urban

Future of Suburbia: Report from Cambridge

In the United States, over 69 percent of all residents live in suburban areas. Across the globe many other developed countries are primarily suburban, while developing countries are increasingly suburbanizing. By 2050, an additional 2.7 billion people are anticipated to live in metropolitan regions around the world, and suburbs are a significant portion of this urban expansion. Over the past two years, 150 experts from numerous, diverse disciplines contributed research that explores this contemporary global phenomenon – and on April 1st their work was showcased at the MIT Media Lab for the Future of Suburbia conference.

The “Future of Suburbia” was chosen as MIT’s Center for Advanced Urbanism biennial theme in order to shed light on the growing role suburbs play in our lives and how they may be improved for the future.   Suburbia is an often polarizing issue that should no longer be ignored by the fields of Planning and Design.

The conference is just one of three products the Center for Advanced Urbanism created for its biennial research theme. An exhibition, located on the ground floor of the MIT Media Lab included infographic mappings, a 22ft x 8ft dynamic model of a 3 million population polycentric region in the year 2100, and aerial footage of global suburbs. The third product, a publication entitledInfinite Suburbia (Fall 2017), brings together 50+ authors and about 700 references, providing groundbreaking research on our low-density future.

Each of MIT’s five schools were represented at the conference, spanning twelve key fields. Attendees also included students from Harvard and Chapman University, and speakers in demographics, entrepreneurship, history, urban design and media production. The findings were presented within four design frameworks, including heterogeneous, productive, autonomous and experimental, which were explored through a variety of fields; including design, architecture, urban planning, history and demographics, policy, energy, mobility, health, environment, economics, and applied and future technologies.

The conference centered on the question, how might suburbia be upgraded to better suit our needs? Can new suburban models be created for developed, but also developing, countries? What challenges will suburbs face in the future? Despite such a large and complex topic, enlightening data, opinions and predictions were given regarding suburbs and their role in a sustainable future.

read the full article at newgeography.com

In Southern California, it takes an assortment of villages

by Joel Kotkin & Charlie Stephens

Among urban historians, Southern California has often had a poor reputation, perennially seen as “anti-cities” or “19 suburbs in search of a metropolis.” The great urban thinker Jane Jacobs wrote off our region as “a vast blind-eyed reservation.”

The Pavlovian response from many local planners, developers and politicians is to respond to this criticism by trying to repeal our own geography. Los Angeles’ leaders, for example, see themselves as creating the new sunbelt role model, built around huge investments Downtown and in an expensive, albeit underused, subway and light-rail network.

Yet the notion of turning Southern California into a dense, New York hybrid makes very little sense. Nor has it done much for the regional economy, certainly in Los Angeles. The City of Angels thrived during its period of development into a multipolar region; in the 21st century, as Downtown has gained a few thousand hipsters, the rest of the city has lagged economically while population and job growth – including in tech – has been more robust in the surrounding counties of Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino.

Building off Strength

Southern California, even before the advent of the freeways, developed along the lines of an “archipelago of villages.” Even Downtown Los Angeles, the one legitimate urban core in the region, lost its central relevance by the 1930s and, despite all its self-promotion, employs close to the smallest share – well short of 3 percent – of the regional workforce of any large region in the country.

In contrast, the two fastest-growing areas in Southern California – the Inland Empire and Orange County – are arguably the largest regions in the country without a real downtown. Rather than a negation of urbanity, as some suggest, these areas are nurturing an expansive archipelago of smaller hubs, each serving distinct geographies, populations, tastes and purposes, and constitute the building blocks for Southern California’s urban future.

The advantages of such districts are obvious. They allow people to live as most prefer, in single-family homes, lower-density townhouses or apartments, while having easy access to a walking environment. In many cases, most notably Irvine, there is employment nearby, leading to very short commutes on average. This multipolarity is essentially baked into the Southern California cake; it cannot be transformed without massive economic disruption, and enormous expenditures on transit have so far done little to reduce gridlock or spur broad economic growth.

see full article at ocregister.com

Smart Cities are Beginning to Adopt Electric Scooters as the Future of Transport

As cities expand and demand for electric scooters and vehicles grows, Gogoro is trying to bring a new urban energy infrastructure to market

By 2025 the number of smart cities around the world is predicted to quadruple from 2013, from 21 to 88. Gogoro is an electric scooter and energy company that is helping to lead this transformation by making megacities more connected, sustainable, and smart. Already in Amsterdam and Taipei, Gogoro is seeking out new metropolitan regions. But what cities are fitting for this mobility technology, and what will be the long-term impact?

To get a better sense of Gogoro, it seems fair to say that it’s like Tesla, but with scooters. The company has created the “world’s first high-performance, zero emissions two-wheeled electric vehicle”, as well as an urban battery infrastructure for quick charging.

The scooter also gathers, analyzes, and shares rider data to help riders understand best practices for reducing energy consumption and optimizing performance. Vending machines called GoStations allow riders to swap out dead batteries with new ones, and are spread throughout the city for easy access.

Cities naturally seem like good locations for the Gogoro system, but other geographical, social, and political forces also help determine suitable regions for adoption. Gogoro’s VP of communications Jason Gordon gave PSFK three practical reasons as to why Taipei made sense:

See the full article at PSFK.com

Congested Cities, Meet the Autonomous Tricycle for Adults

The compact, off-the-grid Persuasive Electric Vehicle encourages physical activity, less traffic, and healthier cities

The Persuasive Electric Vehicle, or PEV (pictured on the right above), is an autonomous electric tricycle that’s designed to get people to change their mobility patterns in cities. It’s self-driving, environmental friendly, and sharable but there’s a catch: you have to pedal to keep it moving.

The PEV concept would use NFC technologies to accurately navigate streets, driving autonomously as it ships packages around town and finding potential riders for ride sharing programs.The tricycle only gets up to 12mph, but it’s meant for bike lanes only.

As for the persuasive element, studies show that those using ride sharing programs were already walking or riding their bikes more than others. Since the PEV is meant to expand the market for sustainable transportation, its focus is to give automobile drivers a reason to switch over—which is, a little exercise. By pedaling, riders generate energy that is stored up and used when needed by the motor. Passengers could choose to take care of their bodies, cities, and environment at the same time.

See the full article at PSFK.com