5 urban design projects that made cities more fun, clean, and accessible in 2019

Here’s a look at some of the most fun and interesting urban innovations of 2019.

Copenhagen opened the world’s first combination ski slope-power plant

As part of the Danish city’s pledge to be carbon neutral by 2025, Copenhagen opened CopenHill, a multipurpose power plant that also serves as a public destination and has been years in the making. The 44,132-square-foot waste-to-energy plant can not only provide 150,000 homes with electricity and heating but also offers residents a roof park with hiking trails and ski slopes and a 279-foot climbing wall on its exterior.

Amsterdam created a floating neighborhood with self-sufficient homes

Designed by architecture firm Space&Matter, the neighborhood is located on a canal and features homes outfitted with solar panels on their roofs, batteries in their basement, and a network that connects each home to its neighbors so residents can trade energy. The buildings also have green roofs where owners can grow plants, and their wastewater goes to a biorefinery to become even more energy.

Trondheim constructed a super-energy-efficient building

Trondheim, Norway, is a city of extremes—in the winter it gets five hours of daylight, but in the summer, a full 20—and this year, it debuted an extremely energy-efficient building. Built by the global architecture firm Snøhetta, Powerhouse Brattørkaia generates twice as much energy as it needs from the sun, providing excess energy to neighboring buildings and electric transit. Its solar panels can harvest all that energy over the summer and store it for the dark winter.

Miami started rewarding residents for getting around without their own cars

To try to curb the use of cars it launched Velocia, an app that works as a public-private partnership between Miami-Dade transit and services such as Bolt e-scooters and SwiftSeat carpooling For every commute a resident takes on one of these transit options, they’ll earn points toward their next travel, which might be a free half-hour on a Citi Bike or a MetroRail pass. Though we may be designing entirely car-free communities in the future, this was a step by one city plagued with traffic problems to reduce its single-car use without drastically changing its infrastructure.

Oslo made its city center car-free

Going a step further in the effort to prioritize pedestrians and cyclists over cars, this year the Norwegian capital removed more than 700 parking spots from its downtown area and replaced them with bike lanes, plants, tiny parks, and benches. Oslo is one of a few cities hopping on the car-free trend, and it’s been working toward this goal for a few years, but 2019 marked the start of a car-free downtown. The effort doesn’t only help people get around without traffic, either; it improves air quality, helps fight climate change, and enhances the quality of life.

Why it’s hot: It’s great to see the unique and innovative ways that cities are finding efficiencies.

Source: FastCo

Patagonia’s Action Works initiative opens environmental activism cafe to connect Londoners

Patagonia is spearheading a movement to fight back against climate crisis. The company has opened a cafe in London’s Broadway Market, to connect people who want to take climate action but aren’t equipped with the tools.

Within this space for grassroots environmental activism, like-minded individuals have the option to receive activist training, develop their campaigning skills and access a resource library to learn how they can make a difference in the face of the climate crisis.100% of coffee profits are donated to local UK environmental NGOs and charities.

The cafe is a physical outpost of the company’s Action Works initiative, an online platform that allows users to sign petitions, discover local events, donate money to nearby causes and offer their time and skills for volunteering. The platform initially launched in North America and attracted half a million people in supporting environmental issues; the launch has now become Europe-wide.

Why it’s hot: This is a great way for the brand to engage with and add value to urban spaces, in a way that is authentic and true to Patagonia’s 45-year history of activism.

In the words of  Ryan Gellert, EMEA General Manager for Patagonia:

“the urgency of the climate crisis means it’s everyone’s responsibility to act now. Businesses have the money, power and voice to play a major role in saving our home planet – as well as in ensuring that they are not making our environmental problems worse.”

 

As soon as you enter the café there is a range of 24 ‘Action Postcards’ that you can choose from that advise you on how to get involved in climate activism. You can take these cards with you and the different actions you can get involved in depend on the time you can devote to them. These range from advising you on how to ‘Become Carbon Literate’, to ‘Save the Right Whale from extinction’. There are also eight skill cards which offer opportunities to activists to provide skilled volunteering to a range of NGOs in areas such as photography and accountancy.

Books written by leaders and experts are around the café to help you get into the mind of an activist and inspire you to take action. Outside of the walls of the café there are also environmental groups who are there to help you engage in climate action. Sign up to workshops, discussions and free activities to educate yourself on how to tackle the climate crisis. Or simply go along to have a chat about the environment with people who are care about the planet.

Source: EuroNews 

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