Urban Update - 26 May 2017

Humans, Health, Society

Air pollution continues to be “News” and it is a serious problem; however, it is by no means the only health problem in the built environment.  It is unfortunate that road deaths and serious injuries, and the fear this brings that stops people cycling, and restricts children’s independence, is not taken as seriously.   There have been absolutely no calls for action following five deaths on the M6 in a single crash

38,000 people a year die early because of diesel emissions testing failures

Air pollution linked to poor sleep, study finds

Poor air quality in cities goes hand in hand with high levels of traffic noise and light pollution, which are known to directly affect sleep

Hedges and Green walls contribute to improving air quality

Terpenes from certain types of tree can contribute to Ozone formation in hot sunny weather

“The results don’t amount to a call to cut down trees, or indeed to halt urban-greening initiatives. Rather, the researchers note that tree-planting campaigns simply need to be accompanied by traffic reduction in order to truly benefit urban dwellers.”

NB – trees can also reduce pollution by holding down the air temperature through evapo-transpiration which acts as a natural air conditioning system

How bad is air pollution in the UK?

-          Exactly 40,000 people aren’t killed each year.  There is uncertainty:  it may be a contributory factor that brings forward the death of in the main, elderly people by a few months or years.  It can bring chronic health problems to some people over a far longer period.   

-          Air pollution has been decreasing nationally

COMEAP report – Mortality effects of long term exposure to particulate air pollution in the UK  


TV dinners: The hidden cost of the processed food revolution

Food, until recent decades, was the major factor in the design of towns, with markets, food processing and food shops all being local and providing the basis of the local economy.  All this changed with the development of refrigeration, cook-chill technology, and the widespread use of motor vehicles which enabled long distance distribution of food and the development of sophisticated food logistics networks.  We have seen, in turn, the dreary pattern of clone housing estates with a single supermarket and an ersatz pub at the centre, set in a lake of car parking spaces.

Dining rooms have become irrelevant, and, as the article argues, the ease with which we can now consume calories has led to an obesity crisis that threatens to cripple the economy.


Brazil declares Zika Crisis Over

Zika infections could be factor in more pregnancies  - new University of Wisconsin study

Virus has been found to easily transfer into foetus.  

The Zika crisis is yet another example of a global failure to introduce effective biosecurity measures.  Instead we are witnessing a spread of species of living organisms and viruses across the planet, limited only by climate.


Facebook Community bigger than China

Built Environment

How a little understood meteorological phenomenon brought destruction to the Dutch city of Utrecht

New reportGuiding Light: Unlocking London’s residential density – looks for a change in the way daylight/sunlight are considered with a  view to increasing development density

Belgium’s liberal approach to highway lighting visible from space

What if cities were designed around women, as well as men

As self-driving cars hit the road, real estate development may take new direction

Trees will grow on the balconies of Istanbul’s honeycomb-like apartments

Scientists decide to bury 5,000-year-old lost city in Pakistan
Mohenjo Daro is threatened by the baking temperatures of the Indus Valley and the threat from tourists and terrorists

UN looks to dealing with post conflict reconstruction

Global Alliance for Urban Crises

Sounds of The City: Why Urban Acoustics Matter

MVRDV's SkyGarden opens in Seoul – an elevated expressway turned into a park

Residential Street Design and Play  - A literature review of policy, guidance and research on residential street design and its influence on children’s independent outdoor activity

Architects from around the world gather in Ottawa for 1st-ever Indigenous design symposium


How an Overlooked Urban-Design Feature Helped Stop the Times Square Driver’s Rampage

London attacks: how do you protect people from terrorism through urban design?


Violent deaths – Global Picture

28,328 - Global Terrorism – 2015 – Global Terrorism Database

180,000 - Global Conflicts – 2014 - Armed Conflict Survey

1,250,000 - Road Vehicle related deaths – 2013 - WHO

In the UK the average of someone killed in a car crash is around 38 years, with over half their life still ahead of them.

Expenditure on road safety by public authorities ranges from around 3 Euros (Latvia) to 40 Euros per head (France), suggesting the expenditure in the EU is around $20 billion per annum..   From this we can estimate the global spend on road safety is in the region of $50 billion per annum. 

US expenditure on the war on terror for 2016 was approx. $98 billion

The global spend on defence in 2016 was $1,570 billion. 




Barnes Dance Crossings return to New York City  (all green pedestrian phase)

Design an interactive streetscape for Croydon: deadline today

Guerrilla activists introduce cycle and bus lanes to a reluctant Latvian city

Why Elon Musk’s tunnel system can’t solve congestion in Los Angeles
Mathematical modelling by academics concluded that as a general rule, the addition of a new road to a network had roughly 50/50 odds of increasing travel time.



Murray River frontage revitalisation


Controversy over imported “Bonsai” street trees


Tapi, urban mobility comes under global experts’ focus



Open Close – exhibition to reimaging Edinburgh’s historic closes

Dundee fights poverty with free food courtesy of urban orchard

Oxford Westgate Development Receives mixed public reception   54 per cent of those taking part in online survey said it was ‘a bit of an eyesore’