develop a good alternative.
Based on years of research, interviews and workshops I wrote a book about the urban condition I refer to as the 'smooth city'. It departs from the observation that in cities around the world this urban condition, characterised by ever-increasing levels of ‘perfection’, efficiency and control and the active eradication of any aberration or alternative, is spreading rapidly. In the smooth city, urban space is sanitised and urban life compressed into a seamless experience. While the need for safe, clean, and well-functioning urban environments is clear, the rise of the smooth city undermines the democratic nature and emancipatory potential of cities while leaving almost no space for anything that is experimental or incompatible with dominant norms. This publication offers a critical analysis of the origins, characteristics and consequences of the smooth city, while also offering a starting point to challenge the obsession with perfection and instead collectively work towards porosity in the urban realm. The book has been designed by Kees de Klein, who also contributed with a visual essay. Order a copy directly from the publisher.
Nowadays, it seems to be everywhere – the urban environment that feels smooth, polished and perfect. All buildings seem either new or renovated, and are generally in an excellent condition. Its public spaces are well-designed, well-maintained, clean and safe, if you conform to the rules. All spaces seem to be scripted according to the dominant norms and the needs of capital, and are populated by a socially, culturally and aesthetically homogenous crowd. New technologies offer seamless, on-demand services for almost everything.
A closer look does not reveal any aberrations or abnormalities. There don’t seem to be any abandoned properties, undefined elements or forgotten corners. No alternative narratives, ideas or (sub)cultures have been allowed to make a claim on, intervene in or transform urban spaces, unless they have been neatly encapsulated and made servient to the dominant script. While tensions and confrontations are only allowed to surface beyond its immediate boundaries, it is represented to the outside world as a wealthy, successful, consumable and predominantly white environment.
Welcome to the Smooth City. The urban condition that has become increasingly common over the last decade, to the extent that it suddenly seems to be the dominant state of affairs in many cities around the world. The Smooth City can occur in different intensities, such as the rather extreme variety described above, or in an urban environment that rapidly starts to look like something along those lines. It can emerge in the form of an ‘upgraded’ existing urban area, but also originate as a newly built neighbourhood or comprehensive redevelopment scheme.
Inside the beehive of Mumbai’s central slum, skilled teams of small-scale manufacturers – from leather workers to garment stitchers – form a shadow world that the government refuses to recognise
Urbantech Startup Playbook
Data: a promise for life in the city. Data enables us to tackle major problems of modern cities, making them cleaner, safer, healthier… but only as long as people stay in control of the data, and not the other way round. We – companies, government, communities and citizens – see this as a team effort and want to be a leading example for all other digital cities across the globe. To get started, we have come together to set out the following shared principles.
This thesis explores how public sector organizations introduce new ways of working, such as co-design methods and mindsets, and examines the interactions between emerging co-designing cultures and dominant public sector cultures. This research contributes to the field of design, with a focus on culture change in public sector organizations.
When designers try to create lasting change in the public sector, their aim is not only to co-design meaningful new or improved services, but also to embed the capacity – rather than dependency – of co-design into the organization. Current research suggests that this embedded co-design capacity allows for ongoing transformation.
The »smart city« is a term widely used to signal an urban environment that re-invents, or »updates«, itself. The smart city not only embodies techno-visions and uses of urban space, but also signals the existence of different perspectives within itself.
In this presentation, we will seek to outline some of these with an outset in »the urban metainterface«. Examples of everyday urban experiences with interfaces are numerous: »TripAdvisor« provides access to restaurants, and other sights that are otherwise not clearly visible in the urban landscape; with »Airbnb«, any apartment in the city holds the invisible potential of a bed and breakfast, etc. In other words »every street corner and every local pub leads a double life« as expressed by Martijn de Waal. The interface is however not just an interface to the city, but is a meta-construction that within itself holds a particular urban gaze. The urban metainterface depends on an ability to capture the user’s behaviors: the more the interface opens up the city – to diverse behaviors and signification – the more it needs to monitor the users and their milieu, and process these data. The more we read, the more we are being read. But what are the aesthetic mechanisms of seeing and walking in the city, whilst being seen and being guided?
Prop 22 is expected to put more cars on the road, which is particularly concerning because a recent study found that Uber and Lyft were responsible for about half of San Francisco’s increase in congestion between 2010 and 2016. Transportation is also the largest contributor to U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Allowing these companies to expand without giving workers’ the ability to organize is a huge obstacle to the fight for a just and carbon-free transit sector.
How can citizens, policy-makers and businesses co-design circular and regenerative cities?
Fab City Prototype: TOMORROW
After giving the group a general perspective on the spaces and people that are currently shaping the prototype, participants were invited to work on three particular subjects that are key to designing a roadmap for the future of the neighbourhood:
Fabrication & materials: with complementary production ecosystems happening inside the local network of Fab Labs, citizens have the possibility to produce what they consume, recirculating materials inside the neighbourhood and the city to reduce waste and carbon emissions associated with long-distance mass production and distribution chains.
Food production: growing food on the rooftops of Barcelona. Through urban agriculture practices, citizens can grow part of what they eat turning production of local clean food in a regular pat of their lives.
Energy: Renewable energy production. With the arrival of domestic batteries and the cost drop of solar technologies, citizens have the tools to produce part of their domestic energy consumption.
This Handbook is a practical resource from the Fab City Global Initiative. It aims to be a useful guide for information, tools and other types of materials that can support you and your city to become a locally productive and globally connected city by 2054.
Shadowing gives memory to city lights, enabling them to record and play back the shadows of those who passed underneath
A week of stories about what we squander, discard, and fritter away: Welcome to the Wastelands.
Trümmerfrau (literally translated as ruins woman or rubble woman) is the German-language name for women who, in the aftermath of World War II, helped clear and reconstruct the bombed cities of Germany and Austria. With hundreds of cities having suffered significant bombing and firestorm damage through aerial attacks and ground war. So, with many men dead or prisoners of war, this monumental task fell to a large degree on women.
Todos queremos cidades com serviços eficientes e baratos que melhorem o transporte, a saúde, a moradia, a educação etc. Mas a questão é como evitar que nossas cidades se tornem máquinas de precarizar tra
How is the maker scene doing in the largest city of the European Union? Makery made the rounds of the digital fabrication spaces, less fablabs than makerspaces.
on doing nothing, and birds, arts, public squares and waste
Resumo da tarde de atividades relacionadas à Incubadora de Projetos do CEU Ana Maria, na cidade de Santo André. Evento realizado em 10 de agosto de 2019.
Transformative Cities is an opportunity for progressive local governments, municipalist coalitions, social movements and civil society organizations to popularize and share their experiences of building solutions to our planet’s systemic economic, social, political and ecological crises.