Renovating Kensington

Kensington Aug'14 (Renard Teipelke) 6

By Renard Teipelke

This August I visited London for the second time. I have been to the city the first time in 2011. During both visits I was staying in the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea (at a friend’s place and in a hostel). However, this time I did not spend several days running around the whole city to get a glimpse of the touristic abundance London has to offer. Instead, I spent much time strolling around in Kensington. I have to admit that I love this neighborhood. As most of you might know: Kensington and Chelsea are in the league of the most exclusive districts worldwide. Oligarch families, Middle Eastern oil dynasties, French ‘emigrants’, and Britain’s upper classes live door by door in this borough (here). Surprisingly then that I love it, isn’t it?

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Open Data – What Now? 7 Ideas for Your City

2cfe22p Kopieby Valentin Schipfer

Everbody talks about smart cities while nobody really knows what hides behind it. Is it about open data and communication technologies or about mobility? Is it about energy-efficient buildings or social innovations? Or is it an integrated blend of those. This year’s Alpbach Technology Forum drew its crowd into the Tyrolean mountains in Austria. The visitors were keen to shed light on these and many other questions. Scientific, sometimes personal, sometimes political, sometimes boring statements were made. Intense discussions flared up, especially around open data and privacy. The big gap between the conservative, European view on this ambivalent topic and the joyfully experimental one of the Americans became visible once again. At the end of the day, even Paul Horn, professor at the Center for Urban Science and Progress at New York University had to admit that his city is still at the beginning, when it comes to topics such as, open data projects. Therefore I decided to report in this blog entry on how open data hopefully contributes to making our cities smarter.

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Fake Hipster Neighborhoods

Shoreditch & Hoxton Aug'14 (Renard Teipelke) 3

By Renard Teipelke

At some point the change happened. Often it is very hard to recall when it had all started. The derelict neighborhood has become hip. It does not need to be about gentrification all the time. Let’s focus on hipster neighborhoods of all shades – creative, independent, booming, alternative, bustling, ecologic, rebelling, gay, innovative, tech, etc. …these are all empty catchphrases for today’s mainstream place marketing; but at the same time, these words can also be very well-chosen to describe an up-coming neighborhood which experienced a turn-around from decline to renaissance. While my latest experience with the hipster neighborhood was in the districts Shoreditch and Hoxton, northeast of London’s inner city (London Borough of Hackney), you can probably also think about various other examples.

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10th International Congress of the Hellenic Geographical Society

The 10th International Congress of the Hellenic Geographical Society will take place in the historic and beautiful city of Thessaloniki from the 22th to the 24th of October 2014 and will be hosted by the Department of Physical and Environmental Geography of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. The aim of the conference is to encourage collaboration between geographers from different countries on the theme “Geography in an era of crisis”. Participants are asked to engage with the issues related to the role of Geography in approaching any aspect of the current crisis, which inevitably has a spatial dimension and thus requires the understanding Geography provides as well as the development of new methods, techniques and research partnerships by Geographers. The papers to be presented can draw on the latest geographical research on a wide range of topics and themes to offer comparative analyses of issues related to global and local economy and the environment, population and natural resources, climate change, water resources, geomorphology , geographical education etc., all areas related to the present day crisis.

Read more: 10th International Congress of the Hellenic Geographical Society.

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Conferences: New page on “Places.”

We have added a new page to the blog called Conferences. We are putting together a list of regular and upcoming conferences, which will be updated regularly. You are most welcome to publish comments with additional conferences that fit the subjects of the blog.

We look forward to your contributions.

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Pick of the Day: The truth about property developers: how they are exploiting planning authorities and ruining our cities | Cities |

A lengthy, but excellent article on planning, real estate development and booms:

“Under the coalition’s localism agenda, the wheels for private-sector encroachment into public planning have been further oiled, with the introduction of neighbourhood plans. Presented as a means of empowering communities, they have in fact left the door wide open for canny developers to move in, host a few community coffee mornings with felt-tips and post-it notes, and engineer a plan to their own advantage. There is no requirement for those who draw up the plan to even reside in the neighbourhood and, although they need a 50% “yes” vote at referendum, there is no requisite minimum turnout.”

read the full article on The Guardian: The truth about property developers: how they are exploiting planning authorities and ruining our cities | Cities |

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Pick of the day: New Statesman | It is time to recognise the benefits of social housing

“Another reason why increasing current levels of social housing construction would benefit society can be seen in The National Housing Federation’s 2011 Neighbourhood Audit. This report shows that housing associations alone invest £750m annually in all kinds of community initiatives, helping to improve the lives of eight million people. Unfortunately, due to its nature 89 per cent of landlords are private individuals the PRS just doesn’t have the capacity for this kind of community investment. Of course, social impact is not only judged by the amount of money that is spent and social landlords invest time in the community, employ and train people from the community, provide opportunities to volunteer, help give a voice to the community and much more that impacts positively on people’s lives.”

Read the whole article here: New Statesman | It is time to recognise the benefits of social housing.

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Pick of the day: Helsinki v Guggenheim: the backlash against the global megabrand is on | Art and design | The Guardian

“Dazzled by the promise of the Bilbao effect, dozens of cities court the attentions of the Guggenheim every year, hoping to become the next pearl in its necklace. The latest Gehry-designed titanium behemoth is planned to open in Abu Dhabi in 2017. But not all have been successful. Franchises in Las Vegas, Berlin, Salzburg, Vilnius, Guadalajara, Rio de Janeiro and lower Manhattan have all been cancelled or closed down. And, as New York urbanist and Next Helsinki juror Andrew Ross warns, these aspiring cultural capitals should be careful what they wish for.”

Read the whole story here: Helsinki v Guggenheim: the backlash against the global megabrand is on | Art and design | The Guardian.

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Guest article: How Social Inequality And Other Inconvenient Truths Could Upset the Innovation Apple Cart (Part 2)

mabonengby Linda Lees*

(click here for Part 1)

What the Brookings study advocates is not only a top down approach to urban planning, but something akin to a gated community for the creative class save a passing reference to the social inequity lingering just outside the walls: “At a time of rising social inequality, they [the districts] offer the prospect of expanding employment and educational opportunities for disadvantaged populations given that many districts are close to low- and moderate-income neighborhoods.”

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Guest article: How Social Inequality And Other Inconvenient Truths Could Upset the Innovation Apple Cart (Part 1)

Browndfield revitalization and creative industries in Berlin. Photo: Rebecca Hudson

Brownfield revitalization and creative industries in Berlin. Photo: Rebecca Hudson

by Linda Lees*

Instability, creative tension, and entrepreneurial people on society’s margins are some of the qualities that have always been the hallmarks of dynamic and creative cities. So said Professor Sir Peter Hall in the probing book he wrote in 1998, Cities and Civilization. With his characteristic insight and erudition Mr. Hall, who sadly passed away in July, told the stories of “great cities in their golden ages.” He asked the question: “What makes a particular city at a particular time, suddenly become immensely creative, exceptionally innovative?” and answered with an in-depth exploration of the historical, cultural, and social factors that influenced cities from antiquity to the modern age. How did individual inspiration intersect with economic, political and social conditions to propel Athens, Florence, Rome, Glasgow, Manchester, London, and New York to the highest levels of achievement in their glory days.

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