The Largest Underground Bicycle Parking Garage In The World

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A special section in Utrecht’s new underground bike parking garage is for bigger bikes, which usually have children’s seats attached. Credit Ilvy Njiokiktjien for The New York Times

If You Build It, the Dutch Will Pedal

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As fast as Utrecht can build underground bike parking garages, most spots are taken. Credit Ilvy Njiokiktjien for The New York Times

The city recently surpassed Amsterdam in a widely respected ranking of bike-friendly cities and is now second only to Copenhagen, which is more than twice its size. Continue reading

Biomimetic Yarn-Bombing

Image © 2016 CHOI+SHINE

I’ve long been fascinated with urban space art installations in general, and fibre based pieces in particular. Somehow I missed hearing about the Singapore based i Light Marina Bay Light Art Festival in March, but I’m happy to have discovered it now.

The festival is an annual event, and this year’s theme of Biomimicry and Sustainability strike multiple chords. London/Seoul based architectural firm Choi+Shine created The Urchins for this site specific installation. 

This project is inspired by sea urchin shells, which are enclosed yet light weight, delicate and open.  Their textured and permeable surface interacting with light creates openness, while the pattern’s mathematical repetition brings visual rhythm and harmony.  Against light, the sea urchin natural form reveals one of the most spectacular patterns found in nature. Continue reading

Rome Rewilded

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Image: Planet World / Flickr

Thanks again to one of our most reliable sources for the summary of conservation-oriented science, and specifically to Brandon Keim for this one:

An Anthropocene wildness grows in Rome

Even in one of the most densely urbanized places on Earth, wildness and natural abundance may yet flourish again, sustained by both neglect and stewardship. Continue reading

Democratizing Coffee Consumption

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Tony Konecny, the head of coffee operations at Locol, outside the branch in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles. CreditEmily Berl for The New York Times

We have no reason to debate the logic of a more reasonably priced cup of quality coffee:

Has Coffee Gotten Too Fancy?

By

LOS ANGELES — The $1 cup of coffee is divisive, as drinks go.

For some, it’s a staple of the American morning: a comforting routine, a good deal. Anything that costs more than $1 is needlessly expensive, a waste of money — the coffee from a deli, diner or doughnut cart is all you need to start the day. For others, the $1 cup is suspiciously cheap. Maybe it tastes bad, or its production does harm to the land and is unfair to laborers. If you have to pay more, then that is probably a reflection of a drink’s true cost. Continue reading

Gangsta Garden’s Gentle Giant

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Ron Finley in a garden outside his home in Los Angeles. Credit Emily Berl for The New York Times

When Amie passed along a link to him way back when, it was all fresh news about an amazing challenge set up by an urban charismatic. Now that challenge has been turned around and amped up and we link again to Ron to help him gets what he needs:

Fighting Eviction, a Gardener Turns to Organic Industry Giants for Help

Lion Lost, Los Angeles

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In case you did not see it yesterday, take a look at this when you have the time to read it in full. For now, over a quick coffee, click the image above to go to a video, 5:30 minutes long, to understand what the National Park Service is doing on behalf of this majestic lost cat:

The carnivore biologist Jeff Sikich captures and examines a mountain lion in the Santa Monica Mountains. Courtesy National Park Service

Urban Shape & Ecoefficiency

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Thanks to Anthropocene for this summary of a counterintuitive finding:

To save energy on heating and cooling, look at the shape of cities, not just their buildings

Urban Tracking And Other Soft Local Adventures

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Raccoon track in mud along stream. Sarpy County, Nebraska. October 1996. Central Tallgrass Prairie Ecoregion. Photo © The Nature Conservancy (Chris Helzer)

It seems to go hand in hand with today’s other post, so thanks to The Nature Conservancy as always for this one:

A Field Guide to Tracking in Your Neighborhood

By Matt Miller

Tracking is one of the most family-friendly wildlife activities; you can enjoy it anywhere there is a patch of open ground. As I’ve written previously, kids love deciphering the mysteries of animal tracks. Even my two-year-old son loves checking out the tracks in our yard.

Continue reading

Urban Environments & Evolution

 

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Header image: Street art in London by Aida. Credit: Maureen Barlin via Flickr.

Anthropocene is back, after a brief holiday break, with a good summary of findings on urban-influenced evolution:

Cities are the new laboratories of evolution

Anthropocene Urban Wonder

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Central Park, New York City. Credit: Anthony Quintano via Flickr.

Thanks to Anthropocene:

Looking for the next miracle drug? Try searching city soils

Sarah DeWeerdt

Many drugs are based on molecules produced by bacteria. Previously, the search for such drugs has mostly focused on “pristine” environments in far-flung locales. But a new study shows that many useful molecules could already be, quite literally, at our feet. Continue reading

New Directions In Art

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Flexn artists, photo by Sodium for MIF 2015

We had not heard of Flexn until this week, when they were mentioned in a podcast with the phenomenal Peter Sellars (alluded to once previously in these pages, and linked to another time directly). Now we want to know more. And it looks like one way to learn more will happen at The Shed. Back in August, when we first heard about The Shed, it was a quick glance at the future. Now we have more detail, thanks to this early release of a profile in next week’s New Yorker:

ALEX POOTS, PERFORMANCE ART IMPRESARIO

How will the director of New York’s ambitious experimental cultural center change the city?

By Calvin Tomkins

Every so often, it seems, visual artists are stricken by the urge to perform. The “happenings” movement in the nineteen-sixties—young painters and sculptors doing nonverbal theatre—was explained as a response to Pollock, de Kooning, and other gestural Abstract Expressionists: it was the gesture without the painting. Continue reading

Living Walls

As Kochi is awash with participating artists putting finishing touches on their Kochi-Muziris Biennale works, it’s exciting to see art flourishing in other cities on a regular basis.

Atlanta’s Living Walls seeks to promote, educate and change perspectives about public space in local communities via street art.  Dozens of international artists participate in an annual conference on street art and urbanism that began in August 2010 in the city of Atlanta. Continue reading

Trees Cooling Urban Jungles

Brooklyn Bridge Park.

Thanks to Cool Green Science:

Using Cloud Computing to Untangle How Trees Can Cool Cities

BY TIMOTHY BOUCHER

We’ve all used Google Earth — to explore remote destinations around the world or to check out our house from above. But Google Earth Engine is a valuable tool for conservationists and geographers like myself that allows us to tackle some tricky remote-sensing analysis.

After having completed a few smaller spatial science projects in the cloud (mostly on the Google Earth Engine, or GEE, platform), I decided to give it a real workout — by analyzing more than 300 gigabytes of data across 28 United States and seven Chinese cities. Continue reading

Paris Gardens

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By the year 2020, the City of Paris wants to add 100 hectares of vertical gardens and roofs, with a third dedicated to urban agriculture.The Vertical Gardens by Patric Blanc / Flickr

Greening La Ville Lumière is as good a new objective as we can think of for a city that already has alot going for it (thanks to EcoWatch for the story):

Paris Becomes One of the Most Garden-Friendly Cities in the World

Earlier this summer, Paris quietly passed a new law encouraging residents to help green the City of Light by planting their own urban gardens. Continue reading

How Cities Can Adapt to New High Temperatures

Image by PBS

Image by pbs.org

We already know that climate change is no longer something to be concerned about for the future, but rather a very present danger. There are ways they can adapt, and part of that involves becoming more sustainable, as some are already doing. But one thing we hadn’t learned much about until now is the impact of increasing heat on the urban environment. Madeline Ostrander writes:

Katy Schneider, the former deputy mayor of Louisville, Kentucky, lives near Eastern Parkway, which forms one strand of her city’s necklace of green. Spending time on the leafy boulevard can make Louisville seem deceptively lush and shady, even when midsummer heat bakes the downtown. But about five years ago, Schneider was surprised to learn that the city had a shortage of trees. In the spring of 2011, students at the University of Louisville surveyed the local canopy and found that it had about thirteen per cent fewer trees than the average for metropolitan areas in the region.

Continue reading

If You Happen to be in Cincinnati

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If you happen to be (or work) in Cincinnati, you will likely notice that the city is setting precedent as one of the “greenest,” most innovative cities in the US. According to an article published on Triple Pundit, the city is one of the fastest growing centers for technology innovation and it is employing that expansion to propel its 60 sustainability initiatives as outlined in the Green Cincinnati Plan, which covers a whole spectrum of topics from renewable energy, to transportation, to food waste.

“In addition to benefiting the environment, our initiatives must make economic sense (save money, create jobs) and improve quality of life for residents (improve public health, mobility, connectedness)” explained Ollie Kroner, the Sustainability Coordinator for the City of Cincinnati.

Continue reading

Treasure in the Trash

Still from video by The New Yorker

Still from video by The New Yorker

Some trash can be found and then turned into art, like the pieces of plastic that were built into sculptures at the National Zoo. Other trash is not necessarily garbage, but merely objects that someone doesn’t have the space or energy to take care of, and that man’s trash can become another man’s treasure. A man who worked for the New York Department of Sanitation for about thirty years spent a good part of his career collecting and curating things people threw away, but which caught his eye as interesting treasures. David Owen writes:

Nelson Molina grew up in a housing project in East Harlem, in an apartment where his mother still lives. “Starting when I was nine years old, in 1962, I had a passion for picking up,” he said recently. “I had, like, a three-block radius. I would look through the garbage and pick up toys that people threw out, and I would fix them. I had two brothers and three sisters, and I was like Santa Claus to them.”

Continue reading

Enhancing the L.A. River

 

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Nature Conservancy biologist Sophie Parker in the Glendale Narrows section of the Lost Angeles River. Source: Yale E360

It might be hard to believe, but at one point in time the Los Angeles River was characterized by perennial and seasonal wetland, seeps, springs, swamps, riparian forests, and mud and alkali flats. Starting in  1938 and until 1960, however, the river underwent a radical transformation, as it was enclosed by a concrete straitjacket for 51 miles to funnel the water through a channel that prevents flooding.

In its natural state [the L.A. River] was often little more than a trickle for nine months of the year. During the rainy season, however, the small, braided stream would turn into a powerful, churning river. It behaved like a dropped firehose, wildly lashing the Los Angeles valley, scouring gravel and soil across a seven-mile-wide floodplain, and carving a new course with every deluge. When the waters receded, a mosaic of fertile marshes, ponds, and other wetlands remained.

Now the L.A. River will undergo another profound change in the near future that will release parts of the river from its man-made confines and allow for  the water to transgress more naturally. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, in collaboration with the City of L.A.  and conservation groups, completed a plan to remove three miles of concrete, enhance an 11-mile run through the Elysian Valley called the Glendale Narrows, and restore lost habitat. Continue reading

10,000 Suns

We have a long fascination with Land Art Installations and urban land reclamation going back to the earliest days of this site.  Learning about landscape architect Adam E. Anderson’s public art project in Providence, Rhode Island was exciting news.

This summer long “botanical performance” takes land that until recently was covered by an elevated highway system and cultivating it with volunteers into a different sort of public space.

Rather than using high maintenance and energy intensive large swaths of turf grass, the installation uses the bio-accumulating (removes toxins) and habitat creating properties of Helioanthus (aka, Sunflower) planted in rows in a series of large circles, leaving paths in-between for intimate exploration. Continue reading