A street-facing television becomes a public amenity in baseball-loving Michigan.
There's a bar in downtown Ann Arbor, Michigan, where, instead of a window, there's a huge flat screen television. And instead of pointing in toward the barstools and indoor patrons, the screen faces out onto the street toward the bar's sidewalk patio seating and, by default, everyone else who happens to be nearby.
Building a community center in a crowded, flood-prone Brazilian favela.
In the compact and crowded slums of Brazil, public space is a relative term. Children play in and out of front rooms and walkways, entrances to apartments often require trips through the homes of others, and parks are practically non-existent. Where there’s space to use, it’s used for housing, even in unsafe places. But when landslides wipe these homes out, or floods destroy them, an opportunity arises.
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 automobile is undoubtedly the dominant mode of travel in Los Angeles. But to write off the city as made up entirely of car-driving, bumper-to-bumper rush hour commuters is clearly an over-generalization. A growing group of Angelenos is finding ways to make transit, cycling, and walking (and, often, a combination thereof) relevant and viable in their daily lives.
The Occupy Movement offers a lens through which to view a new kind of public space.
Governments are trying to figure out what to do with the Occupy movement that’s moved into public spaces in major cities all over the world. Some have figured out only as much as getting them out of there; mayors from Oakland to New York have evoked concerns about public safety, sanitation, and good old law and order to justify forced evictions of campsites. And as we saw with the recent pepper spraying incident at UC Davis, the clash between the users of public space and the stewards of public space has underscored a startling disconnect.
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):