Archive for the ‘Urban Ecology’ Category
Having been North America’s best example of urban decline for decades, Detroit, perhaps ironically, is now poised to become one of the truly great new cities of the 21st century. How is that? Well, for one thing, there is lots and lots of land in the downtown area that can be used for food production. Check out this great article by Mark Dowie.
Food Among the Ruins
by Mark Dowie
Detroit, the country’s most depressed metropolis, has zero produce-carrying grocery chains. It also has open land, fertile soil, ample water, and the ingredients to reinvent itself from Motor City to urban farm. Mark Dowie’s immodest proposal…
Photograph by Jonathan LaRocca
Were I an aspiring farmer in search of fertile land to buy and plow, I would seriously consider moving to Detroit. There is open land, fertile soil, ample water, willing labor, and a desperate demand for decent food. And there is plenty of community will behind the idea of turning the capital of American industry into an agrarian paradise. In fact, of all the cities in the world, Detroit may be best positioned to become the world’s first one hundred percent food self-sufficient city. (more…)
When? September 19, 2008. Where? New York City and around the world.
Park(ing) Day is an international event that reclaims over 200 parking spots in 50 cities around the world and transforms them into engaging public spaces for one day a year.
Park(ing) Day NYC is an effort of the New York City Streets Renaissance which offers individuals and groups small grants to turn more than 50 parking spots throughout New York City’s 5 boroughs into human-friendly places for a single day. These small, temporary public spaces provide a breath of relief from the auto-clogged reality of New York City, and aim to spark a dialogue about our valuable public space and how we choose to use it.
There has been talk lately of Montreal hosting another Expo ’67. Silly, of course, but it does illustrate the narrow thinking of most politicians who cannot visualize much beyond repeating huge past events or just redeveloping whole areas of the city in a desperate attempt to create taxable properties (and all that that implies). But it is here with this simple little project from which great things can be realized. Take a little step, do a little dance, get down…ah, you know what I mean.
Article in today’s Gazette discusses the Turcot snowpiles in regard to melting and contamination of the water.
“There might be a potential for contamination that could have been recognized by the Environment Ministry and the Transport Ministry,” said Yves Girard, head of Montreal’s snow removal co-ordination office, referring to the Turcot site. “But it’s a site that’s well waterproofed because it has been paved over – so any water, in theory, will melt toward the sewers and not into the soil.
“The risks aren’t high, but we never know.”
It is hard to say how much pollution is under the Turcot asphalt. It was a very busy yard from the coal burning era that was refiitted into a container yard in the early 1960′s. You can bet that CNR did not decontaminate the land, which it owned, but merely paved over. However, as a rail and container yard, and based upon personal observations, Turcot has an excellent drainage system in place (there was once Otter Lake in the east end and the Riviere Saint Pierre ran through it). Still, this is a site where snow was removed from until 2002, so it will be interesting to see how it holds up under these new conditions.
Phil Carpenter, The Gazette.
And it could certainly serve as a teaching aid to demonstrate how pollution exists in sometimes very appealing situations such as nice big, bright snowpiles.
Absolutely wonderful idea about ensuring a solid sustainable urban region in this article from last April.
“Since 1990, an estimated 1,000 hectares of forests have been stripped from the island to make way for private development.This city now has the lowest percentage of protected natural areas of any North American urban centre.”
Surely, and I mean you can take this one to the bank, most citizens would prefer to see leadership that finds this situation absolutely unacceptable?
Green Coalition (Montreal)
Green Coalition (The Earth’s Army)
Couple of good articles, no, essential reading, from over at The Concious Earth in regard to media and the whole global warming “debate”. There no longer is a debate, folks. Only thing left is to decide what you can do to stop it!
Located in northeastern China, the city of Changchun in Jilin province is home to the world’s largest sculpture park. “The park covers 90 beautifully landscaped hectares and is also home to a large indoor sculpture gallery. There’s a large lake that spreads in a wide undulating arc across the centre of the park and is punctuated by 4 white concrete waterfalls that step out narrowly into the blue.” More here.
Changchun is said to have a green space and garden ratio of 38% which is mind boggling for a metropolitan area that has a population of 6.83 million and a population of 2.78 million in its city proper. Try that in Europe or North America!
Urban sculpture parks mediate the time between how the earth has evolved and the interventions of man. Like other types of negotiations we can hope that the dialogue may lead to a mutually beneficial agreement.
Slow loading page of sculpture photos
Posted in Abandoned, Art, Development, freeway, Green Space, History, Interchange, Parks, Photography, Post Industrial, Railroad, Structures, Urban, Urban Ecology, Urban Reclamation on January 20, 2007 | Leave a Comment »
Posted in Art, Development, freeway, Green Space, History, Interchange, Parks, Photography, Post Industrial, Railroad, Structures, Sustainability, Urban, Urban Ecology, Urban Reclamation on January 5, 2007 | 34 Comments »
Here is about the best shot of Turcot Yards and it’s surroundings you are ever likely to see. It is taken from this page by the City Of Montreal that takes a look at it’s 10 Ecoterritories.
The length of Turcot is somewhat compressed here. For anyone who is interested it takes about 40 minutes to walk from the Turcot Interchange in the backgrouind to the Angrignon Overpass in the foreground, providing you don’t stop to check anything out.
From this page the City says in relation to it’s green policies, “Montréal, a city which has lost 75 hectares of wood each year over the past decade, became the first municipality in Québec to adopt a policy to protect and enhance natural habitats in December 2004.”Seems like a damage control statement to me as the city’s record on allowing development into “protected” areas is a joke. In fact, aerial photography of the island in 1988 showed that depletion of “green cover” was already past the “boiling” point. Despite some glossy rhetoric and the creation of the Ecoterritories- all of which have been severely encroached upon by development in recent decades- the current admistration appears to be as insensitive to the reality of the need for the redevelopement of the island as a healthy, sustainable, environment as were administrations past.
I look at the picture above and it is not too hard to imagine how it once may have been with the Riviere Saint Pierre running the length of Turcot and Otter Lake where the Interchange now is. I see how the Falaise Saint Jacques (the green strip that runs the north side of Turcot Yards) can connect with the Lachine Canal (A bike/pedestrain crossing over highway 20) and the neighborhoods of NDG ( the road already exists!) on the left, not to mention Saint Henri which lays beyond the Interchange. There is a tremendous opportunity for Montreal to join the rest of the world by going “Sustainable” at Turcot Yards.
This year Walking Turcot Yards is going to place more emphasis on the Falaise Saint Jacques and look at ideas, people, and creative solutions for Turcot Yards.
Posted in Abandoned, Art, Development, freeway, Green Space, History, Interchange, Parks, Photography, Post Industrial, Railroad, Structures, Sustainability, Urban, Urban Ecology, Urban Reclamation on December 22, 2006 | Leave a Comment »
The Gowanus Canal runs through Brooklyn, NY. And so does this blog called The Gowanus Lounge. Through a critical eye (and over 2000 great photographs) “GL” offers insight into development in Brooklyn through a wide range of projects. And there are many unusual and intimate views of life in New York City.
How often do we actually describe a freeway bypass as exciting?
The Craigieburn Bypass in the north end of Melbourne, Australia certainly meets the criteria! And, as reported in Open The Window, it is “a 17km model of infrastructure design that is environmentally sensitive, socially concious, aesthetically engaging, and pragmatically effective.” Even the aboriginal people, the Wurundjeri were consulted about impact on the landscape.
There are a number of interesting features as listed on Wikipedia.
Noise Walls: More than four kilometres of noise barriers have been installed between the roadway and surrounding residential areas.
The Northern Lights: A high-tech display lighting system that has been installed along an Acryllic wall. The wall uses a combination of red, green and blue Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) mounted on transparent Acryllic to deliver an array of blended colours at nightfall. The feature wall is believed to be the first installation of this type anywhere in the world.
Shared Pathways: There is a shared pathway which runs along the length of the bypass, which is split into two lanes for pedestrian and cyclist usage. The pathway is around ten feet East of the main roadway until Craigieburn Road East, whereupon it switches to the West side until the Amaroo Road bridge. The path crosses roads at three places.
Landscaping has been given a priority in the design.
“The plant species used in the landscaping of the bypass were chosen to complement the surrounding native and indigenous landscape and to satisfy the preference of the local community and key stakeholders. More than 750,000 trees and shrubs have been planted along the bypass and shared path.”More here. fsdg
In summary from Open The Window,
“In addition to the aesthetics of the sound barriers, it is the level of consideration that went into the Bypass design and construction that are truly worth taking note. Streams, wetlands, grasslands, and endangered species were all taken into account. The local academic community was involved with development. Accommodations were made to Melbourne’s original inhabitants, the Wurundjeri people, in order to preserve their ties to the land. This robust development phase yields an uniquely effective solution.
Simultaneous consideration of the environment, the community, and the culture is not only an effective development strategy, but it demonstrates a compassionate consideration of the road’s greater context. Once that context is established, the design team can push the limits without the worry that their aesthetic decisions could negatively affect those who live nearby or use the bypass. The result is clearly a work of confidence and conscientiousness, and a brilliant design solution to an otherwise mundane situation.”
Great aerial photographs at Architecture Australia
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I look at the sound barriers and cant help but think of how the Quebec government and others involved could have been a little more inspired in approving the bland yet well intended noise abatement walls currently being constructed along the 20 in Lachine. More to come.
The City of Montreal’s “plans” to extend the amount of green space on the Island to 8%, which would actually be a huge increase from the current 3%, appears to have been just a lot of political smoke and mirror manipulation. Here is an article showing how city hall operates in terms of the Island’s 10 “ecoterritories”.
Here at WTY we will say a nice little prayer for the resilient yet over neglected Falaise Saint Jacques.
In 1982 artist Agnes Denes planted a wheatfield in lower Manhattan at a landfill site at Battery Park.
The Wheatfield project was a stark visual contradiction: a beautiful golden field of wheat set among the cool steel skyscrapers of downtown Manhattan. Denes believes her “decision to plant a wheatfield in Manhattan, instead of designing just another public sculpture, grew out of a long-standing concern and need to call attention to our misplaced priorities and deteriorating human values.” More here.
It becomes clear that we have become very biased in our notions of “urban” by excluding possibilities that are not driven by short term profits or an absurd, redundant, and repressive architectural order.
I look at Turcot Yards and I easily see a windmill, a field, streams and trees, and I also see the interchange, with it s new coat of paint, and the freeway busy, busy, busy. And they all work together quite nicely!
Art project near downtown Los Angeles in 2005.
“With this project I have undertaken to clean 32 acres of brownfield and bring in more than 1,500 truck loads of earth from elsewhere in order to prepare this rocky and mixed terrain for the planting of a million seeds. This art piece redeems a lost fertile ground, transforming what was left from the industrial era into a renewed space for the public.”
—LA Artist Lauren Bon
The site has a long cultural history: it is the last recorded location of Yang-na, one of the largest Tongva villages; it functioned as a communal agricultural land during the early years of El Pueblo de Los Angeles; it was host to the Zanja Madre watercourses that irrigated the growth of the city; and it served as the Southern Pacific River Station railroad yard. The site takes its name from the stalks of corn that sprouted along the rail yard’s tracks, from seeds that spilled from hopper cars whose destination was the Capitol Milling Co. adjacent to the railroad yard. More here.
The project is not without some controversey as some have complained that the project has delayed the developement of a park and some locals say it has nothing to do with the surrounding cultural community. “All I see is money,” said one city worker who identified himself as Steve. “Three million dollars? You could’ve bought a Van Gogh for that…. You could’ve put something useful in there.”
The 32 acre “uncornfield” will become Los Angeles Historic Park and hopes to be a model of urban community “reclamation” in a city best known for automobile dependancy and urban sprawl.