Discover and read the best of Twitter Threads about #GoodUrbanism

Most recents (21)

On the abuse & decline of reason (thread)

It’s not that our reason is defective; but that fetishizing it can make it so.

As a society, we are too much in the thrall of logic. ImageImageImage

“Solving problems using only rationality is like playing golf with only one club.” — @rorysutherland

The Romanian philosopher Mircea Eliade warned us about this pseudo-intellectual wave...

He called its propagandists “reductionists” rather than “rationalists” ImageImage

Consider modernity’s most famous liberal manifesto, John Locke’s Second Treatise of Government.

It assumes that there is only one universal principle at the base of legitimate political order: individual freedom.
Read 21 tweets
Windows have many different functions, often mutually exclusive. The hijikake-mado (elbow rest window) is a traditional Japanese window made to spend time by, the perfect height for sitting on the floor and leaning an arm on while looking out, or enjoying the breeze, or reading.
In cities you will find them on old inns or taverns, being a popular spot to rest while keeping any eye on the hustle and bustle of the street outside. If you have one of these on a street overlooking a famous parade or festival you will be rich (at least once a year).
The Kuninoya is a nice family run restaurant in Narita's Nakamachi, Chiba. The hijikake-mado on the second floor might not look like much but during the annual festival seats by the window are pure gold, offering a completely unbeatable urban experience. This is #GoodUrbanism.
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The traditional "shophouses", can be found all over Asia (and beyond). In Phuket Old Town (Thailand), there are several streets preserved of this human scaled vernacular 1-3 story townhouses, examples of Sino-Portuguese style. This is South East Asian gold standard #GoodUrbanism.
A typical shophouse (whether in Phuket or Hanoi or Singapore or Kyoto) is a two story building in local materials, with a shop on the ground floor and living space above. The plots are deep and narrow to preserve valuable street frontage.
The style of the individual buildings is not the most important thing, they can be easily adapted even in modern materials, but the scale is unbeatable. The shophouses in Phuket are from the late 19th c. to the late 20th c., as these reinforced concrete buildings.
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Not every city can be lucky enough to have a spot by the ocean or a lake, but a thousand times as many can at least build canals throughout and around. Here's Utrecht, gold standard Dutch #GoodUrbanism
If possible, dig your canals wide enough to let people keep houseboats on them. Not for everyone, but it is an easy way to make interesting use of urban space. Houseboats, as here in Amsterdam, are #GoodUrbanism.
Above all, keep cars out. Canals are good at that. Like in the medieval center of Alkmaar, which had 10,000 living on a 0.56km² sandbar. Not a place to pass through, but a place to stay. Narrow streets for people are #GoodUrbanism.
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You really don't have to be a big city to have a good tram service in fact the smaller the city the easier & cheaper it is to run one. Maybe the smallest regular tramway in Europe serves Gmundnen, Austria, pop. 13,204. Built in 1894, also the steepest regular tram: 9.6% gradient. ImageImageImageImage
Of course not only are tramways far more energy efficient than cars or buses, but they can be powered by small local hydroelectric plants using nothing but 19th c. lowtech if necessary. If you must build so large that people can't get around on foot, locally powered rail it is! Image
The smallest town in Europe to have a tramway of its own might be Bad Schandau in Saxony, Germany, with its gorgeous 1898 Kirnitzschtal tramway. As the name suggest it is mainly a tourist service though. Pop. 3,622. 7,900m railway built in only 4 months. Also locally powered. ImageImageImageImage
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How land developers worked in the 17th century: Abbey Green in Bath must be one of the most beautifully laid out urban developments in Britain. The copyright has expired too. The plane tree that centers it today was a sapling in 1790. Bath is Gold Standard English #GoodUrbanism.
Your new brownfield development in Houston or Hobart obviously won't have a medieval abbey cathedral but it might have an 18th century tree. Or else you can plant one. Think long. Build for eternity.
Perfectly human scaled, the materials rhyme, the streets are very nearly perfect—not too long, not too narrow, not too broad—for the climate it belongs to. No need for poorly ventilated super markets, leave the streets to green markets and artisans, build courtyards like parks.
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Back alleys, back yards, back streets... Lets build more back streams in our cities.
Canals/streams are relatively easy to build and doubles as excellent storm water drains. Add a flat bottom punter for instant tourism appeal or make a race course for canoeists. A land value multiplier far more efficient than yet another street for cars. Works well with trees!
“Forget the damned motor car and build cities for lovers and friends.”
— Lewis Mumford
#GoodUrbanism #Kyoto
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"Twenty-three surgical patients assigned to rooms with windows looking out on a natural scene had shorter postoperative hospital stays, received fewer negative evaluative comments in nurses' notes, and took fewer potent analgesics." #GoodUrbanism
If you want to put a price tag on that, remember that hospital services in the US costs $1.1 TRILLION a year and merely having a garden view cuts hospital stay time by on average 21%. Billions and billions in potential savings here.
Being able to see nature, trees, skies, greenery, cut painkiller and analgesics use by 49%. Considering the risks and complications by opioid overdoses there is a potential to save tens of thousands of lives needlessly cut short, every single year, in the US alone.
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The Goldfish Seller, by Wada Sanzo, 1939. A sign of early summer during the 19th to the 20th centuries. Itinerant salesmen would wander the streets of Edo/Tokyo with glass fish bowls, water, fish, and a distinctive high pitched call. They had mostly disappeared before 1980.
Traditionally a job for younger men, carrying around 40kg of materials on carrying poles for kilometers in the summer heat could not have been easy. It wasn't a year round job, only for a couple of months to make some extra money.
Before plastic bags, buyers would take their goldfish home in simple round glass bowls (called kingyodama) tied with string. They could be hung on the veranda before being transferred to larger clay or ceramic pots usually in the garden or in front of the house facing the street.
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The tacit idea that we're making constant progress as species is dangerously flawed.

We've progressed in some areas, but also regressed in many.

We developed sophisticated engineering skills–but we use them to build soulless, hideous cities.

#Urbanism ImageImage
Contrary to modernist belief, this is TRULY sustainable, cosy, pleasurable, and, above all, what humans deeply need and desire.

#GoodUrbanism ImageImage
No matter what the “data” says, this is not sustainable nor “green”.

–> which brings me to another point: we live in a world of information abundance, but we're starving for wisdom. Image
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You know when you go into a nice store and everything inside matches? That is how a good town planning office should function. Shoes matches the coats which matches the gloves which matches the shoe laces which matches the ties. And the clerk suggests your best fit. #GoodUrbanism
In the same way an architect or builder should walk into a town planner's office, explain their goals, and then be given a set of choices that, no matter how they are combined in the end, will create a harmonious and ordered effect on, both on the building, the street, the town.
You want a roof? Here's the preferred tile shape, here are some conservative variations, and here are some playful alternatives, all of which will work well. Or why not a copper or zinc roof? These are choices. Brick? Yes, here is the color palette. Street tree? These work best.
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Since earthen plasters are made using local materials homes naturally take on the characteristic of the origin of the earth. This subtle green called "Asagi" is characteristic of the earth plaster walls of Kyoto, where it is often found. #GoodUrbanism means using local materials.
Earth plasters are by far the most environmentally and people friendly interior wall covering. No chemical adhesives, no off-gassing. Vapor permeable, it allows the wall to breath while providing thermal mass, humidity control, fire protection, and sound insulation.
While difficult to master, earthen plaster is an absolutely forgiving material. Even a barely competent beginner can make a nice wall from materials that are basically free. The better you are, the longer it will last and the nicer the finish. Perfect for families.
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Human scaled cities are the baseline for #GoodUrbanism. Cities where you can walk anywhere you need to go in a quarter of an hour means for example you get the groceries you need when you need them: reducing food waste to a minimum. Left: LA, USA. Right: Ghent, Belgium.
Living in inner Ghent (left), the medieval walkable part, you are never more than 500m from a supermarket, and never more than 100-150m from a convenience store, restaurant, market. Bruges (right), clocks in at about 600m from a supermarket, at worst. Most residents live closer.
People living in human scaled Södermalm in Stockholm (which one of the densest urban areas in the West) are at most 650m from a major supermarket but that is at the extreme edge of the island and less than 1%. Most people are within 100-200m from their daily groceries.
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#GoodUrbanism in #Haarlem, #Holland. This is the Grote Houtstraat, a busy (but lush, friendly, interesting, charming) street made for people flanked by two or three story homes, shops, offices...
...but slip through one of the portals and you find yourself transported to another world: quiet, relaxed, safe, even lusher, private courtyards. Less than a second stroll away from a busy commercial high street. This is an example of absolute #MasterClassUrbanism. #Proveniershof
The courtyard and its houses as we know them today are mostly from 1681, built as cheaper housing for less well off (but not completely destitute widowers and older men).
"Affordable housing", in other words.
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Today is the Independence Day of Finland so here is a thread about all things Finnish. 🇫🇮 The role of horses in modern urban settings:
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Imagine if this was the entrance or gateway to your home, your town or neighborhood? #GoodUrbanism means dignified entrances and portals. #Lübeck
#GoodUrbanism means building squares and streets for the public in the front, and to balance the public areas with increased levels of privacy by secluded #Courtyards, mews, backyards, hofs just a few steps from the busiest streets or liveliest squares. #Lübeck #Germany
#GoodUrbanism means building for the ages. A backyard townhouse can become a workshop, chapel, cafe, bookstore, startup, stables, bakery, factory, dentist, pharmacy, tattoo parlor, print shop, stained glass maker, newspaper office, or just someone's beloved home. #Lübeck #Germany
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An example of how townhouses evolved in Berlin:
From an 18th c. simple 3 story building with five rooms per floor and a large garden for growing food, keeping livestock to an early 20th c. fully developed plot with only a small courtyard, 5-6fl. Maximum density and #GoodUrbanism.
Building to the edge of the plot in a manner that makes it possible for the buildings to evolve, either to grow dense and profitable, or to find a decent middle position with the best of two worlds: street frontage with the quiet garden in the back. This is sustainable urbanism.
Of course hardly any of these survived past 1945, but a posh version can be found in the location of the now famous Father Carpenter cafe at Münzstraße 21. It looks like an oasis today.
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Glass architecture is remarkably wasteful.

I find it extremely hilarious that many international organizations – the UN, the EU etc. – who claim to “care” most about a “green” future decided to build their offices in the least sustainable way one can possibly think of. Image
This is the way to go.

Heuristic: don't trust any “environmentalist” who works in a glass skyscraper. #GoodUrbanism Image
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A well preserved traditional street in a samurai class neighborhood, Kanazawa, Japan. The walls surrounding the homes are considerably thicker than normal, with sturdy gates. Narrow, sharply turning streets for defensibility and to confuse enemies having breached the town walls.
A seasonal touch are the handmade rice straw mats hung up to protect the walls from snow and ice. When you first see them in December you know that winter is coming. The samurai neighborhood is a superb example of vernacular #GoodUrbanism
It looks like a densely populated urban villa district but if you peak over the walls you can find some very wild looking gardens. This is a real urban oasis. #GoodUrbanism
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If we must have public transport in our cities make it as human scaled and low tech as possible. Small electric rolling stock running so often you do not need to bother with a time table (Sóller, Mallorca, population 14,148). #GoodUrbanism
Imagine having public transport that is so charming and so lovable the tourists come just to ride in it, or to photograph it.
Imagine having public transport so human scaled that when you need new rolling stock you ask the local mechanics and carpenters to make one for you instead of outsourcing it to a corporation on the other side of the planet in exchange for something that's a nightmare to maintain.
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Here's a very rare example of Japanese medieval shop architecture: Buchoutzukuri. The outer walls of the store front are divided in two parts, one which is raised and attached to the eaves, the other which is lowered and becomes a bench on which to display goods. #GoodUrbanism
Once common in Kyoto and western Japan with whole streets dedicated to this kind of buildings, they are now so rare you'll be lucky to find even two next to each other in the same town. When this painting was made in 1615 they were already on the way out. But what clever idea!
The owners of the store would live in the same building, and only a small part of the street front room would be used as actual store space, the rest was devoted to workshop, storage, living area, perhaps even an indoor garden. An idea worth copying for dormant high streets?
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