At the Lab, we’ve talked a lot about the important and evolving role of public space in cities. This clip (above) from the film The Human Scale, by Andreas M. Dalsgaard, captures a period in June when the public reclaims city streets for a weeklong festival in the heart of the Copenhagen; as Danish architect and professor Jan Gehl notes in the film, such opening up of public space in urban areas allows people to meet “across different layers of society, different user groups, different lifestyles.”
Libraries’ importance within American communities is only growing, according to this thoughtful Hyperallergic post on the public institutions. Across the United States, libraries are increasing their educational programs and events, and seeing a steady incline in attendance (one significant instance of this: the New York Public Library has experienced a 12 percent increase in attendance from 2008). Innovative designs for new libraries support the phenomenon. As Francine Houben, of Mecanoo—the design firm that recently completed the Europe’s largest library in Birmingham, England—told Dezeen, the concept behind that project was to make the space welcoming and accessible, a place that embraces both community activity and new technologies.
A recent article in This Big City argues that, despite popular belief in Germany as the “ultimate role model for a functioning social market economy,” gentrification is causing widespread inequity within the German housing market. While rental housing accounts for 90 percent of the residential marketplace in German cities, former social-housing blocks are mainly purchased by foreign investors and property management companies “filling the empty coffers of highly indebted cities.” As Germany’s elections approach, housing has been at the forefront of popular debate, raising questions about whether the government is doing its part to protect its citizens’ right to housing.
Check out this piece documenting some of the world’s wildlife crossings—an impressive type of transportation infrastructure that has been in use since the 1950s. As the built environment continues to encroach on natural habitats, planners are creating all sorts of different wildlife crossings to prevent traffic from interfering with animals’ population growth and ways of life. The crossings vary in size and form, including viaducts, underpass tunnels, and fish ladders.
The unveiling of an Armenian museum, which will open at the end of this year in the restored Surp Giragos church in Anatolia, Turkey, is one of the first steps taken by the Turkish-Armenian population to celebrate their past. The museum will record the lives of Armenians in the predominantly Kurdish city of Diyarbakir before 1915—the year that the Ottomans and their Kurdish coconspirators began the mass extermination of the Armenian population, in what is believed to be the first mass genocide of the 20th century. While Turkey has notoriously denied that the genocide ever occurred, the restoration of the Armenian Church—Turkey’s first official Christian place of worship—can be seen as an initial gesture by the government toward acknowledging Armenians’ place within Turkish culture.