The Wonders of Walkability

October 15, 2018 in Design

This episode dives into Jeff Speck’s General Theory of Walkability.

The General Theory of Walkability was published in 2012 in the book “Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America One Step at a Time”.  The book consolidated ideas and theories from many other urban thinkers and designers into a clear and hopeful case for change in our cities. It has been referenced by many professional city builders as well as John’s father-in-law, who is a 70 year old retired physician. So, it’s safe to say that the ideas in the book resonate with all kinds of readers.

Jeff just released a new book, called Walkable City Rules: 101 Steps to Making Better Places.

Some rules include:

  • Rule # 3: When advocating for walkability, use climate change arguments and stress location efficiency.
  • Rule # 31: To make streets safer, focus on speeding.
  • Rule # 100: Don’t give up on sprawl. Instead, make suburban streets safer and more walkable too.

To learn about 97 more rules and instructions, check out the book!

Park(ing) Day

October 1, 2018 in Community, Design

In North American cities, there are 4 parking stalls for every car. Downtown cores usually devote 30% of their space for parking. And the average car sits stationary for 95% of its life. That’s a lot of space for vehicle storage. Do you ever wonder how all that asphalt could be used differently? How a parking stall could be transformed into a place for people to enjoy? We wanted to talk to someone who makes us rethink how space in cities could be used.

John Bela is the co-founder of Park(ing) Day, an annual event where parking stalls are transformed into temporary public places.

Resources

Fake Estates, Gordon Matta-Clark

The PARK(ing) Day Manual

Gehl Institute

 

Building Up Well-Being

August 6, 2018 in Design, Health

How we design our cities impacts how we feel.

From green spaces and tree-lined streets to walkable ‘hoods and lively public places, there are many design considerations that can increase well-being.

And then there are the fifty-storey skyscrapers, ten-lane highways and endless acres of parking lots, which are argued to lead to increased stress and decreased well-being.

This idea of designing cities to maximize well-being has been a hot topic in recent years. But how does one actually measure the relationship between urban design and mental health? Can we quantify and analyze how urban design choices, such as tall skyscrapers, make us feel?

Today’s guest is doing just that.

Robin Mazumder is doctoral candidate in cognitive neuroscience at the University of Waterloo. He is studying the psychological impacts of urban design. His research is inspired by his passion for urbanism, his front-line experience working as an occupational therapist in mental health, and his interest in human-centred design.

Resources