Weekly update

24-30th January 2011
Travel to Portland, Oregon.

Portland Bright Lights presentation From highways to handshakes.

Open source urban planning software meeting with Fregonese Associates.

Portland City Council meeting with officials from planning, transportation and the Mayor’s office.

Lecture at Portland State University.

Meeting with Ankrom Moisan Architects.

Meeting with Metro regional government planning officials, TriMet (regional transit organisation).

Dinner with Portland Loeb Fellows.

Travel to Boston.

“Dharavi: Slum for Sale” film screening at the Harvard GSD.


Dinner with Loeb Fellows.

Meeting to discuss establishment of Space Syntax affiliate office in Germany.

Portland: city of hub and spoke centrality

Thank you to all the people that kindly hosted me in Portland over the past three days: Portland Bright Lights, the City of Portland, Portland State University, Ankrom Moisan and Portland TriMet. Thank you to everyone that came to hear me speak – five talks in three days was a challenge that I was happy to accept. To those of you who came more than once, I salute your interest as well as your patience.  

My first presentation, “From highways to handshakes” is now online.

Continue reading Portland: city of hub and spoke centrality

Technology & Serendipity: Stumbling in the City

Monday, 31st January at 6:30pm
Stubbins Room, Harvard Graduate School of Design, 48 Quincy Street, Cambridge, MA 02138

Loeb Fellowship Spring Seminars
Much, Much More with Much, Much Less

The Loeb Fellows invite… 
Ethan Zuckerman, Senior Researcher, Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society  
Moderated by Nicco Mele, Adjunct Lecturer, Shorenstein Center at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and Founder of EchoDitto

For thousands of years, social networks have been transacted in the physical space of buildings and cities. Facebook and Twitter have changed the landscape of transaction. To what degree is this a good thing? Do digital networks create new, unexpected and beneficial forms of transaction? Or, do they just reinforce ties with people we already know? Do these digital interactions change the ways that people behave in physical space? How should urban planners and designers be responding? Continue reading Technology & Serendipity: Stumbling in the City

Dharavi – slum for sale

Notes from screening at Harvard GSD

The key issue is employment, not housing. Need to retain micro-industry as well as housing.

Resident’s comment on high rise housing proposal (but no clear proposal for providing places of work): “Will the oxygen up there fill our stomachs?”

Industry generates 750 million dollars per annum. Dharavi therefore as an economic object. Much of the economy is informal.

Redevelopment as a step backwards because people can’t continue their previous trade and have to shift to new trades – “lift men and doorkeepers”

“Let people build for themselves – give them water not money.”

SPARC:  Don’t leave it to the international developers.

The proposed redevelopment is not just professionally poor but morally poor because it raises expectations among the poor. The plan should instead be done by the municipality.

One objective should be to see Dharavi as a test case of dense, mixed use, low carbon community.

The lack of evidence seems important. Proposals being made in a vacuum of knowledge.

Bryan Bell – need to tap into social capital there rather than turn up in a Mercedes. 

Weekly update

17-23rd January 2011
Boston/Cambridge spatial modelling & analysis with Ed Parham in preparation for presentations on Tuesday.

Boston, City Hall Plaza meeting with Kairos Shen, Planning Director of the Boston Redevelopment Authority.

Cambridge City Council meeting with Community Development Department.

Meeting with Ethan Zuckerman and Chee Pearlman in preparation for Loeb Fellowship seminar on Technology at the Harvard Graduate School of Design on 31st January.

EP presenting “Planning the unplanned” evening talk at the Harvard GSD.

Dinner with Ed Parham, Jim Stockard, Loeb Fellows and Loeb Alumni.

Meeting with Nicco Mele in preparation for Loeb Fellowship seminar on Technology at the Graduate School of Design on 31st January.  

Course presentations at the Harvard GSD.

Studio presentations at the Harvard GSD.

Meeting with Rahul Mehrotra’s Mumbai studio at the Harvard GSD.

Meeting with Randy Gragg to prepare for next week’s visit to Portland.

The pace of change – is “online” a reflection of “urban”?

One of the challenges in achieving an integration of thinking between hackers and urbanists is the rate of change online. Will the massive experimentation currently underway on the internet continue at a pace, or settle down as norms are established and protocols emerge? Perhaps the same protocols that make it possible for people to live in cities. We sometimes call them “manners” or “cultural norms” and we know when they are being broken. Equally so, we call them street networks and we generally understand now to navigate them. We don’t all have to follow manners and streets but they offer a guide to behaviour and they make the difference between structured living and chaos.

How social networking protocols are established online will, in return, influence the social dynamic of future city living, perhaps as much as the efforts of planners and architects to structure social encounter by virtue of where we place things (buildings) and how we connect them together (streets, utilities and transport networks). This is because the people using online space and the people using urban space are the same people. Continue reading The pace of change – is “online” a reflection of “urban”?

Architecting the unexpected

“Serendipity”: it’s what cities have always provided but online environments only sometimes produce. Why “search” isn’t enough, hackers need to think like urbanists and the internet needs urban design.

It’s the start of a new semester at Harvard and there’s a real buzz about the place. I had breakfast with Nicco Mele and Chee Pearlman this morning and the Charles Hotel was a hive.

What a difference a day makes. Chee and I were in the same place yesterday and it was almost empty. On that occasion we were meeting Ethan Zuckerman who, like Nicco, lives much of his life and does most of his thinking online. He studies how people throughout the world use new media to share information and moods across cultures, languages and platforms.

Both meetings were in preparation for an upcoming seminar that the Loeb Fellows are hosting at the Graduate School of Design. Themed around “technology” this will be the first of a series of four events that aim to tackle big issues in planning and design, including food, extraction, waste and community activism. Continue reading Architecting the unexpected