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Sustainable Rotterdam

The city is re-inventing itself

Club Double Dee, Sustainable Danceclub

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Enviu is an international organization located in Rotterdam "for and by people with innovative business ideas that are aimed at solutions for environmental issues". In partnership with architecture firm Doll Lab and club Off_corso, they have developed an innovative and pragmatic concept bringing together sustainability and trends: a sustainable danceclub where energy is generated by dancing, the toilet flushes rainwater, and walls react on heat and sounds. For this project, Doll Lab provides expertise in structural and technical issues while Off_corso serves as platform for creative ideas. Welcome to Club Double Dee.

Rotterdam shows again its innovative spirit with this idea, demonstrating how sustainability can contribute to create value for the clubbing experience by optimizing resources. We participated in a brainstorming session and follow up meeting which gave us the opportunity to get an insiders' view on the project. The idea is just great, and the proposals from participants inspirational and most of them ready applicable in real context. Off_corso shares ownership with Nighttown, which is considering implementing the concept during the rebuilding of the club this summer.

If it happens you're in Rotterdam by July 7th, you shouldn't miss the Club Double Dee kick-of party preceded by a presentation of the concept by guests speakers. The event will include DJs, VJs, musicians, organic food and drinks producers and probably some fashion designers. More details to come this site, as we will come with updates.

Date: 7th of July 2006
Location & time: Nighttown, Westkruiskade 26-28, Rotterdam (NL)
20.30-23.00h presentation of Club Double Dee concept
23.00-04.00h party

posted by Oriol P., 5:14 PM | link | 5 comments |

The world is just a container away

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Containers are intrinsically linked to Rotterdam up to the extreme to make a tourist attraction out of it (Spido). The modern container is basically a standardized way of moving goods either by boat, train or truck, which fifty years ago revolutionized cargo shipping. On April 26th 1956, a boat loaded with 58 aluminum containers went from Newark to Houston initiating a global revolution. The new method for handling dry goods replaced traditional break bulk where goods are handled in pallets. Wikipedia inform us that 'today, approximately 90% of non-bulk cargo worldwide moves by containers stacked on transport ships. 26% of all containers originate from China. As of 2005, some 18 million total containers make over 200 million trips per year'
However, meanwhile trade and moving goods is an exponentially increasing activity, Rotterdam decided to face its future development towards creative industries. As result, several 'havens' are shifting containers per creative clusters of industry, R&D, and education. Will the 'creative economy' bring a revolution like the container did?

Recommended
- The Box, How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger
by Marc Levinson
In a recent column published at the Financial Times, Marc Levinson illustrated the effects of the container revolution. For an in-detail description, check the book. 'By dramatically lowering freight costs, the container transformed economic geography. Some of the world's great ports - London and Liverpool, New York and San Francisco - saw their bustling waterfronts decay as the maritime industry decamped to new locations with room to handle containers and transport links to move them in and out. Manufacturers, no longer tied to the waterfront to reduce shipping costs, moved away from city centers, decimating traditional industrial districts. Eventually, production moved much farther afield, to places such as South Korea and China, which took advantage of cheap, reliable transportation to make goods that could not have been exported profitably before containerisation'

Recommended - The Container Story, a film by Thomas Greh
'This film tells the story of the container box. It shows the influence the container has had on trade, on wars, and on the economy, on housewives, dockworkers and car manufacturers' Thomas Greh presents the birth and evolution of the container box from the inside with his film by using archival footage and experience intriguing, lively interviews with Malcom McLean (father of modern container), his family, and his business partners.

50th Container Anniversary at Flikr

posted by Oriol P., 1:48 PM | link | 0 comments |

Neighbor Interaction

Friday, May 26, 2006

Can urban furniture provide long-lasting value, and ensure neighbor interaction? Jeroen Bruls and Krijn Christiaansen from design studio Himom demonstrates that it's possible, and also it can add beauty and surprise to the pedestrian. The Heklucht, conceived for an art project in Ypenburg (a newly build neighborhood in the Netherlands), is a fence/bike-lock station including an air pump in one of its supports.
'The goal of the project is to stimulate an interaction between neighbors, while pumping up the tires of their bicycles. The hurdle is made out of polished stainless steel. Because of this, it shines like a jewel on the grey pavement' In addition, we believe that the design contributes to re-enforce social sustainability by providing a valuable service to the community.

Himom
Heklucht Fence
Via JoshSpear

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posted by Oriol P., 7:38 PM | link | 0 comments |

Urban Exploring Festival

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Reluct inform us about the latest proposal from Dutch artist Florentijn Hoffman: Urban Exploring Festival, an exploration of abandoned and forbidden places in the urban landscape of Dordrecht by a group of participants on khaki outfits. Hoffman asked the question: 'what exactly would define an urban explorer?' and invited participants to place a bright orange flag and take pictures of each discovered place. Urban Exploring Festival is documented at the site of the artist and video by VPRO.

Florentijn Hoffman
Via Reluct

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posted by Oriol P., 3:57 PM | link | 0 comments |

Sustainable Architecture & Urbanism

In our routinely Google search we were pleased to find SUIT, an architecture & urbanism firm based in Rotterdam. Their news section announces the construction of an apartment building in Shanghai aiming "to provide a socially more sustainable alternative for the mass housing projects currently arising". Reading further, we find that the firm bases its design in the reinvention of smart and simple construction methods, as well as new building technologies. Browse the project section for sustainable proposals.

SUIT


posted by Oriol P., 3:55 PM | link | 0 comments |

Future City

The Barbican Art Gallery of London presents the exhibition Future City, Experiment and Utopia in Architecture 1956 - 2006, showcasing 'the most radical and experimental architecture to have emerged in the past 50 years: from extraordinary houses and incredible towers, to fantasy cityscapes and inhabitable sculptures' The expo holds works from Constant Nieuwenhuys, Archigram, SuperStudio, and Daniel Libeskind. If you are in London this summer, you should visit what Land+Living defines as 'the most comprehensive survey of experimental architecture to be held in the UK'

Future City, Experiment and Utopia in Architecture 1956 - 2006
From 15 June to 17 September @ Barbican
London
Via Land+Living

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posted by Oriol P., 3:50 PM | link | 0 comments |

Hithum, Sustainable Architecture

Bert Gregory is President & CEO of Mithun, a Seattle-based architecture, design and planning firm leader in resource sensitive and sustainable design. Recently, the American Institute of Architects (AIA), selected three of the firm's projects among the top ten United States green buildings, however the firm is best known for its design of the REI stores and IslandWood, the innovative environmental learning center on Bainbridge Island, Washington.


The guys at BetterBricks interviewed Bert Gregory about the current status of sustainable design and architecture. Highly recommended if you're in the business.

Quotes
  • "The future of green design is truly in broad-based systems like large-scale city planning"
  • "Knowledge, values and economics are the keys to moving projects toward sustainability"
  • "Education of architects, designers and engineers in sustainable design has accelerated exponentially because our clients are demanding it"
  • "Whether from the private or public sector, our clients are generally very clear about what they value in a project. Healthy buildings are at the top of their list"
Recommended - Resource Guide for Sustainable Development in an Urban Environment, edited by Mithum in collaboration with the Urban Environmental Institute.

Interview With Bert Gregory
BetterBricks Sustainable Design articles
Via Land + Living

posted by Oriol P., 3:42 PM | link | 0 comments |

City Branding

Saturday, May 20, 2006

With this post we want to start a series of short, and very unscientific essays regarding city issues. What you will find here may usually address the need to answer a specific question in a quick & dirty way. Three-step method: 1. Identify question, 2. Googlelize, 3. Mash-up.




City Branding

How relevant is city branding?* The global agenda invites cities to re-think their strengths and market them as it's done with products. And just like with product brands, some cities are more successful than others when selling their message.
City branding strategies target two groups of recipients which require different approaches: citizens and "outsiders". The city is a key reference for its inhabitants and a feeling of pride and belonging ensures positive attitudes towards the surrounding. Visitors and investors may be more interested in the unique characteristics of the city that make it stand out of the crowd. Anyhow, it may just be a good idea to consider how you engage citizens in building an ideal of values, believes, behavior and attitudes towards a prosper future. It is not about dictating what it "has to be" but properly manage what already is. We find examples of cities successfully building and selling the brand in both sides of the Atlantic; Barcelona & Chicago.

Barcelona has experience in building the brand, by the end of the 80's both the Autonomous Government and City Council started using marketing techniques to build up a message. But it was the candidature as Olympic city which shaped the ground for creativity. Currently the city holds typical branding elements highly recognizable by the inhabitants as a logo, motto, colors, patterns, quotes, and values that are imprinted in billboards, web, uniforms, public transport, urban furniture, and everything that is public.

Recommended - For a review of Barcelona's branding strategies take a look to Barcelona Communicates by Toni Puig for Actar. And for a rich overview of Barcelona's characteristic graphic elements in the public space, you shouldn't miss Barcelona Grafica by America Sanchez. For web experiences visit Barcelonagrames, or hang a falling star in Barcelona's sky.

In America, Chicago has gone under a major re-discovery after the opening of Millennium Park which has brought the city to the international catwalk with its eye-catching elements. The development of such unique emplacement has unified Chicago citizens' feelings about the city, and therefore contribute to the brand. Interestingly, the Millennium Park is a branded-branding element, since its music areas, bridge, gardens, and plaza show endorsement by corporations or foundations.

Recommended - If you plan a visit to Millennium Park, download first the audio tour to your mp3 player and get a fuller experience. If you prefer printed media, take a look to Millennium Park: Creating a Chicago Landmark by Historical Studies of Urban America.

But, what does it take to be a successfully branded city? The Google search pointed towards the master thesis from Julia Winfield-Pfefferkorn at Syracuse University entitled The Branding of Cities, Exploring City Branding and the Importance of Brand Image. The study explores branding of commercial products and branding of cities by reviewing case studies from New York, Paris, San Francisco, Rochester, Berlin, and Charlotte. From the conclusions regarding successfully and poorly branded cities, we pick the following findings:

Successful braded cities
  • Each city resident is a walking-talking advertisement, receiving support from residents and belief in the city brand
  • These cities brand themselves in ways their residents find believable, and in doing so the brand is reinforced as truthful
  • These cities also have functionality and added value
  • These cities exercise cooperation between the residents and municipal government, moving forward with common goals to initiate growth, development, and success for the city
  • Possessed a definite identity and a projected city brand is consistently portrayed
Poorly branded cities
  • Poorly branded cities are characterized by consistent brand confusion: a mixture of either negative brand images from the past, which the city is attempting to replace by doing promotional "good" or there was no city brand at all
  • Lack of common goals between the residents of the city and the municipal government and a lack of cooperation between these entities
  • Lack of foresight to create a place of attraction not only for businesses but also for public spaces and cultural venues was not widely accepted or appreciated
  • The final weakness of these cities is a lack of distinction
Ref. The Branding of Cities, Exploring City Branding and the Importance of Brand Image (pdf) by Julia Winfield-Pfefferkorn, Syracuse University

So, is your city a unified entity or a fragmented one? What does all this mean? You may consider to define where do you position by benchmarking towards other cities. For a quick analysis, you may be interested to answer the following questions:
  • Do you know what the core values of your city are, what unifies (almost) every single inhabitant?
  • Does all media support controlled by the municipality hold a unified image? From letters & e-mails to maintenance services uniforms and vehicles?
  • Do you have a homogeneous collection of urban elements or an eclectic one?
  • How does your website look? Is it communicating what the city stands for? Is it functional and interactive for both citizens and prospect visitors?
  • Do you invite citizens to participate and contribute to the process of building the city's brand?
Citizen Involvement
Cities can benefit from web 2.0 by offering collaborative tools for citizens. Imagine a place where it's easy for everyone to find insiders' suggestions and a sense of "real", take as example Metroblogging, - the largest and fastest growing network of city - specific blogs on the Web. From San Francisco to Bangkok, from Karachi to Toronto, Metblogs are a hyper-local look at what's going on in the city. Our hand-picked core of regional bloggers give each site a new perspective on daily life; less calendar listings, more friendly advice. With Metblogs, you can read about life and times in your neighborhood, your favorite places to visit, places where you've never been, or get a feel for them all with the daily "best of" blog on the hub"

What if instead of reading you can watch reviews? TurnHere offers high-quality video documentaries covering neighborhoods (the beta covers mostly North-American cities) a destination "created by professional and amateur filmmakers specifically for the Internet, TurnHere's high-quality videos offer a first-hand, insiders look at different destinations around the country, and are hosted by real people who live there. Films focus on the people, culture, history, local businesses and political landscapes specific to each destination"

While the previous two examples may be appealing because create an experience based in exploration and discovery, content creation is not limited to recommendation of places; citizens can also be actively engaged in the maintenance of the surrounding. Lewisam, in UK has developed Love Lewisham, a site which "involves residents in keeping the southeast borough of London clean. After installing special software on their cameraphone, observant townspeople can snap a picture of 'offending graffiti' or overflowing litter bins, enter location details, and send it to the local council". Picture gallery (via Springwise)

These are just three examples of the relationship between city (place) and brand attachment. The potential is out there, you just need to address it properly and provide the right tools that empower residents.

Reccommended - USA Today article Insider' info puts city blogs on the map


* Which is different from banding in cities where commercial messages take the public space. We'll come back to this one.

Related Posts: - - - - -
posted by Oriol P., 5:55 PM | link | 0 comments |

Water Project

We like books, and if they invite us to interact with the city, then we love them! During our Saturday visit to bookstore De Slegte we spotted a title published during Rotterdam 2001 Cultural Capital of Europe. The Water Project is a guide inviting us to discover a 19th century Rotterdam on a walking tour. Designed by architect W.N. Rose in 1854, The Water Project was the first large nineteenth century upscaling operation in Rotterdam, comprising the development of five "singels"; Westersingel, Spoorsingel, Noordsingel, Crooswijsesingel, and Boeksemsingel. The book presents five tours and adds suggestions for eleven recreational "detours" filled with detailed descriptions of buildings, art, and historical aspects of the project.
The book is out of catalogue, so get your copy for ridiculous €4.99 at De Slegte before it's gone.

The Water Project
Edited by Fransje Hooimeijer & Mariëtte Kamphuis
192 pp, English
010 Publishers

posted by Oriol P., 5:42 PM | link | 0 comments |

Did you know that...?

Now there's a new way to demonstrate how much you know about your city. Rotterdam Spel is a quiz game for 2-4 players which tests your knowledge about Rotterdam architecture, history, sports, outgoing, restaurants, and curiosities. The winner is honored as "Rotterdamer of the Day". We believe that's a great approach to disseminate the values of Rotterdam through its citizens and visitors. In addition, product design looks fresh and contemporary, contributing to city branding. The game is presented in Dutch and versions are also available for Amsterdam and The Hague.
If you're into city quiz games, stay tuned, something big is coming to Amsterdam this summer.

Available in bookstores.
You can also order it here (€13.50)
By Quiz & Co
Thanks Satish!

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posted by Oriol P., 2:20 PM | link | 0 comments |

Book releases

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

After attending the lecture by Claudio Acioly on Urban Poverty and Planning we realized that if something has to be done in relation to sustainability and cities at a global scale, it needs to address the problems generated by the exponential growing of slums. At the end of the day, slums are an expression of poverty, a well grounded issue which requires a broad understanding of the context and its drivers. In any case, just when we are eager to learn more about slums and the potential solutions to eradicate urban and environmental problems, two new book releases hit the shelf tackling these issues.

We'd like to take the opportunity to inform you that all book recommendations in this blog can be purchased at Amazon by clicking the links. Notice that we're now offering a Recommended Reading section. If you wish to suggest a book, drop us a line.

Planet of Slums

Mike Davis
Ed. Verso/Hardcover / 228 pages / ISBN 1-84467-022-8 / text English /

"In Planet of Slums, urban theorist Davis takes a global approach to documenting the astonishing depth of squalid poverty that dominates the lives of the planet's increasingly urban population, detailing poor urban communities from Cape Town and Caracas to Casablanca and Khartoum" Buy it

Design Like You Give a Damn
Architectural Responses to Humanitarian Crises
Cameron Sinclair, Kate Stohr/Ed. Thames and Hudson/Hardcover / 336 pages
ISBN 0500342199 / text in English


"Design like you Give a Damn is a compendium of innovative projects from around the world that demonstrate the power of design to improve lives. The first book to bring the best of humanitarian architecture and design to the printed page, Design Like You Give a Damn offers a history of the movement toward socially conscious design and showcases more than 80 contemporary solutions to such urgent needs as basic shelter, health care, education, and access to clean water, energy, and sanitation" Buy it

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posted by Oriol P., 1:31 PM | link | 0 comments |

Running the World's Cities

Saturday, May 06, 2006

"City Mayors is an international project aiming to promote strong cities and good local government. It examines how city mayors, and others who govern metropolitan areas, develop innovative solutions to long-standing urban problems such as housing, transport, education and employment, but also how they meet the latest environmental, technological, social and security challenges, which affect the well-being of their citizens"
This complete source of data is currently running a contest looking for the world’s most outstanding majors. Vote for yours here!

City Mayors

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posted by Oriol P., 12:53 AM | link | 0 comments |