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.


What’s the potential for the City’s public payphones? Tonight we launched the city’s first payphone design challenge, Reinvent Payphones, at the New York Tech Meetup.

Participate in Reinvent Payphones and create virtual and/or physical prototypes that modernize existing payphone infrastructure for a safer, more sustainable, accessible, and informed city.

Join urban designers, technologists, and policy experts and submit your prototype by February 18th, 2013. Visit to learn more and register for updates.

Take part in telecommunications history!

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)

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)


Walk [Your City] began when a few, civic-minded friends in Raleigh, NC posted a network of signs around town that gave walking directions to cool, local spots. It was a simple way to help citizens navigate their city on foot, but (surprise!) it resonated worldwide.

Now, with hundreds of folks eager to adopt the movement, the team is working to create an open-source, web tool that will allow anyone to make, print, and post their very own neighborhood walking signs. See you on the sidewalks — see them as our Project of the Day.

The Science of Quieter Cities

Could we design better places where we could all live together without hearing quite so much of each other? And just what would that sound like?

These aren’t questions only for apartment-dwellers. Obnoxious city noise comes from all around us, moving between buildings and through windows and across congested roads. If we don’t tame it„ people may never willingly rearrange themselves into the denser living patterns environmentalists say we need.

“People think, ‘Oh we need electricity from solar panels, we need x-y-z system, we need to use less water,”  Thomas Jones, the dean of Cal Poly’s College of Architecture and Environmental Design, says. “But we absolutely have to make living in denser urban environments pleasant to the senses, or we’ll lose the environmental battle.”

Maybe it’s time to start looking at townhouses and bus shelters with the same acoustic care engineers have long given to concert halls and schools. In doing so, it’s possible we could make the city sound not just quieter – but, in a very real way, more pleasant.

Read more at The Atlantic Cities. [Image: Shutterstock]


How the world of 1950 looked in 1925: infographic

Airships above you, cars below ground; clean pedestrianised streets, beautiful elegant high-rise living… how exotic the far-off year of 1950 must have seemed to readers of Popular Science Monthly in 1925, when the infographic below was published. Rediscovered by the wonderful Retronaut (Slogan: “the past is a foreign country. This is your passport”) it probably says more about 1925 than it does about 1950. 



Popuphood – a new urban initiative and small business incubator in Oakland sets out to revitalize a struggling neighborhood in six weeks by carving out a rent-free space of entrepreneurial spirit. 


The Low LineA plan for a new park banks on subterranean photosynthesis, a neat project from PopTech staffer Dan Barasch. 

From The New York Times:

Ever since it opened in 2009, the High Line has drawn out-of-town visitors who hope to replicate its success. Observers of the elevated park on the West Side of Manhattan have come from nearby municipalities like Jersey City and Philadelphia and places as far away as Hong Kong.

Lately, those observers have been coming from across town, with plans for another attention-grabbing green space on a former transit site. But this one comes with a twist — the proposed park would be underground, in a dank former trolley terminal under Delancey Street that is controlled by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Though its promoters call it the “Delancey Underground,” another nickname has already been coined: the Low Line.

From CNN:

Ramsey and Barasch’s romantic vision includes a polished, undulating ceiling plane from which the “remote skylights” — developed by Ramsay to filter out harmful ultraviolet and infrared light frequencies — will flood the park with sunrays all year-round, night and day.

According to Ramsey, the technology is “like a cross between a telescope and an endoscope” — capturing light from the sun and then transporting it through fiber-optic cables onto a relatively small focal point.