Category Archives: Cities

Intelligent mobility: risks & rewards

第一页   技术就是答案
Slide 1       Technology is the answer

Slide01

1966年,塞德里克·普莱斯说,我喜欢一开始就对新技术进行一点质疑。当然,“技术就是答案”。他也强调:“不过问题是什么?”。
I’d like to begin with a little scepticism about new technology. Of course “Technology is the answer“, said Cedric Price in 1966. He also said, “But what is the question?”

这些问题就是我们试图去获得无人驾驶技术。
What are the questions that we are trying to answer in the pursuit of autonomous vehicle technologies?

我认为仅仅从驾驶员的角度去谈论智慧出行,并不充分。 我喜欢从整个城市的角度去考虑收益。如果我们过度关注车辆而不是城市,那么风险也是需要考虑的。
I don’t think it’s enough to talk about intelligent mobility from the perspective of the driver alone. I’d like us to think about its benefits for cities as a whole. And the risks too, if we focus too much on the vehicle and not enough on what’s around it: the city.

第二页 度量连接度——现状
Slide 2       Measuring connectivity – existing

Slide02

我不反对技术。我也开办科技公司,即空间句法公司,研发了度量城市街道网络连接性的工具。他们展示城镇布局如何影响人们的使用,以及用地模式如何影响场所中社会、经济、环境行为。
And I’m not against technology. I run a tech company, called Space Syntax, that has developed tools which measure the connectivity of street networks. They show how the layout of towns and cities affects the way they’re used by people – and how patterns of use affect the social, economic and environmental performance of places.

3  预测模型—新发展
Slide 3       Predictive modelling – new developments

Slide03

我们开发了预测模型工具,度量新城市开发的影响。
We’ve developed predictive modelling tools that measure the impacts of new urban developments.

4  达尔文城总体规划
Slide 4       Darwin masterplan

Slide04

我们使用这些工具设计新的城市场所,有时候也设计全世界范围内整个新城新镇。
And we use these tools to create designs for new urban places, sometimes entirely new towns and cities throughout the world.

5
Slide 5       Urban Value analysis

Slide05

我们技术表明如何联系街道网络比切断街道网络更具有价值。
Our technology shows how connected street networks are much more valuable than disconnected ones.

6   破碎化/整合化的城市
Slide 6       Fragmented/integrated cities

Slide06

因此,对我而言显然易见,可持续发展的城市是整合的,而非彼此不联通的。当街道成为了人们的场所,它既是步行的,也是车行的。这是过去城市的常态,也是它们发展的方向。
And it’s therefore clear to me that a sustainable city is one that is integrated not disconnected. Where the street is a place for people both on foot as well as in vehicles. This is how cities always were and it is how they always should be.

7  以车中心的规划
Slide 7       Car-centred planning

Slide07

然而,在过去一个世纪中,城市并不是如此规划的。车成为国王,人们逐步彼此不再相连,这带来了物质和精神健康上的可怕后果,而在这城市中心的经济活力中并未得以重视。
But it’s not how cities have been planned for the past century, where the car has been king and people have been increasingly disconnected, with terrible results for physical and mental health, not to mention the economic vibrancy of urban centres.

8  街道
Slide 8       Streets

Slide08

我丝毫不怀疑我们是否可从智慧交通技术中获益。然而,我们也需要伟大的街道,既为车辆服务,也与人性化尺度的步行相得益彰。伟大街道包括兰布拉大街和香榭丽道大街。
So I’ve no doubt that we can benefit from intelligent mobility technologies. But we also need great streets for those vehicles to drive along in the company of people on foot. Great streets like the Ramblas and the Champs Elysées.

问题是世界各地的规划师逐步不再设计伟大街道。
The trouble is that planners worldwide are generally not designing great streets.

9  人本交流
Slide 9       Human transaction

Slide09

我们最终需要跳过对步行、车行和停车场的思考,而转向思考城镇真实的目的。这将推动人与人之间的交流,包括社会和经济交易。
And we ultimately need to move beyond just thinking about walking, driving and parking – to thinking about the real purpose of towns and cities – which is to facilitate transactions between people. Social and economic transactions.

我们坐在小汽车中进行的创新远比我们坐在桌子旁边与朋友和陌生人聊天形成的创新更为少。
We innovate much less when we’re in cars than when we’re sat around tables with friends and strangers.

因此,如果无人驾驶需要跟高效地利用道路空间,那么我建议街道空间容纳更多吃喝的静态活动,而不是充斥更多无人车辆。
Therefore, if autonomous vehicles can use road space more efficiently then I suggest that we repurpose that road space for stationary activities like eating and drinking rather than leaving it be filled up with more autonomous vehicles.

10  黄线
Slide 10     Yellow lines

Slide10

然而我期望未来的停车自动化,我们不必看到街道上画满了错误应用的黄色停车线,让街道变得更为无比污垢。
But I do look forward to a future where parking can be automated and we won’t see the appalling defacement of our streets with badly applied yellow paint.

11    从坑洞到盆栽
Slide 11     Pot holes to plant pots

Slide11

作为结尾总结,我们希望,我们的聪明才智可借助电子技术,提升开车水平 ,为街道留下一些空白地区,用于街道设计的独创性,并还能保障汽车还能再其中行驶。
And so in summary I hope that in our cleverness to apply digital technologies to the advancement of driving we will also leave some space for ingenuity in the design of the streets in which those vehicles drive.

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Notes from first ULI UK Tech Forum

1. We need to have a clear definition of technology. Physical as well as digital technology. Users and uses as well as creators and providers. Pre-construction, construction, post-construction. 

2. Because we’ve always had technology:

a. Writing (wooden stylus & wax tablet) movement

b. Air conditioning – occupancy

c. Underfloor heating – occupancy

d. The shower – personal

e. Bicycle – movement

f. Revolving door – occupancy

g. The elevator – occupancy

h. The car – movement

i. Solar panels – occupancy

j. The Internet – movement & occupancy

k. Autonomous vehicles – movement

l. Drones – movement

m. Photofungal trees – place
We’ve always had technology. It’s always changed. Perhaps the pace is accelerating globally (but we shouldn’t forget the industrial revolution). 

3. What hasn’t changed is the fundamental purpose of cities: social and economic trade. 

4. In the future, autonomous vehicles will change the nature of movement. They will permit people to be far more productive while they drive. 
5. Another key, and consequential, change will be in the nature of physical connections, transformed from highways to streets. Connectivity (as Chris Choa suggested) as an asset. 

6. Therefore the street as an asset. The piazza as an asset. Not just the buildings that line them. The suburban business park will go the way of the dinosaurs. 

7. The nature of online interaction is a further area of significant new change. 

Growth. Are you old school or new school?

There are two different schools of thought about how to accommodate urban growth. The first says that cities should build more road capacity to handle private vehicle traffic. The second says that less space should be provided for private vehicles and more investment should be made in public transport and “active travel” i.e. walking and cycling. The first approach is generally more costly than the second.

The old school of thought has prevailed for around a century. The new school is relatively more recent, responding to the frequent failure of the former, where more road space has created more road traffic, which has created more congestion.

Cities all over the world are now removing expensive car-oriented infrastructure and introducing space for walking, cycling and public transport. Ring roads and bypasses are being unpicked and cities are thriving as a result. Look at Copenhagen, Paris, London, Birmingham, Boston, Poynton or any number of places that have employed the new school approach.

On Poynton…”This was the busiest junction in Cheshire, with 25,000 vehicle movements per day and the fourth worst performing retail centre in Cheshire East. It now accommodates a similar volume of traffic, but since average speeds have fallen to below 20mph, drive times through the centre are significantly reduced. Anecdotally people feel safer crossing the carriageway and cars will stop for them, make eye-contact and usually elicit a wave of thanks from the pedestrian.” The Academy of Urbanism

Road speeds are being reduced, from 40 or 50mph to 20 or 30mph. Not only on residential streets but at the intersections of major roads too. Why? Because when you slow traffic down it flows more freely. Why? Because at lower speeds, more vehicles can fit into the same space. This isn’t rocket science. It’s simply a different school of thought.

When a city pursues “old school thinking” of road capacity increases and banned turns then not only is this going to generate more road traffic it is also going to make it ever harder for people to do anything other than drive. In these circumstances, walking and cycling become harder. “Walking and cycling facilities” might be put in but these are often token gestures because they are fitted in around the needs of traffic. Desire lines – the paths that people prefer to take – are severed and people are encouraged to walk or cycle on unnaturally twisted journeys. What happens as a result? They don’t use these “facilities” and they take risky alternatives, dashing across road lanes or cycling among fast-moving traffic.

Old school thinking is voracious – once started it is hard to stop. Nevertheless, evidence, analysis and creative thinking can help. If there is a willingness to listen.

I speak from the perspective of practice – of having observed the behaviour of people on foot, on bikes and in vehicles in a scientific manner for over 25 years. Of having presented evidence of fact to local authorities and of overturning poorly thought-through, old school proposals. Of having designed alternatives that don’t put anyone in particular first but instead balance the needs of all. This isn’t about being pro-bike and anti-car. It’s about being pro-place and pro-cities.

And let’s be clear, new school thinking is fundamentally about being pro-growth. But pro a form of growth that is smart and sustainable: growth that doesn’t sacrifice the profound benefits of local places for the expedience of cross-city commuting, but growth that promotes alternative ways of traveling and enhances the attractiveness of cities as places to live in and invest in.

Backwards plans for Newcastle’s Blue House Roundabout

Newcastle City Council’s plans for the Blue House Roundabout are appalling and unnecessary.

I know the junction and have walked and driven across it more times than I can remember. The last thing it needs is what is proposed and I intend to do what I can to help stop the scheme.

There is already a significant body of local opposition to the proposals, for example:

https://wordsmiths2801.wordpress.com/2016/08/13/self-loathing-on-a-city-scale/

“At present, it’s a busy, but functioning, junction occupying a particularly striking location – the intersection of two broad avenues of lime trees, some 130 years old, which cross the historic open spaces known as Duke’s Moor, Little Moor and the Town Moor. These spaces belong to the hereditary Freemen of Newcastle upon Tyne, who have been exercising their right to graze cattle here for a thousand years or so. They form a green belt around the city centre and make its inner suburbs surprisingly pastoral.”

Facebook and Twitter are both active:

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Yet the more weight that can be brought against these unnecessary, expensive and car-centric proposals, the better.

Don’t let this nonsense be foisted any further. Take Newcastle forwards not backwards.

We are what we street. The elements of successful #urban placemaking

PART ONE – THE ELEMENTS OF SUCCESSFUL URBAN PLACEMAKING
Location
How the site fits into its context, including complementary and competitive attractions; in other words, what else is nearby to which the design should respond? The success of any development, no matter how large, is a function of the wider setting.

Linkage
The specific points at which connections can be made into this context, including public transport connections; in other words the “gateways” into the design.

Layout
The spatial layout design of the project itself in terms of its streets and spaces, whether public/private or open/covered, and the importance of:

– first, encouraging through movement connections between gateways

– second, providing a simple, intelligible internal circulation network through a grid of streets and other connections.

This is the most important of the five elements since the spatial layout, once created, tends to be the most permanent part of the development. It is the most expensive to alter once constructed since it sets out the footprints of buildings and, importantly, since it carries the bulk of major services such as energy, water and data supply as well as waste handling.

Land use
The quantum of different land use attractions and the disposition of these within the spatial layout both in two and three dimensions; in other words where uses are and how they stack up, especially the land uses that occur at street level and any other principal pedestrian levels.

The location of land uses should follow the hierarchy of spatial connections created by the spatial layout design, with the most movement-sensitive land uses located on the most spatially important connections and so on. This alignment of land use attraction with spatial layout attraction is a fundamental property of both historic cities and successful modern places.

Landscape
How the spatial layout is “dressed” both in terms of the “green/blue” landscape of planting and water and the “architectural” landscape of building frontages at the principal pedestrian levels.

Here what matters is that the spatial layout is not overly fragmented or dispersed by planting and that the principal pedestrian levels are lined with open, active frontages.

PART TWO – THE DESIGN
The five elements of successful placemaking establish a framework for design practice. What matters next is the way in which these generic principles are translated into a specific design proposal. This is a creative step, which relies on a blend of imagination and craft, honed by experience.

The challenge for future urban practice is that the five elements are not commonly appreciated in the field of retail development, which has instead adopted principles of gravitational attraction that tend to create anchored, inward-facing, covered malls rather than open, street-based shopping streets, whether we call such streets “high streets” or “souqs”.

PART THREE – THE WAY FORWARD
It has been, and will continue to be, down to pioneering organisations to point out what is increasingly obvious to all but those who are too immersed in it: that anchored malls create sterile places; and then for these pioneers to deliver new places that work because they employ the timeless elements of successful placemaking.

Fortunately, this challenge is facilitated by the continued emergence of technology-based tools for analysing location, identifying points of linkage, testing different layout concepts and modelling the interaction of these with different land use and landscape treatments.

We don’t guess the structural performance of individual buildings so why do we guess the human performance of entire cities?

The structural steelwork of a large and complex building would not be designed without running engineering calculations. Even the smallest of buildings is subject to objective structural analysis. No client and professional team would rely on guesswork, no matter how famous or experienced the architect or engineer.

So why do we leave the human performance of places to the whim of architects who run no calculations and rely only on their instinct and ego? Why is the science of human behaviour so poorly developed? Why is chronic failure still tolerated?

In the early sixteenth century, William Harvey challenged the medical profession to take a more objective, more observation-driven approach to the understanding of the circulation of blood. At the time, medical thinking was largely based on the beliefs of Galen of Pergamon, who had set these out in the second century. Harvey challenged a medical mindset that hadn’t changed in one and a half millennia. And he encouraged his peers to embrace advances in science that allowed new forms of investigation.

We can see a similar state of affairs in the prevalence of, and institutional inertia around, twentieth century planning. Based on belief, not observation-based science, a doctrinal approach to urban planning and design pervades the professions. This is the case, whether the specific approach is Modernism, the Garden City movement or (and especially) Landscape Urbanism. Each is to some degree unscientific.

These approaches propose different kinds of urban outcomes but what unites them is a belief that the future should look fundamentally different to the form of continuously connected, dense and mixed-use urbanism found in cities for as long as there have been cities – the kind of urbanism that architects and town planners visit on their holidays.

The kind of urbanism – and here’s the irony – that Galen would have recognised. If only architecture and town planning were stuck in a fifteen hundred-year-old mindset. We would still have vehicles on the road but we wouldn’t have vehicle dominance. We wouldn’t have land use zoning that generates long-distance commuting, traffic congestion and negative health impacts. We wouldn’t be encroaching on the rural landscape with semi-detached, density-fearing dwellings.

Fundamental change in our professions is needed and science has an important part to play. In the spirit of Harvey’s observation-based approach, we need to embrace the new capabilities offered by sensing, analytics and modelling. We need to understand how cities truly work before we then form ideas about how to change them. We must move beyond the beliefs of twentieth century practice. The evidence is there to demonstrate that practice based on belief hasn’t delivered great places with the consistency required either by the investors in them or the users of them.

We can learn from Harvey, even if our end goal is the urbanism of Galen.

How cities connect people across space & time

The subject of “connectivity” is much mentioned in urban planning practice, not least by the Space Syntax community. 

But what do we mean by connectivity? 

1. Urban practice should connect across different scales of activity:

Urban Planning (macro scale)

Urban Design (meso scale)

Building Design (micro scale)

ie 3 scales of space.

2. Urban practice should also connect across different phases of activity:

Design (before construction)

Construction (during construction)

Operations (after construction)

ie 3 phases of time

This gives urban practice a clear space/time organisational framework. 

3. This framework can then be used to discuss the subject of connectivity according to several key dimensions:

Physical connections – connecting buildings, streets and spaces.

Human connections – connecting people with each other.

Environmental connections – connecting human interventions to the natural environment: climate, topography. 

Digital connections – using data to support physical connections and enhance human connections. 

Professional connections – connecting across practice boundaries. 

Connectivity is key. But how we connect is complex and multi-dimensional.