Archives for posts with tag: urbanism

This post originally appeared on Spacing Toronto

With the L Tower nearing completion, Toronto’s horizon has been pierced by another iconic skyscraper. The L Tower’s semicircular form is instantly recognizable, joining the CN Tower as a structure that will further distinguish Toronto’s famous skyline.

The L Tower’s shape could be interpreted in so many ways, making me wonder why we don’t nickname more buildings in this city.

The Cheesegrater and the Gherkin playfully loom side by side in the City of London

In London, UK, any building that looks remotely like something else is instantlynicknamed. Most famously, there’s the Gherkin (officially the Swiss Re building), and even before completion, the Leadenhall Building has been dubbed the Cheesegrater. The Shard was formerly the London Bridge Tower until criticism that it was “a shard of glass through the heart of historic London” caught on and the name was officially changed. Closer to home we have the Marilyn Monroe buildings in Mississauga. Distracted by their curves, few call these towers by their official moniker, Absolute World.

Beyond providing a memorable shorthand, nicknaming towers brings a playful sensibility to the cityscape, personalizing these hulking masses of steel and glass. The process of collectively naming a tower can bring a sense of ownership over the city to its residents, even with a development process that seems like it’s out of our control.

The iconic forms of Toronto's skyline. Photo by Victor Razgaitis, from UrbanToronto.ca

With the L Tower almost finished, Toronto has a chance to bestow our very own unconventional building with a nickname. (The L Tower is sort of a nickname, but it derives from the first iteration of its design which included a perpendicular podium, making a giant L.)  So, what should we call it? The Swoop? How about the Swoosh? Or the Scoop? The Shark Fin? Or is the L Tower a good enough nickname?

And, without going too far, why stop there. We could call Scotia Plaza the Zipper, the TD Canada Trust Tower could be the Wedding Cake. The Ritz Carlton… the Exacto Knife? What else do you suggest?

Towers in Toronto

Leading image by Sam Javanrouh 

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This post originally appeared on the Pop-Up City

Yesterday we celebrated our fifth birthday with The Pop-Up City Live, an experimental event for urban innovators at De Brakke Grond in Amsterdam. During the fantastically diverse evening, we were inspired by the Mobiators‘ sustainable nomadism, energized by the spirit of Amsterdam’s community blogs, and mesmerized by psychogeographic tours of Venice and Skopje, along with delicious urban foraged-treats from Lynn Shore and Eleftheria Rozi, and funky tunes from the Deer Friends.

We also watched Sander Vandenbroucke’s fantastic film Brussels Express, a short documentary that explores the trials and tribulations experienced by the first bike messengers in Brussels, Europe’s most car-congested city. With colourful racing caps, stylish shoulder bags and speedy road bikes, Karl-Heinz Pohl and Karel Rowies of Pedal BXL aren’t just passionate about their innovative Brussels business: they are dedicated bicycle advocates in Brussels, a city overrun by cars and frozen in gridlock.

Brussels Express

Brussels Express

Brussels Express features amazing scenes of the city, as cyclists dodge the hostile car traffic and congestion. Watching the film, we learnt just how effective cycling is in a city overrun by cars, as bikes slice right through the gridlock, leaving the standing-cars in a cloud of dust. Pedal BXL can make a delivery within 15 minutes as opposed to the 2 hour norm, and is gaining popularity as the most superior delivery method in the city.

Brussels Express

Brussels Express

Brussels Express is a fast moving and engaging documentary with ultimately hopeful undertones: 10 years ago, nobody was cycling in Brussels, but biking is slowly gaining popularity. Local heroes in helmets and fluorescent vests are beginning to reject car culture, and are starting a bicycle revolution. And with a cameo from former Mayor of Copenhagen Klaus Bondam arguing that Belgians have to take a stand for greater mobility, we can tell this short documentary is a genuine and serious about its appeal for a better Brussels by bike.

We really enjoyed watching Brussels Express last night at The Pop-Up City Live — but don’t worry if you couldn’t make it to the event! You can watch the full documentary online. Enjoy!

This post originally appeared on the Pop-Up City.

Note: Over the past few months, I have been doing an internship at the Pop-Up City, along being the mobi-aider for the Mobiation Project. Writing a post about the Mobi-01 for the Pop-Up City (along with the Mobiator’s presentation at the fantastic Pop-Up City Live event) represents a coming together of the extreme sides of my personality. Less of a spectrum, and more of a circle, the Mobiators and the Pop-Up Citizens share  foundational values of ad hoc, flexible urbanism.

Have you seen the Mobiators roaming around Amsterdam? It’s likely you’ve encountered urban nomads before, but you probably quickly shrugged them off as punks, hippies, architecture students or circus performers just doing their thing.

But the Mobiators are a team of DIY urban nomads that defy categorization. Over the past year they have been temporarily setting up their self-built, foldable, completely transportable and undeniably uncategorizable home, the Mobi-01 in playgroundsparks, music festivals and lake-side communities around the city. The Mobiators are working towards having their Mobi-01 off grid by summer’s end, with solar, crank and pedal powered electricity, a grey-water system and a bio-digester to process their waste.

The Mobiators

The Mobi-01 is the first manifestation of the broader Mobiation Project. As the ambitious undertaking of the world’s first Mobiators Geert, a carpenter, welder, designer and tattoo-artist and Moroney, a vegan-cookin’, artist, writer and eco-architect, the Mobiation Project is a reaction — to the broken global economy and the increasing degradation of the environment. Mobiation takes big political questions and brings them into a personal light, asking visitors to consider their engagement with others and the world around them. With creative autonomy, the Mobiators argue that we can “get rid of the bad stuff and maximize the good stuff”, and work toward a more sustainable, inclusive world.

The Mobiators

The Mobi-01 is a living example of a functional off-grid living environment. As an open house, it acts as a podium for education, providing a major source of inspiration to anyone who visits. The Mobi is also a space for hosting organized workshops, and its mere presence in a community has the potential to bring inspiration, motivation and creative-awakening to their neighbours.

And let’s talk about the urban nomadity thing. Is this even possible, in 2013, in Amsterdam? Where is there land to set up and camp out? On first survey, it seems an impossibility: Amsterdam is full to the brim, and every piece of land is accounted for. Ignoring this reality, the Mobiators look at the city in different light, and have successfully found spaces to temporarily inhabit and infiltrate.

The Mobiators

Perhaps we could say that the Mobiator’s city is the Pop-Up City. To the Mobiators, Amsterdam is a purely flexible place, outfitted with temporary urban spaces that invite ad hoc experimentation. The Mobiation Project proves that with a certain attitude, any city can be a Pop-Up City. A shift in perception has the ability transform any mundane space, from the most barren to the most bureaucratic, into a place to be popped into, a place for unexpected transformations, a place where the most creative, sustainable and appropriate activities can take place, emerge and fade away as needed.

The Mobiators

And that’s why we’re excited to be having the Mobiators on stage at The Pop-Up City Live, a night for urban innovators. So join us on Tuesday May 21st at the Brakke Grond in Amsterdam to hear from the Mobiators and be inspired about their project, and the possibilities for sustainable, nomadic city-living in the 21st century, along with an exciting program of crispy themes, multi-media formats, and inspiring guests that will celebrate the best of five years of The Pop-Up City!

This post originally appeared on the Pop-Up City

This year, we’re marking five years of blogging on The Pop-Up City. To celebrate, we’ll be hosting The Pop-Up City Live on May 21st. The event is a great opportunity to celebrate the best of what blogging can do to shape the cities of the future. We’ll be reveling in what we’ve learnt from five years of pop-up, DIY, and bottom-up solutions for the cities of the future with exciting performances, guests, discussions, visuals and drinks.

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City blogging is a great tool to share ideas around the world toward better urban futures, but it’s also a potent tool for hyper-local community development. In the Netherlands, many community blogs have popped up and we’re excited to be inviting the founders of three Amsterdam community blogs, IlovenoordBoloBoost, and Nice Nieuw West, on stage to discuss the importance and potential of local blogging efforts.

Taking a look these examples from Amsterdam, we can see that community bloggers play a very important role in the city making process. They are the promoters, ambassadors and defenders of the neighbourhoods they represent, acting as the social sensors of their communities. With many of them representing gentrifying neighbourhoods in Amsterdam, these community blogs are also addressing an urban and social need for participation and inclusivity in formal planning initatives for all residents of these areas.

Ilovenoord

Ilovenoord

Amsterdam Noord, a short ferry trip across the IJ from the city-centre, is the frontier of gentrification in Amsterdam, home to a mix of hipster artists and immigrant communities. Ilovenoord features daily news and events about all the happenings in the neighbourhood. It could be said that the blog has been a catalyst for gentrification in the area, but it also has established an important forum for all locals to express their experiences/concerns regarding the development of the neighbourhood. The high visibility of the blog has meant that the opinions expressed on the site have reached the ears of the formal policy makers and have actually affected the decision-making process. For now, gentrification in Noord has become more inclusive, with greater initiatives in participatory planning.

BoloBoost

BoloBoost

Based in Bos en Lommer, or Bolo as its residents affectionately refer to it, BoloBoost is the ambassador of this neighbourhood in Amsterdam West. Peacefully tucked away from central Amsterdam, Bolo is home to 127 of the 189 nationalities that live in the city. Cheaper rents also attract many students and artists. BoloBoost has emerged as a central platform for residents of Bolo, highlighting events in the neighbourhood and places to live, work, shop and play. Established in 2011, BoloBoost arose from a feeling that the people who live in ’Bolo’ are living in a great neighbourhood, but it could be better and it “should avoid getting worse”. BoloBoost is also involved in community-event planning, such as the Bolobooze (a neighbourhood pub crawl).

Nice Nieuw-West

Nice Nieuw West

Nieuw-West is a large residential area comprised of many neighbourhoods with a centrally located park. Like the other Amsterdam blogs, Nice Nieuw West is a platform for the community, with events, markets and business listings highlighting hotspots in the neighbourhood. It is exhaustive in its coverage of the happenings in this relatively large part of the city. Nice Nieuw West actively seeks neighbourhood ambassadors  to contribute to its blog, another way it is actively ‘making community’ in this part of the city.

Join us on May 21st for The Pop-Up City Live to hear from the founders of these three community blogs in Amsterdam about their initiatives, their vision for community blogging, and their exciting future projects!

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I can describe urban planning in the Netherlands with one term: Multiple Land Use.

Multiple Land Use in the Netherlands has a much deeper meaning than what I’ve come to know of the same concept in Canada.

In my understanding, Multiple Land Use in Canada is a fairly simple mixing of residential, commercial and industrial activities. Also known as Mixed-Use Zoning, this practice has come into vogue in the last 20 years, in direct response to the negative consequences of the Modernist practice of isolating functions which characterized urban planning in the mid to late 20th century.

In the Netherlands, Multiple Land Use means so much more than having commercial and residential beside each other, and refers to a deeper mixing of land use functions — indeed, Multiple Land Use refers to the literal stacking of functions on top of each other!

Some of my fave examples:

◈ Along the Prince Hendrikade, which lines Amsterdam’s historical Eastern harbour, there are bike, car, bus and pedestrian lanes. There is a boardwalk style green space lining the water. Where Valkenburgerstraat intersects Prince Hendrikade sits the NEMO – a  science museum with a very distinct, contemporary architectural style. On top of the NEMO is a cafe, and terrace with expansive view of the city. Under the NEMO runs the IJtunnel – a bus and car link that runs under the science museum, under the IJ and into Amsterdam Noord.

Green space beside an institution which is under leisure space and over transportation space: classic Netherlands Multiple Land Use.

Another example:

◈ Westerpark, in Amsterdam’s west. In a small strecth of land, you can find residential, commercial, leisure, agricultural, cemetarial, transportation and gardenal uses. Standing in the middle of Westerpark, you get a strange floating feeling. Runners and bikers whip by you. Inter-city trains passing mark the minutes. You get whiffs of  hearty compost and manure of gardens and farms. You hear the clattering of dishes in nearby restaurants and cafes. You smell coffee, burnt tires, marijuana. You see tall buildings in the distance, squat residential blocks nearby, smoke stacks in the horizon. You see it all, the multiple uses of land, from one vantage point.

And just one more:

◈ Along Leidsestraat and Utrechtsestraat, bi-directional tram lines run. The streets, however, are only wide enough at certain points for one set of tram-tracks. To resolve this, the Trams wait for each other to pass at the stops which are located on the canal bridges — wide enough to support both directions of the tram. The multiple-land use kicks in beautifully on Leidsestraat, a pedestrian-only street, where people freely walk along the tram tracks until one needs to pass by. The street is both a tram track and a pedestrian walk way. It works beautifully.

TramA tram patiently wait for another to pass, in typically Amsterdam flexible use of space.
The diagram of this above, is an arrangement that can be found on Leidsestraat and Utrechtsetraat.

You can also see this along Rembrandtplein. It is a pedestrian only street, save for the trams that periodically pass. When the trams pass, they create a wake through the crowd, and their path leaves a temporarily empty corridor in the middle of the walkway. Slowly the corridor fades as pedestrians feel safe again to use the whole space, but soon another tram comes and the corridor reappears. A beautiful ebb and flow of multiple land use.

This post originally appeared on the Pop Up City

Urbanism and sustainability undeniably go hand in hand. What first comes to mind is the prototypical ‘Green City’ — a cityscape rich with parks, trees and productive vertical farms draped over high rises.

As cities are incredibly complex, so must be any sort of urban sustainability, which can come in many more forms than a ‘Green City’. With so much going on in an urban environment, there’s bound to be some excess energy flows. So why waste that energy, if you can turn it into something that’s better, fun, and productive? That’s what we call Parasite Urbanism — strategies and urban interventions that creatively make use of spaces or energies that otherwise would be neglected or would go to waste, contributing to a wider concept of urban sustainability. Let’s take a look at three of the best examples of urban parasites that we’ve highlighted on the Pop Up City. They all make use of a variety of otherwise neglected spaces or energy, launching them into places that are more useful, more productive and more fun!

Softwalks, New York CitySoftwalks, New York City

1. New York City’s Softwalks

In New York City, over 6000 ‘scaffolding sheds’ cover the city’s sidewalks at any given point in time. Taking advantage of the shelter they provide, Softwalks is an initiative dedicated to improving the pedestrian experience in New York City, transforming these sheds from passing through spaces to pleasant places to relax, sit, and eat. Softwalks are a DIY urban parasite: packaged in a convenient kit to let people turn local scaffolding into their own temporary hangout spaces. Have a seat, hang around a counter table or enjoy the planters that’ve been attached to metal beams. All Softwalk elements are easily attached and removed when you want to continue your walk. Now that’s what we call pop-up!

Stairway Cinema, Auckland

2. Auckland’s Parasite Cinema

In Auckland, New Zealand, a small movie theater was constructed over an exterior stairwell as an extension to the rest of the building. This small parasite cinema was made by the architects of OH.NO.SUMO and uses the steps of a staircase as seats. Right on the side of a busy street, the theater has place for approximately seven people. This clever construction is made out of a timber frame covered with three layers of fabric that provide a waterproof exterior, and a real cinema-like experience. OH.NO.SUMO designed the cinema in response to the lack of social interaction happening at bus stops and launderettes on the corner, with people increasingly absorbed in their own world within their mobile phones. The program of the Stairway Cinema is curated online by the audience itself, making the project embedded in both the physical and digital worlds. The great thing about this parasite is that it sheds a different light on a common urban space, transforming an everyday spot into a place that can be used completely differently.

Pay-phone library, New York City

3. New York City’s Pay-Phone Libraries

Making use New York City’s ever present pay phones — a dying breed in the streets of of cities around the world, the Department of Urban Betterment took the parasite strategy to transform this a ‘problem’ into an opportunity. New York City has 13,659 pay phones spread throughout its streets — most of them are hardly used. This parasitic urban intervention is repurposing phone booths into communal libraries or book drops. Although we’ve seen several efforts to transform old phone booths into book shops, this project is interesting as it is a parasite that uses the existing construction while leaving the phone itself untouched and fully operable. Furthermore, the installation is easy to remove. The meaning of a pay phone might be lost to the new generation of smart phone users. Pay phones can be considered relics of a time in which shared public facilities were characterizing public spaces. With this miniature library, The Department of Urban Betterment uses a parasite strategy effectively to imagine a new public use for these intriguing artifacts.


Stadsklas

In a series of six articles we’re exploring new forms of urbanism where bottom-up, DIY and spontaneity are key. Become a new-style city-maker with the Stadsklas (City Class), an action-driven summer course in the Netherlands organized by Stroom, that gets you ready to tackle urban issues in the 21st century.

 

This post originally appeared on Volume

WeOwnTheCity is an exhibition and symposium being held in Hong Kong by The Faculty of Architecture of the University of Hong Kong, in collaboration with Amsterdam-based CITIES and ARCAM. WeOwnTheCity will showcase examples of community planning from both Amsterdam and Hong Kong, investigating emergent urban development and community planning initiatives in both cities.

WeOwnTheCity

In the spirit of autonomy and self-determination, the WeOwnTheCity symposium on March 7th is open to the public: those who truly “own the city” by negotiating and interacting with it on a daily basis. The symposium anticipates positive and energetic discussions, debates and workshops that will facilitate the exchange of ideas between government officials, professionals and the general public on community planning and urbanism.

Sessions and panel discussions will explore topics such as “Community Planning in Shaping the City” and “Vision & Implementation in Community Practice” will feature speakers offering both a Hong Kong and Amsterdam perspective. Speakers include Caroline Bos, co-founder of the Amsterdam-Shanghai-Hong Kong based UNStudio, Ada Fung of the Hong Kong Institute of Architects and Michael Ma, the Director of Planning & Design and the Urban Renewal Authority of Hong Kong.

The event is supported by the Development Bureau,HKSAR, the Dutch Consulate General, professional institutions such as the Hong Kong Institute of Urban DesignHong Kong Institute of Architects and Hong Kong Institute of Planners. The symposium and exhibition are free and open to the public. Please register if you wish to attend the March 7th symposium.

Le-Corbusier

Urban

Detroit

I spend a lot of time, especially these days interning at the Pop-Up City, reading blogs about cities, planning, architecture and design.

This post is dedicated to those statements that I see constantly repeated in the urbanism blogosphere. They are repeated so much that they are taken for granted, and for fact.

I invite us to challenge the simplicity of a phrase used too much. We all rely on a certain economy of thought, but vagueness when it comes to argument is good to avoid. I know the blogosphere isn’t the place for thorough referencing and citation (I am also rely on these statements) but, let’s be active and look for a bigger story that could be behind these apparently pre-known ideas in urbanism.

Cross-posted from the Pop-Up City

In 2011, Philips announced the winners of the Livable Cities Award. With over 450 entries from 29 countries, Philips eventually put their support behind three great ideas for the livable city of the future. The winners received money and support from Philips to assist and promote their projects and implement them at a local level. Philips recently gave an update on the three winning projects, which gives us a good opportunity to take a closer look at the winners after 20 months of hard work!

Sabrina Faber’s Rainwater Aggregation Scheme saw the installation of rain-harvesting water tanks on the flat roofs of Sana’a, Yemen, solving the city’s common water shortage problem by ensuring access to clean drinking water. Her team reached their target of installing 25 tanks in Sana’a, promoting rainwater harvesting as a simple way to improve the city. Sabrina’s practical solutions in Sana’a provide a fantastic model for simple ways to make cities around the world more livable. She plans on taking her project to cities across Yemen.

RAINS Project, Sana'a, Yemen

RAINS Project, Sana'a, Yemen

RAINS Project, Sana'a, Yemen

James Kityo’s  Shade Stands protect people waiting for the bus from the hot sun in Kampala, Uganda, while also providing a place to display useful information about health. His team has installed 45 Shade Stands, and has learnt that it’s more effective to work directly with communities at the local level than through top down government decision making. This bottom-up urbanism works since local leadership knows what’s best for their community, and is faster in responding to their community’s needs. James has received immensely positive feedback and his big picture plan is to build Shade Stands in other parts of Uganda, East Africa and the world!

Shade Stands, Kampala, Uganda

Shade Stands, Kampala, Uganda

Shade Stands, Kampala, Uganda

In Buenos Aires, Manuel Rapoport noticed a shortage of outdoor public spaces. His pop-up ‘Plaza Movil’ is a portable street park that temporarily closes streets to traffic during weekends and holidays, transforming them into beautiful places to gather and play. The modular design can easily be moved from one location to another, helping to convert Buenos Aires’ congested streets into outdoor parks for people of all ages.

Plaza Móvil, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Plaza Móvil, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Manuel updates us from the debut of Plaza Movil at Technopolis, a technology fair in Buenos Aires. He has taken his vision all the way: the first Plaza Movil includes places to sit, play, an exhibition of local history within a shipping-container, even a climbing wall! Manuel and his team are planning to take Plaza Mobil to the streets of Buenos Aires’ La Boca neighbourhood next.

The three winners of the Philips Livable Cities Award demonstrate that the most innovative solutions for people lacking of amenities in cities are often the simplest. These ingenious interventions show again how creative urbanism at a local scale is central to a livable city.

The RAI  //

                         A night walk, a photo-essay

THE RAI 1

 

 

THE RAI 1

 

 

 

THE RAI 2

 

 

THE RAI 3

 

 

 

THE RAI 4

 

 

THE RAI 5

 

 

THE RAI 6 SMALL

THE RAI 7

THE RAI 9

The Amsterdam RAI Exhibition and Convention Centre  or RAI for short, is a complex of conference and exhibition halls in the Zuidas business district of Amsterdam, the Netherlands. – Wikipedia

Cross-posted from the Pop-Up City

Creative foodies of the world (re)unite! On February 17th, from Amsterdam to TorontoPoznań to Paris, people will be congregating in art galleries and parks, sidewalks and beaches to meet, eat, and celebrate the next edition of International Restaurant Day.

Restaurant Day began in Helsinki in May 2011 when people with a love of food decided to go around the city’s bureaucratic regulations and open their own one-day restaurants en masse. Since the first 40 restaurants popped-up in a wide range of re-imagined urban spaces across Finland, Restaurant Day has expanded to 689 restaurants in 131 cities and 25 countries that have quickly adopted to this new Finnish tradition. Restaurant Day’s website and app, have interactive maps that makes finding pop-up restaurants in your city and around the world easy.

Restaurant Day

Restaurant Day nourishes the intersection of food and pop-up urbanism that we love, encouraging people to engage with their cities creatively by making spaces to gather, connect and eat. Anyone can open a restaurant, anywhere, and some quirky endeavours have inevitably surfaced, like a sandwich bar in Helsinki that served bread in a basket from a third floor apartment window!

Restaurant Day

But your restaurant doesn’t need to be over-the-top. The most successful pop-up cafés are often the simplest: table cloths elegantly draped over long tables that stretch laterally along the street, food made with care from freshest ingredients, and any excuse to linger and enjoy city spaces that are often only passed through. Though this upcoming edition may see less outdoor pop-ups in more northern countries, the weather hasn’t deterred the world’s fervent adoption of Restaurant Day.

Restaurant Day

February 17th in Amsterdam will see thirteen restaurants popping up all over the city. Mostly indoors, creative one-day restauranteurs will be offering delights ranging from expensive, fine dining experiences, to creative re-imaginations of the cheapest ingredients. Outdoor dining opportunities are available, of course, and people will be bracing the cold for an organic pig-roast in the Westerpark!

Once the dust settles on Sunday evening, for those that can’t wait for the next Restaurant Day (the next one is in May), the Pop-Up City thought it would be a good opportunity to share another website that allows people to creatively gather around food year round.

Thuisafgehaald

Thuisafgehaald and its English counterpart Shareyourmeal are meal sharing websites bring another dimension to food and the peer-to-peer economy. The website allows you to share your home-cooked meals with people in your neighbourhood (and of course, you can also participate by simply eating your neighbours’ food). The website maps nearby kitchens, gives descriptions of what’s on the stove, and includes prices, photos and reviews. Though it hasn’t quite taken off in North America, Thuisafgehaald is exploding with popularity in the Netherlands, the UK, and the Czech Republic.

Thuisafgehaald

Whether it’s safely from your own kitchen, or out on the streets, parks and sidewalks, Restaurant Day and Thuisafgehaald show that it’s easy to transform our cities into landscapes of delicious food and imaginative places to eat, meet others and explore. These projects make use of technology to break down the traditional barriers between restauranteur and restaurantee, and are signs of the exciting and constant evolution of the peer to peer economy.

South Shore

I write to you from West Dublin, Nova Scotia.

West Dublin is where my brother’s lovely partner lives, and paints. I am staying here for the weekend, my last weekend in Nova Scotia, for a while.

While many of Nova Scotia’s rural regions, along with their industries, are dying and becoming retirement communities with an unstoppable urban-wards youth drain, the South Shore is blooming, flourishing with energy and creativity.

(This, I think, is in response to the rising cost of housing in Halifax’s North End — the traditional, inner city artist community. The middle class are again interested in living in the city centre, condominiums,  a sterile life style, and high rents: with things more expensive, there is less space for artists to engage in their non-money oriented art practice. Why are rents increasing so much in Halifax, a windy corner of the economy? Its city centre has been catapulted to a broader global economy, where it’s downtown and gentrifying neighbourhoods are put on the same level (as much as possible) with their counterparts in more economically successful. That plus foreign investment.)

From my visits to the Shore, and listening closely to anecdotes and descriptions of life here, it seems a novel social structure, a rural-urbanism has emerged.

From my city-boy perspective, I associate the rural with isolation. Doing it on your own, for your own. Driving vast distances to general stores that come with brief socializing and gossiping, but then back to your property and your isolation and your work.

The South Shore’s rural-urbanism certainly has a lot of those rural characteristics. People who have moved out here seem to be attracted to the idea of “doing it for yourself”, and without the city, with its intense social pressures and collective, non-opt-outable culture, are doing just that. But the isolation has been stripped away, and instead, a lovely network of people exists here, and, however diffuse and spread out, it is strong. Rural-urbanism means isolation is a choice, & not a given.

It is beautiful out here, with its subtle Nova Scotian undulating loveliness. The rugged firs grip the coastline, and in this warm December, a vibrant green moss blankets the earth. The folk that have moved here are making beautiful things, at their own pace, on their own time.

It is refreshing to think about urbanism as a concept that can exist outside a city in the most literal sense. What does urban really mean? In the South Shore, urbanism is expressing itself differently: West Dublin and LaHave and Riverport and Lunenburg are places stringing together a wider rural-urban network.