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Urban Update - Latest

Technological progress alone will not stem resource use – MIT News
Researchers find no evidence of an overall reduction in the world’s consumption of materials.

Sandwell Council Urban Design and Building Services team design and procure £4m housing project

Amanda Reynolds (UDG Past Chair) wins Finnish Masterplanning Award
The scheme is a brownfield regeneration of Tampere providing homes for 25,000 people, in three distinctive neighbourhoods with an  identity growing from the adjacent Lielahti Lake and existing heritage factory buildings.  A strong central park will include a new tram route.

Too much sitting, too little exercise may accelerate biological aging  – University of California
Elderly women with less than 40 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per day and who remain sedentary for more than 10 hours per day have shorter telomeres — tiny caps found on the ends of DNA strands, like the plastic tips of shoelaces, that protect chromosomes from deterioration and progressively shorten with age.

NOAA research shows the global average of mild weather days will drop, with dramatic declines for some, increases for others  - AAAS
Tropics to lose milder days, U.S., Canada, northern Europe to gain milder days – potentially 10-15 per annum.

Finding ways to fix climate change before it is too late -  Gemini research news
production of steel, other metals, cement and chemicals (including plastic) account for roughly 50 per cent of all industrial greenhouse gas emissions.

NOAA publish local maps of sea level rise –  US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Change in sea level is not uniform but varies

Advice for maximising memory – tell someone else what you have just learned – Baylor University

Insight into Scotland’s curious vitrified hillforts – Past Horizons

The glorification of history may give rise to a willingness to fight in a war – University of the Basque Country
Research by the University of the Basque Country concludes that a person's willingness to fight in a war is also associated with a dominant, universal belief, in all contexts and cultures, that regards the course of history as social progress.  This can be allied with the representation of historical figures as heroes, and a justification of warfare and violence as a necessary part of the path of that progress.  The research is of relevance to the resurgence of nationalism, extremism and populist politics, which threatens to destabilise nations and communities alike. Sometimes it seems that the people who tirelessly work to build society receive less recognition than those who act to dismantle it. 


19 Jan

UK housing stock value soars to a record £6.8tn – Financial Times
London and south-east account for almost half the total

Pork Chop Lots – how to densify and provide housing for senior citizens by developing rear gardens - Edmonton

UK Government has ‘huge mountain to climb’ to tackle housing crisis – Local Gov

Why you should exit a car using the hand furthest from the door – Readers Digest

Design solutions for housing, race and segregation that reflect local people’s views – St Louis Radio Programme
“Many designers have good intentions but don’t understand problems on the ground”    Important to design something for a particular community and not something generic.

Open to all? Why public realm design needs a rethink – Construction News

London's Surface Design Show returns for 2017 7-9 Feb


18 Jan

Birmingham Eastside masterplan in line for national award – Birmingham Post
Urban Design Group, the UK's national body for urban design, has shortlisted the project alongside three others in its annual awards for best practice

Would your neighbourhood pass the “cup of sugar” test? - Treehugger

Applicants sought for London mayor’s new architecture panel

Houston – call for change in parking requirements to reflect circumstance  - Houston Chronicle
NB – the UK’sSpace to Parksuggests levels of parking that reflect whether a site is inner city, suburban, rural etc.

Planning fails - Unionville Elementary morning car drop-off insanity – Youtube Video
Unionville Elementary School, Charlotte, North Carolina (700 pupils) is located well away from the nearest housing (eg 500 metres – which perhaps isn’t that far away).  Many/most/all of the parents bring their child to the school by car.  The school staff have organised a sophisticated traffic routing system around the school driveways and car parks that reduces queuing on the highway.   Instead, a queue develops on the school grounds of around 400 metres, plus a further 200 metres or more on the highway.

The system doesn’t solve the problems of noise, air pollution, fuel costs, non-epidemic disease, including obesity, cardiovascular disease.   Alternatives might be several small schools, rather than one big school, and providing from the outset a series of safe segregated cycle paths radiating from the schools, to the nearby housing areas, plus 20mph speed limits on the local roads.
Aerial view on Google Maps

The Evolution of Modern Architecture, Engineering, and Design Firms – Urban Land

Delhi has plans to make Connaught Place a car-free zone. Why can't other cities follow its example?

“Depressed mood and exhaustion” may lead to as many deaths from cardiovascular disease as obesity – possibly 15 percent of all deaths in males aged 45-74 - Technical University of Munich

Large sample study finds mortality reduces with increasing (self-reported) exercise levels – Loughborough University
Source paper

X-Ray Your City's Street Network, With a Bit of Code - CItyLab
A new open-source tool lets users compare the structure of cities around the world.


17 Jan

Watch the Tides Change from This Thames River Museum ProposalArchDaily

New Environmental Protection Act needed after Brexit – House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee

Driverless Cars  Waymo – Google Driverless Car Project

Uber releases data to help cities with transport planning – The Atlantic CItylab

Bloomberg Philanthropies Innovation Teams look at 7 more cities in US and Canada – The Atlantic Citylab
Bloomberg Philanthropies Innovation Teams

London Borough of Hackney acts as developer on high-rise to fund schools and homes – BD Online

Winning Proposal for Finland Bay Masterplan Transforms Industry into Innovation - Archdaily

England’s Housing White Paper May be delayed  30th Jan or later


16 Jan

Highly important' Anglo-Saxon village remains discovered in Cambridge housing site – Cambridge News

Meet the Y.I.M.B.Y. estate owners building new towns on their land – at their own expense – The Telegraph
Tornagrain, Invernesshir: Earl of Murray;  Welbourne, Hampshire: Thistlethwayte; Chapelton, Aberdeenshire: Duke of Fife.

Modern Car-biased Urban Design is Killing Us  - CTV-USA

American Medical Association Adopts Guidance to Reduce Harm from High Intensity LED Street Lights – AMA
LED streetlights emit large quantities of blue light with a wavelength that most adversely suppresses melatonin during night.  Melatonin is one of the hormones that regulates bodyclocks in humans and animals. Brighter residential night-time lighting is associated with reduced sleep times, dissatisfaction with sleep quality, excessive sleepiness, impaired daytime functioning and obesity.
Also LED Magazine

These acid-white LEDs serve as a lesson for Toronto planners – Globe and Mail

American Institute of Architects (AIA) just declared the winners of the 2017 Honor Awards,

Architects institute awards Grace Farms for ‘new kind of public space’

Philadelphia 30th Street Station District Plan Wins Prestigious National Award

25 years of protesting against development in Vancouver – 3 planners give their perspective on what has changed – CBC News

Bronx all-affordable housing complex, breaks ground – NY Curbed

Crowd funded Report warns that Aylesbury Integrated Transport and Land Use Strategy Won’t work
Issue is over expansion of housing  and a “town drowned in traffic with very poor air quality”


13 Jan

Renting rather than owning a home may not be as expensive as many people think - University of Stirling

Department for Transport Modelling shows potential for driverless vehicles to cut delays
On major roads where traditional vehicles outnumbered automated vehicles benefits are relatively small, but increase as the percentage of driverless cars on the roads increases - when measuring peak traffic periods with a maximum of up to 100% of driverless vehicles we saw journey times reduced by more than 11% and delays cut by more than 40%

On urban roads benefits are seen in peak traffic periods even with low levels of automated vehicles on roads - benefits include a 12% improvement in delays and a 21% improvement in journey time reliability

Melbourne Quarter Development sees restoration of historic wall – Urban Developer

Boston 1:40 City Model on View

Consultation on the safe use of drones in the UK – Department for Transport

Hints of New York City’s “Street Design Manual” Third Edition (due end of 2017)

Proposal for Mile-long informal street market in Houston

Health insurance claims for Type 2 Diabetes in US Children double in just four years

Latest advances in pyrolysis technologies for converting biomass into fuels, chemicals and fertilizers

Smoke Blackening of Britain’s Parliamentary Buildings helped pave the way for Air Quality Legislation - MIT

20 minutes exercise can act as anti-inflammatory- University of California


12 Jan

This three-mile-high skyscraper design using 3D printing, coated in self-cleaning material that eats smog - Independent

US housing crisis: what can Trump Housing Secretary Ben Carson learn from radical 1960s 'new town' plan? – Guardian

Bournville again: can a new Birmingham hospital recreate the Cadbury effect? - Guardian
“The new Midland Met hospital aims to regenerate one of England’s most deprived areas with ideas derived from that 19th-century ‘benevolent model’” 

Taunton to ban traffic on some town centre streets

Barton Willmore map shows where Exeter Commuters Live

Tidal lagoons cheaper than 'almost any other source of power' – Independent

Detroit tries to stem decline with 65,000 new LED street lights - New York TImes
“Residents stopped trusting government, and without trust people won’t want to settle here or start a business. The mayor said he’d turn the lights back on. He did.”

Air pollution and lack of physical activity pose competing threats to children in China Oregon State University

Liveable Neighbourhoods and evidence for increased walking – Adrian Davies


11 Jan

From architecture to cultural life: how would you design a city from scratch?  Guardian

First study to show parents' concerns about neighborhood restrict kids' outdoor play - Louisiana State University

"Physical inactivity is a major contributing factor to the obesity epidemic, and a large portion of the adolescent population in the US doesn't meet the recommended 60 minutes of daily vigorous physical activity,"

“Parents who do not trust their neighbors or feel they have no control over neighborhood problems were more likely to restrict their child's outdoor play,"

“Furthermore, we found that the neighborhood physical environment, such as the presence of graffiti and blighted property in the neighborhood, worsened the problem,

Risk of dementia in inactive older adults as great as those who are genetically predisposed – McMaster University
Sedentary older adults with no genetic risk factors for dementia may be just as likely to develop the disease as those who are genetically predisposed, according to a major study which followed more than 1,600 Canadians over five years

Some flight times have increased over the last 40 years as airlines order slower speeds to reduce fuel costs  - Telegraph

No silver bullet to beating obesity, study finds – University of Exeter
Many fattening aspects of the environment, lifestyle and behaviour interact with a person's genes to influence his or her waistline - and that the strongest influence is from poverty.  Public health measures should aim to alter all aspects of these fattening factors in small ways to have more impact in lowering levels of obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Are global crises making our cities better? - CNN
Article by Matthew Carmona

Good design to be enshrined in NSW planning law
Amendments to Environment Planning and Assessment Act 1979 will include an object to improve design

Let's bring back the urban health advantage
An essay suggesting that its time to reverse the “Urban Health Penalty”

Ford’s City of Tomorrow

Older adults with arthritis need just 45 minutes of activity per week To remain functional – North Western University
Older adults who got 45 minutes of moderate activity, such as brisk walking, per week were 80 percent more likely to improve or sustain high future function over two years compared with those doing less, the study found.

Why American Cars Kill More Minority Pedestrians
See also Smart Growth America’s Dangerous by Design - report

Can cities create innovation hubs that work for the entire economy?

A problem we can’t flush away – about changing access to sanitation – The Hindu
In Mumbai, there is just one toilet seat for 1,200 slum residents, according to the study. For most of their them, defecating in the open — typically along railway tracks — is the only available option. 

Sleek new station opens in Taichung – Taipei Times
The elevated train station in Taichung is open for business, replacing a century-old building that will be turned into a train museum

How should Louisville evolve by 2040? Housing advocates, developers and city planners hash it out

Using snow to show how improve the livabilty of streets
Sneckdowns are areas of a street covered with snow which people and especially traffic are not using – showing where it might be possible to reallocate space.

Neologism: Border Vacuum
A border vacuum is a space in a city that cuts off activity and separates neighborhoods or districts.

How does heavy air pollution in Beijing form and where does it come from?

Normally, ground level pollution mixes with air higher in the sky.  Increased pollution leads to a lowering of the height of the mixing layer, concentrating the pollution.  High humidity and secondary chemical reactions in the air add to the levels of pollution.  Long distance pollution is mainly from coal burning in power stations, this is added to by local pollution from vehicles.   (NB if you read this article – “advection” means wind)

Solar Powered Street Opens in France – Le Monde

Shorter city blocks are better, analysts say, but if they're too narrow, people spend too much time crossing streets
although the article doesn’t seem to raise the possibility of making streets easier to cross

What kind of housing do aging boomers need?
“We design houses without stairs out of the worry that we might not be able to climb them at some point, but in the process, we bring that point that much closer.”  Campodimele, in Italy (known as the village of eternity) is given as an ideal village.  Built on a steep hill, it is based almost exclusively on walking.   

Scottish students propose Hyperloop high-speed transit  London-Edinburgh in 35 minutes BBC

Developing Africa's future cities - BizCommunity

Unclogging the cities - The Hindu

Billion pound University of Glasgow project - The Herald

World Design Summit announces first keynote speakers for 2017
16-25 October Montreal

5 Cities With Model Parks Systems:- Boston, Chicago, Maddison, Mineapolis, Seattle  – Urban Milwaukee

Species Rapidly Evolving In Response To Human Urbanization: Study - BBC

Kid-centered urban design  - International Women’s Forum

Living near major roads and the incidence of dementia, Parkinson's disease, and multiple sclerosis: a population-based cohort study - The Lancet 
The adjusted hazard ratio (HR) of incident dementia was 1·07 for people living less than 50 metres from a major traffic road (95% CI 1·06–1·08), 1·04 (1·02–1·05) for 50–100 m, 1·02 (1·01–1·03) for 101–200 m, and 1·00 (0·99–1·01) for 201–300 m versus further than 300 m (p for trend=0·0349).   People who lived in a major city, within 50 metres of a major road and who did not move house for the duration of the study had the highest risk at 12%.  No association found with Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis.   Air pollution should be factored into planning, and building design to reduce exposure. 

Stronger controls proposed for litter

Paris mayor unveils plan to restrict traffic and pedestrianise city centre

A society too complex for its people risks everything

The Urban Revolution – Creating Place Vitality  - Michael Cowdy

A guide dog’s view of mobility and discrimination

First-time buyer subsidised homes 'will be built this year


Latest Urban Update - 1st January 2017

8 Jobs, Project for Public Spaces research, Garden Villages Named, and much more..... 




Urban Room 101
UDG hosts its most unpopular ever Festive Event

Organised by Philp Cave, compered by Rob Cowan the event took the theme of George Orwell's book 1984.  Room 101 is the room which is placed the inidividual's greatest nightmare, fear or phobia.  On offer were:

Empty houses
Leo Hammond

Non-Disclosure Agreements
Cany Ash

The Car
Erin Walsh

Parking Courts
Brian Quinn

Euan Mills

Amanda Reynolds

Places that say NO
Rosanna Vitiello

The inadequacies of A4 Paper 
Oliver Goodall

On the basis of the booing decible level, Leo Hammond walked away with a dinner voucher, and Cany Ash, a bottle of champagne.  We are grateful to Marshalls for hosting the evening and for providing the prizes.



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About the Urban Design Group 

Founded in 1978, the Urban Design Group (UDG) is a campaigning membership organisation with over 1000 members who care about the quality of life in our cities, towns and villages, and believe that raising standards of urban design is central to its improvement.

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