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Trend Watch July 2021
This German Grandma builds wheelchair ramps from Lego:
Rita Ebel is making wheelchair ramps out of LEGO bricks to make her town of Hanau, in Germany, more accessible. “For me it is just about trying to sensitise the world a little bit to barrier-free travel,” Ebel told Reuters. She has been using a wheelchair since she was involved in a car accident 25 years ago.
Helped by her husband, Ebel often spends two to three hours a day building the made-to-order ramps which contain hundreds of the small plastic bricks secured with around eight tubes of glue.
The bright colours stand out in town centres says Rita, who has been nicknamed ‘Lego Oma’, or ‘Lego Grandma.’ “Nobody just walks past a Lego ramp without taking a look,” she said. “Whether it’s children who try to get the bricks out or adults who take out their mobile phones to take pictures.”
The ramps have been enthusiastically received by residents and local businesses. “It’s a brilliant idea,” said Malika El Harti, who received a ramp for her hair salon. “Everyone who walks past is happy about the ramps. Finally, you can see from afar that you can get in here without any problems.”
The idea is starting to catch on in other places. Eber has sent ramp building instructions to Switzerland, Austria and has had interest from a school in the US.
Tactical urbanism comes of age:
One clear lesson from the pandemic: experimentation with streets may yield tremendous benefits with less downside than previously thought, writes Robert Steuteville for the Congress for New Urbanism.
During the pandemic restaurants have needed increased outdoor dining capacity. As riders stayed away from public transit, demand for bicycle infrastructure rose. As urban dwellers sought to get outdoors while socially distancing, public space was at a premium. Cities responded by closing streets to allow tables in the public right of way and installing temporary bike lanes and parklets.
Steuteville describes case studies in Boston and Norkfolk, Virigina, in the US, that fast-tracked such interventions and have experienced ongoing benefits – read more in the article on the Public Square CNU Journal.
The Linea range is sleek and minimalist. 100% stainless steel frames support many colours, lengths and mounting types, including plinth and wall-fixed options.
Street Furniture Australia collaborated with Mobility Design Lab from Monash University to reimagine how urban bus stops and shelters could look, feel and work in the near future. The concept proposal was recently shortlisted for the Smarter Hobart Challenge, an international design competition launched by the City of Hobart in 2020. The competition called for “innovative and exciting ideas to help transform Hobart’s public transport services, and help make waiting for the bus reliable, safe, accessible and socially connective.” More than 120 entries were received from teams in Australia, the US, India, South America, Russia, Ukraine, Singapore, Hong Kong, Italy and France. The concept by Monash University and Street Furniture Australia was one of five finalists. Bus travel can sometimes suffer from “a less optimal image” compared with other modes …
Dutch couple are Europe’s first inhabitants of a 3D-printed house: The south Netherlands property, made by 3D printing a specially formulated cement through a nozzle on a robotic arm, is inspired by the shape of a boulder – a design difficult and expensive to construct using traditional methods, writes The Guardian. While properties have been partly constructed via 3D printing in France and the US, the Dutch home is said to be the first “legally habitable and commercially rented property where the load-bearing walls have been made using a 3D printer nozzle.” It is the first of five 3D-printed houses planned by construction firm Saint-Gobain Weber Beamix for a plot of land by the Beatrix canal. “It is beautiful,” said owner Elize Lutz. “It has the feel of a bunker …
12 Principles for an Effective Urban Response to Covid-19: UN-Habitat, the United Nations agency for human settlements and sustainable urban development, has developed 12 key principles to help local and national governments to prevent the spread of the virus and build preparedness for the future. The principles relate to accessibility, flexibility, design, management and maintenance, connectivity, and equitable distribution, and cover short, medium and long-term interventions. Read about them on ArchDaily. One in four cities cannot afford climate crisis protection measures: One in four cities around the world lack the money to protect themselves against climate breakdown, even though more than 90% are facing serious risks, according to research by the Carbon Disclosure Project. A survey of 800 cities found that 43%, representing a combined population of 400 million people, …
Toronto swaps Google-backed ‘smart’ city plans for people-centred vision: Canada’s largest city has moved towards affordability, sustainability and environmentally-friendly design in a new vision for the Quayside waterfront – a year on from parting with Google-affiliated Sidewalk Labs. Waterfront Toronto launched an international competition in March to secure a new development partner for the Quayside lands, to build “a sustainable community for people of all ages, backgrounds, abilities and incomes.” The Quayside development will provide “market and affordable housing options for individuals and families. It will offer opportunities for aging in place, including the supports and amenities that will allow seniors to live independently. Inclusive economic development opportunities will create jobs and spaces for business owners that reflect Toronto’s diversity,” they write. The call for new proposals comes nearly a year after the Sidewalk Labs partnership was called off, a “stinging defeat” reports …