Trade trash for food

According to Co.exist: “To eliminate landfills and encourage local agriculture, a new program lets residents exchange their recyclable trash in exchange for credits with nearby farms. Mexico City is turning its trash into food. The government’s environmental agency recently launched the Mercado de Trueque, a barter market where recyclable materials are exchanged for fresh food to support the city’s farmlands. “This innovative program is designed to show citizens directly and tangibly how what we call trash becomes raw materials. If solid waste is properly separated, it still has value,” writes the Ministry of Environment (in Spanish). The market accepts glass, paper and cardboard, aluminum beverage cans, PET plastic bottles, and returns “green points” redeemable for agricultural products grown in and around Mexico City, including lettuce, prickly pears, spinach, tomatoes, plants, and flowers. “The intention is to encourage and support the producers of soil conservation in order to raise public awareness of the local supply,” writes the Ministry. “It’s important to consume local products to avoid large shipments of goods, reduce the carbon footprint, generate fair trade and maintain agricultural lands south of the city. “Collecting and sorting recyclables is already a big business in some developing countries, but it’s not a habit for many households. Drawing a direct link between sorting and exchanging waste and a sustainable food supply may bring a new awareness into the mix. The first market, held on one Sunday this March, sold out, exchanging nearly three tons of 60 agricultural products for trash.”

Light, color and sound for safety

A recent Dutch study researched the impact of atmosperic variables on the experience of safety among others. Safety in cities is regarded often from the ‘objective’ point of perspective. The subjective side of the matter is just as important. Many ‘objective’ safe neighbourhoods are being experienced as ‘unsafe’. Light, color and sound can add to the feeling of safety. Since many years underground parking is often well-lit and plays music at night. Although lightdesign will not prevent you from being robbed, it could make underground cityscapes much more attractive during day- and nighttime. Furthermore dedicated well-lit bikepaths could offer attractive ‘safe’ nightlanes in the city.

lightdesign: Herman Kuier

Bus Rapid Transit system

Although old news,  Bogota’s Transmilenio Bussystem is a concept which should be added to this Smart City Studio Blog. According to Camilo Santamaría presenting at the UN-habitat Expert Group Meeting in Nairobi, february 18th 2011:

“Transmilenio bus system shows how public transport-oriented city planning can stimulate urban renewal whilst improving the use of space and energy resources. The city is located between a river and a mountain range, and contains a number of heritage buildings in the central business district. It has a population of roughly 6 million people, and is likely to grow an additional 2 million in the next 15 years. Constrained by natural boundaries and a historical urban core, planning for a growing population with a significant number of living below poverty lines is a challenge.The bulk of employment opportunities are located in the CBD, which is situated at the Northernmost edge of the city alongside the mountain and is surrounded by a number of smaller towns to the South. Faced with the challenge of moving people between residential areas and places of work, the city realised that a bus system would be the most cost-effective means of providing public transport, and would require significantly less land than a car-centred approach. Curitiba’s BRT model was adapted to include passing lanes for buses, as observed in Quito. The implementation of the Transmilenio and inclusion of sidewalks, cycle lanes and public transport routes into city design has created numerous opportunities for urban renewal. Areas once designated for roads are now used by cyclists and pedestrians, and a number of tree-lined avenues and public parks have been created around the stations and commuter routes. These green spaces attract members of the public, and the streets are once again busy with people instead of cars. To cater for growing demand for public transport, the city is now considering a metro system to service major routes”.

This article is extracted from the report: “What does the green economy mean for sustainable urban development”, by UN-habitiat, Expert Group Meeting, Nairobi, 17-18 February 2011

Waste collection on the water

According to the Dutch newspaper NRC innercity cargo transport by boats is the future. In the historic towncentres of the Randstad congestion is an everlasting problem. These historic centres have once been designed for transport by foot, horse and… on the water. Small scale cargotransport on the finegrain network of historic canals in the innercities is a Smart alternative for regular distribution with too big trucks in the congested towncentres. The city of Utrecht sets the example. In 1996 it already started with a municipal ‘beerboat’ to deliver drinks at restaurants and bars along the ‘Oude Gracht’. Now there is also a boat for waste collection and a new beerboat on electric power. So no innercity noise anymore. The waste collection boat has a crane to transport waste bins from the quai to the boat. The industrial design for the waste bins on wheels should actually be improved, because the small wheels cause difficulties on the cobbled innercity roads. The advantage of the wasteboat is the reduction of congestion, CO2 and fine dust. The boat seems to be slow, but is much quicker than transport by truck. Utrecht aims on the expansion of the fleet. The city is working on a full electric powered city distribution system. Their ‘cargohoppers’, small electric vehicles which with a tail of ‘wagons’, are the alternative for the truck. These heavy trucks demolish the pavement in the historic city centres. The political support of the whole project is there, because it combines clean, silent and energy efficient alternatives.

The above is a summary of an article in the Dutch newspaper NRC: “Afval- en bierboten tegen de files”, October 20th, 2012.

Smart energy production

This movie on Smart energy production in the new town of Almere promotes the development of community driven energy production. It is part of a quintet of strategies for Smart City Almere which could turn Almere into an independent city with a vibrant urban economy. With this it will create conditions for 100.000 jobs to flourish. To do this the city adopts a new attitude towards planning and will liberate itself from a culture of control by creating conditions for others to do the job.

The movie on Smart energy production was part of ‘Almere’s Liberation’, one of the projects which was on show at the last Architecture Biënnale in Rotterdam. These ‘five liberations’ have been published on the internet today. The concepts and the movie are made by Zandbelt&vandenBerg, architecture and urban design and commissioned by the International Architecture Biënnale Rotterdam, Atelier Making Projects.

Have a look at http://www.youtube.com/user/smartcitystudio for the other Smart City strategies for Almere

 

Street revitalization

On the 13th of October the Nieuwe Binnenweg in Rotterdam, one of the longest shoppingstreets in the Netherlands, reopened. After a period of refurbishment of public space, renovation of facades and attracting new entrepreneurs an impoverished street becomes an attractive city street again. What has been done to succesfully revitalize a run down street in the city?

Renovating shops and attracting entrepreneurs                                                         As part of the revitalization of the Nieuwe Binnenweg in Delfshaven entrepreneurs who want to invest in the quality, appearance, safetymeasures or location of their store on the Nieuwe Binnenweg have the opportunity to apply for a subsidy. Entrepreneurs can apply for a subsidy for 55% of their renovationcosts up to a maximum of € 15.000, – (excluding VAT) per application. As entrepreneurs want to move along the Nieuwe Binnenweg for being part of one of the ‘branded themes’ like fashion, food or adventure they can apply for up to 55% of their relocationcosts to a maximum of € 7.000, – (excluding VAT).

An active campaign, branding the street and a phonenumber                                 An active campaign and the branding which positions the run down street in the niche of creatives which live in the neighbourhoods around the street gained recognition which encouraged entrepreneurs to add to the concept. The type of shops which opened since the project started in 2008 are for example: a vintage tableware shop, an organic supermarket, an halal butcher, a furniture shop, an energy saving shop and LED advice, an eco design shop, south american fashion shop, an ice cream shop, a hip coffee shop and many more. Besides the campaign there is a phonenumber to call for if you are interested. That helps excited entrepreneurs to avoid bureaucracy.

Refurbishment of public space                                                                                   The refurbishment of public space add to the comprehensive concept which has been the objective. It consists out of the replacement of paving, pavement, street furniture and lighting. The paving was for example tarmac, but has been changed into clay brickwork. Also the tram tracks are updated, a little further apart, placed in such a way that the new trams of Rotterdam easily can pass eachother. The tramstops are raised and slightly expanded. The amount of electricitypoles for the tram has been reduced from 70 to 38 pieces

 

Green facades

Green facades could offer many advantages for Smart Cities. Green facades add to the thermal insulation behaviour of buildings, to the biodiversity in the city, the quality of public space and reduction of air pollution; fine dust and carbondioxide. This adds to the idea of the ‘healthy city’. There are two types of green facades. Living wall systems and walls which consist of creepers or hanging plants. The first is an irrigated system of growing panels in which plants literally grow. The latter is a facade or a mesh along which creepers of hanging plants can grow. In north western Europe most green facades have a webbased irrigation system which monitors climate conditions in order to coordinate irrigation. With temperatures below zero degrees Celsius the irrigation system empties itself.

Reuse of vacant officebuilding

This week, October 1st, the Hogeschool has openend its doors in a former vacant office building. More than 2500 students and 500 employees (re)use the building in the heart of Rotterdam.

Rotterdam University maintains a number of educational clusters through Rotterdam. The Academieplein-site needed to expand to be able to accommodate the growing number of students. The vacant office block next door offered an opportunity to enlarge the school’s volume in short term. Zandbelt&vandenberg made the design for the transformation of the office building into a new educational facility. Just one year after the first design proposels the transformation of the former office building has been finished.

Ten new elevators, new staircases, replaced entrances, a compltet new lay-out and adapted installations changed the office building into a state of the art school building. The reuse of this vacant officebuilding sets the example for other innercity real estate to be redeveloped. It is possible.

Smart Cities

Last week the exhibition ‘Smart Cities’ at the Architecture Biënnale in Rotterdam closed. This exhibition curated by five Dutch Academies for Archtitecture in the Netherlands formulated Smart Cities as follows:

In a truly intelligent city technology is a simply a tool, one of several that can be used to create a successful city. Really Smart Cities emphasise:

Smart economy: reinforcing economic connections within the city and with the region; Smart connections: are intelligent about mobility and ICT;                                                  Smart environments: making optimal use of natural resources and respecting the climate;                                                                                                                                Smart people: making the most of human capital;                                                              Smart living: improving liveability and quality of life;                                                            Smart coalitions: encouraging smart coalitions between citizens, government and institutions.

Are these elements interacted successfully and do they interact with current economic social and spatial conditions? This interaction is essential in creating a smart city. What new opportunities open up for cities if architecture, urban planning and landscape architecture are able to integrate other disciplines. Smart Cities generate more jobs and are cleaner, more flexible, more efficient and safer. Smart Cities are the key to a sustainable world in a spatial, social and economic sense.