Cities of the Future

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

It's about time we give our cities a makeover.

With 60% of the world's population projected to live in urban areas by the year 2030, city officials and urban planners the world over are talking about how to redesign for a more crowded future.

Changing the way we get around is the key, according to the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP), an organization that promotes sustainable transportation solutions for the world's burgeoning cities. The ITDP is sponsoring a project called Our Cities Ourselves, which pairs ten world cities with ten leading architects. Each has come up with a redesign of a public space, hand-tailored to the challenges presented by each city. These designs will be presented at an exhibition, opening on June 24, at New York City's Center for Architecture.

Last week, WNYC reported on Michael Sorkin's plan for New York, drawing impassioned responses from commenters. The proposal calls for tearing down the FDR interchange that connects the highway to the Brooklyn Bridge, freeing the waterfront to be developed into a riverside park, and discouraging vehicle traffic downtown.

The plans presented in Our Cities Ourselves focus on designs that reduce reliance on cars while encouraging bicycle use and public transportation. Many of the designs include provisions for Bus Rapid Transit, or BRT in urban planner parlance, high-speed bus lines with dedicated lanes and train-like stations for getting on and off. BRT has been a hailed as a success in developing cities such as Bogota and Quito, where it is prohibitively expensive to build subway systems.

Below, take a look at the designs.

Achmedabad, India -- HCP Design and Project Management

Problem: In a large vacant area near the historic downtown, rickshaws, motorcycles, and cars have a stranglehold on transportation.

Proposal: Build pedestrian squares, BRT links to the city, and bicycle-friendly streets. The new foot-traffic encourages commercial development in the vacant area.





Budapest, Hungary -- Varos-Teampannon and Kozlekedes

Problem: On the banks of the Danube, a traffic-choked slice of waterfront roads disconnect the city from the river it's most known for.

Proposal: Keep the waterfront roads, but build them alongside underground parking lots. Development of elevated parkland restores access to the river for city residents.




Buenos Aires, Argentina -- PALO Arquitectura Urbana

Problem: The neighborhood of La Boca, a dockside, working-class district and the birthplace of tango, is still suffering from neglect. Despite the development of a small section of colorful, corrugated-metal houses into a Disneyfied tourist attraction, the area is characterized by squatters and decrepit housing along the polluted Riochuelo river.

Proposal: A massive redesign with promenades and bike lanes on both sides of the river, linked by a new pedestrian bridge and water taxis. Transform old, street-level, freight train tracks into a bicycle boulevard flanked by new housing and commercial spaces.




Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania -- Adjaye Associates

Problem: A waterfront is cut off from the city by a railroad and port machinery. The area is a hub for transportation via privately-owned minibuses.

Proposal: Reroute the railway and link the station with a new Bus Rapid Transit line. Meanwhile, develop the waterfront into pedestrian promenades.




Guangzhou, China -- Urbanus Architecture & Design

Problem: An elevated highway runs down the middle of the Liwan district, bisecting the neighborhood.

Proposal: Inspired by New York's Highline, the idea is to turn the highway into an elevated pedestrian and bicycle walkway, while the road beneath will become a dedicated Bus Rapid Transit corridor. New shops and modernized housing will follow, and rooftop "skyways" will provide further recreational space.




Jakarta, Indonesia -- Budi Pradono Architects

Problem: At a city transit hub in the Manggarai neighborhood, current development plans threaten to uproot local communities.

Proposal: Build around the communities. Create parks on the roofs of the train and BRT stations, and develop canal-side dirt paths into bicycle paths.




Johannesburg, South Africa -- Osmond Lange Architects, Ikemeleng Architects

Problem: A part of the Soweto Township known as Orland is symbolically important for South Africa because it was the site of the Soweto Uprising, a pivotal event in the struggle against apartheid. The area has new commuter rail and BRT stations, but they are not connected to each other.

Proposal: Connect the new transport links by creating attractive mixed-use spaces, encouraging people to walk between the stations. The spaces will include shops, restaurants, offices, and parks.





Mexico City, Mexico -- arquitectura 911sc

Problem: With over 20 million residents and almost zero central planning, Mexico City is a transportation nightmare. In the neighborhood of Tacubaya, it is impossible to travel on foot due to criss-crossing highways filled with private cars and unregulated buses.

Proposal: Move traffic to underground roads, leaving above-ground roads dedicated to pedestrians, bicycles, and BRT. Put the unregulated buses into a single central station.




Rio De Janeiro, Brazil -- Fabriqua Arquitetura and CAMPO aud

Problem: The dilapidated area around Rio's beautiful art-deco Central Station, characterized by abandoned industrial spaces, makes getting to the station unappealing for commuters. Meanwhile, residents of the mountaintop favela above have no good access to the station.

Proposal: Make a pedestrian path from the station leading to a public elevator that climbs the mountain to the favela, with access to terraces lined with shops cut into the rock wall. At the same time, convert the traffic-snarled, 16-lane boulevard nearby into an attractive byway for pedestrians, bicycles and BRT.




Problem: With over 20 million residents and almost zero central planning, Mexico City is a transportation nightmare. In the neighborhood of Tacubaya, it is impossible to travel on foot due to criss-crossing highways filled with private cars and unregulated buses.

Proposal: Move traffic to underground roads, leaving above ground roads dedicated to pedestrians, bicycles, and BRT. Put the unregulated buses into a single central station.


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Comments [8]


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Mar. 07 2013 01:43 PM
Eclipse Now from North Epping, Sydney, NSW

All the naysayers above need to think about peak oil a bit more, and what we really value about life.

Even if we come up with a clean nuclear-powered civilisation that could live off today's nuclear waste for the next 500 years (because new GenIV reactors BURN NUCLEAR WASTE!), and even if we have a quick charge convenient electric car, where are all these cars going to drive? With 5 billion people in our cities, how are we going to handle the grid-lock if we continue to plan a car-dependent life?

I'm not talking about getting rid of the car but *disciplining* it. We should design denser cities with a diversity of function. New Urbanism can create a city where everything you need is a 5 to 10 minute walk outside your front door. Indeed, some studies have shown that New Urbanism also creates the *community* and friendships that you need as well.

Clean air, prosperous towns, young couples and families saving money by choosing not to buy cars they don't really need, and waving at your neighbours. It's not some sentimental memory of yesteryear, but a future forward looking cities like Portland Oregon are working hard to give birth to!

Jul. 30 2010 07:31 PM

What does Tanzania need more: a working port or a pedestrian walkway? Pretty ridiculous! Also, Mexico city is a swamp at the water table. There's a reason the roads are above ground!

Jul. 07 2010 12:55 PM

Some of these projects are too far-fetched. For instance, to build an underground network of roads in Mexico City and at grade infrastructure dedicated to NMTs only! The after scenarios are mostly the ideal picture, which is not really creative thinking.

Jul. 01 2010 12:35 PM
abhijit from pune

Worst kind of dreams that people can see. Do these designers care the social-economic impact of their designs? For me, most of the "old" pictures are quite good, to warrant no attention. How does "more construction" imply progress ?

Jul. 01 2010 06:28 AM
Sacramennah from Northern California

The concept of 10 architects/10 planners/10 cities was intriguing, but the results are rather disappointing. A pretty rendering of a fantasy street is not a real solution.

Jun. 28 2010 06:15 PM
MK54 from Kansas

I like how we as Americans have a skewed opinion of what constitutes a "Third World City". By the World's definition, Dallas may be a "First World Village"....

Name (City population in millions, Metro population in millions)

Ahmedabad (5m / 66m)
Budapest (1.7m / 3m)
Buenos Aires (3m / 13m)
Dar es Salaam (? / 2.5m)
Guangzhou (6.5m / 10m)
Jakarta (8.5m / 13m)
Johannesburg (3.9m / 6.3m)
Mexico City (8.8m / 21.2m)
Rio de Janeiro (6m / 14.4m)

Dallas? (1.3m / 6.5m)

Jun. 28 2010 02:51 PM
Dallasm from Dallas, TX

I like how all of these impoverished third world cities are suddenly going to have a huge influx of capital investment to fund these amazing transformations.

Jun. 28 2010 11:40 AM

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