Biblio (116) The evolution of the parisian foodshed from the XIXth to the XXIst century


This is the PHD dissertation of Petros Chatzimpiros (engineer and environmental expert, currently university teacher in Geography), presented in june 2011 before the Paris Est university. The author focuses his research on meat and dairy.

The analytic method is a study of the spatial footprint, water use and nitrogen flows. According to the conclusions, since the beginning of the XIXth century the production surface by resident has been divided by six for similar consumptions of meat and milk, as a result of improvements in production, at the cost of twice the water consumption and a three times more intense use of the soil.

As Pikety has used long series for revenue, here long environmental and economic data series are used.

Biblio (115) How much time do French allocate to shopping?


INSEE (the French national statistics office) has just published an interesting report on the time French dedicate to shopping (as well for everyday things as food, as for choice items as clothes). According to the analysis of a series of data between 1974 and 2010, French have reduced their shopping frequency and they spend more time during Saturday, going to longer distances to get the items they purchase.

As of 2010 the average French uses 2 hours 41 minutes per week for shopping; between 1974 and 2010 women have reduced the weekly time for shopping some 28 minutes, while men have increased theirs by 21 minutes. Internet shopping is still reduced in France. 20% think that shopping is a chore, while in 1986 those were only 10%.

These figures may seem far away from urbanism, but they show that for small urban retail, that brings life to cities, times are hard…

Biblio (114) The formation of urban spatial structures : markets vs design

Biblio-114-the formation of urban spatial structures

This work by Alain Bertaud analyses the links between design (he is an urban planner- architect) and market, providing answers to why it is not advisable to have private streets or why some things work better as public goods. Taking examples from Hartford, CT, to China, he analyses the links between economy and urban planning. Interesting, and open to debate.

Biblio (113) The rise and fall of Manhattan’s densities

biblio 113- Manhattan densities

This working paper by Shlomo Angel and Patrick Lamson- Hall, researchers at the Marron Institute at NYU, studies the evolution of population densities in the built-up areas of Manhattan from 1800 to 2010. They combine census data for population with a series of maps, and conclude that time is ripe for a densification programme that could accommodate a larger population with bottom-up actions, without need to use large public- financed schemes. The proposal is essentially a change in the planning regulations that would allow higher densities in peripheral boroughs, as was done before in Manhattan. This would hardly be seen as a contentious issue where I live, as the habit of living in denser neighbourhoods is more common, but would mean a change for many in the land of the single- family home; even if skyscrapers are not a rarity, high rise housing has different cultural implications, as you would loose many freedoms you have being the lord and king of your lot.

There are two interesting videos which show the base data that helped reach those conclusions

Biblio (112) World Urbanization Prospect 2014

biblio112-world urbanization prospect

The United Nations publish every two years a report on the degree of urbanization of the planet, which also includes the urban- rural population share and the evolution of the size of cities by ranks.

This edition quantifies the trend that has already been verified in recent years to a strong growth of megacities in the global south, but it also confirms that the cities under 500.000 are still extremely relevant, housing almost half the current world’s urban population, and are set to still weight around 45% in 2030.

Biblio (111) A visual history of the future

Biblio 111- A visual history of the future

Foresight, the British government long-term research organisation that provides evidence for public policies, has begun a program on the future of cities. In this context they have produced a volume related to the evolution for more than a century of the images concerning the future of cities, using many sources going from plain urban planning literature to cinema. Sure, A clockwork orange is by no means an urban planning text, but there is a message on how the urban space can be used…

An interesting compilation of images that illustrate the evolution of the visions about the future of cities, mainly in the western world (including Japan, see figure 38 in the document), going from hippies (figure 42) to academics (figure 56), and from art (figure 51) to dismay (figure 39).

foresight-urban futures- image 51

This is the closest thing I’ve seen to the mountain in “Encounters of the third kind”, and here it would materialize in Berlin. Sure, chances for this to happen are from slim to none, but it is a powerful image.

Biblio (109) Green infrastructures

Biblio 109

Green infrastructure is one of these ecology-based complex concepts… and an interesting one. The traditional concept of infrastructure (“gray infrastructure”, as it is called these days as green ones have appeared) is that of any kind of contraption that allows you to use the laws of physics or any other science to adapt the current environment to our needs as a species; it is usually based on active elements that somehow require high amounts of ressources and some kind of maintenance. Green infraestructure is presented as an approach in which the man-made intervention is less visible, with an aim to get a good level of environmental services (yes, she is still the client…) by working in a more symbiotic way with ecosystems; understanding how nature works helps achieve a higher efficiency in some aspects with less pollution and environmental damage (not that previous engineers were brutes, but they worked from a different paradigm). The European Environmental Agency booklet conveys that idea in a more ellaborate way.

Biblio (108) Journal of Urban Cultural Studies

What can a new scientific magazine on urban matters deliver these days? Sure, only time can tell, but it seems good to have new forums. Urban Cultural Studies appear as a vision of a dialogue between art and society, with a large array of associated disciplines, from architecture to video games. For some, this would be the typical scheme developed in an American University that, despite having placed itself under the banner of a “Marxist saint” (Henri Lefebvre) would only be, in the end, another product of consumerism, and a niche one. i.e., a University with a certain prestige must propose any kind of product, as a cable provider would deliver Kim Kardashian and “Mad Men”.

But I think such a vision is far from fair, and reductionist. If you remember the previous “biblio” on the need to make urban planning cool again by giving is practitioners a clearer idea of the implications it has on society as whole, beyond the mere economic calculations, this initiative is interesting. Following the blog of its director, Benjamin Fraser, you can see there could be something there. Besides, no excuse to read the first issue, as it can be freely consulted (that’s understating the current cultural paradigm…).

Biblio (107) Why we need cool town planning (according to The Guardian)

Biblio 107

Here is an article published on November 10 on The Guardian, by Tom Campbell, the author of a recent fiction, “The planner”, about a young planner in London (which confirms that these days people write about just anything…).

The author describes in the article, from an English context, a sad divorce between architecture students that are often mocked for an imagination that is more mad than open-minded and planning students that are absurdly fed with regulations, with no larger vision whatsoever of the larger implications of their work for the society in which they live. The vision conveyed by the British government of planning as a set of bureaucratic limitations to growth is certainly not of help. The article presents two initiatives trying to change this situation: “Building Rights” and “Novus”.

Sure, he writes about Britain. This sad situation doesn’t happen in other countries…