Generations of Brazilians have grown up in the Estádio Jornalista Mário Filho, known around the world as the Maracanã. Built for the 1950 World Cup and at the time the largest stadium in the world, it became an instant national landmark, a symbol of Brazil’s soccer-centric culture.
Luxury boxes, modern seating and safety improvements are reasons Brazil’s stadiums are changing as the country prepares to host the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics.
The stadium, which is likely to host the 2014 World Cup opener and final, is flanked by hills and favelas, the city’s notoriously poor slums. Far above, from behind the iconic statue of Christ the Redeemer, the distant Maracanã looks like a still birdbath amid the pulsing metropolis.
The Fan Walk – a car-free stretch in Cape Town that connected a downtown public soccer viewing area with a World Cup stadium – has spurred plans for more pedestrian malls at sporting events.
During this summer's World Cup, Somerset Road in Cape Town was transformed into a South African oddity: a road without cars.
They called it the Fan Walk, 1.6 miles of asphalt connecting a public soccer viewing area downtown with the newly constructed Green Point Stadium. The path was mobbed with people during the city's eight World Cup matches; a sea of fans, performers, and kids running wild. The street party was a big change for a city and country that has shied away from venturing beyond the comfort and security of the private automobile.
The other day, half a million plastic balls bounced down the Spanish Steps, one of Rome's most visited and historic public places. Many visitors, picture-takers and members of the media were caused to wonder 'what's up with all these balls?
What's up, in my perspective, is a reminder that the public places of the world truly do belong to us all -- and are subject to whatever beautiful, horrible and cracked-out things we want to use them for.
The guy who dropped the balls says he was trying to represent the Italian government's "corrupt" system, with each ball representing a lie told by politicians. Graziano Cecchini, the same guy who dyed the waters of Rome's Trevi Fountain blood red in October, was promptly detained by police after emptying bags full of thousands of small plastic balls at the top of the historic staircase...
A new hub for food trucks expands the offerings beyond tacos.
Food trucks are typically pretty hard to pin down. While some may argue that’s the point, a growing number of gourmet food trucks in Los Angeles is getting keen on the idea of permanence—or at least temporary permanence. In the process, they're bringing new life—and a more varied cuisine—to the streets of Los Angeles, transforming otherwise empty spaces into lively, popular, and profitable hubs.
A recent event organized by Good Magazine, Sheridan/Hawkes Collaborative and The Public Studio brought together about 30 civic-minded designers, planners and architects to come up with some ways to improve the urban environment of Los Angeles. It was a big question to tackle in one afternoon, with a huge array of possible solutions. The crowd was split up into five separate groups and surprisingly, each came up with a similar answer: taco trucks. OK, not taco trucks specifically, but the essence of taco trucks and what they bring to the city.
They're informal, they're impermanent-yet-reliable, they're small local business, and they activate the street. Overall they represent a unique blend of private business and public space that puts dollars in the local economy and eyes on the streets.
That's how taco trucks came to be a central element of the ideas in each of the plans devised by these five groups of civic-minded people to improve the city of Los Angeles.
A fast train from France to Spain, U.S. city folk get rural, and officials hope to pull people to cities by funding urban parks -- all on this week's Planetizen News Brief, produced for Smart City Radio.
Full Transcript (Audio available as .mp3 at Planetizen):
Now they're steam-cleaning corporate logos into the thick sidewalk filth.
The round, black scar of years-old chewing gum. Uneven cracks from an earthquake or a tree root. Fresh urine, likely human.
This is what you can’t avoid seeing if you walk the sidewalks of downtown Los Angeles. But now there’s a new addition getting etched into the city’s built-up filth: about 4 feet by 3 feet, with slick typography and marketing-room appeal, a patch of sidewalk on Figueroa Street now boasts a message brought to you by your friends at Audi.
Here in Los Angeles, the local professional basketball team just won its league's national championship. When I was in Barcelona a few weeks back, the local soccer team won a major international championship. These were two days for the cities to celebrate their home teams' triumphs, but the differences in how they celebrated says a lot about these cities and their civic cultures.
I had just arrived in Barcelona as the European Champions League final between FC Barcelona and Manchester United was getting underway. I made it from the airport to my cousin's apartment in Barcelona by half-time, and the local team was already up 1-0. The streets were pretty much deserted, as all eyes were on the game. Excited yelling could be heard from the windows when a good play was made or when a shot nearly missed. The game was everywhere. And when Barcelona scored a second goal, it was unavoidable. Fireworks were shot off from rooftops and intersections.
Cities are filled with spaces intended for the public -- but many of them are clearly owned and operated by the private sector. Though cities bend rules to get these spaces built, the public benefit is often outweighed by the cost. The challenge now is to make them better.
The difference between what is public and what is private is usually pretty clear. A city park is available to everyone. Your neighbor's living room is not. But the line dividing public and private can blur, and when it does, spaces get ambiguous, and questions arise. Who can use them? What are they for? Who's in charge of them?