Do Well-Designed Cities Make for Better Politics?

PLANT Architects: ROM Roof, Toronto Cognitive scientist Donald A. Norman’s research on excellence in design is a touchstone for understanding today’s wired cities. In his book, “The Design of Everyday Things,” Norman explores the idea that consumer behaviour can be influenced by good design. Alternatively, bad design frustrates users while destroying long-term value. Norman advocates user-centred design to make the...

What Does MESH Stand For?

Real time Rome from MIT SENSEable City Lab, 2006 What does the MESH in MESH Cities stand for? We've answered that question for the editors of Spacing Magazine in a short essay for spacingtoronto.ca. It is published today. Here is how it is explained: Whatever you might think about a computer-driven modernity, MESH Cities are not just smart cities. MESH Cities...

Is it Possible to Build MESH Cities From Scratch?

  This video on the Skolkovo smart city initiative in Russia illustrates a planning model that urban designers have had a love-hate relationship with for centuries: the node. Placed in a green field location on a major transit link, this approach to city building isolates economic functions from the greater urban context. One can only imagine the reasoning for such an...

Siemens US and Canada Green City Index: Richard Florida’s Insights

Toronto ranks 9th in Green City Index. Siemens Canada sponsored a new report by the Economist Economic Unit ranking twenty-seven North America's cities in a "Green Index." Who were the winners in the 140 page report? Not many surprises in the top ten: 1. San Francisco 2. Vancouver 3. New York City 4. Seattle 5. Denver 6. Boston 7. Los Angeles...

Macro to Micro: MESH City Overview

New genres are necessary to frame the evolving complexities of the modern city. MESH is a term often applied to the socially-networked systems spawned by new information technologies. Where those technologies overlap with the design and ongoing use of cities the result can be described as a MESH City. SMART cities are conceived of--still--in a top down fashion where existing...

Is Stockholm a MESH City?

The Hammarby development, Stockholm. We recently toured Scandinavia by bike in search of smart, sustainable cities. Our last stop was Stockholm. This journal entry was posted August 18th at treehugger.com for the occasion We are at the end of our LostGen2 quest for the world's best city design. Sarah and I left North America looking for effective models of urban living. We...

Saskia Sassen on the Future of Cities

Professor Saskia Sassen recently spoke about the future of smart cities at the LIFT conference in France. Her twenty minute talk is worth watching. Professor Sassen reinforces the idea that modern cities must be more than just an assemblage of new, information technology driven systems. Design, politics, capital, ITC, and planning must be integrated if tomorrow's cities are to...

Social Networks and the Future of Cities

What happens to city planning when local citizens can work with developers to inform design strategies? The community group Active 18's influence on the urban design of its neighbourhood may well represent the future of how cities will be designed. In case you didn't know, the group represents residents of Ward 18 and the Toronto district known as the "Triangle."...

MESH Cities and Smart Cities—The Key Difference

According to wikipedia, Smart Cities encompass six main axes or functions. The functional categories are: smart economies; smart mobility; smart environment; smart people; smart living; and, smart governance. These six Smart City functions are, in theory if not in practice, an evolution of traditional theories of urban design. The topic areas are based on theories of regional economic competitiveness (in...

Are The Cities of Tomorrow Machines Or Symphonies?

Detroit as a perfect machine for making surface parking spaces in urban cores. Ref Streetsblog.org A new report from the US-based Brookings Institute describes five key success factors for smart cities—in our opinion an increasingly anachronistic and meaningless term for tomorrow's cities. While the authors' intent is well justified, they miss the aspirational potential of responsive, wired cities through their...