How we plan our cities, suburbs, and rural communities is a constantly evolving set of goals essential for creating sustainable cities. Not only do we need to consider what lies within these areas, but we also need to effectively design the boundaries between each, where urban meets suburban, and where suburban meets the small town. In recent years, urbanists have paid close attention to urban sprawl, or what sometimes happens when towns rapidly grow outwardly from city centers. What happens when cities seem to “sprawl” out of control, and are the design principals behind New Urbanism able to turn urban sprawl into equitable communities?
Whether you live in an urban, suburban, or rural area, there’s a good chance that using a sidewalk, in some capacity, is part of your everyday routine. Whether crossing over a sidewalk to get to your car in a parking lot or walking several blocks on your commute to your office downtown, sidewalks are critical for creating safe places for pedestrians away from the streets. But what happens when cities don’t take ownership over sidewalk maintenance, and they’re left to be protected by the people who just use them?
The great debate wages on: how do we design and build a modern city in a way that everyone will benefit? Traditionally, you’re on one side of the urban war. You’re either a NIMBY, which stands for “Not In My Backyard”, meaning you oppose new development in your neighborhood, or you’re a YIMBY, who says “Yes In My Backyard”, and are pro-development, for one reason or another. But these blanket acronyms don’t describe the real issues that cause people to position themselves on one side of the never-ending tug-of-war between “No! Don’t build that!” and “Yes! Build that!”
In the realm of design, we often talk about ensuring that there are enough public spaces to serve a community. We discuss the need for public parks so that people have access to outdoor spaces. We think about public transportation, and how our dwindling reliance on cars will help to ensure that we have a healthier planet. But what about the public spaces we lack? What happens when we don’t have enough public restrooms?
Multi-day stretches of camping in tents and sweltering under the hot summer sun to be 100 rows back at your favorite musical artist’s set? It must be music festival season. As the year comes to a close, with music festivals returning in full swing after a COVID-19 hiatus, it’s important to understand the socio-economic impact that they have on the cities that host them, long after the final set performs. Do the short-term entertainment and monetary benefits outweigh the long-term urban inequities that they might exacerbate?
Architects assume a significant amount of responsibility when it comes to considering designs that will be successful for not just their clients, but any person who inhabits or is impacted by their spaces. Topics of sustainability, social inclusion, economic opportunities, and overall urban equity, have consistently been top of mind in recent years, ultimately creating a new holistic approach to designing for a better future, that many people are referring to as Environmental, Social, and Governance metrics, more commonly known as ESG.
Many urban planners predict that by 2050, more than 6 billion people will live in cities, and in places where building outwards isn’t an option, the only way to keep up with the growing density is to build up. Building taller always comes with numerous challenges and also a not-so-subtle competition for architecture firms to have their name tied to the biggest buildings. Almost as fast as a building is named one of the tallest in the world, another one makes its way to the drawing board, a few years later taking the title. While the sky’s the limit, how does this impact the constructability of projects, and what feats of construction methods and materials have enabled us to build into the clouds?
In a time where housing prices are unattainable and residents are looking to downsize their homes more than ever, enter the concept of Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs). These small and highly customizable homes are taking backyards across the United States by storm, enabling homeowners to build homes on their land, and rent them out to tenants.
Throughout history, humans have always craved a sense of thrill and an affinity for different forms of entertainment and attraction at all different scales and sizes. Theme parks have continuously evolved, as society redefines what it means to be entertained, and have transformed from evening strolls into physics-defying twists and turns on state-of-the-art rollercoasters.
With all of the strange residential interior design trends that are making a comeback, conversation pits are probably one that you wouldn’t expect. This well-known 1970s design feature feels both very retro and modern, providing a comfortable place to lounge and a complete escape from the distractions of television and cinema. Instead of a design that supports and enhances a digital connection, having a large area to sit, and quite literally conversate, might be the space that we all need.