Daily Archives: December 26, 2010

Discovering the simple laws of cities

Whenever a city doubles in size, every measure of economic activity, from construction spending to the amount of bank deposits, increases by approximately 15 percent per capita. It doesn’t matter how big the city is; the law remains the same.

West admits that all successful cities are a little uncomfortable. He describes the purpose of urban planning as finding a way to minimize our distress while maximizing our interactions.

Cities are unruly places, largely immune to the desires of politicians and planners. “Think about how powerless a mayor is,” West says. “They can’t tell people where to live or what to do or who to talk to. Cities can’t be managed, and that’s what keeps them so vibrant. They’re just these insane masses of people, bumping into each other and maybe sharing an idea or two. It’s the freedom of the city that keeps it alive.”

### nytimes.com 17 December 2010
A Physicist Solves the City
By Jonah Lehrer
Geoffrey West is a theoretical physicist in search of fundamental laws, he likes to compare his work to that of Kepler, Galileo and Newton. …although West worked for decades as a physicist at Stanford University and Los Alamos National Laboratory, he started thinking about leaving the field after the financing for the Texas superconducting supercollider was cancelled by Congress in 1993. West, however, wasn’t ready to retire, and so he began searching for subjects that needed his skill set. Eventually he settled on cities: the urban jungle looked chaotic — all those taxi horns and traffic jams — but perhaps it might be found to obey a short list of universal rules.

“We spend all this time thinking about cities in terms of their local details, their restaurants and museums and weather,” West says. “I had this hunch that there was something more, that every city was also shaped by a set of hidden laws.”

And so West set out to solve the City.

West saw the metropolis as a sprawling organism, defined by its infrastructure. (The boulevard was like a blood vessel, the back alley a capillary.) This implied that the real purpose of cities, and the reason cities keep on growing, is their ability to create massive economies of scale, just as big animals do.

After analysing the first sets of city data — the physicists began with infrastructure and consumption statistics — they concluded that cities looked a lot like elephants. In city after city, the indicators of urban “metabolism”, like the number of gas stations or the total surface area of roads, showed that when a city doubles in size, it requires an increase in resources of only 85 percent. This straightforward observation has some surprising implications. It suggests, for instance, that modern cities are the real centres of sustainability.
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Post by Elizabeth Kerr

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Historic heritage notes

Updated post
Sun, 16 Aug 2015 at 6:17 p.m.

“It is exceptionally attractive for a substation.” –Grady Cameron, Aurora

### ODT Online Sun, 26 Dec 2010
Aurora keeps facility
By Nigel Benson
An electricity substation in Ward St, Dunedin, has been preserved as an example of art deco industrial architecture. The 33kV substation was built in 1938 for the Dunedin City Council Electricity Department to service the surrounding industrial area.
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Inside the substation is half museum and half shiny, humming new electricity equipment run by computer and controlled from elsewhere.

### ODT Online Sun, 16 Aug 2015
Inside The Ward St substation
By David Loughrey
The Ward St substation is one Dunedin’s finest infrastructure buildings, an art deco masterpiece […] The Ward St substation (actually in Bauchop St) sits quietly humming in Dunedin’s industrial sector. […] The substation was the second to be built in Dunedin, after the Halfway Bush station, between 1937 and 1939. […] It is hard to decipher the signature of the city electrical engineer who signed off the architectural drawings for the building back in the 1930s; perhaps it was Harrison, perhaps Henderson.
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Post and image (2002) by Elizabeth Kerr


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New Zealand housing, a sorry tale

The poor quality of many New Zealand homes was a result of people wanting to make a quick profit, and [home owner] Eddie van Uden hoped a rating would eventually be attached to homes like a warrant of fitness.

### nzherald.co.nz 5:30 AM Sunday Dec 26, 2010
NZ: Land of unhealthy homes
By Andre Hueber
Three out of four New Zealand homes are failing to meet new energy-efficiency standards, endangering the health of the families who live in them. The New Zealand Green Building Council – which represents builders, developers and government agencies – has set up a measurement system that rates houses on their energy efficiency. Of the first 3300 homes rated, most are cold, damp and unhealthy.
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Posted by Elizabeth Kerr


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DCC – will there be a “corporate grab” of water infrastructure!?

### ODT Online Sun, 26 Dec 2010
Water for discussion
By Chris Morris
A report on the future management of Dunedin’s water infrastructure, which could lead to the formation of a new council-controlled organisation (CCO), will be considered by city councillors next month. The report, outlining three options for water management in Dunedin, would be tabled during next month’s draft 2011-12 annual plan meetings, Dunedin City Council water and waste services manager John Mackie confirmed yesterday.

An Otago Daily Times request for a copy of the report – under the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987 – was declined because it would be released next month.

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Posted by Elizabeth Kerr


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Rolling stock – THINK multiple New Zealand applications

Hello Hillside Engineering Group…

### dezeen.com Wednesday, 22 December 2010 at 3:22 pm
A Rolling Masterplan by Jagnefalt Milton
Posted by Rose Etherington
Buildings roll through the city on railway tracks in this masterplan by Swedish architects Jagnefalt Milton for Åndalsnes in Norway. Called A Rolling Masterplan, the design was created for a competition to design a masterplan for the city. Jagnefalt Milton’s scheme would use both existing and new railway tracks to move buildings around according to the seasons or events. Their proposal included a mobile hotel, swimming pool and concert hall.

The Swedish architecture office Jagnefalt Milton has been awarded in the Norwegian master plan competition for the city of Åndalsnes. The jury was impressed by the Swedes’ proposals that did not propose new city blocks, public squares, boardwalks etcetera, but instead focused entirely on the existing rail road network and created something unexpected from it. They were also moved by the presentation material which they thought had a surreal mood with a magic and Tarkovsky-esk atmosphere that contrasted well with the sober and technical plans and axonometric drawings.

Jagnefält Milton is an architecture office in Stockholm, Sweden. Their last achievement was a first prize in the architecture competition to build a culture centre in the city of Galway, Ireland. The office was founded a year ago by Konrad Milton and Carl Jägnefält.
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See also:

### dezeen.com Monday, 19 November 2007 at 12:06 am
Rolling Huts by Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen Architects
Posted by Marcus Fairs

Rolling Huts are minimally appointed mountain cabins mounted on wheels, designed by Seattle architects Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen. Located at Mazama in Washington State, the six huts serve as guest accommodation for friends of architect Tom Kundig, who has his Delta Shelter weekend retreat in the valley nearby. The cabins have wheels to get round local planning laws forbidding permanent structures.
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Post by Elizabeth Kerr

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