This weeks featured story is by South African Patrick Magebhula, who once was a slum dweller and now is the chair of the Informal Settlement Network (ISN). ISN is a “broad network of informal settlement organizations which brings together poor communities, city-wide and nationally, to share concerns and develop solutions.” Read more about Patrick’s inspiring work below.
From slum survivor to urban planner “In the 1980s and 1990s we invaded land to create settlements that now house formal communities with services, legal tenure and housing development. We have worked with all levels of the government to give the urban poor a voice. Working with communities we have driven home the need to save money, collect information and upgrade. As the government shifts to an incremental approach to upgrading informal settlements, communities are preparing the ground for this historic possibility. Upgrading can take place only with the communities as partners.”
Rio Transit Cars over Favelas “The slums of Rio de Janeiro—the infamous favelas—pile onto and up and over the city’s iconic steep hillsides… There’s nowhere for public transit to go. Nowhere, that is, but up. That’s the direction for the newest transportation system in Rio, slated to open in March: a six-station gondola line running above a collection of favelas known as the Complexo do Alemão. The government says that 152 gondolas will carry 30,000 people a day along a 2.1-mile route over the neighborhood, transforming the hour-and-a-half trudge to a nearby commuter rail station into a 16-minute sky ride.”
China Just Won SimCity With Censorship-Bypassing 3D Baidu Maps “China has repeatedly prevented Google Maps from providing maps of China because the government would like the right to censor landmarks and locations… So what does China do instead? Have Baidu—the most popular search engine there—provide a 3D pixel art version instead. The result is amazing… Instead of just using simple blocky, textureless models of buildings, Baidu’s version is actual, realistic pixel-art version of the buildings.”
Pune’s Metro Rail Moves Forward, Faces Roadblocks Ahead “The Maharashtra Government approved the Pune Metro Rail a couple of weeks ago, but critics are still concerned about whether or not the project is a suitable solution for Pune’s traffic problems. Last month, the Pune Municipal Corporation’s initial enthusiasm for a new metro system was temporarily dampened by some revealing studies on the metro rail proposal. [The study] found weak statistical analysis, faulty data, less than thorough decision-making, and a more pressing need for improvements to the city’s non-motorized transportation facilities.”
Siemens unveils new model for green urban planning “Siemens Taiwan has recently unveiled its “Future Smart Building for Energy Interactive Model,” aiming to incorporate intelligent and green designs into urban… This model will demonstrate how building energy consumption can be transformed from demand-based to supply-based, depending on the availability of renewable energy.”