The Sunday Diigo Links Post (weekly)

September 20, 2009 at 2:30 am | In links | 1 Comment
  • I love David Byrne’s music, but in this essay for the Wall Street Journal I think he somewhat over-reaches himself. Why? The essay is muddled. He includes too many contradictory pronouncements. For example, that big and dense is good, but that you need the “village” thing for safety & security; or that LA isn’t dense (I believe it is, actually); or that lack of density creates narcissistic attention-getting ploys; or that “human scale” needs to be achieved through some process of “compromise” (left undefined), and so on. Furthermore, his closing sentence really confuses me: “My perfect city isn’t fixed, it doesn’t actually exist, and I like it that way.” He likes that it doesn’t exist? What does that mean?

    tags:, david_byrne, cities, urbanism, jjacobs

  • Added a comment to Monday Magazine’s article on Victoria’s Johnson Street Bridge debacle.

    tags: johnson_street_bridge, victoria, blue_bridge, infrastructure, municipal_funding, municipal_politics, comments

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The Sunday Diigo Links Post (weekly)

September 13, 2009 at 2:32 am | In links | Comments Off on The Sunday Diigo Links Post (weekly)
  • I have some questions about the source of this report/ research, which claims that density (including examples such as Vancouver’s eco-density) “would yield insignificant CO2 reductions.”
    Even if 75 percent of all new and replacement housing in America were built at twice the density of current new developments, and those living in the newly constructed housing drove 25 percent less as a result, CO2 emissions from personal travel would decline nationwide by only 8 to 11 percent by 2050, according to the study. If just 25 percent of housing units were developed at such densities and residents drove only 12 percent less as a result, CO2 emissions would be reduced by less than 2 percent by 2050.

    I guess the problem is with defining real density as a mere “twice the density of current new developments”: if you consider that new developments include suburban greenfield spreads on 1/4 to 1/2 acre for each SFH, then doubling that density really doesn’t amount to much.

    Further down, the report just makes the case for building more fuel-efficient cars – so maybe that’s where the report’s agenda originates.

    tags: mit_techreview, sprawl, urbanplanning, phil_mckenna, density, national_academy_of_sciences

  • Hillis’s article looks at how historical and contemporary architecture is “blended” in a “historically centric city such as Paris.” Focus on Les Halles; new Ministry of Culture building; Le Fouquet Hotel on Avenue George V; etc.

    tags: architecture, heritage, paris, wendy_hillis

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The treachery of tethers…

September 2, 2009 at 11:01 pm | In johnson street bridge, just_so, vancouver | 5 Comments

Ceci n’est pas un vacance – that could be my personal variant on Magritte‘s This is not a pipe.

I’m in Vancouver, and it’s supposed to be a break from my island exile, but digital tethers ensure that I’m plugged into all the usual concerns.

Earlier today I wrote a blog post for Johnson Street Bridge dot ORG, called Heritage value, once more. It’s about how the City of Victoria is ignoring an important heritage assessment, which states that the bridge has “significant heritage value.”

And as usual, there are plenty of other digital tethers to ensure the hiatus isn’t a complete break. But it’s still fun.

Vancouver is a riot, and I do love it. But it’s a funny town – it talks a big green game, for example. And a lot of it is green – but holy cow, is the oh-not-so-green car culture ever alive and well here. I mean in particular a car culture driven (sorry, bad pun) by young men (very young men), who – through lucky breaks (ahem) or inheritance – possess cars that are worth a small fortune (say, $80,000), and who enjoy nothing more than to parade their vehicles through downtown, parking them in front of brightly-lit shops so that those of us out for an evening stroll can admire the buff metal and languid embodiment of all that privilege.

There’s also an unbridled aggression (again, mostly coming from younger male drivers, especially if they’re driving costly cars) against the tightness of the core city: its density and its traffic congestion. Lots of aggressive driving, which is pretty comical to watch, especially if you’re familiar with driving mores in truly densely populated areas. Naturally, the young men are frustrated at every pinch point (i.e. corner, traffic light, pedestrian crossing – you name it).

Car culture in Vancouver shows how much the city is still inbetween – but what a glorious inbetween it is. It’s beautiful, fresh, energetic.

Tonight, I ambled through Holt Renfrew (we don’t have a Holt Renfrew in Victoria, sadly). The Vancouver store is quite beautiful – sort of like an Apple store for clothes: white on white decor, with jewel-colored objects of desire in stark but seductive contrast. Very tasty.
Holt Renfrew in Vancouver
I found myself drawn to one mannequin, dressed all in Fendi. I admired the tattered scarf tied around its neck, but did a double-take when I saw the price tag for the shabby-chic piece of cloth (nearly $300). The mannequin wore a woven jacket that I thought looked really sharp; I walked to the rack where 2 or 3 of the same jacket hung. The price? $3,550.

I considered licking the jacket’s lapel or sleeve, because an object basically so utilitarian (and a not especially couture one, to boot), yet so expensive, struck me as some kind of fetish. I thought, I bet there’s some kind of primitive impulse that would justify ingesting or incorporating this absurdly magical object that’s capable of commanding such a high price …but then my reason got the better of me, and I held my tongue. Literally.

But it made me wonder whether I should get out my sewing machine and run something up. Three thousand five hundred and fifty dollars is an awful lot of money for a simple little …coat.

But so is $80,000 for a car that merely travels on the same roads as everyone else.

Theme: Pool by Borja Fernandez.
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