Building the World

November 9, 2019
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CITIES: Welcome to the Club

“DJs at the club.” Photographer: Malagalabombonera, 2015. Image: wikimedia commons.

The wall fell down and so did a lot of other things on November 9, 1989. “No photos on the dance floor!” is an exhibition documenting Berlin’s club scene since the fall of the Wall. According to Felix Hoffmann, curator, “After the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, clubs, bars, galleries, and studios began popping up everywhere, filing empty buildings, factories; the club scene became the driving force behind the city’s rejuvenation.” Hoffman believes that Germany was first reunited on the dance floor. The city was not officially re-united administratively until October 1990; meanwhile, there were yet no rules. Pop-up parties met in forests, drawing together thousands of people who were formerly kept apart. Many believe clubs like Metropol and Tresor fostered a dance and music culture that all people, despite their former differences, discovered together.

In Cities of Destiny, Arnold Toynbee explored the idea that some cities, at moments in history, generate a climate of exceptional capabilities; example, Athens in the age of Pericles or Cyrene. New capital cities, from Baghdad to Brasilia, are built-visions of a nation, offering both governance and culture. In the future, climate change may cause some coastal capitals to move inland; as Indonesia moves the capital from Jakarta, due to sea-rise, what might exemplify the new vision? Dance clubs could be a factor, for another reason:

Floors that give light (and sometimes delight). “Break Dance” by Kalka, 2008. Image: wikimedia commons.

If dance brings us together, Pavegen’s idea does double step: floors that generate electricity when people dance, or walk, over special tiles. Pavegen demonstrated the innovation at the London Olympics when the West Ham Tube station lit itself from electricity generated by 2012 Olympic Games attendees as they arrived at the tube step nearest the stadium. It may not be surprising that Pavegen got their early start in dance clubs.

Be it dance clubs, or floors in schools, or even sidewalks in cities, why not build floors of the future that give light? Perhaps moving because of rising seas, there could be cities with streets paved in a new kind of gold, like the legendary El Dorado. Streets, walkways, sportsways, buildings, and dance clubs generating renewable just-in-time clean electricity may become the foundation for cities of the future.

Building the World. “Jakarta: first capital to move due to sea rise.” 1 May 2019. https://blogs.umb.edu/buildingtheworld/2019/o5/01/jakarta-first-capital-to-move-due-to-sea-rise

Building the World. “Dancing (and Walking) in the Light. 23 October 2015. http://blogs.umb.edu/buildingtheworld/2015/10/23/dancing-and-walking-in-the-light/

Glynn, Paul. “Berlin Wall: ‘Germany was first re-united on the dance floor.'” 9 November 2019. BBC.com

Hoffmann, Felix, curator, C/O Berlin, “No Photos on the Dance Floor! Berlin 1989” 13/09/19 to 30/11/19. https://www.co-berlin/en/no-photos-dance-floor/

“No Photos on the Dance Floor!” YouTube. https://youtu.be/iKAvU9jyl/

Toynbee, Arnold J. editor. Cities of Destiny. Thames & Hudson, 1967. ISBN: 9780500250198.

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G. Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unpor

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August 19, 2019
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CITIES: Forecasting the Future

“Canton Tower,” Guanzhou, China, one of the world’s cities most vulnerable to climate change. Image: wikimedia commons.

Cities are getting hotter, bigger, and more densely populated; it may be difficult for policy makers, and families, to keep pace with the environmental consequences of climate change, especially in urban areas that will house more than 70% of the world’s population by 2050. Like anything gradual, today doesn’t quite yet feel like tomorrow. Because the bicameral human brain works by comparison, a new app, using a method of climate-analog mapping, by Fitzlab shows what your city will feel like in the future:

Boston, Massachusetts = Rosedale, Maryland (Boston will be 7 degrees (F) warmer and 17% wetter;

Houston, Texas – Ciudad Mante, Mexico (Houston will be 4 degrees (F) warmer and 27% wetter.

“Boston: Back Bay.” Photographer: R. Shade, 2013. Image: wikimedia.

In general, most cities in North America will feel like areas 500 miles to their south. Globally, results of climate change on cities and surrounding regions will force more migrations, and cause a $54 trillion economic loss. Weather will wreak havoc; in 2017, 16 severe weather events in the USA caused  $306 billion in damage.

Rebuilding cities for resiliency in climate change will affect every country on earth, and perhaps seeing new capitals, and even new countries. Cities and capitals throughout history have been founded to inaugurate new visions: Abuja, new capital of Nigeria; Brasilia, new capital of Brazil; and Washington, D.C.,  founding capital of the USA. In the era of climate change, Indonesia may be considering moving the capital from Jakarta: like Abuja and Brasilia, the new capital will be more and less: more representative of the total population and less subject to rising seas. Rising seas may cause whole countries to move; Pacific Island nations are among those considering options. Every 1.5 degrees of Centigrade warming might cause 0.26 meters (0.85 feet) of sea rise. Every tenth of a degree exposes 10 million more people to possible migration due to flooding. Cities in most danger: Guangzhou, China; New Orleans, USA; New York City, USA; Mumbai, India; Osaka, Japan. Check your city on Resource Watch’s site.

Bendix, A. “We asked 11 climate scientists where they’d live in the US to avoid future natural disasters – here’s what they said.” 9 October, 2018. Business Insider. https://www.businessinsider.com/where-to-live-to-avoid-natural-disaster-climatologists-2018-8.

Brooke, K. “Jakarta – first capital to move due to sea rise.” 1 May, 2019. Building the World Blog. http://blogs.umb.edu/buildingtheworld/2019/05/01/jakarta-first-capital-to-move-due-to-sea-rise/

Fitzpatrick, M.C. and Dunn, R.R. “Contemporary climate analogs for 540 North American urban areas in the late 21st century.” 12 February 2019. Nature Communications 10, Article number 614. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-019-08540-3/.

Fitzlab. “What will climate feel like in 60 years? Check your city.” https://fitzlab.shinyapps.io/cityapp/

Litwin, E. “The Climate Diaspora: Indo-Pacific Emigration from Small Island Developing States.” 2011. University of Massachusetts Boston. https://papers.ssm.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1912859

Resource Watch. “Explore Data Sets.” https://resourcewatch.org/data/explore.

Woodward, A. “A troubling new map shows what your city’s climate may look like in 60 years. San Francisco may feel like Los Angeles, and New York may be more like Arkansas.” 15 February 2019. Business Insider. https://amp.businessinsider.com/climate-change-map-what-cities-will-feel-like-60-years-2019-2.

World Bank. “Cities and Climate Change: An Urgent Agenda.” December 2010, Volume 10. https://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTUWM/Resources/340232-1205330656272/CitiesandClimateChange.pdf.

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported Lice

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May 11, 2019
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CITIES: Capitals Built in Earthquake Zones

“Kathmandu: A collage,” 2012. Image: wikimedia.

Are capitals “moveable feasts?” Yes. History is filled with examples of capitals moved for new dynasties, new visions, coastal security, and more central political representation. In the future, we may see more relocations of capitals. Here’s three reasons:

EARTHQUAKES AND CAPITAL CITIES: There are other capitals, built on seismic ground, like Kathmandu or Tokyo, that may need to move. Another option, illustrated by Tokyo, might be to build a “spare battery” capital away from shaky ground. Indonesia is also earth-quake prone, located in the volcanic Ring of Fire; choice of a new capital location may require seismic assessment before a site is chosen.

What world capitals are vulnerable to shaky ground? At the time it was built, no one knew that Mexico City was located on ground susceptible to earthquakes. With a population of 20 million, the city is dense. Skyscraper towers can become “unintended object of mass destruction,” according to Michael Floyd of MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences. Loss of a command-and-control center that is a capital city can inhibit and delay disaster response, as seen when on 12 January 2010, Port-au-Prince, Haiti suffered the loss of records, legal documents, land, census data, tax records, and tragic loss of life, during an earthquake that damaged the government building.

RISING SEAS AND COASTAL CAPITALS: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Lagos, Nigeria are former capitals that ceded succession to Brasilia and Abuja. Both Rio and Lagos are ports. Many great capital cities were built as ports, among them Jakarta. Now, Indonesia may move its capital. Rising seas will inundate many capitals that also serve as ports.

NEW CAPITAL, NEW VISION: Moving a capital can mean a shift in demographic clout, inviting political power to more central areas of a nation. Jakarta is considering an area of Borneo. Will Mexico City plan a new Distrito Federal perhaps  also serving as a regional capital for the Americas?

NEXT STEPS FOR CAPITALS IN EARTHQUAKE ZONES: The massive urban centers that are capitals, even if the government center moves, will still remain vulnerable. Earthquakes will continue: what can be done to preserve and protect cities built on shaky ground?

CAPITAL CITIES IN EARTHQUAKE ZONES

Tokyo, Japan

Mexico City, Mexico

Jakarta, Indonesia

New Delhi, India

Manila, Philippines

Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Kathmandu, Nepal

“The 20 Most Earthquake-Vulnerable Cities.” 4 December 2007. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/2007/12/04/earthquakes-india-japan-biz-cx_db_1203earthquakes_slide.html/.

Chu, Jennifer. “Seismic gap may be filled by an earthquake near Istanbul.” MIT News. 11 September 2014. http://news.mit.edu/2014/seismic-gap-earthquake-istanbul-0911/.

Davidson, Frank P. and Kathleen Lusk Brooke. “Cities in Danger,” Building the Future, 2012. pages 65-97. University of Massachusetts Boston, Healey Library.

Ergintav, S, R.E. Reilinger, R. Cakmak, M. Floyd, Z. Cakir, U. Dogan, et al. “Istanbul’s earthquake hot spots: Geogetic constraints on strain accumulation along faults in the Marmara seismic gap.” Geophysical Research Letters 41, no. 16 (22 August 2014): 5783-5788.

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May 1, 2019
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Jakarta: first capital to move due to sea rise

Rivers and canals of Jakarta, Indonesia. Image: wikimedia.

 

MOVING THE CAPITAL DUE TO SEA RISE: Jakarta, Indonesia is the fastest sinking city on earth. Sea rise threatens the city, located on land intersected by 13 rivers. A busy port, Jakarta is congested and dense; heavy port buildings weigh down the terrain. As the capital, Jakarta also supports government, industry, and a burgeoning population. Residential and industrial water needs result in considerable pumping from the rivers, further draining the land mass. Another burden of density: traffic – Jakarta’s is among the world’s worst. And then there’s the residential buildings: 10 million people call Jakarta home, making it one of the world’s megacities. Skyscrapers dot the skyline, adding weight. Jakarta has sunk eight feet in the past decade, and the subsidence continues. Half of the city is below sea level.

Baghdad, surrounded by the Tigris River. Image: wikimedia.

NEW CAPITAL, NEW VISION: Changing the capital of a country is not unique in history. Baghdad was founded with a new vision, drawn as three concentric circles with a stroke of the Caliph’s sword marking the new capital. As Baghdad rebuilds, will Frank Lloyd Wright‘s plans and drawings bring Al Mansur’s vision to life as Madinat as-Salam, “City of Peace?” Other times, capitals moved inland from ports: Lagos, a port city, begat Abuja, moving Nigeria’s capital to a central location designed with vision and values including Haussmann’s Paris and L’Enfant’s and Banneker’s Washington, D.C. Rio de Janeiro ceded its position as capital to Brasilia, in part because the city of Ipanema beach became too dense; coastal location also meant vulnerability. The new capital, Brasilia, was central to the diverse country, representing a wider vision. Lucio Costa designed the new capital to be built in the shape of an airplane; Brasilia was the first city built to be seen from the air.

Costa’s Plan for Brasilia, in the shape of an airplane. Image: Library of Congress.

NEW BALANCE OF POWER: Just as Brazil chose an inland location, and Nigeria selected Abuja to relate to the center of the country, so Indonesia’s possible choice of an area of Borneo might represent a wider view. Palangka Raya is in consideration, in part due to a previous proposal by first president (1945-1967) Sukarno.

FUTURE OF COASTAL LOCATIONS IN CLIMATE CHANGE: Jakarta is a case example of the future. Rising seas may inundate some of the greatest cities in the world, many built as ports. As Indonesia begins to move its capital away from Jakarta, it will rebuild the coastal metropolis to defend from sea rise: “By 2050, about 95% of North Jakarta may be submerged,” according to Heri Andreas, Bandung Institute of Technology. Can innovations such as those proposed by Lempérière and Deroo to use canals, and rivers, to combat rising seas, help Jakarta and other port cities build a safer, better future? Will the Belt and Road Initiative build very different kinds of ports, using rivers, canals, and urban harbors to address sea rise?

Afra Sapiie, Marguerite. “Jokowi wants to move capital out of Java.” 29 April 2019. The Jakarta Post. https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2019/04/29/jokowi-wants-to-move-capital-of-java.html/.

BBC. “Indonesia’s planning minister announces capital city move,” 29 April 2019.

Lemer, Andrew C. “Foreseeing the Problems of Developing Nigeria’s New Federal Capital.” In Macro-engineering and the Future: A Management Perspective. edited by Frank P. Davidson and C. Lawrence Meador. Boulder,  CO: Westview Press, 1982.

Lempérière, François and Luc Deroo. “Peut on éviter les inondations à Paris?” January 2018. Symposium du DCBR : comité français des barrages et réservoirs. http://www.barrages-cfbr.eu/IMG/pdf/symposium2018_10_deroo_lemperiere_peut-on_eviter_les_inondations_a_paris.pdf

Litwin, Evan T. “The Climate Diaspora: Indo-Pacific Emigration from Small Island Developing States.” 2011. University of Massachusetts Boston. https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers/cfm?abstract?id=1912859.

Kennedy, Merrit. “Indonesia plans to move its capital out of Jakarta, a city that’s sinking.” 29 April 2019. NPR. https://www.npr.org/2019/04/29/718234878/indonesia-plans-to-move-its-capital-out-of-jakarta-a-city-thats-sinking.

Toppa, Sabrina. “These cities have the worst traffic in the world, says a new index.” 4 February 2016. Jakarta, Istanbul, Mexico City, Surabaya, and St. Petersburg top the world’s cities among 78 surveyed. Time Magazine. http://time.com/3695068/worst-cities-traffic-jams/

Appreciation and recognition: David Edwards-May, Inland Waterways International, Andrew C. Lemer, Evan Litwin, and Cherie Potts for contributions to this post.

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported Licen

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January 19, 2018
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Cities as Destiny

Cities may rebuild the world. Image: “Cirrus sky panorama.” Image: Fir0002/Flagstaffotos.

We started talking about all these things that we could do if someone would just give us a city and put us in charge,” said Eric Schmidt, CEO of Alphabet. Sidewalk Labs, subsidiary of Alphabet, Google’s parent company, won a public competition to design a part of Toronto’s waterfront. Some of the proposed winning ideas:

Sidewalk Toronto:

  • heated pedestrian lanes to melt snow;
  • self-driving bus system;
  • taxi-bots and van-bots for shuttles;
  • transit and bike-shares;
  • street side parks and public spaces;
  • tunnels for utilities, making grids easier to reach and repair.

Throughout history, cities have espoused new visions. Baghdad was drawn in three concentric circles during a vision. Singapore was the spontaneous agreement for an economic and cultural nexus, celebrating diversity. Brasilia was the first urban design built to be seen from the air. Will Toronto take the next step to realizing a new vision, if chosen as Amazon’s HQ2? Prime Minister Justin Trudeau termed the project an “innovation hub.” Some question sensors and data collection, also planned, challenging Sidewalk Labs’ claim: “privacy can be baked into the design.”

Which 20 cities made the short-list for Amazon’s HQ?. Image: München Tram 20. Wikimedia commons.

Toronto, along with Boston, made the short-list for Amazon’s second headquarters. Boston’s note: “We would like to move Boston forward in the process so we can continue to learn more about your community, your talent, and potential real estate options.”  Holly Sullivan, Amazon. While 19 cities in the United States made the list, one Canadian city joined the elite twenty: Toronto. Toynbee, in Cities of Destiny, explored cities that shaped history. What are your ideas for the future of the city?

Wingfield, Nick. “Amazon Chooses 20 Finalists for Second Headquarters.” 18 January 2018. The New York Times.

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November 13, 2015
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Up on a Roof

Will COP 21 mandate green and solar roofs worldwide? Image: Vincent Van Gogh, “View of Roofs and Backs of Houses,” 1886, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam and wikimedia commons.

When Vincent Van Gogh visited Paris, the artist was inspired to paint views glimpsed from his room in Montmartre. In the city famous for the Eiffel Tower, aerial views will take on new significance. France has legislated all new construction in commercial zones must have green or solar roofs. Canada inaugurated a similar environmental policy in Toronto; fines for non-compliance can reach $100,000. Brasilia is the first city designed to be viewed from the air; perhaps green or solar roofs will soon color the picture. Green roofs are not a new idea; in fact, the expression ‘raining cats and dogs’ may refer to denizens of thatched cottage roofs tumbling from habitual nests during a storm. Will the United Nations Climate Conference COP 21 recommend green and solar roofs worldwide?

France: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/mar/20/france-decrees-new-rooftops-must-be-covered-in-plants-or-solar-panels

Toronto’s legislation: http://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/municode/1184_492.pdf

UN Climate Conference COP 21: http://www.cop21.gouv.fr/en

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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April 27, 2015
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Rebuilding Nepal

Flag of Nepal. Image: wikimedia

Before seismic science advanced, great cities were built at crossroads that became centers of population and government. Capital cities in earthquake zones include Tokyo, Mexico City, Jakarta, New Delhi, Manila, Port au Prince, and Kathmandu. Tokyo is planning a “spare-battery” capital to preserve government operations during disaster. Earthquake-prone areas might consider relocating capitals, following examples of Brazil and Nigeria where new centers encouraged new visions. Can the University of Massachusetts Boston’s Center for Rebuilding Sustainable Communities after Disasters lead the way to a better future? Meanwhile, we can offer relief aid.

http://www.umb.edu/crscad

http://time.com/3836242/nepal-earthquake-donations-disaster-relief/

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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October 31, 2014
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Innovation and Inclusion

 

“He was Boston,” Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking of Mayor Thomas M. Menino (1942-2014). Image: wikimedia commons.

Thomas M. Menino, Boston’s legendary Mayor (1993-2014), created a legacy of innovation and inclusion. Founding an Innovation District in 2010, Menino and team brought more than 4,000 new jobs and 200 companies to the city. Opening hearts and minds, Mayor Menino also opened the gates of the city to greater inclusion and opportunity, including excellence in public education. Mayors influence success; cities may respond with greater agility to problems and opportunities. What will cities of the future learn, from Tom Menino?

More: http://www.bostonmagazine.com/news/blog/2014/10/31/remembered-tom-menino-week/

http://www.bu.edu/ioc/

http://www.c40.org/

Barber, Benjamin R. “If Mayors Ruled the World: Dysfunctional Nations, Rising Cities.” Yale University Press, 2013.

Hargreaves, Steve. “Most Innovative Cities.” October 7, 2014. CNN. http://money.cnn.com/gallery/news/economy/2014/10/07/greatest-urban-projects/index.html

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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April 7, 2014
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Capital Idea

Will North America create a Cap City? Image: wikimedia

What is the nature and role of a capital? Washington, DC is among those capital cities located in a separate district. Mexico’s DF (Distrito Federal) was also established to be located by Congress, according to Section XXVIII of Article 50, Constitucion Federal de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos de 1824. The DF’s population of 8 million is smaller than that of Greater Mexico City, population 21 million, where the Federal District is located. Like Hemingway’s engagingly-titled novel, perhaps a capital city can be a “moveable feast.” New capitals have been founded throughout history: Canberra, Australia; Brasilia, Brazil; and Abuja, Nigeria were each purpose-created new seats of government. In the future, capitals may expand to what Doxiadis termed “regional conurbations.” Should Canada, Mexico and the United States utilize Nafta precedent to create a Cap City to manage los bienes comunes including water, energy, public health, education? At the center of such a Cap City might be a great university, where all students learn English, French, Navajo (Dine Bizaad), and Spanish, whose mission is development of a new generation of transnational leaders. What should the Cap City of North America be named? Where located?

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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September 25, 2013
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New Cities, New Visions: Abuja, Nigeria

Nigeria — Lagos and Abuja. Image: Library of Congress.

Abuja became the new capital of Nigeria, replacing Lagos, in 1991. Reasons were similar to factors that led Brazil to leave popular coastal Rio to the tourists and samba dancers (not to mention soccer players and Olympians) and build a new center of government, Brasilia. Nigeria’s new capital was named after a nearby emirate founded in 1828 by Abu Ja, Zarian ruler of some renown (the old town also got a new name: Suleja). Nigeria is 50% Muslim and 40% Christian, and the new capital also had to honor the Gbagyi people who had been in the area for over 40,000 years. What is the significance of building a new capital? How can diversity become a part of the patriotic vision?

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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