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Topic: The Department of Urban Affairs (Read 27307 times)

  • jax
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The Department of Urban Affairs
This thread is about cities and civilised life; the centralised conglomeration of constructions and the people who live in or under them, as well as the people passing by; their planners, shapers, and runners; their light, their shade and activities; their impact on the world around them and on each other; citizen getting along or across with citizen; their tools, trade, and technology; their growth and decay; and whatever else it takes to finish this sentence.

Be urbane.

  • Frenzie
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Re: The Department of Urban Affairs
Reply #125
Ah yes, the oriental charm of an old garage or factory with a couple of towers added. :p

  • jax
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Re: The Department of Urban Affairs
Reply #126
Consider more spires in a city a testudo formation against paratroopers, an invasion defence.

Re: The Department of Urban Affairs
Reply #127
California City,
Reminds me of a plan someone had for a planned city of 250,000 in Lincoln County, Nevada. That's many times that county's current population of ~5,5000 and there isn't a whole lot of reason for that many people to live there, considering how long the commute to Las Vegas will be. It's one county north of us, but remember counties in the western US are as big as entire eastern states and some European countries.
"What kind of man would put a known criminal in charge of a major branch of government? Apart from, say, the average voter."
― Terry Pratchett, Going Postal

  • Belfrager
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Re: The Department of Urban Affairs
Reply #128
Long live the country side. Urbans are sissies.
A matter of attitude.

  • Frenzie
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Re: The Department of Urban Affairs
Reply #129
This isn't my thing exactly, but it sounds like something @jax  might like.



Vaughan, Laura (2015), Suburban Urbanities. https://oapen.org/search?identifier=579182
Quote
   
Suburban space has traditionally been understood as a formless remnant of physical city expansion, without a dynamic or logic of its own. Suburban Urbanities challenges this view by defining the suburb as a temporally evolving feature of urban growth.

[...]

  • jax
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Re: The Department of Urban Affairs
Reply #130
While the suburbs are no longer the fastest growing like half a century ago (that is now the cities proper), suburbs are the living environment for a large number of people. I consider there to be to categories of suburbs, those that are a (separate) part of a city and dormitory towns that are at a commute distance from them.

  • OakdaleFTL
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Re: The Department of Urban Affairs
Reply #131
I'd define suburbs as the yearning for rural living by people who could afford to leave the city... (But what do I know!?)
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"Humor is emotional chaos remembered in tranquility." - James Thurber
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  • jax
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Re: The Department of Urban Affairs
Reply #132
That may be the case when cities are dysfunctional, which many cities have been from time to time and place to place. 

Prices are a good indication of yearning for the people able to pick and not just take what they can afford. Near universally the most expensive locations are inner cities followed by rich suburban areas, villa districts, with poor suburban areas near the bottom, symbolised by the French banlieue. In the US the near equivalent would be public housing (for some reasons the Americans are rarely able to make anything good with the word "public" in it). 

Worldwide that's not the cheapest forms of living, what's classified as informal settlements, or more negatively "slums", are a lower-priced and lower-status option. Europe doesn't have much of that any longer, but American trailer parks would be close. A nicer informal alternative is the houseboat. 

I find suburbs, both in the dormitory town and the banlieue variety, unpleasant, with some far worse than others. The worst I've found in the US and China, though there is plenty bad to go around everywhere. Making suburbs liveable is going to be a future challenge, but the planning should be done by those who enjoy living in the suburbs. We shouldn't repeat the mistake done half a century ago, when cities were planned by people who didn't like cities, and who themselves lived outside them. 

  • jax
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Re: The Department of Urban Affairs
Reply #133
For fun here are some examples from Stockholm. It's from the real estate interchange web site, the pictures may not stay up forever.

The most expensive place per square meter (or square foot) in Stockholm right now is this inner city penthouse council flat with four-way views and 124 m2  (there are 10,7 square feet in a square meter), with an almost shocking price of 232,000 SEK/m2 (192,000 $/sq.ft, divide the number by 1.22 to get USD/sq.ft,  or divide by 9.5 for €/m2).



This penthouse inner city building society flat has four-way views in the most expensive neighbourhood.  Skipping a central medieval town house (127,000/m2) the next exhibit is another penthouse, where the selling point is the sea view, a former industrial area freshly turned into residences (98,000/m2)



A villa by the coast practically in the city would cost 96,000/m2.





A more regular villa 16 km (10 miles) from Stockholm centre would set you back 55,000/m2. 






It is possible to get a central apartment for a similar price (58,000/m2), if a larger apartment at a somewhat less attractive neighbourhood.

https://youtu.be/mjVh6wBn6-I


Going further down in price you will end up in the suburbs. You could opt for a terraced house like this (52,000/m2)



Or a quite nice apartment in a suburban area that is becoming urban like this (44,000/m2), and with great views to where the riots were a few years ago.




For 31,000/m2 within the municipality you have to get to the outskirts




The cheapest two places in the Stockholm area right now (both 10,000/m2) are this one



and a flat a few km away from me

  • Last Edit: 2017-01-25, 14:49:12 by jax

  • Frenzie
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Re: The Department of Urban Affairs
Reply #134
I find suburbs, both in the dormitory town and the banlieue variety, unpleasant, with some far worse than others.
I now live in a transitional dormitory town (Left Bank) and it's quite pleasant. As little as a decade ago the situation was still a lot worse (cf. this thriller movie) but things have improved a lot since then. Although as always with these things people tend to judge entire areas by their worst parts. Where I live has always been alright; its the formerly worse parts north of here that have improved immensely since then. There's also a new jolly cop show to contrast with the thriller movie.

I found US suburbs depressing, even if the fancy ones where my marital family lives in Detroit look great. Roads and car-based design in general have an immense divisionary strength that's hard to appreciate if you're used to Europe. I'm used to being able to walk to stores normally, even if it would take a while due to the distance (although then you'd cycle instead).

  • jax
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Re: The Department of Urban Affairs
Reply #135
Former villages that get embedded in a city are generally good suburbs (though obviously there aren't many of those), as are many but not most "town within a town" suburbs. Sweden built most of today's suburbs in the 1960's, some as (function separated) towns within towns, most at least partially failures, though not worse than other suburbs built in the same period. The 31,000/m2 flat above is from one such town-within-town (Skarpnäck), which I think is quite likeable, though it was made later, in the 1980's.

American suburbs tend to be places without a sense of place, and quite literally depressing. My first instinct is to run away. Those that try to be "Smalltown USA" are better, for all their fauxery. Some old commute towns from New York and Chicago I've been to were almost OK.  

I have never been to Antwerp (except I believe I passed it on a train), but looking up the Antwerp Left Bank it seems to be former port/industrial areas (?), the main nexus for (sub)urban rejuvenation everywhere these days. Transitional areas are particularly fascinating, and often, but not always successful.

  • Frenzie
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Re: The Department of Urban Affairs
Reply #136
No, that would be the Eilandje (little Island) area in the north of the inner city, as well as previously 't Zuid (the South), south of the inner city. South was up and coming in the '80s; it's long since arrived. And I suppose Luchtbal, quite a bit further north still, might also count.


Eilandje in red, under that is the medieval city center, under that is Sint-Andries, and under that is South. (Sorry, a bit unclear.)

I used to live in South. Linkeroever was mostly built in the '60s in the spirit of the time, although one or two former villages were incorporated. Its main attraction compared to many a dormitory town (besides not being completely deserted) is just how close you are to the city proper. I basically live no further away by any mode of transportation (other than the car) from the inner city than I used to, and I can actually get there in 5 to 10 minutes now, as opposed to previously 15 to 20. I'm better connected to pretty much everything except the area where I used to live.

  • jax
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Re: The Department of Urban Affairs
Reply #137
A nice clip of YouTube

https://youtu.be/xOOWk5yCMMs

  • Frenzie
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Re: The Department of Urban Affairs
Reply #138
Death to the car!  :yes:  :devil:  (In cities.) American-style cities are the worst. :knight:

  • jax
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Re: The Department of Urban Affairs
Reply #139
When the bicycle beat the car. (Stockholm is deservedly not on that list, though Antwerp is.)

More bikes than cars: this is the world's most bike-friendly city



  • OakdaleFTL
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Re: The Department of Urban Affairs
Reply #140
- can I interject something? Urbanity requires the rubes in the hinterlands to grow their food... If there's a Department of Urban Affairs that doesn't recognize that the rural folk are crucial to the survival of those city-folk, they'll die.
One can only live so long on canned Spam! :)
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"Humor is emotional chaos remembered in tranquility." - James Thurber
No one listens to me as much as I do and even I have my limits...
"Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts!" - Richard Feynman

  • jax
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Re: The Department of Urban Affairs
Reply #141
The agricultural transformation, together with women's lib, is the biggest driver in the world today. For millennia we were farmers, mostly. Then came mechanisation, the industrial revolution and industrial farming, biotech and the green revolution, and now robotics.

The upshot is that there is no need for "rubes" in farming anymore, they are replaced with robots. So like a century ago in the West, the rubes are leaving. Most of these will end up in cities, in their birth country or some other.

So urban planning matters for the rural rubes too, because that's where they and their children are likely to live. Incidentally urban farming and vertical farming is a thing, but in my view a subtheme.

I can't discount the scenario of farmers and food factories starving city dwellers for political gain, but in that case it will be robots starving humanity. So, be kind to a machine today, it may be for your own good.

  • ersi
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Re: The Department of Urban Affairs
Reply #142
For millennia we were farmers, mostly. Then came mechanisation, the industrial revolution and industrial farming, biotech and the green revolution, and now robotics.

The upshot is that there is no need for "rubes" in farming anymore, they are replaced with robots. So like a century ago in the West, the rubes are leaving.
Robotics applies to industry. Agriculture is characterised by mechanisation, which is a bit different thing. A simple question: Compare an average city dude and a country dude - which one has more "robots" (anything electronemechanical or electronic)? Even though "robotics" has increased in the countryside, cities have always been far ahead.

And there's also a difference between agroindustry and agriculture, something city dudes tend to be unaware of. Seasonal workers are still very much needed in agriculture. Urbanisation has occurred not because seasonal workers are not needed, but because agriculture as a whole, as a way of life, has been forced to recede, to be replaced with industry that produces something remotely resembling food and gets called "agriculture" for that reason alone.

Real food comes from the field, milk from cows, etc. Modern food comes from the supermarket. That's another distinction that city dudes tend to be unaware of. I never forget what a student of Oxford University once said, "Strawberry is a plant? I thought it was a flavour like vanilla." Yeah, except that vanilla is also a plant. Whereas vanillin is a synthetic chemical. Millennials cannot distinguish these either nor understand the importance of the distinction. Or any other relevant distinction - purebred or contaminated, ecological or gmo, etc.

And those are the people who say cities are more ecological, energy-saving and what not, as if for centuries we had been wasteful. Just compare the amount and kind of waste produced in countryside versus in the city. Can you find a relevant map or graph, jax?

  • Frenzie
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Re: The Department of Urban Affairs
Reply #143
(Stockholm is deservedly not on that list, though Antwerp is.)

I could find the criteria for the list...
The ranking system was developed in 2011 together with James Schwartz from The Urban Country. Inspiration was gleaned from rankings like Monocle's Liveable Cities Index and rankings produced by The Economist.

In short, cities are given between 0 and 4 points in 13 different categories. In addition, there is a potential for a maximum of 12 bonus points awarded for particularly impressive efforts or results. In the case of a tie, the city with the highest baseline score is ranked higher.
...but unfortunately I wasn't able to find out how the ranked cities actually scored on the categories.

Antwerp's alright, but the current municipal government isn't really interested in improving things. It's telling that for the moment I don't even possess a properly functioning bike (although obviously I do still have one) and stick to public transit and walking. In Utrecht, say, the public transit isn't really any worse but the cycling is just so much better. Finally there's the matter of how I think cycling infrastructure isn't just a city thing but includes the hinterland. A one-hour bike ride from here to the more rural town of Sint-Niklaas isn't something I'd look forward to, whereas basically the same time and distance from Utrecht to Amersfoort seems like a much more realistic option.[1]

I saw something interesting under Utrecht:
Speaking with city planners, the same thing is said in Utrecht as in many Dutch cities. Bikes - and in particular parking - are a "problem". When Utrecht realises it's a "problem" other cities are begging for and begins to see it as an opportunity, the city has the potential to redefine an urban landscape where bicycles are king. The step towards a legendary bike parking facility shows that the city is keen to be a leader, but there is more to it than parking spots.


Quote from: ersi
"Strawberry is a plant? I thought it was a flavour like vanilla." Yeah, except that vanilla is also a plant.
To be fair, there are products with "ingredients" like strawberry and vanilla flavor. :lol: They taste disgusting. But you're sure they weren't joking? Not knowing vanilla pods lies within the realm of plausibility considering they don't grow here and are imported from faraway places in dried form. Strawberries on the other hand... can't miss 'em.
One hour sounds like a lot of time, but by bus it's also 45-50 minutes, and that doesn't include the extra time for making sure you don't miss it. By train you have to factor in probably at least 15 minutes to get to the station to make sure you don't miss the train that'll take you there in 22, 24 or 32 minutes. Even by car it's not necessarily that different depending on where you need to be. Sure, it'll take half the time to get there, but you need to factor in parking and such.

  • ersi
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Re: The Department of Urban Affairs
Reply #144
Quote from: ersi
"Strawberry is a plant? I thought it was a flavour like vanilla." Yeah, except that vanilla is also a plant.
To be fair, there are products with "ingredients" like strawberry and vanilla flavor. :lol: They taste disgusting. But you're sure they weren't joking?
Not joking at all. We were discussing (over ice cream) in full seriousness the nice things of summer, one of which is strawberries, and it was a revelation to the student that strawberries may come in other form than ice cream flavour. 

Not knowing vanilla pods lies within the realm of plausibility considering they don't grow here and are imported from faraway places in dried form.
Plausibility is a cultural thing and culture was the thrust of my post. When you actually see milk coming from a cow, potato growing in the field, and raspberries in the garden day in day out, you have a whole different understanding of them than when you see them in the supermarket where you go in quickly to satisfy a random desire and then get out quickly again.

  • jax
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Re: The Department of Urban Affairs
Reply #145
The number of farmers has already collapsed in Europe and North America, a process that took well over a century. Soviet Europe was held in a time capsule for 40 years, so when the Wall collapsed there was a surplus of farmers. Now, 25 years later, not so much. 

Former farmers and their children is the brunt of the migration wave worldwide. But my comment on robotics leads to that the process hasn't ended yet. There is a large seasonal workforce in agriculture, it will grow smaller.


  • Frenzie
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Re: The Department of Urban Affairs
Reply #146
Plausibility is a cultural thing and culture was the thrust of my post. When you actually see milk coming from a cow, potato growing in the field, and raspberries in the garden day in day out, you have a whole different understanding of them than when you see them in the supermarket where you go in quickly to satisfy a random desire and then get out quickly again.
In some sense school gardens offer merely a simulacrum, but in the Netherlands most kids will have experienced growing lettuce and various other produce, having their lettuce munched on by snails, fruits eaten by birds, and all such fun. Similarly even city children will have taken at least one school trip to a farm and have hopefully tasted milk fresh from a cow or sheep. It's hard to leave school like a complete ignoramus. Anyway, I guess British children are or were lacking this part of their education.

There is a large seasonal workforce in agriculture, it will grow smaller.
As the Daily Mail puts it, there's an increasing number of Wall-Es harvesting grapes in France: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2209975/Meet-Wall-Ye-The-French-grape-picking-robot-work-day-night--vineyard-workers-job.html

  • Frenzie
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Re: The Department of Urban Affairs
Reply #147
I do feel rather silly about one fact though. Where I grew up, an eel was called an aal. (Dutch & English are related like that.) But in Standard Dutch, for whatever reason, the creature's called a paling. So to me aaltjes were these real creatures on the wad, happily frolicking about, and palingen were these somewhat mysterious fatty fish acquired in stores, which were apparently under existential threat from overfishing. So I certainly get where you're coming from. Connecting the dots between aal and paling was a bit of a shock. But to a city-dweller, eels likely can't be connected to real creatures in quite the same way and they're doomed to remain slightly mysterious, depending on your level of curiosity. Because I feel I've got a reasonable-enough grasp of how salmon and tilapia are farmed thanks to documentaries and articles, even though I've never been anywhere near a fish farm (that I know of).

But in a similar way you're disconnected from the final product. As a teen I spent a couple of summers bulb peeling. This is when you have stuff like tulips and you peel them down to the bare necessities, so they can be taken to market elsewhere in the country and abroad. Until I went by a flower market in Amsterdam I only had a vague idea of how they sold bulbs like that, the product of my manual labor. It goes both ways.

  • Belfrager
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Re: The Department of Urban Affairs
Reply #148
Children needs to learn how to kill animals, not  how to grow plants.
That's the difference between a free hunter and a slave of the land.
Agriculture enslaved humanity.
A matter of attitude.

  • Frenzie
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Re: The Department of Urban Affairs
Reply #149
I've done duck, chicken,[1] and fish. But the free hunter still needs to realize that the forest strawberry is edible. :P
Feral chicken, eats and lives the same as pheasant and tastes just as good.