In New York, a former elevated railway gets turned into a park! : High Line Park!

An awesome example of urban re-purposing of derelict or unused space. Turning an overpass or existing structure into something new can be amazing feats of urban design.

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This is a good vid; Freeways are in the way. This is similar to my past Seattle project, where we removed the Alaskan Viaduct and developed interesting programmes in its place.

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This is an awesome new green concept for building exteriors! Check out the Nano Vent Skin for buildings.

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'Option of Urbanism' -> Multiple Community Centre Cities (With dense urban centres, spread out by nearby sparse lower density areas - residential, suburban or otherwise)

[August 2008 followup]:
In a City of Surrey open forum on future city planning about a year ago, people were asked how they see their city a hundred years from now. There were some good responses, from retaining the valuable pockets of nature where we can still explore, to a vibrant downtown easily accessible by rapid transit.

From listening to some of these responses, and considering other variables in what would make a great and vibrant city, with a high quality of life, and still be able to feel like a "City of Parks" full of natural greenscapes (not fake landscaped lawn-parks) or a suburban family neighbourhood; I envision a City, not with just one city centre core, but with Multiple 'Community' Centres.

Part of being sustainable and reducing urban sprawl is to NOT to build out further onto undeveloped land, but to take what is already consumed and make better use of it. What does this mean? This means higher-density. Not just higher-density overall, but in specific areas (this is a key point in my idea). A city like Surrey, already has it's different neighbourhood/community regions. In each of these communities, there already exists a logical area that is the central hub of the neighbourhood (from existing commercial or transit infrastructure). In the main communities, the central core areas should be allowed to develop into vibrant, higher-density, mixed-use urban areas. The life of each neighbourhood will be allowed to centre around this Community Centre.

Establishment of Centres should include some of the following Amenities, but not necessarily all:
+Rapid transit to the Centres and between the Centres
+Retail shopping & commercial businesses
+Commercial office spaces
+Entertainment, such as a cinema
+Recreation, such as a Community Rec Centre / gym / ice rink
+Educational Space (this is an important one) - Libraries, Post-Secondary Institutions, even Secondary Schools (such as in Coquitlam)

Of course there will still be a main Downtown Centre. There will always be one that is larger and more popular than the others - and that would become main representative core of the City.

Outside of the centres, a much different scene can be maintained. This is where we have our Option of Urbanism. Just a few minutes away from a busy vibrant Centre, we have a calm beautiful sub-urban setting - it feels as if we were still in the country-side, yet still in the City. A hundred years in the future and the beautiful residential neighbourhoods are still there, but with better amenities nearby (and better transit, so less cars). ... creeks ... woods ... not artificial landscaped parks ... bike riding and explore these woods creeks and gulley's

Simply higher density doest mean better, having larger home or homes with multiple suites is not an effective solution. for the most part, this just increases the number of cars per house. and this is NOT what we want, this is some of the worst parts of urban sprawl we are trying to negate.

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Everyone knows it RAINS in BC. The lower mainland is in a rain forest after all, what do you expect. Besides, living here, you learn to love the rain.

With that said, this 'Rolling Bench' would be a perfect adaptation to this environment. When it rains, one side of the sitting surface gets wet, if someone wants to sit, they turn a crank to roll the bench surface to reveal a dry portion of the surface.

Places to sit are one of the biggest things that are needed for making public spaces inviting areas where people want to be. One of the major reasons why public spaces fail is because of a lack of places to sit.

Thanks to Anna for the link.

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Paul Hillsdon is the 18 year old who wants to run for Surrey city council, and is swirling in ideas of sustainability. From the brief look at what he has to offer, it is very surprising to me just how much he knows. Sustainability, successful urban design, building vibrant communities and cities, examples of success from elsewhere, etc ... all pop out at me when I read his blogs. This kid is thinking in a way I never did when I was at his age.

He even references World Changing - If he often reads this blog, or the book, then he's got his head in the right place. Makes me wonder if any of the current Surrey city council members even know of World Changing.

His idea of creating an Interurban Rail system using a current freight rail is quite intriguing. This shall prompt me to research further.

Ever since the time when I used to drive across the Port Mann Bridge on a regular basis, and had to endure the ever constant insanely backed up traffic, I had made a simple observation. There are FIVE lanes on the bridge. TWO going west and THREE going east. Why don't we have a counter-flow lane instead in the middle lane? Similar to that of the Lions Gate Bridge or Massey Tunnel. Much faster and cheaper to implement than twinning the bridge - and would provide relief (an albeit smaller scale) to congestion in the meanwhile before this other new toll bridge is built. Simple idea right? Guess so - cuz Paul also thought of it too!

In terms of ideas for Surrey - I hope he considers "Transit-Hub-Centric Communities" and "Multiple Community Center Cities" as models for urban design in the city. Things I will blog at length on at a later time...

In conclusion - Paul seems promising as a Councilman, though I expect he lacks the committee experience - hopefully someone can help him with that. And also a promising future if he ever decides to become a Designer.

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