Day 8: Happiness in Urban Form

Read the full post at: A Creative Reality

The notion of a city form that promotes day to day human happiness relates to the ability of a city to provide a living and/or working environment that affords people time and freedom to pursue their own free time whether in a private or social manner. This is a simple statement, but it has a number of implications for urban form. A city that affords one time is one that is connected and implies a certain degree of density. A city that allows someone to engage socially is one that contains open-ended public space for organic human interaction, a diversity of uses supporting heteroscedasticity among users, and opens the door to people functioning and participating in a long-term community. Finally, just as a city needs to provide for interaction, it needs to afford privacy - this can be through clustered uses, providing ownership of smaller scale public or semi-public spaces.

In Dominic’s  original post , he visits Vauban in Freiburg, Germany and observes the organic nature of the public realm and the lived-in quality of the residential developments.

In Dominic’s original post, he visits Vauban in Freiburg, Germany and observes the organic nature of the public realm and the lived-in quality of the residential developments.

for a city to work well, it needs to provide for human investment and support that investment.

The term human investment doesn’t mean monetary investment, though that is required, it refers to a people being able to really ‘live’ in a community, to call it their own. By focusing on self-propelled, convenient mobility strategies, a city’s amenities and infrastructure can be right-sized to the human pace of the population that city serves. What’s important about this concentration on the velocity of mobility is when you slow people down, you begin to cater toward a live-in community rather that a collection of transient auto commuters - this provides the basis for a local population and the local population will be the foundation of the city’s viability. Once an intact population emerges, the city can begin to be ‘lived in’.



The wait is over. Lexus has released a hoverboard that uses magnetic fields and liquid nitrogen to carry a person without touching the ground. It requires a proprietary magnetic surface to hover over, but all that just makes it so much cooler. Stop reading and just watch the promotional video. Relevance to our projects? It doesn’t matter, it’s a HOVERBOARD. (Ok, this car-alternative doesn’t need bike racks).

Side note, the number of times the talent fall off the hoverboard is actually hilarious. They couldn’t have practiced more before filming…?

photo courtesy of dezeen.com

photo courtesy of dezeen.com


3D printing is all the rage right now, with applications ranging from the awesome to the absurd. This one caught my attention as a fun way to combine signage and biophila. Be warned, before the grass grows they look like coils of dog turds, so you might want to consider some the lead time before opening day on your next project.


The ‘Lighter Quicker Cheaper’ approach to place-making - the fast food of urban design or a way to kick start the journey to longer term solutions?

This article presents some examples of a quick and small way to create community spaces – by closing down unused streets and adding simple landscape furniture. One particular interesting observation:

“..based on these brief observations it seems as though certain demographics dominate the space more than others. It would be interesting to return to this space at a later time and see whether programming has been added that attracts more women and children, as is the case with Corona Plaza.”

photo credit: Nikita Malviya and Himadri Panchal

photo credit: Nikita Malviya and Himadri Panchal


This is not a new article, but it came up in a discussion of the need to design cities for people, not cars, and is worth a read. It basically reminds us of the need to walk for the sake of walking, not just as a means to go from A to B quickly. And apparently aimless walking is the key to literary genius, but wait till you finish walking before texting your agent.

"A lot of places, if you walk you feel you are doing something self-consciously. Walking becomes a radical act."


Spell checker still doesn't know what the word is, but you do.

Biophilia was in the news this week after Terrapin Bright Green put out their monthly newsletter. This article does a nice job of describing how the WELL building standard does, and doesn't, incorporate the 14 principles of biophilic design.

"While the two WELL Features for biophilia do introduce the conversation to a wider audience, as designers, we shouldn’t restrict our incorporation of biophilic design to those two Features alone."

photo credit: Benjamin Benschneider

photo credit: Benjamin Benschneider


Last week was monopoly, this week it's 'why we should use Legos to explain everything'. Watch this adorable video on why driverless taxis could be awesome for the environment:


(aka How to have the most fun ever in our next planning charrette) 

Recognizing that most people understand 3D models better than 2D plans, Play the City, and Amsterdam and Istanbul based company has developed a ‘City Gaming’ tool to help in community planning sessions. This isn’t online video gaming we are talking about, this is old school ‘building blocks on a site plan’ gaming, and it works wonders for generating discussion, debate and identifying crucial interactions between community stakeholders.

‘The gaming environment “demystifies, softens and humanises what can be a very technical and often alienating urban design, planning and stringently legislative building control process.’

This article is a case study of how this was applied in a South African township- scroll down to ‘Playing the City as a Game’.

‘The game comprises a three dimensional representation of the KBD [the business district] and players have access to a library of over 600 game pieces which represent physical components of potential urban projects, for example; housing or office blocks as well as organisational components such as social networks or public support. Much like in an online game of Sims, players can create buildings and partnerships, moving them around the board and test out different ways to configure new developments.’

photo courtesy of futurecapetown

photo courtesy of futurecapetown


The headline is ridiculous – defining renewables as ‘definitely not ugly’? I guess the images left on the cutting floor were just ‘possibly ugly’ or ‘questionably ugly’. There are plenty of better examples out there of elegant integrations of renewables into architecture and urban design. If anyone has any send them my way! 

photo courtesy of climatecouncil.org.au

photo courtesy of climatecouncil.org.au