Thursday, December 19, 2013

Recommended reading: Nevada City and architectural theory

Back in September, this piece was posted over at Uncouth Reflections. The writer calls the gold rush town of Nevada City, California, an "architecture-and-urbanism masterpiece" and uses photos from his trip there to develop some "hunches" about architecture and urban design in general:

"Some more hunches about what might result in humane and pleasing built environments: Approach building and development as an outgrowth and refinement of nature. Work with the actual environment, not against it. Make generous use of local materials. Value pluralism and variety, yes, but value harmony and simple, direct human pleasures even more. Perhaps, 99% of the time, fitting in is more important than standing out. Value the roughshod, the approachable, the informal and the ramshackle more than the impersonal, the awe-inspiring and the perfect." 

I recommend reading through the entire article; it is full of great photos as well as urbanism common sense.

Friday, December 6, 2013

"Union Way" in Portland, Oregon

Union Way is a very cool little project that opened this past summer in Portland. It feels like and functions as an outdoor pedestrian street, when in fact it actually cuts down the spine of a massive old garage building. One of Union Way's developers noted that the project "takes its inspiration from small shop-lined alleys and passageways of old in cities like Paris and Tokyo." Here's an interesting short article about the "arcade-like space" I stumbled upon this evening. A snippet:
“Essentially the Red Cap Garage is this long, deep, narrow building. It’s 47 feet wide and about 135 feet deep. The problem that you have is that only 47 feet has street frontage. So this space deep in here begins to be dark. The question becomes: how do you monetize that? How do you make that valuable? How do you make that interesting? The answer was to add a new street.”
Union Way (photo by Jeremy Bittermann)

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The city from the air

Some modern city planners have been jokingly criticized for designing urban spaces in a way that the city is visually appealing from an airplane.

Okay, maybe only half-jokingly. Heck, Brasília was planned to look like an airplane from an airplane;