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Cooper Hart
357 followers -
Urban design and urbanism consultancy
Urban design and urbanism consultancy

357 followers
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Cooper Hart's posts

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In the era of super cities and climate change, we can't ignore the qualities of edible and fruiting trees in our urban environments...

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Another victory for sensible land use planning...

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A perhaps unsurprising observation that large developments create sterile spaces even as the architects aspire to new forms of gathering space, while traditional fine grain architecture and streets as spaces succeed...

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Australia should be giving serious consideration (+funding) to Hyperloop - not just as a better alternative to high speed rail, but because the faster acceleration means it can stop at many more locations than high speed, creating genuine conurbations along the east coast and/or supporting towns inland.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-36307781

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Simple Transformations
Merely enabling business to trade in garages is a great way of enabling local convenience retail and home businesses in local neighbourhoods without changing the built fabric.
Social and economic benefits include greater employment choices, more active travel (walkable and cyclable journeys) and reduced car dependency.
Simple conditions can be attached to avoid unintended consequences, like excluding noxious uses, restricting the right to small business (<5 employees / 50sqm), and limited trading hours to match local noise/disturbance policy (typically not between 10pm and 6am).
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Planning for the Future
When planning to make scheme work, spare a thought for the long term governance and maintenance regimes you put in place. Slot drains and permeable paving need regular high pressure hosing, plants need pruning, benches need their timber regularly inspected, high quality paving needs to be reinstated when pulled up, and have a good solid base if it is to be trafficked. All these help ensure a scheme will look as good in 3 years as it does on day one.
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The New Estates
Something is rotten in the state of society, one might say, when the 'House Museum', a return to the patron-client role of art, is lauded as something new and good. This idea, that art not only belongs in the private sphere but should be feted for its occasional display, dates back to the Renaissance.

'On Splendour' (Pontano, 1498) champions the idea of 'Magnificence' as civic virtue. This treatise extolled how rich houses - the Medici and D'Este, for example - demonstrated their civic-mindedness by honouring their (titular) lords, the Holy Roman Emperor and so on, while dazzling their peers, with their own domestic decoration. The likes of Michelangelo were their vassals, their art an expression of a patron's power.

The idea first tarnished in the 18th century, when the Enlightenment brought the first royal collections into public view - the British Museum, the Louvre - yet survived intact among upper classes until the 20th century, in English tradition in the form of country houses and the aristocracy that 'minded' them for future generations. An idea rejected in Australia from the outset (in its nascent forms of 'Bunyip Aristocracy'), and in the UK after WW2 (with exceptions) - considered for a long time aloof and elite.

This is not to say that private institutions have not played an important role in Australia's cultural scene, with ensembles having played first in private homes, and galleries sponsoring shows. Rather, these exhibits and recitals were always seen as interim steps, preludes to public institutions like the Opera House or Museum of Contemporary Art, once subscriptions could be raised.

Only now, when live music venues are closing in droves, and art galleries devote ever more floorspace to the gift shop, do we see this reverse trend writing itself back into the modern patrician estate - the Home Theatre where once was a cinema, the Home Museum in lieu of the public art gallery.

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Beauty in Mass Production
Paris has its Wallace Fountains, New York its Central Park lampposts, London its K6 telephone boxes and Heatherwick (New Routemaster) Buses, Osaka it's manhole covers. All crafted objects, mass produced, whose details make them artworks and objects of delight. The repetition of these forms only enhances their iconicity, and like the repeating joy of an Easter Egg hunt, spotting them becomes part of the magic of the city.

This idea is often reversed in current thinking, creating the bland homogenisation of modern city precincts. Today's urban design too often calls for custom treatment of every 'special' area, which in turn for budget and time constrains is built from off-the-shelf products dreamed up in lighting showrooms or furniture providers (or, these days, advertisers) and only slightly customised. Worse, these products belong not to the city but their commercial producers - and are as temporal as any consumer trend.

Instead, as city planners we should devote time and money to building our own elegant prototypes, to owning and licensing these designs, and ensuring that they are easily reproducable by multiple foundries. With care and consideration these objects may come to stand for the whole city, a synedoche.
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The pop-up culture expands... Now to bring pop ups to the suburbs...

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The number one thing you can do for your health is to take public transport. Why? Because unlike door-to-door services, you have to walk a little, every trip...

Commuters who shun car travel keep slimmer, study concludes - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-35812984
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