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Cities #8

  • Bringing down walls
  • The Big Apple’s core?
  • Connected streets and health
  • Economics of skyscrapers
Published every Wednesday


The De-Walling of Our Public and Private Spaces

“Good fences make good neighbors.” Nearly all of us have heard that expression, and some of us know that it was part of Mending Wall, a poem by Robert Frost. Most of us also know what it means — that some modest barriers between houses and people are essential to a healthy community life. Not as many of us are aware that in the same poem, in the very first line, Frost made an opposite declaration: “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall.” It turns out that the poem is about a dispute between two adjoining property owners. One of them wants to build the fence; the other, presumably Frost, finds it unnecessary and likely to be offensive.

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Stuff NZ

Reviving and sustaining our town centres in a post-Covid-19 world

OPINION: A vibrant town centre or main street is the beating heart of any precinct. Their existence, however, faces an uncertain future, exacerbated by the ongoing yo-yoing in and out of lockdown. Brick-and-mortar retail (especially in high streets or town centres) was already undergoing seismic changes before the pandemic hit, and town centres all over the world were under immense strain.

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Christian Science Monitor

What will happen to Big Apple’s core? Clues from reopening.

Neal Taparia has found he kind of likes running his Manhattan-based tech company from his home.

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Daily Pioneer

Let’s reimagine urban spaces

Indian cities need to get back their village architecture in urban spaces, stitched together with smart technology and community wisdom

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Vox EU

The economics of skyscrapers: A synthesis

The economic case for supertall buildings has been challenged since the late 19th century. Critics urge policymakers to control vertical growth, arguing that skyscrapers are often built to satisfy oversized egos rather than serving economic purposes. This column contends that economic fundamentals are strong predictors of building heights. Height competition can lead to extremely tall buildings that aim at pre-empting rivals, but these are the exception rather than the rule. In regulating heights, policymakers should focus on balancing the positive and negative externalities associated with tall buildings.

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‘The housing market is on a sugar high’: Home sales are soaring, but is it a good time to buy? Here’s what the experts say

The domestic property market is fueled by a government stimulus and a COVID-fueled rush to low density housing, economists say

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World Bank

The new poor are different: Who they are and why it matters

The latest World Bank Group projections suggest that the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated economic crisis could push between 71 and 100 million people into extreme poverty. To provide effective support to these people, we need to understand who they are, where they live and work, and how they have been affected by the crisis.

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The Conversation

Connected city streets mean healthier residents and communities

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, cities around the world are rediscovering the value of walkable and bikeable streets. From Oakland, Calif., to Amman, Jordan, cities have restricted driving on certain streets in order to create space for socially distanced physical activity. Other cities, like Bogotá and Berlin, have scrambled to convert car and parking lanes into bike lanes in response to the precipitous drop in public transit ridership.

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London School of Economics

Book Review: Ruined Skylines: Aesthetics, Politics and London’s Towering Cityscape by Günter Gassner

The debate over the tall-building boom in London is often torn between those supporting market-led spectacular urban development and those advocating for historic conservation of the traditional cityscape. In Ruined Skylines, Günter Gassner critically intervenes in these discussions, utilising the notion of ruination to show how the city skyline can be a site for radical urban politics. If we are after fundamental change for our cities and a transformation in the way urbanisation is understood and practised, this book offers a fresh and unorthodox framing that is provocative and creative, writes Elahe Karimnia.

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Prospect Magazine

A different way to save the high street

When Marks & Spencer announced last week that it would slash 7,000 jobs over the next three months, it was just the latest sign of the reckoning facing Britain’s high streets. From Cornish ports to freezing Highland burghs, shop after shop is shuttering up and bleeding out. And the effects aren’t just economic, but emotional: If a place “doesn’t look cared for, people don’t feel like they’re cared for,” says Lahari Ramuni, a researcher at the Centre for Cities.

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