There’s an interesting article by Chris Holbrook in The New York Times which explores the reasons why airports are “built for everyone — the city, the airlines, the retailers — except for the very people who use them the most: the passengers?” Even the shiny, new airports designed by high-profile starchitects – “the cathedrals of the 21st century” as Holbrook puts it – suffer from poor sensory experience, from ambient noise to glare to uncomfortable furniture. Continue reading
Creating a low-carbon society will require public-private collaboration related to buildings and cities
[Note: This is my response to this year’s Masdar blogging contest which asks the following question:
“In your view, what are the policies that governments should adopt to encourage public-private partnership and enable the private sector to develop the goods and services necessary for a global transition to a low-carbon economy by 2030?”]
In 1800, only 10% of the world’s people lived in cities. By 1990, it jumped to 40%. Today, over half live in cities. It’s estimated that by the end of this decade, 60% people will live not only in cities, but in megacities (cities with population of 10 million or more). By 2030, a staggering 80% will live in cities. This has had — and will continue to have — huge environmental and social consequences.
Therefore, while the transition to a low-carbon society will require action by various sectors and at multiple scales, the most important actions — and most pragmatic — will be those related to cities, in general, and buildings, in particular. As the world is quickly becoming more urbanized, if we are to transition to a low-carbon society we must not merely make this the century of the city, but rather the century of the low-carbon city. Continue reading
Re Is Air Conditioning A Sexist Plot? (Aug. 13): It’s reported that new research suggests the reason why most women find office buildings too cold in the summer is because the air temperature is set using a decades-old formula best suited for the metabolic rates of middle-aged men.
While there may be legitimate concerns with this formula – it ignores many cultural, climatic, social and contextual dimensions of comfort, for example – pinning the blame squarely on one variable is far too simplistic. Continue reading
There’s a new temple being constructed in Iceland that will provide people with a place to celebrate the gods and myths of Norse religion. It’s a fascinating project for several reasons: architectural, cultural, religious, and philosophical. Continue reading