Urban acupuncture consists of pinpricks of urban change. In this article, I look at Jaime Lerner’s book on this topic and discuss the participatory potential of urban acupuncture.

World map with pins
World map with pins

In our December 2020 book club read with the Urbanism Book Club, we enjoyed “Urban Acupuncture” by Curitiba’s former mayor, Jaime Lerner. The architect and politician has become one of the main voices advocating for “pinpricks” of urban change that, according to him, can heal whole districts or even cities. Similar to the Chinese approach of acupuncture, urban acupuncture is supposed to be almost like a medicine that through targeted interventions can heal a whole organism.

In order to reach SDG 11 by 2030, we need to understand what our cities are doing to achieve the goal and to analyse how progress is being measured. This article presents three different tools and identifies gaps and opportunities in data collection.

Sustainable Development Goal 11 aims at making cities and human settlements “inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable”. 10 targets and countless indicators are intended to make the goal more measurable. UN Habitat’s website is a pool of information on the general progress towards the Goal.

Inspired by Jane Jacobs’ book “Death and Life of Great American Cities”, I analyse my own neighbourhood based on her four conditions for a vibrant and diverse neighbourhood.

View of a neighbourhood
View of a neighbourhood
An overview of my neighbourhood in Mexico City, which is a mix of residential, office-space, shops and informal economy.

This month in the Urbanism Book Club, we read “The Death and Life of Great American Cities” by Jane Jacobs. She has been my heroine for quite some time, but this was the first time I actually read all of the book in one go. I really understand why people call it a bible and why the New York Times Book Review labels it as “perhaps the most influential single work in the history of town planning.”

Covid-19 has not just changed our everyday life, but also impacted urban planning. By transforming cities, for example through pop-up bike lanes, and by stopping in-person participation and community engagement, the virus is creating new parameters for cities.

In this article, I’ll present some options for continued community engagement despite physical distancing. Of course, digital tools do not offer the same experience as a personal discussion does, but they can provide transparency and inclusion.

Public meetings and other participatory events have been moved online to Zoom and related tools. It is up to us to make these meetings engaging and use the various functions that the tools offer. Source: Unsplash.

In order to continue engaging communities, we have to find ways of how to keep up participatory planning initiatives. Experts recommend a combination of online tools…

We got an extension this year due to Covid-19 lockdowns, but that is no reason to be complacent.

Planet Earth First
Planet Earth First
Source: Unsplash

The Annual Earth Overshoot Day is intended to visualise how many resources we humans use every year. The date shows from which day on we live on credit because we have used all resources and polluted all the environment that the earth can produce and clean in 365 days.

By calculating the earth’s biocapacity, which is its capacity of renewing used resources and diminishing pollutants, the Earth Overshoot Day provides a global ecological footprint of humankind. This is a different day for each person and each country, but the campaign shows the average for the whole world.

In 2020, Earth…

Using the examples of New York City and Porto, this article looks into city branding and city identities.

Mexico City’s branding identity
Mexico City’s branding identity
Mexico City’s “CDMX” (Ciudad de México) branding is relatively new and has by now changed its colours to green, but it is a good example of how to create a clear identity. Source: Wikimedia

Each city needs a brand identity that can represent it properly. However, many cities only use tourist-focused campaigns or outdated brands, which is why the topic is more important than ever. Ideally, city branding should be oriented towards the future direction of the city. It can represent a vision or a call for action, but these should be directed at its own citizens, rather than at visitors alone.

More than a logo, a city brand should create or at least represent a city’s soul. This is why city branding is a complex and complicated topic: Cities themselves are so diverse…

Join the Urbanism Book Club on Instagram to discuss classic books about urban planning, urban design, architecture, and more!

I started a book club! It’s something I have been wanting to do for a long time and since I am still in lockdown, I finally had some time to sit down and think it through.

We will be reading classics of urbanism, urban planning, city design and related topics — mostly non-fiction, but I’ll smuggle in some fiction ones with great descriptions of cities, too! Do you have any suggestions an what to read? Leave a comment or head to Instagram.

For now, you can find the Urbanism Book Club exclusively on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/urbanismbookclub/

Do let me know whether…

“Tactical urbanism” is a popular buzzword among urban planners. But what does it mean? According to Mike Lydon, public space expert at Street Plans, tactical urbanism is short-term action for a long-term change. A good example for that are the popular pop-up bike lanes coming up in many cities during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. They are cheap, simple and short-term solutions, but there is a tactic behind them. They are intended for a deeper change, such as more safety and space for cyclists.

Due to key trends in urbanism over the last decades, we are currently evolving towards a…

Written in collaboration with Dennis Gastelum

A view of the street layout of Cities:Skylines
A view of the street layout of Cities:Skylines
Copyright: Cities:Skyline

Cities:Skylines is a popular PC game in which you can build your own city. Along other city-building simulators, such as SimCity, CityVille or City Island, Cities:Skylines offers a reduced-stress environment to develop a city, providing quality of life for citizens and problem-solving as infrastructure and economic problems arise. Many urban planners use the game to actually showcase planning ideas and to test them out.

Lack of people-oriented planning

It is important to note that a game like Cities:Skylines also shows what is wrong with urban planning in the real world. This is showcased by how a player…

As horrible as Covid-19 has been, the virus has also brought some positive changes. Apart from clear water in Venice’s canals, dolphins in the Mediterranean and clean air in mega-cities, there have been important changes in the urban fabric. The pop-up bike lanes are particularly visible. But what do they mean for the new normality? And are they here to stay?

A pop-up bike lane in Berlin
A pop-up bike lane in Berlin
Yellow lines, bike symbols and red-and-white markers served to quickly create this pop-up bike lane in Berlin. Picture by Fabian Deter.

Pop-up bike lanes are new and sometimes existing, but improved bike paths. They allow us to avoid public transport and other modes of transport in times of spatial distancing. Ideally, they are 2 meters wide or wider in order to offer space and safety to cyclists. Countless cities all over the world have used the “new normality” as a segue into urban changes.

For a long time, urban planning experts such as Jan Gehl have preached about “cities for people”. Too many cities, especially in the United States, have been built for cars and are neither walkable nor very sustainable…

Laura Puttkamer

Writer and urban planner, currently based in Mexico City. Read more at parcitypatory.org!

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