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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


By Jessica Guirand

On 1 June 2016 the Seine River overflowed. After days of intense rainfall, the river invaded the streets to finally culminate at 6.18 metres above the normal level.

Image Source: Pierre Terdjman for The New York Times
Image source: Pierre Terdjman for The New York Times
There was fear among the population, with authorities and experts stating that the record flooding level of 1910 would be reached. Back then, the Seine rose to 8.62 metres above the standard levels, paralysing the capital city for over seven weeks and causing significant damages. This time, the river rose to 6.18 metres – the same level as the last 1982 flood episode.

Image source: Wikimedia

In 2014, the Institute of Urban Planning (Institut d’Aménagement et d’Urbanisme) directed 3D films illustrating the consequences of a major rise in the water level in flood prone areas including Paris. Coincidentally, the Institute ran a two week flood simulation in March this year for the Parisian Region (Ile-de-France) to test the emergency-flood protection plans, encourage effective collaboration between the various stakeholders and inform the population.

The stakes are high. The rise of water level has dreadful impacts but so does the decrease in flood level. In this case, it took nearly two weeks for the water to recede to normal levels. The toll includes death, population displacement, economic loss, damage to the public ream, cultural institutions, and public and private real estate.

Risk management of natural disaster is surrounded by incertitude. For example, predictions are based on previous natural events and experts concede to a lack of knowledge on underground runoff. This risk is also aggravated by the locations of major networks (electricity, water, internet, transport etc.)
7 to 8 levels below the natural ground level. Needless to say that urbanisation of flood prone areas is adding to the pressure. In this context, there’s an urgent need to make cities resilient and raise risk and prevention awareness, and particularly in urban renewal areas.

Despite the prevention measures in place, modelling and simulation, the rise in water levels that occurred earlier this month were faster than anticipated by the authorities. The lessons learnt from the simulation help to significantly reduce the impact of the flood.

Image source: Markus Schreiber/Associated Press


TIMBER... skyscraper for London?

By Brad Foletta
Image source: Inhabitat
London’s first timber skyscraper is a step closer to reality with conceptual plans presented by PLP Architecture and Cambridge University. The plans are for an 80-storey, 300 metre tall wooden building which it plans to incorporate within the Barbican Estate.

If built, the wooden structure would be the tallest of its kind in the world and the second tallest building in London after the Shard. In addition to the use of renewable materials, the skyscraper’s timber frame could also lock in 50,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide — equivalent to the annual carbon emissions of 5,000 Londoners.

The proposed one-million-square-foot mixed-use skyscraper and mid-rise terraces would create over 1,000 new residential units.

The use of timber as a structural material in tall buildings is an area of emerging interest for its variety of potential benefits; the most obvious being that it is a renewable resource, unlike prevailing construction methods which use concrete and steel. The research is also investigating other potential benefits, such as reduced costs and improved construction timescales, increased fire resistance, and significant reduction in the overall weight of buildings.

The world's tallest wooden building to date is a 14-storey apartment block in Bergen, Norway, but there are several more in the pipeline.

For more on this article, click below:

Also, check out this article on wooden skyscrapers from the Urban Developer.

You are never too old

By Kathryn Cuddihy

Playgrounds are for kids... or are they?

Image source: Guardian
Image source: Guardian

As our population's age, cities need to adapt to meet the needs of all users, including the elderly.
Open spaces, recreation facilities and neighbourhoods need to ensure they are catering for the wellbeing and general fitness of all users. One novel concept that seems to be used worldwide is the creation of play areas and outdoor gyms for the elderly. Not only does it encourage social integration, it is also a great way to keep the population active and healthy.

Below are a series of images that show how parks and outdoor gyms have adapted play equipment to suit a plethora of ages.

Image source: Guardian

Image source: Guardian

Image source: Guardian

You are never too old to play!

Check out the full story here or to read about 'Active Design' click here.

Fund Our Future

By Kathryn Cuddihy

Image source: ABC News

According to 'Fund our Future' five million Australians live in the fast-growing suburbs on the outskirts of our capital cities and are confronted daily with congested roads and insufficient public transport.

The campaign is pushing for a policy shift to address the infrastructure backlog and future-proof the outer suburbs by addressing three priorities - road, public transport and health.

They are looking to push the Federal Government to establish a national infrastructure fund that is based on good planning and merit as opposed to what they believe is the currently the trend - projects based on election cycles.

Earlier this week, National Nightmare Commute Day highlighted the struggles faced by those in the outer suburbs as they face their daily commute. Commuters were asked to take to social media using the #FundourFutureAU to highlight their plight.

Glenn Goodfellow, a Councillor with the City of Wyndham stated that commuters face congestion and poor infrastructure on a daily basis. He says that many commuters face congestion on both the roads and public transport.

Do you think that a national fund will go far enough to fix commuter issues or should more be done? What are some other initiatives that could be used to alleviate commuter woes? Carpooling, building good quality services from the outset, investment in creating more employment opportunities in the outer suburbs? We'd love to hear your thoughts.

Click here to find out more about Fund Our Future.

Melbourne - the 'Resilience' capital of Australia

By Kathryn Cuddihy

The city of Melbourne recently released its Resilience Strategy, the first of its kind in Australia.

The Strategy was the work of more than 1000 individuals across local councils, organisations and Victorian State Departments. It addresses Melbourne's most pressing and interconnected challenges, including rising sea levels, pressure on healthcare services, unemployment and social inequality.

The Strategy outlines four resilience objectives:
  1. Stronger Together
  2. Our Shared Places
  3. A Healthier Environment
  4. A Dynamic Economy
Image source: 100 resilient cities
For more information or to view the report, click here.