What is it about Morphogenesis Architecture that attracts you?
| Issue 53||25 February 2009|
The booksI am unsure of the availability of the Carfree Design Manual concerns. It won't be available in North America until April 1, 2009, but I've just placed an order on Amazon.com and it should be shipped from their inventory by February 25, 2009. Delivery issues have been reported from Amazon UK despite the statement on their website that the book is "available". I have received a report that Waterstones / England has delivered a book. The following sources are worth a try: I'm sorry about the circumstances, but unfortunately there has been a big mess in the book trade for decades. Some of you will remember how hard it was to get hold of a copy when the book hit the market. Hopefully we'll have that fixed soon.
The paperback edition of the Carfree Cities should be available everywhere. The hardback is more or less out of print everywhere.
Open source car-free software projectI was hoping for some car-free software update for this issue, but there has been little progress. If you are interested in modeling urban efficiency using free software and are particularly interested in car-free cities, please send an email. Also, if you are interested in 2D and 3D modeling, please let me know. So far, I haven't had the time to try out the new City Engine from Procedural. As a first step, it is best to set up a discussion list. I will try to get this started soon.
Photo competitionMy supplies of photos of car-free cityscapes are gradually running out. Please send pictures that you would like to see published in the next edition of the CFT. The prize is ... a free copy of the Carfree Times and permanent fame (and a copyright notice if desired.)
World Carfree NetworkThe World Carfree Network is back at work after a difficult year. The appearance of the Car busters was able to continue despite all the problems. The WCN could use your support if you had some time or money to spare.
CNU 17Carfree.com supports CNU 17: "Experiencing the New Urbanism:
The Convenient Remedy. "The event will take place June 10-14, 2009 in Denver / USA. From the conference website:" The annual New Urbanism (CNU) convention is the premier gathering for modern urban development education, collaboration and Networking. Members of the CNU come together from all parts of the world to discuss the practice and politics of urban development, to learn from current results and to promote new initiatives for the further development of our cities See someone represented there A report for Carfree Times would be most welcome.
Sustainable urban planningDr. Jan Scheurer, a long-time champion for car-free cities, lets know that a four-day course, Urban Design for Sustainability, will take place at the Urban Design Center of Western Australia (Perth) from 14-17. April 2009 will take place. In addition to professional participants, students will also take part. More information is available on the website.
Definition of the districts
Restricting conditions, represented by different colors, enforce the location of districts. At this stage, the location of the traffic line and the extent of all districts are determined. The population size of each district can be determined quite precisely.
The creation of a car-free districtThe Carfree Design Manual brings new methods into play for reallocating land to families and facilities in car-free areas. The task is complex and involves extensive computer use. It is difficult to graph them.
Furthermore, new design methods are proposed in the book, which reflect the grown character and usefulness of medieval urban landscapes. However, the development time is reduced from centuries to weeks. The method is extremely "low-tech": it is mainly done with strings and people. I have illustrated this topic in the book with a few drawings. The excerpts show some brief explanations of the initial state. Half of the drawings had to be left out here for reasons of space.
Many say that less air pollution would be the greatest improvement in their living conditions.
Dr Elaine Vickers
Radial ends of streets & main usable areas
Larger buildings and squares can be identified at this stage. Their exact location and appearance are still unknown. The red stripes indicate possible endpoints of radial main roads.
Apocalypse Now?The latest news on climate change is the scariest ever. At a conference in England last summer, climate researcher Kevin Anderson delivered grim news. The CO2 emissions rise outside of any control and reach worse proportions than assumed in the most pessimistic scenarios of the IPCC 2007. Anderson himself believes the fight against climate change is lost. We must be prepared for a bad ending.
Top English climate scientists sat frozen as Anderson showed that carbon emissions have risen much faster since 2000 than anyone would have thought possible. The main culprit is the coal. The increase in CO2 in the atmosphere is now estimated at 650 PPM (from the current 380). Most governments want to limit the increase to 450.
At 650 PPM, the world is facing a catastrophic rise in global average temperature of 4 degrees Celsius. And even this gloomy prospect will only be achieved if the industrialized nations put "drastic emission restrictions in place within a decade". Even the current economic crisis will hardly help.
Many scientists, politicians and activists are now clandestinely giving up the goal of limiting warming to two degrees. Reaching 650 PPM is now seen as likely. The 450 target is considered "incredibly difficult".
In order to keep atmospheric CO2 at 450 PPM, the rich nations would have to reduce their emissions by 5 percent annually over the next 10 years. The English Climate Change Act 2008 represents the world's most ambitious piece of legislation, aiming to achieve a reduction of 3 percent annually over forty years.
"Too Late? Why Scientists Say We Should Expect the Worst"
Preliminary arrangement of radial main roads
The position of the main streets was fixed in principle. This also includes branches, as not all of them can be in the center due to space restrictions.
Children see lightJapan's children disdain cars. They move around on the skateboard or on the train and have no desire for cars. Cars bring more trouble than good.
The phenomenon is now so well known that Japanese car companies have already coined a term for it: "kuruma banare" ("demotorization"). Many people of this generation do not see the car as a status symbol.
"Young people's interests are moving away from cars and towards communication media such as computers and cell phones," said Yoichiro Ichimaru, Toyota's sales manager for Japan. The Japanese Automobile Manufacturers Association predicts auto sales in Japan will decline to 4.86 million units in 2009, the first drop below the five million mark in 30 years, after a peak of 7.78 million in the 1990s.
The manufacturers have not given up yet. Toyota's CEO Toshiyuki Shiga said, "Young people's attitudes towards cars haven't changed overnight. We need to keep trying to convince them that cars are a great thing."
I dare to say that this could be a tough job.
"Cars no longer coveted by young
New generation of consumers views autos as exhorbitant waste, not status symbol "
4 January 2009
Perimeter of main radial roads
Your brain and the carsScientists often ask the wrong questions. Recently, an article in the Boston Globe on studies of people's mental reactions to their urban and natural environment. However, the cities examined were the usual car-locked nightmares: loud, polluted, and full of racing cars. What the researchers didn't investigate was people's reactions to densely built-up areas where there are no cars, like Venice. I will pick out a few points.
The lack of nature has the greatest effect. Sensory impressions from nature are surprisingly good for the human brain. Studies have shown that hospital patients heal faster when they can see trees from their windows and that women can concentrate better in public housing with green courtyards.I even did this study in the Carfree Design Manual quoted. Still, I think the driving force is the lack of fractal patterns that the brain has to process. Roads suitable for cars, especially those without trees and with modern buildings on the edge, are particularly poor in fractal patterns. Cars are among the objects with the least fractal structure that we know of. Almost all buildings that are more than a hundred years old have a fractal shape, but contemporary architecture is particularly poor in fractal design. (See also the work of Nikos Salingaros.)
Just think of the many things your brain has to be careful about when walking down a busy street. On busy sidewalks one has to avoid countless distracted other pedestrians; or the dangerous crossroads at which the brain has to anticipate the flow of traffic.Surely the sidewalks would not be so crowded if pedestrians were allowed to use the entire street. I also suspect that research would probably show that it is not so much the other pedestrians that create the stress, but the danger of getting into the area of accelerating cars. People themselves are very fractal objects.
A big city is so flooded with stimuli that we have to constantly readjust our attention so as not to be distracted by irrelevant things like neon advertising or cell phone conversations on the bus. This type of controlled perception - we tell our mind what to focus on - takes a lot of energy and effort.Again, the highest demands are made by cars, especially their noise. We know big cities no differently than loud, but in cities like Venice the sound of hundreds of people talking, without the usual traffic noise, is not only relaxing but even calming. You have to experience it to believe it.
Imagine a walk around a lake. The forest around the lake is full of pine and hickory trees. Tits and falcons nest in the branches; Squirrels and rabbits romp through the undergrowth. Natural environments are full of visual impressions that draw our attention without negative emotional stimuli - unlike, for example, a rattling car. The mental apparatus that directs attention can relax and recover.Yes, that's undeniably true (and note the relationship with the cracking car, the sound of which is alarming.) That's why I'd like to see green in every yard. I noticed this effect when I was living in Amsterdam. From my desk, with a simple turn of my head, I could see a lush, relaxing landscape, despite the noise of traffic coming in from the street through the front window.
"How the city hurts your brain"
. . . And what you can do about it
January 2, 2009
Main radial roads set
Sprawled EuropeAmerican-style sprawl has infected Europe. And just like in the USA, the "New Urbanism" in Europe is seen as a return to mixed-use space, to low-carbon usage, to pedestrian and cyclist-friendly and public transport. There was a feeling at the International Conference on Climate Change and Urban Development in Oslo last year that the time is right.
Just like in the USA, people are disaffected with large apartment blocks in the style of Le Corbusier. They want to go back to the measure, the density, which gave every European city, every city, every village its unmistakable face. They hope for a return of the cities where trade, handicrafts, shopping and living extend through meandering streets, to roam on foot or by bike, with good connections to public transport. In short: they want to live in cities with a feeling for the place that brings the local history, the climate, the ecology and typical architecture to life.
So far they have only been considered nostalgic. Even in densely populated Europe there was plenty of cheap land outside the cities. Buyers were apparently looking for huge US-style single-family homes.
After the topic of sustainability came up, Europe is reflecting on the old city patterns. Cities like Freiburg want to preserve their medieval city center and put a stop to urban sprawl. The result is around 5,000 apartments in the new Vauban residential district. This largely car-free area is energy efficient; only 15% of households own their own car. Most of the locomotion takes place on foot or by bike.
The conference emphasized how much energy consumption and CO2 emissions are inversely proportional to population density. Building in the area is the worst thing ever. And Europe has also experienced increasing urban sprawl around the cities.
"Green" buildings alone are not the solution. Stephen Platt of Cambridge Architectural Research said: "Everyone is being seduced by the green hype today. Making houses more energy efficient is not the problem. The key problem will be building a desirable long-term living space in which people want to live and work." We need more areas like Vauban that allow people to give up their unsustainable way of life.
The main challenge is to create, instead of "green cities", places that carry on the existing legacy. Regardless of whether these new cities will be car-free or "auto-light", they need connections to the historic city centers.
"The New Urbanists: Tackling Europe's Sprawl"
5 February 2009
Radial roads worked out
MasdarThe Masdar district, which is now under construction in Abu Dhabi, can be considered the first fully planned, car-free city in the world. The country has made enormous resources available so that a sustainable high-tech city can emerge that is also car-free. The TreeHugger blog interviewed Jay Witherspoon, the city's technical director who works for CH2M Hill, a global consulting and engineering company. Below are some of the most interesting excerpts.
TreeHugger (TH): How is Masdar City different from other projects you've worked on in the past?Treehugger later also interviewed Luca Guala, traffic planner at Systematica, which designed Masdar's PRT (Personal Rapid Transit). The system is embedded in Masdar's cityscape. A rail link will connect Masdar with the airport and the existing city center, around 20km away. Cars will not be allowed to drive in Masdar, but parking garages will be built on the outskirts.
Jay Witherspoon (JW): It's unique in that most projects to date have been devoted to addressing a single issue, such as water scarcity. This project addresses a number of issues such as water scarcity, renewable energy, waste disposal, etc.
TH: In the plans, Masdar looks like the hi-tech version of a traditional Middle Eastern city.
JW: Exactly. Masdar is modeled on the shape of a traditional Arab city. There will be shadow areas, demonstration plantations, maybe even green facades.
TH: What kind of people will live in Masdar?
JW: Our goal is diversity. Look at the population structure in Silicon Valley, with this mix of people, that's exactly what we need. I expect that many residents will of course be connected to the big hi-tech companies. But there will be everything else too. There are also said to be children in Masdar.
TH: How will Masdar influence the future of urban planning? Is this a special case or or a prototype that could be created elsewhere as well?
JW: I am sure that the city can be a model for the whole world. Some of the techniques used here are thousands of years old. The traditional Arab street scene, the way it is, the narrowness of the streets; we even positioned them so that the sea breeze can penetrate and purify the air in the city. Much of our planning is traditional.
So far these things have only been done on a comparatively low level, with three or four blocks of flats. If you apply it to an entire city, completely new developments are triggered. Masdar will do this as a kind of catalyst. The Masdar initiative will ensure that the city can also serve as a model for existing cities. Much of what we do is traditional and can also be done elsewhere, even today.
TH: Is the description of PRT correct as a transport system that combines the sustainability of light rail vehicles with the convenience of private vehicles?Apparently there are plans to transport goods in Masdar in special vehicles on the PRT system.
Luca Guala (LG): The PRT system in Masdar City will be a complementary system to the rail line that crosses the city. You can't move crowds with PRT; this requires trams or subways. A subway can transport 60,000 people an hour - that's the equivalent of a twenty-lane motorway.
In general, we expect a waiting time of a maximum of 3 minutes at a PRT station, but in some situations the waiting time could be longer.
The PRT vehicles move at around 7 meters / second, with the longest distance within the city being around 2.5 km. So you reach a stop, wait about 1.5 minutes for a vehicle, drive 5 minutes if your destination is comparatively distant, and then leave the station, which takes another minute. Therefore, the longest trips within the city will take 7 minutes, maybe up to 10 minutes.
PRT vehicles will move along the main roads, approximately 6 meters below the road.
We decided against hanging operation in Masdar. This would mean that the cabins would move between the first and second floors of the building, and no one would like to see them float past their window, whether loud or quiet. In addition, a spaghetti network of pipes would look unsightly from below and become a real problem in the narrow streets of the city.
TH: How is a ride going in Masdar's PRT?
LG: You can go down to the station by stairs or an elevator.
You swipe a card through a machine and a welcome message appears. One option is for the system to identify you and greet you personally: "Good morning, where do you want to go today ..?" The system will then say something like "Your vehicle will be on platform 3 in 2 minutes."
At the beginning the system will be very simple and only have a few stations. In this section the system will work like an elevator - you push a button and get to the third floor. Think of it like an elevator, just horizontal. Later it will be refined and passengers can be brought 100 meters close to any destination.
The vehicles will not run on rails, but within a network within which they will find the shortest route to their destination. They will have wheels and will be battery operated.
TH: How was the system planned?
LG: For example, a conference building that attracts many people at the same time could prove to be a source of traffic jams. So we said, let's move it a little further to the side. This results in a wide range of possible uses, where no area of the city is assigned only one type of use, such as offices, residential use and so on. From a transport perspective, this is ideal because it disperses demand.
In Masdar you will be able to live very close to where you work. All parts of the city are used around the clock. There will be focal points of activity at the transport hubs, but the trick is that each focal point serves a different purpose than the other - so no congestion is created.
TH: How was the planning influenced by the local Abu Dhabi culture?
LG: Well, I'm Italian. I have a certain cultural model within me, namely the good parts of the Italian city. I think that to a certain extent it is possible to transfer the Italian city model to Abu Dhabi. On the other hand, one cannot simply graft something alien to a culture.
The traditional Arab city has a lot in common with the Italian city. There was a common way of life in the Mediterranean, in Christian as well as in Muslim countries. From a city planner's perspective, the classic Arab "Medina" (dense development with narrow streets and inner courtyards) is closely related to Venice. Masdar, however, is more inspired by the Arab city than by the Italian city.
There are other cultural preferences as well. Europeans are used to using local public transport. This is not the case here. There is also a greater need for family privacy here, which has led us to a different system that is more adapted to the local culture.
TH: Does PRT cover costs?
LG: This system will be very expensive. It has to be expensive because it's a prototype. In terms of energy consumption, it is very effective, and that is the intention of the Masdar initiative (which Masdar is building). Maintenance of such a system is more expensive than that of a bus-based system, but the availability and customer friendliness are unmatched.
The great advantage of PRT is that it operates on demand, even during times of low traffic. At peak times, PRT is less effective than local public transport. But PRT is a round-the-clock service, both at low-traffic times and at peak times. This is much more effective than letting buses run empty all night. There are also security advantages - e.g. nobody has to wait long in the middle of the night.
I don't know the exact details of the financing, it's not our job as town planners. It is technically possible to cover the costs with the ticket prices. A fare that roughly corresponds to that of a taxi ride would be able to cover the operating costs. There are significant start-up costs, but once such a system exists as a prototype, the costs will come down. The real cost of PRT is lower than that of trams of the same capacity.
I watch Masdar with great interest. While the city may not be easy to copy given its high initial cost and extremely hot climate, it will become a major example of sustainable cities.
"Masdar is the Catalyst"
26 January 2009
"Abu Dhabi to Debut Personal Rapid Transit 'Podcars' Later This Year"
February 1, 2009
Design of the residential area
FazilkaCompletely different from the hi-tech approach in Masdar, which comes "from above", there is an initiative from below in the city of Fazilka in Punjab, India, which aims to block the city center for cars during the day. The city is located near the Indian-Pakistani border and is considered the first car-free city in India.
Implementation started when the market became car free. Motorized four-wheeled vehicles and trucks are not allowed to drive there for 12 hours a day. The city had already started promoting non-motorized transport.
This change has not only improved social coexistence but also compliance with law and order, and also relieved the environment. Decreased air pollution, an economic revival and increased road safety were noted. Areas where it is safe to walk or cycle are generally viewed as improving the quality of life.
The chairman of the city council, Anil Sethi, sees the car-free zone as promoting non-motorized traffic and as a link between poorer and more affluent parts of the city. He opposes the construction of new elevated roads over the city, a courageous position for an Indian politician today.
Eco-cab (Dial-a Rickshaw) has also been introduced, along with the latest intelligent traffic control systems.
"Fazilka, first to have a car-free city concept in India"
December 1, 2008
"Come without your car" (slide show)
15 January 2009
"Fazilka implements 'Car-free city' concept"
November 30, 2008
Preliminary definition of the areas
42nd car-free streetThere have been plans for years to build a streetcar on New York's 42nd Street. These plans include banning cars from the streets, at least in some neighborhoods. The tram is said to be able to cross the island "in just 21 minutes". (You should be able to do this in half the time by bike, but the tram would be limited to 20 km / h for safety reasons.)
The 'Institute for Rational Urban Mobility' published its study 'Vision42' in 1999. The association has since organized hundreds of presentations, commissioned feasibility studies and presented its ideas at citizens' meetings. In the latest report, the architect Roxanne Warren, who chairs the 'Vision42' initiative, and George Haikalis, engineer and chairman of the Institute for Rational Urban Mobility, summarize the research.
The tram line would cost between $ 411.3 million and $ 582.3 million (as of 2007). It would bring in 704.9 million annually and 175.4 million annually in taxes for the city and the state. (The cost of capital is, mind you, a one-time expense while the income comes in annually.) Property values would go up a billion dollars. Retail would grow by 35%.
Particular attention is paid to freight transport. It found that most of the office buildings on 42nd Street are supplied with goods from 41st and 43rd Streets. The study also showed that closing 42nd Street would not shift traffic jams to other streets.
The project could be completed in just two years and financed by the higher tax revenues. Alternatively, the costs could be passed on to the landowners who benefit directly from it.
So far, Mayor Bloomberg's administration has not yet endorsed the plan, despite the general openness to improvements in how cars and bicycles can coexist on the streets. However, members of the Metropolitan Transportation Administration have expressed an interest in the plan.
"42nd Street as a Car-Free Light Rail Corridor"
City Room blog
27 January 2009
"A Quieter, Calmer (and Car Free) 42nd Street"
Wired Blog Network
February 4, 2009
The division of the blocks is coordinated
The US will save the railroad. . . for laterThe American version of a high-speed train is likely to be limited to 170 km / h, if the current discussion about the Charlotte-Atlanta train connection is to be believed. (Real high-speed trains run 250km / h or more, some reach 380km / h.)
The Charlotte-Atlanta connection will be profitable if it can only gain 2 percent of all travel. This could be difficult, however, as the total travel time cannot keep up with the car in the end. In Europe and Japan, rail links have stolen many shares from airlines. Since the first Paris-Lyon connection was opened around 25 years ago, almost all air traffic on this route has disappeared. Spain's new high-speed trains have also captured large numbers of air passengers and saved significant amounts of CO2.
Rail transport became the loser in the rescue package for the economy. Perhaps this is due to the fact that there are currently no new construction projects. However, China is now starting a veritable rail orgy. As the New York Times reported that the country has laid "as much high-speed railroad track in the past four years as Europe has in the past two decades." China is relying on the rails for the economic recovery. This includes rail links through deserts valued at $ 17.6 billion, freight routes for $ 22 billion and a high-speed link Beijing-Guangzhou for 24 billion.
In my proposal for the Interstate Rail, I described a speed of 170 km / h as sufficient. This speed has the merit of being much more energy efficient than high-speed trains. Part of my proposal would be to reduce the speed of cars to an effective 88 km / h instead of the de facto 120 km / h today. This would actually give the rail connection a clear competitive advantage and at the same time reduce the energy consumption of cars.
"Not rushing into railroad building"
27 January 2009
Preliminary definition of the blocks
Wireless trams, maybeI've been in favor of wireless trams for a long time. Tram manufacturers have recognized the charm of this idea (presumably without my writing.) Various attempts have been made, including a power rail that is only energized when a tram is over it.
Now Bombardier, the world's largest tram manufacturer, has presented a prototype that gets its energy through induction, without direct contact. This type of energy transfer occurs on a smaller scale in many household appliances such as electric toothbrushes and razors. The inductors in the tram are only energized when a tram passes by. Bombardier speaks of 98% energy efficiency. Trains would be 20-30% more expensive, but the money will pay for itself in 6 to 10 years because the cost of maintaining overhead lines and pantographs is significant.
The horsepower, however, is the cost of installing the ground inductors, which in turn will require all sorts of maintenance. In my opinion, the strong currents are also likely to cause some problems that are not easy to solve. So I stick to my original idea, which is simple and inexpensive.
"'Draadloze' tram is giving away steden van Bovenleidingen"
Het Parool (Dutch)
22 January 2009
"Bombardier Presents First Catenary-Free and Contactless Operating Tram"
22 January 2009
Blocks in final form
Open source urban planningMark Gorton, the creator of LimeWire, wants to equip urban and traffic planning software with standards of open source software. The Open Planning Project has developed open-source start / destination analysis software with which existing traffic systems can be better utilized than usual. The traffic analysis software is linked to GeoServer, an open source, Java-based server that gives everyone access to geospatial data. Street information is available to anyone who needs it. Applications such as route planning software can also access the information.
Gorton wants to put planning tools in the hands of residents who want to take action themselves. So far, the expensive and stubborn software has only been available to planning offices and traffic professionals.
The new software was first used in Portland, Oregon, where it was used to optimize bus routes. The next destination is San Francisco, where proprietary software has created a significant headache. It's one of the ironies that support for open source software is often much better than that for expensive proprietary software.
Gorton sees the following further steps for liveable living environments:
- More refined, open-source city models that incorporate land use data to make zoning more traffic-friendly.
- Federal grants for cycle paths, reclamation of public space, traffic calming and possibly publicly transparent urban planning.
- Blogs and videos analogous to two websites that Gorton set up. One is Streetsblog.org on the 'livable streets' movement. The second is Streetfilms.org, which documents innovative traffic solutions around the globe.
- Further improvements in bus routes analogous to the pioneering work in Curitiba / Brazil, with prepaid tickets, high-floor stops, several doors, reserved lanes ..
- Better mass transit systems that use open source software to enable short-term route planning.
- Extensive traffic calming measures to get more space for pedestrians and cyclists.
"LimeWire Creator Brings Open-Source Approach to Urban Planning"
30 January 2009
Blocks in their final shape
Smaller places have been added. Courtyards were created on the basis of previous agreements regarding the space that each family would like to take up.
Brand new links
The links below open a new browser window:
Poundbury by Francis King
Emergent Urbanism blog
MITRAC Energy Saver [PDF!] (Super capacitors for rail vehicles) from Bombardier
Good practices in Design for Environment: 15 years of experiences at Bombardier Transportation [PDF!]
The common walls that separate one house from the other are determined. Adjustments are made to the shape of the small streets and squares. The plan of the streets, squares, courtyards and plots is ready.
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Copyright © 2009 J. Crawford
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