San Francisco

Maps 2014 (7) Real Estate in San Francisco

The Climb Real Estate Group operates in San Francisco and presents the results of the property search through 4 main modes, one of which is a rather visual map. This does not mean that the property you wish will align with your budget, but at least seems to give a clear vision on the available information.

Sister cities (4) Bay landscapes

There are ports that profit from a space which can naturally harbour the boats of the moment; Bruges or Ghent were relevant ports in a given time, but larger ships and the silting of their river mouths has changed that situation. And there are ports that are just a result of spectacular bays in which an entire fleet could be moored; when surrounded by a metropolitan area, the result can be simply spectacular in landscape and urban complexity terms. Large bridges with funny layouts (the bridge as the shortest span between two points can be distorted by the presence of a reef or an island on which to have a footing), the rush to occupy flat lands on the seashore (wharfs, airports, factories, infrastructure…) and a complex terrain elevation can be present.

Lisbon is one of the most interesting cities in the Iberian Peninsula and the whole of Europe when it comes to the relation between urban fabric and landscape. It is the sea gate to a watershed that covers a significant part of the central Iberian Peninsula. The Tagus estuary widens in the Straw Sea before going through the Almada- Alcantara straits, creating a gate to the sea that, by its sheer dimension, is at the same time a threshold and a visual opening. The empire is past, but  its built remains are still interesting: Commerce square is an example of quality architecture by the Tagus shore, but it is by no means oppressive.

San Francisco has an even larger bay, formed by the confluence of the Sacramento and San Joaquín rivers. it is the natural outlet of the California central valley. The urban core is near the Golden Gate straits, but the visual link to the open sea is less relevant than in Lisbon. Conversely, the more reduced peninsula allows an urban façade (albeit rather low density and not formal at all) towards the open-sea beaches. There are skyscrapers, but no space seems to have the scenic relevance of Commerce square in Lisbon; the image, as in most American cities, is defined by stacking fragments, not by a unitary architectural project. Some recent projects, as the High Speed Train station, can have a powerful architecture, but not related to the sea. The most relevant recent project on the seashore has been a subtractive one: removing the Embarcadero freeway.

Rio de Janeiro configures an urban landscape of enormous complexity, whose qualities have been recently recognized by UNESCO through its inscription on the World Heritage List. The urban renewal project in Port Maravilha intends, among other ends, to transform  a section of central wharfs, but here the most representative city-water interface is the beach. This does not mean Copacabana is the city core; it is a recognized image and a busy place, but not necessarily the kind of urban core you would assume in other countries. In socioeconomic terms, Rio still suffers after several decades of the impact of loosing its federal capital status to Brasilia.

Housing (9) 1020 Pine Street

Pine street 1

The common image of the United States for Europeans is that of a country with almost no multifamily housing; but even when the single family housing is overwhelmingly dominant, but for some cities as New York and San Francisco, the situation could be changing in this post-subprime world.

This building in San Francisco, by Kennerly Architecture and Planning (2009), groups 8 apartments (7 of some 90 sq m and 1 of some 66) in a small lot of the urban core. The volumes recall the traditional bow windows of the city.

Pine street 2

Imagenes tomadas de la página web de Kennerly Architecture and Planning

Green (3) The California Academy of Sciences

The California Academy of Sciences is at the core of the Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. It is a classical sample of a large representative civic building in a central spot of a public park. Loma Prieta earthquake in 1988 damaged the original building beyond repair, and italian architect Renzo Piano (co-author of the Pompidou Center in Paris) was called for reconstruction. The idea (that can be clearly perceived in the google map) is to bring back the building area to plants through an interesting planted roof. The building has received a high mark according to the LEED sustainable development rating system (10% of the energy used by the building is generated through its on-site solar cells, and the six inches of earth on the roof are a high insulation envelope). More information on this remarkable building at:
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Cycle superhighways

The new Barclays Cycle Superhighways are cycle routes (painted in blue, 1,50 m wide, on the car plaform) running from outter London into central London. They are meant to provide a safer and faster journey for commuters. A bike rental service is associated, and you can also learn to ride your bike. It is a possitive experience, but not entirely revolutionary.

Enter SkyCycle, a concept by British landscape Architect Sam Martin proposing a network of elevated cycle paths between the main London Tube stations, including transformed unused elevated rail lines and new infrastructure. This would increase bike speed and reduce cyclist’s deaths.

The system would not be free, as cyclists would use the Oyster card (an integrated transportation forfait) to gain access, paying about a pound to commute, which would be a third of the equivalent tube ride. It seems that a corporate partner is being searched for. But there are also some skeptics that would like to focus on the local bike networks.

The above image, that can be seen in the Rebar website (altough I have found no futher data on that in the site), seems to predict that such ideas could become common in next months.