Monday, March 15, 2010

Guest Speaker: Urbansim

In this class we had a guest speaker come a talk about the idea and practice of Urbanism.

Sustainable urbanism if primarily concerned with land use and development (such as location, density types of use, etc..). It is the concept of developing urban areas in such a way the they become more useful to the inhabitants and a more green space, rather than the suburbs idea. Urbanism focuses on development that does not infringe upon non replaceable resources and compact, well designed, sustainable communities.

Some of the ideal behind Urbanism are:
o Enhance local identity
o Provide diverse housing options
o Increase land use efficiency
o Increase local employment
o And support alternative modes of travel
o Short walking distance to amenities
o High connectivity (paths)
o Path that provide connections for walking and cycling
o Neighbourhoods are clustered together around a town square

Essentially Urbanism leads development towards creating a series of communities with individual personality and character rather than a row of large stucco covered homes with a lawn and backyard as selling points. Current development patterns have lead to divided communities and living spaces that require large highways to reach and create social barriers.

The following words and terms are the Key Concepts behind Urbanism:

- Increasing the population of a neighbourhood increase its capacity to serve more people with less resources

- Pedestrian dominated design, everything within 10 minute walking distance
- Promotes healthy lifestyle

- Interconnected street grid
- Short street blocks
- Promotes walking

Mixed Use
- A verity of uses give neighbourhood residents the ability to dwell, work, entertain themselves, exercise, shop, and meet daily needs within a reasonable walking distance
- Activates urban areas during more hours of the day
- Serves multiple function with a single building
- Increase housing options for diverse household types
- Reduces auto dependence
- Creates a local sense of place

- Offers a spectrum of amenities and service that are provided within a range of operation hours
- Increase the quality of urban life by enhancing interaction with a diversity of people, allowing for a heightened cultural sensitivity to other ethnicity's and classes
- Non motorized modes of transportation are represented equally

Sustainability (a term we are already familiar with)
- Bruntland Commission of the United Nations: “meets the needs of the current generations without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”

Green Building / LEED
- Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design
- LEED is a third-party program and an internationally accepted benchmark for design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings. It provides building owners and operators the tools they need to have an immediate and measurable impact on their buildings performance
- LEED promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in five key areas of human and environmental health:
o Sustainable site development
o Water efficiency
o Energy efficiency
o Materials selection
o Indoor environmental quality

Some example of Urbanism in Winnipeg would be:

- Osborne Village (High-rises and houses nearby and various amenities within walking and cycling distance)
- Wolseley
- Corydon
- South Osborne? (Emerging)

To sum it all up, urbanism is the idea of building with community needs in mind, be it comfort, financial or green. It is a reworking of the way we picture how cities are built and the rebirth of the more close-nit community. Urbanism aim to bring harmony to the interaction between people and the world by reducing our impact upon it as well as the relaitonships and interactions people have with one another.

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