Where to live?

2 06 2011

by Vlado Kabat

I am sure that you have heard about various lists of the best cities to live in according to some criteria. I looked at the one which seems to be the most veracious. Mercer’s Quality of Living Survey is being updated every year. It compares over 200 cities with 40 criteria. New York has got constant score of 100 and the other cities are ranked with comparison to it. The ranking is based on the livability of the cities and the base criteria are education, hygiene, safety, health care, culture, recreation, environment, political and economic stability, public transport.  It is interesting that international companies sometimes choose their next place to open the office according to this list.

In recent years among the top dominate European cities and all of them were in German speaking countries. The other ones in top 10 were from Canada, Australia and New Zealand. So here we have the ranking, which city would you choose?

1. Vienna (108.6) 2.Zurich(108.0) 3.Geneva(107.9)  4-5.Auckland(107.4) 4-5. Vancouver(107.4) 6. Düsseldorf(107.2) 7-8.Frankfurt (107.0) 7-8.Munich(107.0) 9. Bern(106.5) 10.Sydney (106.3)

Before seeing this list, two of my ‘tops’ were Munich and Vienna, so for me the ranking is quite trustworthy.


Play Now for a Green Tomorrow

1 06 2011

By Sarah Muscat

Browsing through a website, I was startled to read that SimCity is being used in educational curriculums! How can A GAME be considered as a good basis to the future of urban design and planning, even by universities?!

SCEPTIC about it, I started to search out for weak points in the game. Based on the realities of capitalist economies, surely it must be the environmental sector! I was wrong. The latest SimCity Societies is not just tackling the issue, but has worked with BP to provide realistic scenarios for the economic and environmental costs and benefits of different energy options…..to be used in THE GAME!

No wonder the UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change opted for A GAME, ‘Create your MY 2050 World for the UK’, to engage people in the difficult choices that must be made for UK’s Energy Future! I DECIDED TO PLAY THE GAME! It’s fun and does highlight misconceptions and the inadequacy of certain measures to alternative options.

At the end I managed to reduce CO2 below the targeted 20%. Success means that your proposed scheme feeds into the UK’s energy debate ‘2050 Pathways Analysis’. So GO ON AND PLAY!



Create your My 2050 World for the UK

Lessons from Volcano Grimsvoetn

26 05 2011

By Sarah Muscat

Another Icelandic volcano eruption! Again, hundreds of delayed or cancelled flights, and people stranded in airports across Europe!

“In England, Newcastle International Airport was worst-hit”, stated SKY News. In mainland Europe, images of crowded German airports made me wonder how the stranded passengers felt. I remembered of a presentation by fellow classmates who reiterated the words of Italo Calvino and the sense of oppression he experienced upon arrival at Trude’s airport. The airport was presented as a non-place, a transience place where no one wants to stay!

Instead airports should be welcoming, flexible and responsive to people’s different needs.

This view is also advocated by CABE in a document entitled ‘Inclusion by Design – Equality, diversity and the built environment’. Access with dignity, treatment with respect, provision of relevant services and convenience in use; were other main criteria for an inclusive design, including airport design.

In case you are stuck in a ‘non-place’, there is still hope; the ash cloud is said to clear UK by weekend!

Eruption of Volcano Grimsvoetn


Stranded Passengers at Munich Airport

The Royal Wedding and the transformation of urban space

4 05 2011
By Sarah Muscat

Cheering along with thousands of people from all over the world, the atmosphere in Hyde Park was a celebration of a joyous unity, as the newly wed Will and Kate shared a kiss or two in the Buckingham Palace‘s balcony.

It might have been Prince William’s charm, or the bride’s dress, but for many, the transformation of urban spaces in London to celebrate the Royal Wedding was one good reason to visit the city.

The Union Jack featured wherever one looked, the shop windows decorated for the occasion increasing footfall and lingering even in streets outside the main tourist areas, green spaces were enhanced and events organized everywhere, making every part of the global community involved. The sense of inclusivity, of belonging and sharing; gave rise to various positively activated spaces, binding the local communities.

With all the girls competing to marry Harry, the next wedding might take some time! Maybe we could instead continue to celebrate our own communities more often within urban spaces, cherishing every accomplishment towards a better living for everyone.

Kensington Palace Gardens


Shop window decorated for the Royal Wedding


Hyde Park during Royal Wedding

Mattel Reveals Architect Barbie

5 03 2011

By Lizzie Bird

Look familiar? So while we were away in Brussels enjoying the mussels, chocolate and beer Mattel revealed last week that Barbie is to become an architect.

The firm said the latest incarnation of the 52-year-old doll, Architect Barbie, would appear this autumn as part of an ongoing series of career-themed dolls.  The architect edition of the doll includes heavy black-rimmed glasses, a hard hat, a small model of a pink house, a dress with a skyline print and a cylindrical document carrier containing blue prints.

Since her debut in 1959, Barbie has developed an impressive CV, with over 120 job titles from babysitter to astronaut, via ballerina, business executive, surgeon, gymnast, paleontologist, firefighter and teenage fashion model.

In early 2010 Mattel launched a public-voting system to decide Barbie’s next career move as part of the “I can be…” series of special edition dolls, with architect offered as one option.  But in February 2010 the results of the vote saw Barbie shun architecture to become a computer engineer. However, a campaign by architectural historian Despina Stratigakos, curator of a 2007 exhibition Architect Barbie and a professor at the State University of New York’s architecture school, appears to have been successful enough for Mattel to take notice.  Stratigakos is thought to be among the architects that collaborated with the toy manufacturer to create Architect Barbie.

See more at http://www.bdonline.co.uk/barbie-the-new-architectural-role-model/4500198.blog. Also looks like its not just Barbie, Justin Bieber has also revealed his ideal job would be an architect?! See RIBA v Bieber and Barbie: the battle for architecture’s future at http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2011/mar/04/riba-beliebers-justin-bieber-architects.

Tyne Bridge Tower Up In Flames!

4 03 2011

The Tyne Bridge Tower was ablaze this morning as I passed on the bus. I guess this truly seals its fate!