London Underground - reimagined!

Alternates to the London Underground map

The Death and Life of...

Planning for our future (figuratively speaking)...

Urban greening in high density environments

Creating 'Vertical Forests' in high density residential developments

High Speed Rail to Go Ahead In The UK

While the Tea Party is busy destroying the USA's chance to have a HSR network, the UK is pushing on - though not without opposition of their own. Interestingly, the vocal opposition in the UK isn't coming from a local nutjob contingent like the Tea Party, but from the environmental lobby.

It's a fascinating Catch-22: a sustainable national transport network really needs HSR, but HSR needs to carve am enormous linear corridor out of the environment to be built. HSR lines share issues that highways do: they require large swathes of land, they create barriers through natural habitats, they aren't silent and they will easily kill any furry critter that strolls in front.

Anyway, the UK is going to do it, and its called HS2:

Key points• HS2 trains will be up to 400m long with 1,100 seats
• An extra 26,000 passenger seats each hour on intercity routes
• Trains to travel at up to 250mph
• Birmingham to London journeys now set to be 45 mins instead of 84 mins
• More than 22 miles of tunnel on the route
• A spur to Heathrow will be built by 2033
Read more at the Guardian. 

Hotel Windsor Gets Final Go-Ahead, But Won't Go Ahead For a While

So the Windsor redevelopment is ready to roll, but won't be kicking off for another 18 months apparently. Easily the most controversial thing to happen in planning since Haussmann carved up Paris, the controversy arguably played a role in the downfall of the Brumby empire. But putting aside all the failure of proper process and politics, what do people think of the actual proposal? 

I think it looks alright, and sets a nice backdrop for the beautiful old building.

Feel free to disagree/discuss in the comments.

The Age has more details.

Involved in Designing for Active Places? NYC Has Got You Covered

From the ever studious NYC Department of Design and Construction comes the Active Design Guidelines. They are comprehensive, clearly presented and look at first glance to be pretty damn informative. Active design and planning is a bit of a trend in Australia lately, with good reason. We're getting pretty fat, obesity related diseases are rising and our sedentary lifestyles is really just becoming a bit of a drag. 

So, if your Council, consultancy, agency, whatever, is looking at Active Design, take a look:

It covers urban design strategies, building design strategies and discusses synergies between active design and sustainability. 

What really irks me about planning and design is the level of repetition when it comes to things like this. I wouldn't be surprised if every Council in 'straya put some money toward making their own bloody active design guidelines. As if the needs of one area to be active are that radically different from another in Australia, or even New York. 

A Green Toupe for Beirut?

This photomontage of Beirut with a green forest demonstrates how mad our cities would look if we used rooftops for more than just the lift overruns. Wassim Melki of StudioInvisible put together the montage, which forms part of a large, genuine proposal for the dense city.

"Most conventional rooftop gardens are very complex," he explained. "They require a specific type of insulation and drainage, and a study should be conducted on the roof slab and how much weight it could support. Since many of the existing buildings are more than 50 years old, we are suggesting putting the trees in relatively large pots." 

Melki adds that there is little if not no space in the city for creating new public green spaces, and "it's almost impossible to plant on the sidewalks or at the side of the roads". The solution is to take to the rooftops, argues the architect, and use the roofs of the 18,500 buildings in the city that are currently vacant. Says Melki: "If only one tree is planted on each, that's 18,500 more trees: which is the equivalent of Central Park in New York."

Read more at wired.

Crowd Sourcing Walking Maps in Victoria has put together a neat little front-end to Google Maps that lets people create and annotate their favourite walks around Victoria, and the rest of Australia. It's put together by Victoria Walks ( and sponsored by VicHealth, no doubt in an admirable attempt to get us lazy obese Aussies off the coach and admiring the natural and built beauty around us!

Walks can be rated, time estimations are given, distances are calculated and even topography is now factored in.

Rethinking A Lot

Parking lots account for an astonishing amount of the surface area of our cities. Be they roadside, or in multi-storey lots, they are serious business financially and aesthetically. No one claims to really like them ("oh wow what a beautiful piece of blank asphalt!"), everyone thinks they're an eyesore. But somehow, collectively, we all just accept that we need them. Are we settling? 'Oh well people need to park, best have parks available for them absolutely anywhere at absolutely any time.'

Anyway, this article in the NY Times looks to some new ideas from a range of intelligent people about what to do to make parking a bit more of a valuable part of the city, not just an eyesore we have to accept.

Read on.