Archive for June, 2011

Exploring the economic impact of car-minimal living

Moving away from autos as our main source of transportation would result in vast changes in both physical and socioeconomic landscapes; before we explored the actual physical ramifications of car-minimal city planning, so now it’s only fair to examine the socioeconomic changes that would result. We’ll look at this in two parts, starting with the economic changes, as that will lead smoothly into the social transformation that comes from this fundamental change. Continue reading

Going solo

Not having a studio to fall back on can make studying an instrument difficult; initially, you don’t have an instructor to give you feedback on your development, but there’s also the lack of a sense of completion: in a studio, every four months or so, the instructor holds a studio recital, in which all of his/her students perform the piece they’ve been studying since the last recital. This provides all the students with an ability to say, Okay, I’ve finished that. I can set it aside and move on to the next one. Continue reading

Further green applications for a car-minimal city

Designing a minimal carbon-footprint city means considering what other improvements outside simply banishing cars to the periphery can be achieved to improve city conditions; implementing passive solar in building design is a major one, as using specific building-design traits can reduce the need for heating and cooling throughout the day, as well as result in a more sustainably-built city. These adaptations include window placement, window sizing on residential buildings, effective placement of air circulation, and specific materials used in construction, while for commercial buildings, the implementation of a green roof can drastically reduce cooling costs (as extremely effective insulation) and also provides more green space for planting gardens (hence increasing the city’s overall albedo, and again reducing the heat island effect.) Green roof design also reduces toxic runoff from storms, and traps water that would otherwise be immediately released back into the atmosphere, keeping the city’s humidity lower.

As an extension of the green roof concept, such design could be applied to car parking; near city-edge transit hubs, large car parks could be installed, designed so that as little exposed surface was bare concrete as possible. The end result would most likely involve partially underground parking, while any aboveground levels would be concealed by the planted outer surface, with the roof being entirely planted-over. All of these design choices are made to increase the city’s overall albedo, allowing it to reflect more heat away from the surface, etc. etc.

Bikes over cars and what that entails

I mentioned the idiosyncracies of bikes and their effect on transportation design; here’s a bit more about it, and then extending into how systems would be designed to handle it.

Anyone who has ever driven a manual car knows the hesitation that goes along with starting from a full stop, as there’s a certain threshold that needs to be overcome to keep the car from stalling out in first. However, with a bike, stopping and then restarting is more like coming to a complete stop, turning off the car, taking the key out of the ignition, and then putting the key back in, restarting, and /then/, finally, pressing down on the accelerator. In short, when biking, you don’t want to stop. Continue reading

Transportation in a car-minimal city

The goal of removing cars is to reduce the carbon impact of the city under discussion, but it also helps reduce the overall heat island effect caused by the massive black surfaces that cover most of a given city. However, the first consideration must be transportation: over short to moderate distances, the preferred method would most likely be walking and biking, but that still leaves long distances; without cars, this falls to public transit, and lacking omnibuses, that means trains. I’ve explicitly excluded omnibuses because including them in planning means including roads in the city design, and my goal is to avoid traditional roads as much as possible. Instead, a subway system allows for rapid moderate-to-long distance travel within the city, and can be readily integrated into other transit systems (inter-city rail, airports) while maintaining the goal of this project. Continue reading

Designing a car-minimal city

With climate change, rising fuel prices, and the general unsustainability of our current existence becoming apparent, I’ve decided to work on a thought experiment that most people have entertained at one point or another: how to develop a car-minimal city? Now, a wholly car-less city would be essentially impossible, but a car-minimal city is certainly an option; in this arrangement, parking ramps in certain areas, generally towards the edges of the city, would store citizens’ cars, however the majority of the city would have no roads built for cars; bicycle/walking trails would be used instead, and a subway system would provide transit across larger distances in the city. Furthermore, I want to approach this with the goal of a minimal carbon footprint, so there will be included in these specifications a general ecological sensibility, as removing cars but doing nothing else to minimise the effects of a city on the environment would do very little to improve conditions in the long run.
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