Urban Prototyping is a global movement exploring how rapidly-prototyped design, art, and technology projects can improve cities. UP Festivals are being held around the world to inspire and showcase the next generation of creative projects that address local issues.

Future Proofing Cities

Around 75% of the world’s population will live in cities within 40 years. Almost all of this population growth will happen in the developing world, with 4.6 billion people projected to live in already rapidly growing cities. How will these cities in the developing world cope socially, environmentally and economically with such accelerated urbanisation?

Future Proofing Cities assesses the risks from mega cities like Bangkok to smaller cities such as Zaria in Africa. It looks at their risk profile from climate hazards, resource scarcities, and damage to ecosystems and urges action now to future proof against these risks.

This report provides a fresh approach to the urgent issues arising from rapid urbanisation. It assesses the environmental risks facing cities in an integrated way and identifies more than 100 practical policy options that are most relevant and will be of most benefit to people living in different types of cities.

The report is set against a growing awareness of the need for increased funding for infrastructure development in developing countries at the city level.

Harvard’s New Ecological Urbanism App Offers A Glimpse Of Our Urban Future

Do you have a passion for design, urbanism, and the Ivies? Perfect: us too! So, of course, we were thrilled when the Harvard Graduate School of Design released the new Ecological Urbanism app last month. The interactive app, available at the iTunes store, adapts content from the GSD book of the same name, which explores how designers can unite urbanism with environmentalism. Combining data from around the world, the app “reveals and locates current practices, emerging trends, and opportunities for new initiatives” in regard to the future of cities.”

Images: courtesy of iTunes Preview

(via massurbanArchitizer)


Architecture for Humanity Chicago helps improve food access and eating habits in inner-city areas by buying up an old Chicago Transit Authority bus and retrofitting it into a single-aisle grocery store. Dubbed the Fresh Moves Mobile Produce Market, it travels through the Windy City’s “food deserts,” selling fresh produce and offering classes on cooking and nutrition.

See more smart ideas for fixing cities: 12 Innovative Ways to Rethink Our Cities. 


Using Google Street View to See A City’s Personality – Next American City

No two cities are exactly the same, but some enjoy distinct looks that makes them unmistakable. Think of Parisian balconies with cast-iron banisters, chimneyed townhouses lining the streets of London, or the water towers and fire escapes of New York. Small quirks like these can add up to make a city instantly familiar to anyone in the world.

With this in mind, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have created a software programto determine exactly which features give certain cities their unique architectural character.

Using everyone’s favorite vicarious vacation dream machine, Google Street View, the researchers developed an algorithm that detects elements, such as a window, column or balcony, that are both distinct and occur with regularity inside a city. As explained in an accompanying video, this disqualifies singular landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower, whose iron angles are distinct but don’t occur anywhere else in Paris. It also allows the program to ignore aspects like blank walls, which can be frequent but dull.

Fascinating. Click through to watch a video to find out more about the process.


gang(GREEN) by Kelsey Lents

Beneath Manhattan lies an existing subterranean urban ecology of waterways and potential spaces for plant life to grow and thrive. Columbia GSAPP student Kelsey Lents creates an underground park that feeds into this network, spreading green throughout the city from below, erupting at moments to contaminate the grid and infect the island and its infrastructure, thus regaining the balance between nature and architecture.

A Twitter Conversation: #NPRCities Roundtable


What do you think makes a better city? Do you like a mix of old and new on the same block?

Share your questions and opinions during our Twitter Roundtable at 6 p.m. ET on Tuesday. All you need to do is tag your tweets with #nprcities and follow the conversation thread.

Several urban thinkers will join us on Twitter, including Bruce Katz of the Brookings Institution, Carol Coletta of ArtPlace America, writer and blogger Aaron Renn, The Atlantic Cities editor Sommer Mathis and Diana Lind of Next American City.

The Limits of Density

“The key function of a city is to enable exchange, interaction, and the [creative] combination and recombination of people and ideas. When buildings become so massive that street life disappears, they can damp down and limit just this sort of interaction…

What we need are new measures of density that do not simply count how many people we can physically cram into a space but that account for how well the space is utilized, the kinds of interactions it facilitates.”

Read more at The Atlantic Cities. (via theatlanticwellandlighthouse)