A tree standing alone in the landscape. At former Tempelhof Airport.
by Ares Kalandides and Markus Kather
In the warmer months of the year Berliners of all ages and backgrounds flow into the squares, parks and gardens of the city. The more adventurous ones are not even discouraged by the bad weather: under rain and snow, sleet and fog, there are children in the playground while adults take longer walks in the woods, crossing frozen lakes and snow-covered fields. Nature is an integral part of the city; for many people it is the quintessence of public space. Its deep roots in German culture – exemplified by German 19th century romanticism – cannot be stressed enough. Yet, the importance of nature in the city has taken many different forms and there is no doubt that it means very different things to different people. In this article we focus mostly on gardens (and parks) as community spaces, though in order to understand what that means we take a closer look at some of the other functions.
By Markus Kather
After blogging about today’s meaning of community gardenig from a broad perspective in my last post on Gardens in the City, I want to look at a rather specific type of community garden: the allotment. There are more than 74.500 allotment gardens in Berlin, occupying 3,000 hectares of land – that’s about 3.5% of the city’s area. This special kind of community gardening is highly popular in Germany. Once crucial for the city dweller’s supply with fresh food, the allotment gardens became a preserve for retired people – and for many, a quintessential image of petty bourgeoisie and philistine. But within the context of recent urban trends – sustainability, community gardening or the right to the city – do they have future? And what’s their contribution to solving today’s urban problems? Continue reading
by Renard Teipelke
Ideal public transit connection, walkability, mixed-use, brownfield redevelopment, green infrastructure, efficient resource systems, inclusion of the historic urban fabric…what sounds like a planner’s wish list for urban redevelopment is actually the description used for two major projects at Washington D.C.’s southwestern and southeastern waterfronts: The Wharf and The Yards. In case both projects are realized as planned, Washington might be able to present the world what is currently advertized as a 21st century waterfront. Continue reading
By Renard Teipelke
In the past years, we could witness the increasingly strong presence of international corporations in downtown areas. Ranging from telecommunication and fashion to fast food and electronics, major brands have successfully invaded the centers of our cities. This is often discussed, for instance, with respect to McDonalds and (more recently) Starbucks stores popping up seemingly at every corner in the downtown area of (at least larger) cities. In the following article, I would like to address this latter aspect with a focus on the role of ‘international guests’ in global cities.
By Jakob Hebsaker and Renard Teipelke*
In our first article, we introduced the waste management system in Cairo. Now, we want to shed light on recent developments and further implications for the future.
The waste management system in Cairo knows three important groups: the Wahis (license owners and fee collectors), the Zabbaleen (waste collectors and sorters), the Mo’allimin (recycling processors and resellers; former Zabbaleen). Focusing on the two opposing groups – the Wahis and the Zabbaleen – one has to underscore that the Wahis are an influential, well-educated group in the Cairene society, while the Zabbaleen are socially marginalized. Most of the 60,000 Zabbaleen are Coptic Christians and are thus part of a religious-social minority in Egypt. However, the recycling business is profitable for all stakeholders and even the Zabbaleen are in a relatively better position than other low-income groups in Cairo. Nevertheless, because of their dependence of the Wahis and their marginalized role in the Egyptian society, the Zabbaleen have only low social and economic capital as well as little political leverage. Furthermore, they are living in currently six informal neighborhoods (slum settlements), such as Manshiyat Nasser (aka Garbage City) in the outskirts of Cairo at the base of Mokattam Hill.
By Jakob Hebsaker and Renard Teipelke*
Waste management might belong to those urban issues that are best managed when we do not recognize them. Once we are complaining about dirty streets or overflowing trash cans, we are reminded of hidden waste management being a true backbone of the urban system. In Cairo, Egypt, the waste management system has its roots in the 1880s. Former oasis inhabitants, the Wahis, were migrating into Cairo and started to earn their living by picking up the waste of every household and selling it to public baths which used the waste for heating. After oil heating replaced the waste burning in the 1920s, the Wahis began to sell the waste to Coptic immigrants from the South of Egypt which used the organic waste of the trash for feeding their pigs. Continue reading
Curitiba BRT bus stop
by Hans Pul
In this post I will argue that good urban planning can be of great value for places and their branding efforts. Cities with good urban planning get noticed. This is important, especially for relatively unknown non-capital cities in Latin America, Africa or Asia. Such cities often have millions of inhabitants and have much to offer to people and investors, but are barely known outside their region. One such a city is Curitiba, located in the south of Brazil.
In this blog entry I will talk about Curitiba and how its public transport system, (forest-) parks, and urban planning have established the city as “Latin America’s Green City”.
by Renard Teipelke
In my first article on cultural flagship projects*, I tried to conceptualize the topic. Now, I will connect the flagship idea ‘Western style’ with the Middle Eastern North African (MENA) region. My last article will deal with the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Egypt based on a case study conducted during a field trip this month (tbc due to the currently unstable and tense situation).
by Renard Teipelke
In the next weeks, I will contribute a series of articles on cultural flagship projects to this blog.* Since Kenneth Wardrop and other authors have already written about British and Scottish cities reinventing themselves through branding their cultural/creative potential (UNESCO creative cities articles 1, 2, 3), my first article will rather deal with a conceptualization of this topic (Part I). Then, I will focus on a region which does not often play a prominent role with respect to this blog’s range of topics: the Middle Eastern North African (MENA) region. I will discuss the export of cultural flagship projects from Europe into the MENA region (Part II), with particular focus on the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Egypt (Part III) which I will study on a field trip in February. Continue reading
by Valentin Schipfer
In 2007 I undertook a one-week trip to my Viennese friend Ferdinand staying in Dubai. Back then his father was the Commercial Counselor, so there was nothing to complain about accommodation, food nor transport. On the contrary the luxury, the government provided them with, swept me off my feet: A huge villa with several guest-rooms, terraces and a swimming-pool, two American cars and of course a permanently filled fridge with all kinds of Arabian and international goodies. But the address was irritating: Instead in a silent residential area, the mansion had been set up next to a road with four lanes. Only later it turned out that the car is the number one city planner. Continue reading