Monday, February 25, 2013

Sustainability generate revenues

During a master planning meeting , we spent one day discussing biking routes alternative and standards for bikers to safely circulate across the community . a hard edge conservative complained about the useless waste of time specially that we have not yet fixed road corridor widths.. I have to admit that as an urban designer i had a moment of self doubt .. Are we making a big deal out of it .. Today I learned that in fact it is worth it .. Dubai just announced its plan to rent visitors f it's downtown bikes to discover it .. This is not due to an instant decision .. Bike lanes and cycling master plans are part and parcel of the human dimension of Evan design .. Biking master plan are now though of in regional and metropolitan level .. I can imagine the planning team of dubai downtown master plan sitting in a meeting and arguing if it was taking too much of their time thinking about it .. Little did they know that it would make their development the first in the Middle east to offer online bike rentals .
Dubai rent a bike has its seed back Into those meetings .. Let us give some credit to the urban planners of the planning team who made this come true

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Valentine and cities

Valentine day .. Red hearts .. Red roses .. Red gadgets .. Teddy bears .. Candle lights .. The day where couples celebrate love , romance and intimacy ..
Love has been always associated with intimacy with the capacity of opening up a deep part of ourselves to another .. It begins With trusting oneself .. Trust is built through communication and space ..
How cities can support communication ? How cities can support trust ? How cities can support intimacy ?
Florence comes here as a good example .. It's network of piazzas , human scale streets, and unpredictable fabric is a physical manifestation of intimacy ,,, it is as if the buildings are supporting each other .. There is no boundaries between urban - public an facade - private .. Although both are well defined well enclosed ..
Cities are our most complex human creations and as such it needs to be essentially human allowing intimacy to be embodied within its streets within its architecture

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

It is not just another software.. It is GIS

GIS stands for geographical information system . It's technicalities are known to most urbanises and teams engaged in urban planning because of the versatility and the diversity in which it's base map and database is built ..
During the years , working with private and public sectors institutions , I realised that the focus on the output and the form in which the analysis need to shown especially the interactivity of the web-view made GIS a one time exercise ..
As a professional , I perceive GIS as a decision making tool on the planning decisions ranging from land use allocation to height .. It is this focus and function that optimises and justifies the investment in the application and the training it needs ..
For GIS to be that, it has essentially to be adopted as an essential part of the organisation policies and development procedures .. The management as well as the employees need a change management strategy that focus on true challenges in the organisational culture as well as the technical skills upgrade program that need to roll out ..
So may argue that GIS is a tactical decision .. It is just a software .. Well, it is not .. It is a strategic decision that implies that we need a more sophisticated platforms that enable multiple decision points to weigh in before we approve a a direction or approach..
So, before you sign the procurement form or the invoice for acquiring a GIS in your company , ask one question : what is your strategy to make it a part of the daily tasks of the employees ?

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

What about urban design ?

As the property development became more obsessed with the investment analysis ratios and crunching. The bottom line numbers , we lost the spontaneity of urban design being essentially a creative process
Urban designers in mature property markets became the tool to prepare ready made streets sections , ready made urban form , ready made urban typologies that enables the developer to get the yield - of course financial yield
This short term thinking defies the current research whereby more and more people chooses communities that make them enjoy a sense of place - place being the holistic experience which the space attributes and values convey...
One time , I was asked to produce in one day a sketch for an urban square in order for the development team to plug the numbers in their sheet and calculate the value driven from these design changes .. Everything else became secondary although the main and essential meaning of the square is about the sense of place and the meaning it conveys ...
Urban design is a creative activity ... Creativity means leaving the known to venture into the unique and original ..
This essentially means an industry who has the guts to embrace the original .. Do we have what it takes for that ?

Saturday, February 2, 2013

More life energy in urban space

Cities are one of the most intricate human inventions ..multiple generation think , imagine , plan and incrementally build neighborhood , communities which grew into districts connected by an increasingly interconnected flows of goods and people .. It is the largest laboratory to see in real time how human shape their physical environment by the way they think about their relationship with space
We are the space .. Because urban space essentially is born in our minds
So to answer the question , if we need to have more life energy In our cities , we need to study the beliefs system of its communities regarding how they energize themselves
Is it through socializing in open public spaces ?
Is it through small gathering in their houses ?
Is it through exchanging knowledge ?
Is it through getting in touch with nature ?
What are their habits in shaping their urban space?
It is in these simple questions that the civil contract by which they decided to live together is revealed ... That civil contract that list of values , habits and beliefs will point out to the sources of life energy that are needed to be injected in failing cities , sad cities , unhappy cities , soulless cities .