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Vol. 24 Vol. 24

Ready, Start: Exploring the Architecture of Digital Apocalypse

Joy Huang Edited by Michael A. N. Montilla and Gloria Serra Coch

Kachun Alex Wong Edited by Aline Estefram

Michael A. N. Montilla Laura Postarini Tyrene Calvesbert

Editors’ Letter

A Tour of Architecture in Tourism- Mount Xiqiao and China Beyond

04 Pages: 18-23 03 Pages: 12-17

Edited by Michael A. N. Montilla

Francis Yu

The Fall of the I-Hotel, How Planning Must Continue to Address its Troublesome Past

02 Pages: 8-11 01 Pages: 6-5


Allan Rosen

Deepa Mehta Edited by Mariya Chekmarova

Edited by Emily Junker


Edited by Michael A. N. Montilla

Edited by Tyrene Calvesbert

Pauline Claramunt

How can cities prosper after periods of crisis? Which strategies should be implemented? Enrique Peñalosa Explains Laura Postarini

Dormant infrastructures and tourism decay, Shelly Beach Mombasa, Kenya.

Edited by Conor Allerton

Maya Ephrem

Concerning “Africa Rising”: The Case of Kilamba City

10 Pages: 42-47 09 Pages: 39-43 08 Pages: 36-38

Edited by Michael A. N. Montilla

Fortieth Anniversary of the Southwest Brooklyn Bus Route Changes

Interrogating the Urban through the Indian Ocean Trade Route

Surviving the Interstate Highway System, The Resurrection of Apache Boulevard Lu Hao

07 Pages: 31-35 06 Pages: 28-30 05 Pages: 24-28


URBAN GSAPP 2018 2019

Columbia University in the City of New York Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation

Senior Editors

Article Editors:

Michael A. N. Montilla Gloria Serra Coch Laura Postarini Aline Estefram Tyrene Calvesbert Mariya Chekmarova Emily Junker Conor Allerton


Contributors: Francis Yu Joy Huang Kachun Alex Wong Allan Rosen Deepa Mehta Lu Hao Maya Ephrem Laura Postarini Pauline Claramunt

Dear the Columbia Planning Community and Friends, Planning is an optimistic profession. Isn’t it? Planners strive to make cities more just, more equitable, healthier, safer, better, more vibrant, more prosperous… more alive. Planners strive to make cities lively, and livable. Yet planning often fails, and wellconceived plans are often ignored. Thus, this optimistic profession is regularly forced to face a sad truth: cities and neighborhoods decline, and planning is very often a reason why. While some professions may hide and deny their failures, planning cannot. A planner must pragmatically review the death of a city or neighborhood as a coroner would a body. In these moments, it may be difficult to remain so optimistic for the city, but a planner has a duty. We must all learn from each other’s mistakes.

Reflecting the seasons, we begin the academic year with the Fall 2018 edition, Mortem. Mortem is not solely about how cities decline, but also about how cities and planners respond to ongoing problems, and prepare for future challenges. It is about how the portrayals of destruction and death in popular culture affect our perceptions of the built environment. It is about rebirth, what leads to rebirth, and how roadways and sea routes can shape cultures and cities during the process of resurrection. Mortem is about the disquieting metamorphosis that occurs when a city loses it economic foundation. Mortem is about discovering what makes a city resilient.


For the 2018-19 academic year, it is our pleasure to present Mortem (death) and Vita (life) as the semester themes for URBAN Magazine. We felt that these topics were among the most fundamental subjects of the planning profession, and thought they could inspire a great pair of magazines.

The senior editors of URBAN Magazine would like to thank all the writers and junior editors for their efforts in crafting this semester’s edition of the magazine. We would also like to thank you for reading it. This edition of the magazine features contributions from first-year master’s students, second-year master’s students, an architecture student, as well as a PhD student, and an alumnus of the master’s program. This edition truly represents the breadth of Columbia’s urban planning student community, and we are very proud to have played a part in creating it. Now, we invite you to read the articles in the forthcoming pages optimistically, as we hope they will foster meaningful debate, and spark your curiosity. URBAN’s Senior Editors, M, T, and L 7


Francis Yu

Edited by Michael A. N. Montilla Let’s face it. America’s cities are riddled with a history of racist urban policies that are responsible for the likes of residential segregation, deteriorating conditions in communities that are predominantly of color, immigrant neighborhoods without access to healthy foods or reliable public transportation, and a wealth gap that continues to see women of color working more for less. These are but a few products of policies since this country’s inception that highlight how inequity and privilege are tied into critical institutions, such as justice and law, housing, finance, education, workforce development—this list, unfortunately, goes on. Urban planning [1], a field once responsible for many of these evils, has an ability to face these ills with a critical lens that is cognizant of the past and to employ radical approaches to urban processes that lift the voices of historically under-served communities. But is it enough? Because so much of urban planning, policy, and development had revolved around the perspectives of white men [2], communities of color continue to bear the brunt of decades’ worth of inequitable practices. Policies like the Federal Highway Act (1956) have annihilated strong community networks, while also contributing to issues such as the concentration of poverty. These programs and policies, argued as a means to better connect and economically advance our cities, have had lasting effects on Black and Brown communities, likely to

be placed nearby undesirable highways, or to have a noxious copper plating facility as a next door neighbor. This type of spatial relationship not only isolates these neighborhoods, but also exacerbates poor health conditions due to environmental determinants that have a large impact on health outcomes. Planning practices shifted in the 60s, marked by Paul Davidoff’s [3] work that provided urban planning theorists and professionals a new framework for recognizing the ways marginalized communities were impacted by the string of policies that had dictated urban life for the majority of the 20th century.


The Fall of the I-Hotel, How Planning Must Continue to Address its Troublesome Past

This history is perhaps best described in the progression of urban development in New York City. Much of the city’s landscape in the 20th century was shaped by Robert Moses, often referred to as the city’s “master builder.” He favored massive highway projects as the primary means of transportation, and in doing so, obliterated the neighborhoods of low-income communities of color to build highways. This led to mass displacement and a concentration of poverty in public housing projects, as well as poor health outcomes for communities forced to live in close proximity to industry and highways. These effects are still present today. Since these policies and development programs have focused on building wealth and advancing white communities, whether by explicit


intent or through its outcome, communities of color have dealt with catastrophic effects like having a life expectancy that is almost ten years lower than their white neighbors [4]. Fortunately, the Civil Rights Era had brought changes to these practices and planners caught on and started work to undo some of the ills of the mid-century. The rise of advocating for communities with a bottom up approach and the specific focus on disadvantaged communities have since become the focus of many planners. The shift towards advocacy planning that came in the 1960s would support the activism of San Francisco’s Filipino immigrant community in the story of the International Hotel is a landmark event in the history of Filipino immigrant activism and reflects the battle between top-down planning policies and the genesis of bottom-up and community-led practices that was happening across the nation at the time.

THE INTERNATIONAL HOTEL, SAN FRANCISCO In the in the mid-1900s, International Hotel (I-Hotel) was a low-income, single room occupancy (SRO) building situated in San Francisco’s historic Manilatown, home to elderly low-income Filipino and Chinese immigrants. It had a culturally flourishing community, similar to many immigrant communities that rely heavily on their social structure, but was beginning to face the pressures of neighborhood change and development from the rapidly growing Financial District and urban renewal initiatives of the time. Late in 1968, I-Hotel’s property owner issued an eviction notice ordering all tenants be out by January of the following year. The fight to save I-Hotel in the decade that followed proved to be tumultuous, but highlights a massive organizing effort that turned out thousands of community members across the Bay Area as incredible for its time—something it needed to be to battle insidious forces of institutional inequities deeply embedded in urban policies. After years of highly contested public hearings, court cases, general public votes, and other political actions, the City of San Francisco eventually decided to use eminent domain [5] to buy I-Hotel in order to sell the land back to the tenants’ associations. The courts, however, ruled it illegal for the City to use eminent domain to take property from one private owner, to sell to another private entity. Official orders to forcibly evict remaining I-Hotel tenants from their homes were carried through, and in the very early morning of August 4th, 1977 some 2,000 protesters were greeted by a heavily armed group of 10

four hundred policemen. The police force violently charged forward, ramming through the protesters, and using strategic aerial ladders, reached the doors and windows of I-Hotel and removed all residents and protesters that were on the premises. I-Hotel was eventually demolished in the Fall of 1979. The fall of I-Hotel highlighted some of the ways in which cities and local organizations began to work together. An International Hotel Citizens Advisory Committee formed immediately after the fall of I-Hotel, and along with the City, navigated the long process of ensuring that an equitable project come from this experience. While failed efforts to build out a project that would be of service left the former site vacant for more than 25 years, coordination between various government agencies at all levels, and local community groups finally developed two new facilities in 2005: International Hotel and International Hotel Manila Center, which would contained affordable housing for seniors. I-Hotel was not unique in that it was one of the many hundreds of urban renewal [6] efforts that took place in 993 cities throughout America from 1949-1973.

As in the case with I-Hotel, urban renewal, now rapid gentrification and displacement, causes marginalized communities to routinely suffer the symbolic and physical losses [7] of valuable social networks and localized systems of support that are attached to the physicality of one’s home.

Dr. Mindy Fullilove theorized this affective state and its effects as “root shock,” which underscores what it means to experience “the destruction of part or all of one’s emotional ecosystem” in the context of urban renewal projects that annihilate community support systems within minority neighborhoods. I-Hotel was such a case, in that the loss of this building meant the symbolic and physical loss of a community and the valuable social networks that helped support daily life for the elderly Filipino American immigrants who had been displaced. The development pressures that encroached on this area prolonged any reestablishment of the social services or affordable housing and meant that the needs of the displaced immigrants would not come for more than two decades [8]. Filipino immigrants in San Francisco were pushed out of the city and into neighboring jurisdictions as a result of the decline of spaces like I-Hotel.

The question remains: are contemporary methods of urban planning enough to begin to remedy the longstanding damages spawned from a string of harmful urban policies? As a budding planner, I can only draw from the experiences of my mentors and from the growing body of work of radical planners that have taken on urban planning as a platform to challenge the status quo. The question, for me and fortunately for a considerable amount of planning practitioners, is how to meaningfully embed equity at the forefront of planning processes. More and more, cities have started to identify the longstanding history of inequitable policies [9] and have implemented practices and policies to address said inequities. There are many groups working to take on the fight for under-served communities in the context of rapidly changing urban landscapes. Housing rights’ groups, economic justice groups, and environmental justice organizations have started coalitions that address the role of rapid development of their neighborhood. Relatively recently, the role of culture and arts are topics that have been looked into as far as how they can be used as advocacy tools for their communities. Advocacy organizations [10], such as Urban Habitat and Center for Policy Initiatives, have also started a push for community members to build the knowledge to effectively sit on local boards and commissions and better inform the decision processes in their neighborhood. The fight to take back our city and to ensure equity is not something that we can afford to sit watch play out. To create the spaces that under-served communities deserve and have the right to, it requires involvement in these organizations as well as in the formal development processes that happen within the city. Only by facing the problematic history of urban policies and its effects on marginalized communities can we then take on the work of environmental justice.

Notes: [1] “Urban planning” and “city planning” are used interchangeably in this article. [2] This article introduces the role of women in the history of urban planning

and the prioritization of male planners in the field.

[3] Influenced largely by the work of the Civil Rights Movement, Paul Davidoff’s

“Advocacy and Pluralism in Planning” marks a revolutionary shift in the field of urban planning: the approach of prioritizing and developing urban processes from the perspective and voice of historically marginalized communities. Davidoff highlights the importance of a plurality of voices that needed at the decision making process and the role of planners as advocates to the multiplicity of community concerns. [4] East Harlem residents have a life expectancy of 76, while their affluent

neighbors in the Upper East Side, literally one street over, have a life expectancy of 85. [5] Eminent domain is the tool and practice that cities use to legally take one’s property, providing just compensation, for the purpose of public good. [6] This article details the experience of a resident living in New York’s Lower

East Side neighborhood at the time when his neighborhood was deemed a site for an urban renewal project. It illustrates the struggles that low-income communities of color faced with urban renewal projects.

[7] Root Shock is an incredible read that ties in Dr. Mindy Fullilove’s expertise

in psychiatry with the concrete physical interventions (disruptions) as caused by urban renewal programs and its effects on communities of color. [8] This book, authored by Estella Habal, has provided much of the rich source

material for this article. It is a deep dive into intricacies of the International Hotel story and is highly recommended for further reading.



[9] Office of Neighborhood Safety is one such agency in the City of

Richmond that employs radical approaches to addressing crime with the critical understanding of race as it applies policing and the justice system. [10] Urban Habitat and Center for Policy Initiatives run trainings that help arm

communities of color with the knowledge and capacity to sit on boards and commissions trainings.


Ready, Start: Exploring the Architecture of Digital Apocalypse Joy Huang

Edited by Michael A. N. Montilla and Gloria Serra Coch

On my daily commute, I am forced to confront the end of the world heralded by not the four horsemen but two Jesuits promulgating the coming of the lord through thinly veiled threats of hellfire and eternal damnation along the 42nd street subway passageway. Always a refreshing start to my day, I treat these angels of the apocalypse much as I would an NPC (non-player character or AI) in my video games: approach slowly and avoid eye contact at all costs, lest they attempt to communicate. More recently, however, avoiding this biblical confrontation has gotten more difficult as two Jesuits become four, and pop up stands touting walkthroughs to salvation materialize from corridor to corridor of subway stations with alarming frequency. Could it be that these subway missionaries can truly foresee the end of days rapidly approaching? What was it about the acoustics and patina of the grimy subway tiles that made these predictions all the more disquieting? In a sense, whether one is religious or not, we as humans all possess some fear of our own mortality; else, would we have spent so much of our collective history as homo sapiens trying to circumvent death? Anxieties of the future show up several times a decade before cautiously hibernating during periods of short-lived economic prosperity, and with each panic


we vent our unease through literature and media in all its forms in order to conceptualize and make tangible the subjects of our existential dread. This can take the shape of zombies, aggressively sentient animals, alien clowns, and preternatural disasters. Movies and horror/thriller TV shows function as a sort of theme park of “prosthetic memory” (Landsberg, 2004), where viewers become superficial witnesses to world-ending events of the past, present, and future.

News outlets and thought blogs alike have expounded on the idea of horror films as being reflections on societies since horror as a genre took to the big screen; many are also rightly skeptical about drawing such causal relationships. In an interview with the New York Times in 2000, Eric Foner, a History professor at Columbia University, was quoted stating ‘’I’m always skeptical of filmmakers’ exaggerating their own social impact,” highlighting, perhaps, how Hollywood often emphasizes voyeurism over substantive social commentary. While this is certainly the case, the entertainment industry has also burgeoned since the start of the millenia: in the year 2000, 212 American films were produced and shown in theaters-- in 2018, there are currently 266 and counting. In the charts shown, I compiled all American films produced and shown in theatres every two years from 2008 to 2018, with 2000 listed as reference. The bars show percentage of genre produced compared to total films made in each respective year.

Figure 1: Percent of Genres Produce in Films by Year (200-2018)

Figure 2: Regression Lines for Figure 1

While the comedy genre has clearly dominated production cycles year to year, we can see a decline across the decade while Action has risen to favor, in no small part due to the emergence and popularity of lucrative superhero movies. Next to Action, Thriller comes in as a close contender. While the data alone does not merit jumping to conclusions, the economics of preference should not be discounted in any analysis of society. Sure, consumer tastes change over time, but what drives such changes are very necessary ingredients for understanding our collective perceptions of reality that in turn, inevitably shapes our urban fabric. Has American society simply become more morose? Have we as a nation collectively lost our sense of humor? Are we all becoming adrenaline junkies?


With the advancements in CG technology and ultra-realistic HD renderings, no longer are we confined to memorializing only the historic in film. Now, tragedies and calamity can rear their heads every time we open Netflix.

Whether or not the popular media drive public sentiment or vice versa is open for debate; trends, however, can be freely observed. The trends in our digitally constructed environments that frame the narratives are not prevalent solely in cinema, but in the more interactive medium of video games as well. Moreover, it is not the genre itself that is most telling, but the architectural landscapes and critical environments that shape and define the themes of our consumption. Video games, however, venture into a peculiar territory of not just prosthetic memory but prosthetic experience, where the virtual world, for the duration in which we are immersed, become our “real world”. Here, aspirations as well as trepidations are amplified through not only a 3D narrative of space but also by a fourth dimension of synchronous action in time; our virtual selves interact with the virtual environment in “real time,” no longer simply passive viewers of fictionalized events outside our personal chronologies. Imagine if, instead of the lengthy 13

anecdote recounting my daily subway trek, the narrative transformed into an interactive journey through which, by simply clicking on figures passing around me, one could listen to each Jesuit’s angry sermon individually, as if one were to actually travail the path on Monday morning. No longer reduced to mere witness, digital interactivity challenges us to become willing participants in worlds we are convinced mirrors our own. In trying to find firm footing to some these questions, it’s worth delving into a spatial analysis of the worlds constructed in the most popular thrillers as well as in top grossing video games. This simplified overview of the progression of the thriller films and games is not comprehensive in the least-- however, it gives some backbone to the evolution of the genre as it has risen to popularity. Specifically, I hope to give insight to the increased attention given to concept environments as we move forward in time, and how deliberate choices in melding of space with story often parallel the “real world” as we perceive it. For games, I will focus on the top rated titles of Nier Automata, Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and Horizon Zero Dawn, all of which feature vividly immersive open world game play, which I find pushes the boundaries of virtual world-building to its very limits. While each game varies in plot and the graphical aesthetics tailored to their respective target demographic, one can clearly see the idiosyncrasies on which the architectural forms are prefaced on, and link similar themes across film and gaming. In 2008, of the 12 total thriller films produced, almost all were crossed with the crime/action genre: blockbuster thriller films such as Deception and more notably, The Dark Knight, and Taken, defined the genre for that period. There, the world the characters operate in can be described as a parallel one to ours in every way except for the existence of absurdly sinister underworld syndicates married to the impotence of flimsy justice systems. In Taken, the audience is thrilled as much by Liam Neeson’s die-trying-or-try-dying attitude as he punches and choke holds villains into submission, as they are captivated by the overt glamorization of the sex trafficking industry. This isn’t a dystopia-- this is the “real world” with real victims cast into an exaggerated epic in which the hero fears no consequences. Besides the heavy blue-filter, the cities in Taken are our cities: Paris is Paris, the Eiffel Tower still erect, no catastrophic “geo-storms” eminent. Objects are there for the characters to blow up. Here, the most nefarious things are other people, and structures are just more obstacles for Neeson to parkour through. Even the comical universe of Batman pays more homage to the sins of man rather than city and society.


The placidity of the space the characters operate in mirrors those of in video games at the time: Grand Theft Auto IV (2008), Call of Duty: Black Ops (2010) and Assassin’s Creed (2010) all utilize setting as just that-- a background where the story unfolds and nothing more. The landscapes constantly shapeshift to meet the needs of the narratives, jumping from one map to another without a second thought to how the forms themselves can add to the tale. Instead, the tone of the games rely on how many allies brought to safety, and how many villagers must die so that the player can get his “achievement” trophies. A continuation of this trend is prominent in psychological thrillers such as Black Swan (2010), and Shutter Island (2010): again, lots of blue filter, very little disaster. The demons that plague the movies are completely internal, with the pervasive feeling of unease is driven almost entirely by the caricatures of the mentally ill than any intrusive built environment. In fact, outside of the stained concrete, Shutter Island itself is almost idyllic: a lighthouse against the sunset, some wildflowers littered about the periphery of the prison, nothing to suggest that the forces of nature are in a grand conspiracy to thwart the protagonists. However, with the casting of the AI and technology as an artificial enemy of progressive societies, films began removing people from its landscapes. Casual crowds no longer fill the screen: extras are only relevant to showcase persecution or as part of a greater “world-building”. Interestingly enough, the director made a conscious decision in Total Recall (2012) to place the narrative on Earth instead of Mars in the 2012 reboot, further ingratiating the themes of hostile habitats as a distinctively human artifice. The Hunger Games (2012) began a trend of dystopian young-adult fiction where the former psychological trials and tribulations of psychological thrillers became explicitly dependent on such built environments. Apprehensions of the decade can be seen on full blast: technocratic police forces, advanced bio-warfare, and surveillance, surveillance, surveillance. Artificial buildings, artificial memories, artificial people-- the cities constructed reek of synthetic advancement, shiny only in their superficial facades. Survival in all its forms took the lead, crises manufactured and commodified, and more technology is not necessarily seen as a blessing but a tool of oppression. Cities fabricated by people are shown as in literal bubbles or domes, shielded from the elements of the “real world”. Since then, the film industry has thrived on the same voyeuristic curiosity the people of the Capital exploited in The Hunger Games. Ex Machina (2014), The Maze Runner (2014), Divergent (2014), all dystopian thrillers premised on not simply survival, but the surveillance of the human condition under extreme duress. It is a consumption akin to softcore torture porn in essence, dressed up with flashing holograms and tempered

Figure 3: Wide Shot of caravans against a desolate landscape from the official trailer of Mad Max: Fury Road, Warner Bros Picture (2015) Retrieved from YouTube.

by immaculately clothed dictators. These films also coincided with the advent of Edward Snowden’s leak of NSA global surveillance reports and increasing fears of human displacement by advanced AI. Then, in 2015, another shift happened, moving in parallel with the Fifth Assessment Synthesis Report on climate change released in Copenhagen near the end of 2014. Temperatures were not only rapidly increasing across the Earth’s surface, but even more so in entertainment as well. Interstellar (2014), Fall Out 4 (2015), Dark Souls (2016), Maze Runner: Scorch Trials (2015), and in particular, the critically acclaimed thriller, Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) delivered a visual smorgasbord of dystopia as driven by desert and desperation to mainstream media, all in a way preceded by similar aesthetics found in the industrial-punk-dystopia of Borderlands II (2010). Primal, barren, and parched, Mad Max forced a seamless integration of hostile natural environment coupled with hostile people. It proved that post-apocalyptic dystopias did not need looming threat of “too advanced” technologies to be terrifying; in fact, the more a post-man, post-science society screamed “Witness me!”, the more we are forced to confront that a future devoid of resources could possibly be much worse than one with undistributed resources. The built environment became not only an agent in the actions of the protagonists, but more importantly functioned as the cornerstone of the universes generated.

Still, even without warm human bodies, their absence only heightens human presence: left behind are shattered facades of concrete monoliths alluding densely packed urban environments once teaming with activity. Is it Tokyo? Is it Paris? Is it New York? Does it matter? With high rises reduced to giant planters for local vegetation, the player is made to understand that cities are valueless without thriving societies. Somewhere inside a dilapidated atrium of a former shopping mall, the android named 9S exclaims to the protagonist, an android named 2B, “I can’t believe the size of the commercial facility. The people of the old world must have led pretty good lives.” When even androids begin to

correlate bigger with better, humans should start questioning the metric of values with which we build our domains. As 2B and 9S traverses from one area to the next, the stone and steel colossus of former megastructures provokes both androids and robots alike to innocently question the rise and fall of the inhabitants before them. All this unfurls to Nier’s award winning soundtrack composed by Keiichi Okabe, where choirs warbling imaginary languages lament a profound sadness emanating from abandoned land.

Figure 4 and 5: Screenshots taken of gameplay showing different areas of the map Nier: Automata, Square Enix(2017)


Square Enix’s Nier franchise had previously explored the tension between humans and androids, but the 2017 edition pushes that boundary to its extreme by eradicating the humans entirely. In their place, humanoid androids hunt alien machines yearning for sentience, debutting names such as Sartre, Pascal, Adam, and Eve (both are “male”).


Horizon Zero Dawn, the third best-selling Playstation 4 video game of 2017, closely echoes the same vast “natural� landscape as Breath of the Wild, except the vestiges of bygone societies are discernibly present in

Figure 6: Link explores many castles he once knew, now carpeted with vegetation. Screen shot from gameplay of The legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Nintendo Entertainment (2017)

Even non-gamers might be familiar with the timeless Legend of Zelda series first introduced in 1986. Since then, the series has expanded to include dozens of spinoffs and parallel worlds, but in each rendition, the prominent medieval fantasy setting still pervades through the decades. In the most recent title, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, the player once again navigates a post-apocalyptic world to hunt, forage, and save the kingdom from the dark boar Ganondorf. Yes, even in a game geared towards younger audiences, the game casually introduces a post-apocalyptic world cloaked in lush forests and abundant rivers, all thriving on top the carcasses of castles and defunct, magic-powered robotic beasts. Unlike previous titles in the series, Breath of the Wild immediately gets to the point: everyone Link loved has died, and his quest to find princess Zelda is also a quest to reclaim civilization from the grasps of the wild. Only Link, who wields both swords and advanced elfen technology, can tame the wilderness while the residual villages saved from the scourge have sometimes turned to paleolithic means of survival. The game is simultaneously an exaltation at the magnificence of nature, and also a study in how acutely one can feel so alone running in a world without cities.


the forms of heavily weaponized, chrome dinosaurs. Architecture bows to mother nature as deer and squirrels outlive people and towers built to last forever become memorials with no one to do the remembering. The game opens with a man with tribal markings garbed in furs cradling an infant as he treks the mountainous wilderness. What looks to be some distant Scandinavian forests are immediately brought to context as the man passes dismembered confederate statues, alluding to an America long forgotten. These titles all exemplify a deeper struggle between mankind and the universe, and the cosmos is winning. Curiously, nature in the games is depicted as neither hostile (as in natural disaster movies), nor serene; instead, nature simply is. That fact alone is daunting in our inability to dominate it, despite thousands of generations of trying to no avail. Planners and architects wax philosophical about building resilient cities as if the concept of cities can be divorced from the people who inhabit them. However, from popular media, we can extricate a increasing sense of anxiety about being supplanted by savage wilderness while lofty constructions withstand the organic necrosis we so scramble to elude. Perhaps subconsciously, we are manifesting an urgency for resilient people, towards societies that can outlast dystopias and apocalypses in a macrocosm devoid of supernatural saviors. Or maybe our salvation lies in each other and not on science-- as my character roams about the virtual ambits of computer generated jungles, all the weapons in my bag cannot ward against the aggressive incursion of my own wretched seclusion. Lost amidst this solitude, I would welcome even a Jesuit or two.

Figure 7: Opening Scene from gameplay of Horizon Zero Dawn, Sony Interactive Entertainment (2017)

Notes: [1] “Because the mass media fundamentally alter our notion of what counts as

[16] Doug, M. (Producer), & Miller, G. (Director). (2015). Mad Max: Fury Road

[Motion Picture]. United States: Warner Bros.

experience, they might be a privileged arena for the production and circulation of prosthetic memories. The cinema, in particular, as an institution which makes available images for mass consumption, has long been aware of its ability to generate experiences and to install memories of them – memories which become experiences that film consumers both possess and feel possessed by.” Landsberg, A. (2004). Prosthetic Memory: the transformation of American remembrance in the age of mass culture. Chichester, NY: Columbia University Press.

[17] Warner Bros. Pictures. (2015, March 31). Mad Max: Fury Road - Official

[2] Dewan, S. (2000, Oct 13). Do Horror Films Filter the Horrors of History?

of Zelda: Breath of the Wild [Video game]. Nintendo.

The New York Times, Retrieved from < movies/do-horror-films-filter-the-horrors-of-history.html>

Main Trailer [HD] [Video file]. Retrieved from watch?v=hEJnMQG9ev8

[18] Gearbox Software. (2015). Borderlands II [Video game]. 2K Games. [19] Platinum Games. (2017). Nier: Automata [Video game]. Square Enix. [20] Nintendo Entertainment Planning and Development. (2017). The Legend [21] Guerilla Games. (2017). Horizon Zero Dawn [Video game]. Sony

Interactive Entertainment.

[3] Source: Wikipedia List of American Films 2000, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014,

2016, 2018

[4] Landsberg, A. (2004). Prosthetic Memory: the transformation of American

[5] Dewan, S. (2000, Oct 13). Do Horror Films Filter the Horrors of History? The

New York Times, Retrieved from do-horror-films-filter-the-horrors-of-history.html [6] List of American Films of 2000. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved October 28,

2018, from

[7] List of American Films of 2008. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved October 28,

2018, from


remembrance in the age of mass culture. Chichester, NY: Columbia University Press.

[8] List of American Films of 2010. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved October 28,

2018, from

[9] List of American Films of 2012. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved October 28,

2018, from

[10] List of American Films of 2014. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved October 28,

2018, from

[11] List of American Films of 2016. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved October 28,

2018, from

[12] List of American Films of 2018. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved October 28,

2018, from

[13] Besson, L & Co. (Producer), & Morel, P. (Director). (2009). Taken [Motion

Picture]. United States: Lionsgate.

[14] Medavoy, M. (Producer), & Scorsese, M. (Director). (2010). Shutter Island

[Motion Picture]. United States: Paramount Pictures.

[15] Jacobson, N. & Kilik J. (Producer), & Ross, G. (Director). (2012). The Hunger

Games [Motion Picture]. United States: 20th Century Fox.


A Tour of Architecture in Tourism- Mount Xiqiao and China Beyond Kachun Alex Wong Edited by Aline Estefram

Tourism in the West has long been regarded as a sport for the wealthy and dignitaries. When Kew Gardens of Middlesex, England (300 acres) opened in 1759, William Chambers introduced architectural styles borrowed from China, Japan and elsewhere. The Chinese Ta (traditional Chinese pagoda), Japanese karamon (traditional Japanese entrance gateway), and Minka House being cultural emblems of eastern continents during the 18 th century, can be interpreted as souvenirs from traveling in the Far East. These nationalized pavilions acted as symbols for Britain’s reach and influence. In China, too, tourism had long been observed by the rich and powerful. As early as 4000 years ago, the first “emperor” Huang Di of Qin Dynasty traveled to China’s Five Great Mountains. Travel was also a sport for ancient literati who saw the world through poems and literacy. Until today, China is one of the nations that make up for the most travels, with most of them carried out within the country. The geography of tourism in China becomes a lucrative and influential topic, and the architecture in tourism arguably plays an important role. How does it then play a role in tourism? According to Peking University Professor Bao Jigang, tourism has been thought of in China as an industry that is started by little investment but yields high and fast returns.[ii] As a result, the incentive of developing tourism in urban or rural cities are often financial. Let us take Mount Xiqiao of Guangzhou as a case study. Mount Xiqiao has long earned the prestigious reputation for being the cultural center of the Pearl River and South Guangdong region. The area boosts beautiful scenery and a rich 18

cultural heritage. In recent years, a new tourist zone has been established (听音湖 district), including large museums that celebrate the local culture of Kung Fu and literati, an artificial lake, and plazas, which take up together 400 acres of land. Mount Xiqiao is a classic example of the development of tourism in Chinese rural cities. One easily identifies the large-scale construction projects such as the Huang Feihong Lion Martial Arts Hall ( )and the Youwei Hall ( ) to be out-of-scale and unintegrated to the landscape. They were also scantily planned within the past three to four years. Taking the Tate Modern in London as comparison, it took 15 to 16 years of planning and execution for the whole reconstruction.

Figure 2: Renderings of Tingyin Lake and Museum Buildings (Image Source: Xiqiao Government)

This is a testament that cultural institutions require an extended period of preparation, which includes time to accumulate public resources, to nurture the audience’s appreciation levels, and to train up museum staff. These Chinese modes of construction are deemed “face-saving projects” by Chinese academics- large amounts of money are spent on bulldozing and filling up a city’s skyline by local authorities, without considering closely the context and existing infrastructures. Mount Xiqiao is reputed for its cultural products near the Pearl River and South Guangzhou region, but not so much beyond it. The region already hosts Nanhai Museum, a 1981-built successful repository for art storage, preservation, research, display, and academic exchange. The museum already suffices the audience’s demands for knowledge exchange, rendering possible vacancies in the new, oversized museums. As a conclusion, legitimizing these planned cultural facilities turn into a constant uphill battle for relevance and necessity, as the demand is not called for in both local and international contexts. Our interdisciplinary team involved in the 4th AAUA Global Village 2018 International Summer Workshop of Sustainable Development & Design in Xiqiao Mountain that consists of Alex Wong, Andrea Gomez Marrero, Maria Victoria Lo Re, Xinyue Zhang, and Jie Ding proposes an overall strategy of introducing art and artists in

reinvigorating Mount Xiqiao, which proves to differ from the current, un-academic discourse. To put it briefly, Xiqiao alike other municipal governments dwell too much on past legacy for the cultural tourism industry. Through repurposing Mount Xiqiao into artist villages, new forms of art can be inspired specific to the vibrant cultural background and the natural scenery of the area. Consider Akiyoshidai International Art Village, Taipei Artist Village, or Treasure Hill Artist Village which invite multinational artists to reside and work. These programs provide channels for artists to “realize their innovative and creative ideas,” as well as to “facilitate talks and workshops,” according to the K11 Art Village Wuhan Guanggu promotional material. [iii] Many villages and towns like to tap into artists’ creative contributions to endow underrepresented cultures with competitiveness in the contemporary tourism market.


Figure 1: The Existing Condition of Mount Xiqiao Tourism District, Tingyin Lake[i]

Furthermore, architecture in tourism is often discussed with examples such as the Sydney Opera House by Jorn Utzon or the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao by Frank Gehry. The phenomenon of the “Bilbao Effect” proves to be a handy strategy for “post-industrial cities in the 1990s and 2000s”[iv] to develop into cultural capitals but may not be copied to other contexts. The application of the Bilbao Effect on second- to thirdtier Chinese tourism cities may be unaffordable and unrealistic, and such repercussions will be further discussed in the essay. 19

Our proposed building type is scattered and small-scale, which is in contrast with the new tourist district. Through ideas of “urban acupuncture points are identified and added with architectural interventions to stimulate the built environment. Those types of architecture become “socially catalytic interventions,�[v] a concept conceived in Treasure Hill of Taipei, Taiwan[vi]. Dispersed in different locations on the mountain villages, this design calls for an organic, ground-up process of development that responds to the inadvertent act of art-making, exhibition display, readings and presentations. This project is a statement against the large institutional compounds that local Chinese provinces produce. Such compounds favor performative arts and cater large audiences, and further materializes cultural heritages into commercialized, profit-making commodities. These compounds aspire to the Bilbao Effect, which prioritizes the display over the making, circling back to age-old tug-of-war between the unsustainable harvesting and consumption versus the sustainable growth of culture. The next discussion rests on the construction methods of the architecture. In China, buildings that involve massive steel and concrete structures can be erected overnight. Such a speed and efficiency can be emulated by employing modular elements, such that kit of parts can be prefabricated and manufactured off-site, which also lowers the financial and environmental costs to the site context.


Figure 3: Distribution of Villages on Xiqiao Mountain and Their Respective Industries

Figure 4:Comparison Table for Existing and Proposed Cultural Buildings

Modular elements made of locally sourced wood have different functions in different positions. Five elements together for a pentagon, a shape inspired by vernacular, pitched roof houses in the area. Elements can double as functions of storage, seating, display surface, and channels through varying thickness, geometry, and cavities. The sectional composition references works such as the plug-and-play design by Nasim Sehat, as well as the Serpentine Pavilion and Wood House by Sou Fujimoto. It is important to us that the speed of construction is emblematic of not merely the rigor of the Chinese methodology but the ease of it, by thinking of low-tech and low-cost material assemblies, while we reference traditional tenons ( ) from the ancient times.


Figure 5: Design concept and drawing

We envision an interspersed building type that blends in with not only the built environment, but also natural surroundings. As Chinese firms like Neri & Hu introduce the methodology of preservation and renovation to China, with projects such as the Waterhouse at South Bund, repurposing historic buildings have become a common practice.

Figure 6: A Photo of Mount Xiqiao Cultural Center 樵山文化中心 Under Construction [vii]

Our proposal similarly inhabits dilapidated but adaptable buildings and embed them with structural reinforcements, a second skin and a second life. Modular elements aggregate and form a porous and fluid façade that connects the interior and exterior environments, generating a gradient of privacy, enclosure, and functionality.


Figure 7: Section Perspective of Design Situated in Site

As a precedent study, we looked at Kolumba Museum by Peter Zumthor, which has become a paragon for restoration projects, by thinking through old and new materials, inside and outside, light and shadow, excavation and elevation, heritage and technology. We would like to expand on the notion that village itself as exhibition, where the architecture becomes a framing and curation device which enhances the understanding and accessibility of such cultural relics. Having that said, we have incorporated technological interactive experiences or Augmented Reality to the proposal. AR connects objects of the real-world with virtual information in mediums such as visual, auditory, and even sensory. For example, how buildings looked and were used hundreds of years ago can be recreated with the help of Google glasses or simply smartphones scanning QR codes, a technology made prevalent by “major retailers, street markets, and even beggars and buskers�[viii] in China. Conceptually, the design extends into assimilating these QR codes

Figure 8.2: QR code vision for historical district

to become source codes for aesthetic and architectural languages. By exploring 2010s precedents such as i-City by SPEECH Tchoban & Kuznetsov for Venice Biennale, we contemplate these spaces that are completely covered in QR codes enable architects to look into possibilities of postmodern archaeology.[viiii] Digital features are materialized by these glowing tiles that evoke ambience of computer screens as well as of domestic LED lighting panels. As we tread the fine line between gimmick and ingenious innovation, we recognize that digitalism should infiltrate the bones of the architecture we create instead of caressing the surface of the opportunities that technology opens us up to. It should then allude to not just the concept of technology but the experience of it. To echo the opening of the text, even though tourism becomes more affordable in modern days, it never loses its sign of power and status. People who can afford to travel often have better-paying jobs and more secured welfare. In China in particular, where tourism figures have been constantly growing into unimaginable heights, sustainability, whether environmental, social, or cultural should be discussed in relation with the architecture of tourism.

Figure 8.1: QR code vision for historical district 22

Mount Xiqiao as precedent exposes the short-sighted, results-oriented, conforming mentality suffered from many Chinese tourism cities alike. It may be up to architects and urban planners in the future to be critical of the status quo and suggest otherwise.

The research featured are works produced for the 4th AAUA Global Village 2018 International Summer Workshop of Sustainable Development & Design in Xiqiao Mountain sponsored by the Xiqiao Government and held in August. Special thanks go to professors William M. Taylor, Carles Gullen Amigo, Enrique Limon, and organizer Peter Yao of AAUA. Alex Wong is a second-year student studying Architecture at Columbia GSAPP, and writes for Archpaper, Arch2O, Urban China, and South China Morning Post.

Notes: [Image]. Retrieved from 网 (2008). [1]

[2] Bao ji gang, & Chu yi fang. (2012). Lü you di li xue. Bei jing: Gao deng jiao

yu chu ban she.

[3] Open Call for K11 art village Artists-in-Residence - K11 Art Foundation.

(2018). Retrieved from


Figure 9: Sustainability Strategy for Architecture

[4] Goodwin, D. (2015). Architecture, Economics and Aquariums: Can ICM

Revive the Bilbao Effect in Asia? [Blog]. Retrieved from https://www.archdaily. com/617038/architecture-economics-and-aquariums-can-icm-revive-thebilbao-effect-in-asia [5] Harrison, A. (2013). Architectural theories of the environment. New York:


. (2018). [Image]. Retrieved from [6]

[7] Wong, S. (2017). Why China can’t get enough of QRcodes. Cnnmoney

(Beijing). Retrieved from https://money.cnn.\com/2017/09/08/technology/ china-qr-codes/index.html [8] Bozzi, N. (2012). i-City by SPEECH Tchoban & Kuznetsov [Blog].

Retrieved from

Figure 10: Interior Rendering Showing Artists, Exhibition Viewers, and Children 23

Fortieth Anniversary of the Southwest Brooklyn Bus Route Changes

new route was designated as the B1. Today, the B1 has good frequencies and is the seventh most heavily utilized route in the borough. The routes it replaced were all moderately or lightly used with poor frequencies. Service gaps were filled and connections were vastly improved. No other group of bus route improvements were that comprehensive.

Allan Rosen

I authored the DCP route changes and headed the study which took four years due to the MTA throwing roadblocks at us. First, they suggested we expand the study’s scope; then they claimed the scope was too large, making the changes infeasible.

Edited by Michael A. N. Montilla

November 12, 2018 marks the fortieth anniversary of the Southwest Brooklyn bus re-routings which studied eight interlinked bus routes and redesigned them to improve their usefulness. This effort started with my Masters Thesis at Columbia University’s School of Architecture and Urban Planning in 1972, where I proposed an entirely new Brooklyn bus routing system. That led to a job at the Department of City Planning’s Transportation Division performing a Brooklyn bus study under a federal grant from 1974 to 1978, and eventually to a job at the MTA New York City Transit Authority as Director of Bus Planning in 1981. I remained with the agency until 2005 when I retired. Most notably, the Southwest Brooklyn changes proposed a new bus route completely covering 86th Street (designated as the B86) replacing four separate routes that covered different portions of the street causing unnecessary routing complexity making the bus system difficult to use. Five buses and multiple fares were required to travel from the Bay Ridge end of 86th Street and Brighton Beach. Rather than using such a cumbersome bus system, mass transit travel between those neighborhoods usually involved three indirect subways via Downtown Brooklyn. That was replaced by making many more one and two-bus trips possible. A portion of that proposal was accepted and the 24

The 1978 changes also differed from the others in that they were not initiated by the MTA, but by the NYC Department of City Planning (DCP). It was the only time another agency suggested bus route changes to the MTA; all other route changes originated in-house.

In the end, about 25 percent of the proposals became reality after a lawsuit by the Natural Resources Defense Council included a provision requiring the MTA to take actions in southern Brooklyn to alter bus routes to improve air quality in Manhattan per the 1970 Clean Air Act. DCP met with Community Boards before and during the study to solicit bus problems and to describe the advantages as well as the disadvantages of the plan. That approach resulted in approval by three boards with the other three least affected taking a neutral position. No boards objected. By contrast, all presentations of MTA studies provide limited facts, only stress advantages, and community recommendations are only considered when massive numbers support or oppose a change. The southwest Brooklyn changes went virtually unnoticed by the media due to the last citywide newspaper strike occurring in the autumn of 1978.

WHAT THE SOUTHWEST BROOKLYN CHANGES DID NOT ACCOMPLISH As complex and successful as it was, three-quarters of the proposal was rejected. It also recommended the meandering B16 serving Fort Hamilton Parkway and 13th Avenue be split into two direct routes along each of those streets to better serve Maimonides Medical Center, and to make bus transferring more direct. This important traffic generator has only one east-west bus route serving it and an elevated line over a quarter-mile away. The B16 would have passed directly in front of the

Other proposed changes such as two route extensions to the Coney Island terminal and an extension from 95th to 86th Streets of a Staten Island/Brooklyn local route occurred years later. It was not until 2010 that the MTA completed the second installment of creating an almost complete 86th Street route by flip-flopping the B1 and B64 at 13th Avenue. The final installment incorporating the B16 on far western end of 86th Street has yet to be accomplished. Prior to 1978, Coney Island Hospital was served only by the B21 providing limited access from three neighborhoods. Three bus routes serving a dozen neighborhoods provided direct access to the hospital after the route modifications.

OPPOSITION TO THE DCP PLAN The only opposition in 1978 was in Coney Island where the MTA modified a portion of DCP’s plan to reroute the B36 onto Mermaid Avenue in one direction to cut back service on the B74. That resulted in on-street protests by 500 bus riders. There was also massive confusion around the Sheepshead Bay subway station for the first week due to a difficult to-read black and white map on the reverse side of a flyer distributed only three days prior to the changes. Every route passing the station was new and now stopped at a different bus stop or went to a new destination. However, once the MTA rescinded their Coney Island changes six weeks later, they received only one written complaint protesting the rerouting of the B1 from Sheepshead Bay to the Brighton Beach Station. (Service was partially replaced by a rerouting of the B49.) Other improvements included straightening the B36 providing a through Avenue Z route and extending the B4 from Bensonhurst to Sheepshead Bay. A new route along Flatlands Avenue, not part of the DCP study, also started the same day.

The MTA also changed DCP’s plan to extend the B11 from Borough Park to Midwood and extended it to Canarsie instead. Community Board 14 fearing that such a long route would affect reliability, suggested Brooklyn College as a compromise, but the MTA insisted the eastern terminus be Canarsie or remain at 18th Avenue in Borough Park. Board 14 reluctantly agreed, but several years later the MTA had to shorten the route to Brooklyn College because of the lack of reliability the community feared.


hospital greatly improving accessibility. The route which now connects the lower half of Fort Hamilton Parkway with the upper half of 13th Avenue once made sense when it was created in the early 1930s. Maimonides Medical Center (then known as Israel Zion Hospital) was small and served only the local area. The lower half of 13th Avenue was mostly undeveloped with no street connection over the Sea Beach tracks and Long Island Railroad’s Bay Ridge Division to its northern half. A through 13th Avenue bus route was not possible, and a through Fort Hamilton Parkway route was not necessary. A bridge over the tracks was built in the mid-1930s, and the hospital became a major borough institution in the following decades, but the bus routes still have not been modified to reflect those changes. Outdated bus routes are a problem throughout the city.

COMPARISON WITH MTA LED STUDIES It was this unwillingness to compromise that also characterized future MTA bus studies such as the Northeast Bronx study circa 1993 that resulted in no route changes. A Staten Island study in the early 1980s resulted in only two route changes, and an early 1980's Brooklyn study and early 1990s study resulted in no changes at all. That is why the 1978 study stands out for its accomplishments. It proved that comprehensive studies can work, something the MTA refuted, because their studies failed, until a few years ago when they undertook a northeastern Queens Bus Study at the insistence of local elected officials. Recent support of comprehensive studies by the Bus Turnaround Coalition also led the MTA to rethink its piecemeal rerouting approach. The DCP Southwest Brooklyn study cost only $250,000. The MTA spent well over $20 million on its bus route studies and has little to show


for them. Only a Bronx study in the mid-1980s and the northeast Queens Study resulted in a few meaningful bus route changes. The MTA also mixes good and bad ideas in their plans with too much of a focus on reducing operating costs and too little emphasis on improving service. Examples are a service extension in Brooklyn around 2001 to the Gateway shopping center which was combined with a route cutback in Ridgewood in order to save a single bus. Similarly, an improvement combining service on the two portions of Ralph Avenue also was coupled with a cutback in service on St. John’s Place to keep costs neutral. That created a new service gap and reduced accessibility. The approach to mix good with bad insures opposition to MTA plans. Their unwillingness to invest in providing additional bus miles to attract new patronage has partially been the reason for ridership declines. The MTA has long insisted that bus route changes be cost neutral with the exception of the SBS (Select Bus Service) Program . In recent years, service in developing neighborhoods has been addressed by the creation of shuttle routes or extensions operating every thirty minutes without consideration of the rest of the bus system; those routes have not performed well. A B67 extension caused additional routing problems by terminating a few blocks from a major transportation terminal hindering transferring, also to save a single bus.

In other words, if you make sensible proposals that do not needlessly hurt communities and are honest with them by telling them the entire story — the positives as well as the negatives, as DCP did — they will support your plan. Conflicting and partial information and refusing to respond to questions, as the MTA did with its SBS Program will result in opposition.

BROOKLYN ROUTE CHANGES THAT ARE NEEDED NOW • In southwest Brooklyn, routes need to be straightened so that a direct north-south bus route serves Maimonides Medical Center.

• Service on 16th Avenue discontinued in 2010 needs to be restored using better routings serving additional areas so that it does not merely duplicate a route with better service a few blocks away.

• Improved east-west access is needed across Bensonhurst and Marine Park and Gerritsen Beach.

• New shopping centers have been built in Spring Creek and in Canarsie which remain largely inaccessible by public transit. A twenty-minute car trip from southern Brooklyn to the shopping center in Spring Creek can take between 90 minutes and two hours by bus.

• Service gaps on Empire Boulevard, Clarkson, and Albany Avenue requires indirect travel to make simple trips accounting for the huge numbers of cabs outside Kings County Medical Center.

• Several new routes are needed to serve JFK Airport for employees as well as visitors. A single route from Bedford Stuyvesant is grossly inadequate and converting it to SBS is not a solution.

• Improved access is needed between Sheepshead Bay and the Rockaways, also a 20-minute trip by car, but up to a two-hour trip by bus.

• Routing problems also exist in Northern Brooklyn, but to a lesser extent. One example is the service gap caused by the elimination of the B71 on Union Street in 2010; residents and elected officials have been asking for its return in an extended fashion to also serve lower Manhattan with no response from the MTA. None of these improvements will happen with the MTA’s bus redesign plan unless the MTA starts thinking about its customers as people, not merely regarding them as numbers.


Bus ridership in New York City is on the decline despite innovations such as Select Bus Service (SBS). Newly appointed NYCT President Andy Byford’s Fast Forward Plan will not reverse this trend unless its focus is changed making it more passenger friendly. The MTA has embarked on a campaign to eliminate the number of bus stops on a wide scale, greatly increasing walking distances which many passengers do not want. Saving ten minutes on the bus due to fewer stops, with passengers walking an extra five minutes at each end of their trip is not an improvement. Increased walking distances harm mostly the elderly, the handicapped, those with temporary injuries who may be on crutches for example, or have health issues such as sciatica which make walking exceedingly painful. Fewer bus stops can also be categorized as a cut in service and disproportionately hurt the elderly and handicapped. Other reasons why some may not be willing to walk long distances are that they are carrying heavy packages, are women accompanied by small children, or are lugging shopping carts, pushing baby carriages, pulling suitcases, etc. or simply because the weather is bad. How many would want to walk a half mile through a snowstorm or pouring rain to get to a bus stop? Not that many. Has the MTA considered this or are they being shortsighted by only being concerned with able-bodied people during good weather? When there is a choice between the bus and train, many choose the bus because they cannot walk long distances or stairs. We should not forget about these riders.

WHY IS BUS RIDERSHIP DECLINING? There are many reasons. Buses are sometimes overcrowded, often late and unreliable; some routes do not take passengers where they want to go often involving indirect travel and multiple transfers requiring long waits. Alternatives do exist besides driving and bus riders are switching to them. There is walking and cycling for short trips, taxis, car services and Uber like services, indirect subways, and of course the decision not to make the trip at all. Riders want as much direct service as possible and are willing to tolerate one bus transfer except at times when service is very infrequent. Two transfers usually involve an extra fare for those without unlimited passes, another system deterrent. Passes do not make sense for those who cannot afford them and those who use the system less than five days a week such as many college students. Approximately half the passengers

REDESIGNING THE CITY’S BUS ROUTES The Fast Forward Plan also includes a thorough redesign of the city’s bus routes within three years. This is certainly a necessary monumental task. Will this redesign result in increased ridership? It is difficult to tell because few details have been released. We know routes will be straighter, with fewer bus stops. There also will probably be fewer routes since one of the goals is to eliminate what is considered duplicative route segments. What is really duplicative? Are two routes operating on the same street serving different destinations duplicative? Is a bus on the same street as a subway duplicative or do they serve different purposes? Will eliminating one of them increase the amount of transfers that are necessary to complete a trip? Those are the questions that must first be answered. Successful route planning which increases ridership cannot merely be accomplished by studying a bus map and eliminating turns making routes simpler and easier to understand. Certainly, simple routes are desirable, but making them simpler can also make them less useful by increasing walking distances. Service gaps must be filled with an emphasis on reducing the need for transferring. Operating costs appear to be the prime factor in determining the MTA’s decision on how to restructure bus routes and bus stops. The single goal appears to be to have buses operate faster to reduce operating costs. In that regard, during the past decade, the MTA has converted many revenue miles into non-revenue miles for partial trips to and from depots because they regard non-revenue miles as more productive and efficient than miles where passengers are carried. If the needs of the passenger are not the primary focus, the bus route redesign will fail to increase ridership and most likely will result greater ridership declines.



do not have unlimited passes. Total trip time, personal safety and cost are the primary factors determining which mode of travel will be used. Yet total trip time isn’t even measured by the MTA. They are more concerned with time spent on the bus and finding ways for buses to travel faster.

That is not to say that every bus stop is needed and no portions of routes can be eliminated successfully. Operating costs must of course be a consideration, but not the primary one. Improving reliability, reducing crowding, passenger total trip times and transferring must be the prime focus. Increased reliability can be accomplished by maintaining long routes while scheduling more service appropriate to the demand. That is by having many buses not operating end to end, but serving only the areas of the route with the highest ridership, more closely matching service to 27

demand. Shorter trips increase reliability because a delay at one end of the route will not affect all buses throughout the entire route. Merely splitting very long routes in half as the MTA has done, greatly increases the need to transfer and reduces the amount of direct travel. It is better to split very long routes so that there is some overlap. The personnel in charge of reliability should be adequate, and dispatchers need to be adequately trained. Bus schedules should also reflect realistic road conditions. Some bus operators have complained that some trips can routinely take them nearly twice the allotted schedule which means that all scheduled trips are not provided.

Interrogating the Urban through the Indian Ocean Trade Route

Creating exclusive bus lanes with little enforcement has not improved bus reliability and has slowed down other traffic in many cases, increasing trip times for those not in buses, a factor the MTA and the Department of Transportation (DOT) have been ignoring.

Deepa Mehta

The MTA must realize that increased service results in increased ridership and not believe the two are unrelated. The 2010 massive service cuts assumed there are alternatives for every eliminated route and route segment, and that ridership will not decrease. Ridership, of course, did decrease. The MTA must be willing to invest in service enhancements to reverse the trend of declining bus ridership and not continue to insist that all changes to bus routes be cost neutral with no examination of latent demand.

How can historic oceanic trade routes help us think about cities today? Each week, 500 shipping liners move cargo equivalent to over 1 million ships between hundreds of commercial seaports across 16 major global trade routes.1 Maritime trade routes have long been mainstays of international commerce, and pre-modern trade routes have played an important role in establishing economic and social relations as well as urban development trajectories that persist today. Interrogating the urban through alternative registers, such as historic trade routes, can also reveal novel networked relationships.

The MTA has not planned service with latent demand in mind but only for its existing riders with the incorrect assumption that increased service will not improve ridership. Operating costs and current patronage should not be the only variables in the decision whether or not to increase service. After forty years, it is time to reflect on those 1978 southwest Brooklyn bus route changes, so the same type of successful changes that converted low usage routes to highly patronized routes can be duplicated. Simply providing straighter wider-spaced bus routes with fewer stops with reducing operating costs being the only focus and little concern for serving destinations that are presently difficult to reach, will not reverse the decline in bus ridership. Byford claims the bus route redesign will be customer driven. Let’s hold him to his word.


Edited by Mariya Chekmarova

The earliest and most prominent routes were the Red Sea, Mediterranean Sea, and Indian Ocean trade routes, beginning as early as the 3rd century BC. While its spatial boundaries evolved over time, spanning from the Middle East and Africa to East Asia and Australia, the Indian Ocean became the key site for long-distance oceanic trade well into the 18th century just before colonialism. Scholars argue that Indian Ocean trade allowed Indian and Chinese trade and financing practices to form a “distinct international system that never lost its identity” even in our modern global order.2The route became not only a site for “assemblages of capital”, but also an “intersection of entangled political geographies of dispossession and repossession”, as the trade patterns were “tied together by webs of economic and cultural relationships”. 3 Indian Ocean historian K.L. Chauduri argues that these capitalist exchanges across the Indian Ocean were supplanted by four expansionary social moments: the rise of Islam, European colonialism, Chinese presence, and nomadic migrations from central Asia, and historian Janet Abu-Lughod calls the Indian Ocean the “great highway” of migration and cultural and economic exchange. 4

Although premised on the exchange of commodities, the trade route became a stimulus for unifying social and economic practices, the transmission of ideas and culture, and for urban development. Economic cooperation, based on specific social and economic relationships, underpinned Indian Ocean trade circulations. The traders involved in these circulations were a diverse bunch to say the least: Jain, Hindu, Muslim, Jewish, Persian, and Christian traders, shipworkers, seamen, and merchants from Aden to Singapore spoke Hindi, Arabic, Bengali, Cantonese, Persian, English, Hebrew, Malay, and many other languages. In order to protect themselves against conflicting objectives, business practices were carried out through coalitions and guilds that encouraged coordination and good behavior. Exchange involved implicit contractual arrangements with an information-transmission mechanism and a reputation mechanism to encourage cooperation and limit freeriding.6 Relying on trust networks and hiring intermediary agents to carry out their shipping arrangements was not sufficient to overcome opportunistic behaviors by these agents, thus the merchant guilds served as important economic institutions to overcome commitment problems.8 Furthermore, Ray argues, transnational oceanic trade occupied a mezzo-economic space, the bazaar nexus, of wholesale commercial operations between the informal exchange practices of “peasants, peddlers, and pawnbrokers from below” and the more formal and official “European capital from above”. These exchanges and contractual relationships took place in and were reified within the entrepots along the trade route. The waterfront locales often became “autonomous spaces” for exchange that strengthened these international trade relationships. 9 Aden, a coastal city in Yemen, is one such location. Margariti argues that, at a time when religious and political alliances were the primary drivers of growth in Europe, trade was the primary driver of urban development in Aden. 10

This medieval entrepôts is strategically situated at the mouth of the Red Sea, Mediterranean Sea, and the Indian Ocean, and was, at one time, one of the largest and most important ports in the transoceanic trade and home to the Yemeni Jewish diaspora. Aden’s iconic harbor was enhanced by its port infrastructure, including advanced anchors and underwater fortifications, was surrounded by an assemblage of maritime activities and structures that included supplies, services, commercial buildings, “shipowners, captains, sailors, naval fighters, divers, porters, and boatmen” and Hindu, Persian, Jewish, and Islamic families and clans.1 1 Singapore is another site of human settlement that transformed itself into a city center due to its strategic position on the strait of Malaca in the Indian Ocean. Like Aden, Singapore also became an important place of cultural, social and economic exchange by multiethnic travelers and maritime businesses. Even today, Singapore recognizes four official languages: English, Mandarin, Tamil and Malay, and its residents speak many other languages and Creoles. This maritime history and interactive cultural histories also influenced street life and urban design; even today, physical streets and street-level activities in Singapore, as well as Bangkok, Hanoi, and Melaka, can be traced to Indian Ocean trade histories. The globalizing tendencies and trade-oriented development inherent in oceanic trade had limits as well as dark sides. While Indian Ocean trade can tell us a lot about Aden and Singapore’s development through the 18th century, their trade-oriented development trajectory was sharply altered through colonialism and postcolonial independence policies in the last two centuries. Yemen’s isolationist policies and economic decline have diminished Aden’s position as an important port city, while Singapore’s market-oriented democratic policies led the small nation to jettison into a contemporary economic and technological center. Furthermore, while Indian Ocean trade facilitated the migration of cultures and people, it also facilitated the passage of slaves and indentured servants since the medieval era, many of which were inherited by colonial powers in later centuries.12 In many ways, the history of Indian Ocean trade is not connected to our generic urban histories or common approaches to planning, but it is a kind of an alternative register for interrogating and imagining the city and its possibilities. The multiethnic, international organizational innovations around the standardization of collectively accepted monetary practices were deeply embedded in social and cultural relationships, and became antecedents to global monetary policies. Today, we can see these standardizations in maritime and air traffic laws and in the expansion of global production networks. The social-spatial relationships from the trade history also unearth both positive and problematic historical legacies of rich, cultural diversity, such as in Singapore and Southeast


In Sea of Poppies, a novel set during the opium trade, author Amitav Ghosh’s narrative animates these networks. The characters’ intersecting journeys span entrepôts, or port cities, like Canton (modern-day Guangzhou), Macao, Calcutta, Singapore, and Mauritius. At one point, one of the protagonists, Deeti, a farm laborer who sets sail to Mauritius to start a new life as an indentured laborer, picks up a single poppy seed and observes that “it was not the planet above that governed her life: it was this miniscule orb.” 5


Asia, as well as slavery and servitude, such as the Indian populations in Mauritius and African populations in China, Iraq, and Iran. Access to such awareness can help broaden our understanding of identity and spatial relations, and improve our planning practices. Furthermore, while the historic trade route maps the visible connections between cities, the temporally and spatially diverse context of Indian Ocean trade also offers a dynamic analytic to allow one to interrogate urban networks linked together by seemingly unrelated attributes. So, for example, one might be able to carry out a network analysis of cities connected by airports, but also of alternative metrics, such as comparisons between noise pollution and its proximity to neighborhoods in the networked cities. Historic trade routes are just one example of how multiple registers and institutions can define network relationships, and mine and interrogate the urban, and re-interpret and re-imagine the future.

Notes: [1] Trade Statistics. World Shipping Council, from


[2] Ray, R. K. (1995). Asian Capital in the Age of European Domination: The Rise

of the Bazaar, 1800–1914. Modern Asian Studies, 29(3) (pp. 449–554).

[3] Roy, A. (2014). Worlding the South: toward a post-colonial urban theory. In

The routledge handbook on cities of the global south (pp. 31–42). Routledge. And Bose, S. (2009). A hundred horizons: the Indian Ocean in the age of global empire. Harvard University Press (p. 6). [4] Vink, M. (2003). “ The World’s Oldest Trade”: Dutch Slavery and Slave Trade

in the Indian Ocean in the Seventeenth Century. Journal of World History: Official Journal of the World History Association, 131–177, (pp. 138-139). [5] Ghosh, A. (2008). Sea of Poppies: A Novel. Macmillan (p. 439). [6] Aslanian, S. D. (2014). From the Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean: The

Global Trade Networks of Armenian Merchants from New Julfa. Univ of California Press.

[7] Greif, A. (1989). Reputation and Coalitions in Medieval Trade: Evidence

on the Maghribi Traders. The Journal of Economic History, 49(4), 857–882. And Greif, A. (1993). Contract Enforceability and Economic Institutions in Early Trade: The Maghribi Traders’ Coalition. The American Economic Review, 83(3), 525–548. [8] Ray, R. K. (1995). Asian Capital in the Age of European Domination: The Rise

of the Bazaar, 1800–1914. Modern Asian Studies, 29(3), 449–554.

[9] Bose, S. (2009). A hundred horizons: the Indian Ocean in the age of global

empire. Harvard University Press, (p. 25).


[10] Margariti, R. E. (2007). Aden & the Indian Ocean Trade: 150 Years in the

Life of a Medieval Arabian Port. Univ of North Carolina Press.

[11] Margariti, R. E. (2007). Aden & the Indian Ocean Trade: 150 Years in the

Life of a Medieval Arabian Port. Univ of North Carolina Press.

[12] Vink, M. (2003). “ The World’s Oldest Trade”: Dutch Slavery and Slave

Trade in the Indian Ocean in the Seventeenth Century. Journal of World History: Official Journal of the World History Association, 131–177.

Surviving the Interstate Highway System, The Resurrection of Apache Boulevard Lu Hao

Edited by Emily Junker

A Phoenix, in western mythology, is a bird that rises from ashes and symbolizes rebirth. In the cities of the Phoenix Metropolitan Area of Arizona, this meaning is illustrated in the changing historical landscape and urban development. There are always stories to tell under the surface image of a place, especially a place that has experienced a decline, then survived, and became thriving again. The death and life of Apache Boulevard, one of Tempe’s historic routes which used to be designated as Highway 60 and Route 89, reveal the influences that the development of the Interstate Highway System in Arizona had on the fate of local communities. Tempe is an inner suburb located in the eastern section of metropolitan Phoenix. Apache Boulevard is a historic roadway that runs east to west from Apache Junction, across the City of Mesa and stretches into the City of Tempe (“Apache Boulevard | City of Tempe, AZ,” n.d.). During their college years at Arizona State University (ASU), many Sun Devils have built strong associations to Apache Boulevard as a hub of campus life. This linear corridor has a mixture of local small businesses, campus housing, rental apartments, and lots of abandoned, obsolescent buildings. The campus housing and the rental apartments accommodate college students and families.


Figure 1: Existing Streetscape on Apache Boulevard, Tempe



Figure 2: New Apartments (left) and a Pep Boys auto repair shop(right )Captured by the author; Source: Google Map

The local bars and restaurants host a number of Friday hang-out nights. The light rail is used by people to commute between the campus, living areas, and other destinations such as restaurants and Mekong Plaza, an Asian supermarket east of Apache Boulevard. The west end close to the ASU campus and some segments in the east near the Mekong Plaza are active areas, however, there are many segments along the corridor filled with deserted land. The vacant lots and lifeless run-down buildings are visible and result in an unaesthetic streetscape and a repulsive pedestrian environment which are usually perceived as unsafe (Figure 1). Auto-related workshops along the corridor are more welcoming to automobiles rather than pedestrians and cyclists. These existing workshops and associated land-uses are left over from the flourishing era of Apache Boulevard decades ago, and still remind the city of its past history of autopia.

Figure 4: Whisperin Wind Lodge, Circa 1960

In the period between 1890 and 1920, the Great Phoenix started its transition from town to modern city in size, form, and complexity. Before the early twentieth century, the city had been restricted by its physical location and its resulting dependence on railroads. Ever since Phoenix’s transition into an urban area began, “the challenges facing Phoenix largely involved its transportation system and the question of how to expand its connections to the neighboring community (VanderMeer, 2012)”. During this period, the highway system had more benefits than harmful impacts on the neighboring inner suburbs such as Tempe. The initial 1921 Federal Aid Highway Act offered Tempe and Apache Boulevard opportunities stemming from tourism development and economic growth. “When the Federal Highway system started in 1926, four national highways and State Route 93 converged in downtown Tempe on Mill Avenue and then traveled east on the Mesa Highway along East 13th Street – renamed Apache Boulevard in 1950 (“Tempe Teepees,” 2015).” With a developed highway system, and more affordable automobiles, road trips became popular in American life. Several vintage postcards show the image of the boulevard flourishing in the 1920s to 1950s era. The corridor used to be the hot spot where many tourists gathered, and it functioned as the connection for people traveling between the east and west coast. Apache Boulevard, lined with year-round motels and resorts accommodating the passing-by travelers, was a “heaven” with all the necessary tourist amenities including swimming pools, air-conditioned rooms, bars, and restaurants.



Figure 5: The Hi-O-Hi-O Motel, Circa 1940’s

Figure 6: Breezy Palms Motor Hotel, Circa 1954


Essentially, the vitality of a place is determined by people and their activities. RISING AND REVITALIZATION Streets function like human veins for the Responding to public complaints and concerns, the City of Tempe has urban body’s circulation, and people play strived to revitalize the neighborhood, to help the public create a better the role of nutrients that keep the body future, and has codified the community vision in the Tempe General Plan 2040. alive. When people are gone, places will be on the wane. That’s the tragedy that happened on Apache Boulevard. Highway systems can lead to physical changes of a neighborhood. In Tempe, the highway system wasn’t always harmful to the local community. The 1921 Highway act spurred tourism and economic activities in the city. However, the story was different in the second wave of highway construction in the 1950s. The Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 authorized the construction of Interstate Highways which allowed faster and more efficient travel across states and regions. The most direct result of Interstate 10’s completion was the abandonment of the local community and services along the Apache Boulevard (“Tempe Teepees, ”2015). A depression came to the Boulevard; buildings became run down and crime increased, and the once-heaven quickly turned into a slum (“Apache Boulevard | City of Tempe, AZ,” n.d.). The opening of Interstate 10 destroyed the connections between the local route and travelers. Apache Boulevard, the once-loved corridor, and its local community lost its vitality because people no longer visited. The impacts of the Interstate Highway were dramatic in terms of reallocating population. The lower speed of travel and the business that lined the roadway were no longer attractive when the alternative with faster speeds became available. The Interstate Highway fundamentally changed the pattern of commercial development as long-distance travelers abandoned older routes that continued to serve once-vibrant towns (“History and cultural…,” n.d.). Tourists and Visitors bypassed central business districts. (“15 Ways Highways Changed America,” 2016). The businesses of Tempe and similar small towns in the region suffered without those patrons, and locals who moved away to seek opportunities elsewhere. Gradually, the corridor lost its original function as the connection for people traveling between the east and west coast. The area and the community, which had gone downhill, was awaiting its next chance to come back to life.


In the 1990s, the city initiated the redevelopment plan of Apache Boulevard by tearing down the worst buildings, investing land use planning in the areas around the boulevard, upgrading the infrastructure including laying underground power lines, and bringing in businesses and new developments (Benelli & Phoenix, n.d.).

The city has been putting efforts in to bring people back and to grow opportunities supporting the revitalization of the roadway and its neighboring areas. In General Plan 2040, which was adopted in 2013, the city of Tempe aimed to apply transit-oriented design strategies to Apache Boulevard. Today’s Apache Boulevard is undergoing a visible transformation. Aging apartment complexes and old motels are demolished, and many vacant lots are planned to be developed into new modern housing in the latest surge of redevelopment (“Tempe’s ‘Sin City’ near ASU sees redevelopment boom,” n.d.). Utility lines are being placed and upgraded to support the multiple uses and the operation of a light rail system. Besides the infrastructure, the city also supports development of a multicultural arts area guided by the principles of placemaking along the corridor (“General Plan 2040 | City of Tempe, AZ,” n.d.). Partnerships between various sectors have been established through the years of effort as well. A number of private partners such as State Farm, LISC Phoenix, Sustainable Communities Collaborative (SCC), and Neighborhood Economic Development Corporation (NEDCO) provide funding for the Transit Oriented Development (TOD), housing, and placemaking projects. The City of Tempe works closely with the local community via local organizations such as Citizens for a Vibrant Apache Corridor (CVAC) during the redevelopment process (Benelli & Phoenix, n.d.). There are several factors that catalyzed the resurrection of Apache Boulevard. ASU is one of the strongest supporters in terms of economic and community development. In 1958, ASU changed its name from Arizona State College at Tempe, and built Sun Devil Stadium. Since then, the campus has been expanded several times (“Timeline | City of Tempe, AZ,” n.d.). University and college campuses have positive impacts on their host cities because they bring in diverse opportunities and help to create employment and housing markets (Balsas, 2014). The university’s

Notes: [1] Apache Boulevard | City of Tempe, AZ. (n.d.). Retrieved November

5, 2018, from redevelopment/apache-boulevard [2] Balsas, C. J. L. (2014). Downtown resilience: A review of recent

(re)developments in Tempe, Arizona. Cities, 36, 158–169. https://doi. org/10.1016/j.cities.2012.10.002 [3] Benelli, A. T., & Phoenix, E. D. of L. (n.d.). Apache Blvd Redevelopment

Update | LISC Phoenix. Retrieved November 5, 2018, from http://www. General Plan 2040 | City of Tempe, AZ. (n.d.). Retrieved November 12, 2018, from [4] “History and cultural impact of the Interstate Highway system,” (N.d.).

Retrieved November 5, 2018, from impact_of_interstate_system.html [5] Tempe Teepees. (2015, December 9). Retrieved November 5, 2018, from

[6] Tempe’s “Sin City” near ASU sees redevelopment boom. (n.d.). Retrieved

November 5, 2018, from tempe/2015/09/25/tempes-sin-city-nearasu-sees-redevelopment-boom/72647950/

[7] Timeline | City of Tempe, AZ. (n.d.). Retrieved November 5, 2018, from tempe-history/timeline [8] VanderMeer, P. (2012). Desert Visions and the Making of Phoenix,


expansions brought people back; and increased the populations associated with economic activities. With its main campus in Tempe, the university plays the role of a magnet attracting cultural, educational, entertainment and other activities which have a substantial influence on local economic growth. The University community has been, and will continue to be the main population base. Students, faculty, and staff along with their families create viable neighborhoods along Apache Boulevard. The second stimulator is the light rail line built on Apache Boulevard in Tempe. The plan for the light rail construction was approved in 2000 and opened in 2008. This new innovative public transit line brings new life to the corridor which reinforces the relationship between the route and the local community. Several stations have since opened along Apache Boulevard. The station areas aim to be pedestrian-friendly, transit-oriented, and human-scaled. The City’s Apache Boulevard Station Area Plans are guided by TOD principles. As a result, the land in the area has become more and more valuable. While traveling on the light rail on Apache Boulevard today, a rider will see the vibrancy along the roadway with new affordable and luxury residential developments and businesses.

1860-2009. Albuquerque, UNITED STATES: University of New Mexico Press. Retrieved from action?docID=1118940 [9] 15 Ways Highways Changed America. (2016, April 15). Retrieved

November 5, 2018, from

Figure 7: Light-Rail Corridor Along Apache Boulevard (also known as Main St. in Mesa)

In the days when the automobile and faster travel speed were popular and embraced, the corridor lost in the competition with the Interstate Highway. Now, since the ideology of urbanism and the philosophy of city planning has turned back to the local level, and advocates the connection with local communities, this local route has the chance to take back the stage. But what will happen to Apache Boulevard and its neighborhood in the future? No one can tell.

[Figure 4] “Historic U. S. Highway 80 Through Arizona on Vintage Postcards

- Page 7,” (n.d.). Retrieved November 5, 2018, from http://nostalgia.esmartkid. com/azroute80pc7.html

[Figure 5] “Historic U. S. Highway 80 Through Arizona on Vintage Postcards

- Page 7,” (n.d.). Retrieved November 5, 2018, from http://nostalgia.esmartkid. com/azroute80pc7.html

[Figure 6] “Historic U. S. Highway 80 Through Arizona on Vintage Postcards

- Page 7,” (n.d.). Retrieved November 5, 2018, from http://nostalgia.esmartkid. com/azroute80pc7.html [Figure 7] “Public Transportation in Phoenix,” (n.d.). Retrieved November 5,

2018, from


Kuo, L. (2015, August 16). [Aerial shot of Kilamba City]. Retrieved November 2, 2018, from photos-african-cities-are-starting-to-look-eerily-like-chinese-ones/

Concerning “Africa Rising”: The Case of Kilamba City Maya Ephrem Edited by Conor Allerton


Africa, and much of the Global South, is going through a watershed moment. For the first time in history, African urban centers will have to contend with larger permanent populations as the continent is expected to account for half of the world’s population growth by 2050.1 With high rates of urbanization and economic growth, Africa is transforming, too quickly and too dramatically for planners to hedge against. Take a look at Angola, for instance. After gaining independence from Portugal in 1975, the country was thrown into a 26-year civil war that pitted two liberation movements against each other with the support of the Soviet Union and the United States on either side, effectively becoming a Cold War battleground.2 It devastated the nation, destroying infrastructure and severely weakening its political, economic, and social institutions. Fast forward to today, Angola’s capital, Luanda, is considered the ‘most expensive city for expatriates in the world’, giving Hong Kong a serious run for its money.3 Some might call this evidence of [an] Africa “rising,” but as Vanessa Watson writes, it’s merely an example of an “African ‘urban’ fantasy,” one that deserves some serious attention.4 “Africa Rising” is a term that references “the strong economic performance across the continent,” 5 specifically from 2000 to 2014, although it’s still very much a working narrative for the continent. In its purest form, it

A lot of critics suggest that the growth rates often associated with this notion of “rising” are so regularly talked about that they too readily ignore what is actually happening on the ground, and therefore contribute to this African mythology or “fantasy.” In essence, growth rates, alone, don’t provide us with the empirical realities that must be contended with, like urban poverty. One such example of this is Kilamba City. Located 18 miles south of Angola’s capital, it is one of China’s great experiments on the continent. A campaign promise by former President Dos Santos, Kilamba was “designed to be a self-contained development” for low income to middle class Angolans.7 Following a “‘rent-to-buy’ scheme,” Kilamba was intended to be an alternative to housing outside of the overrun capital. ‘Rent-to-buy,’ or not, access to Kilamba’s apartments is out of reach for most Angolans who on average make $2 per day.8 With mortgages upwards of $100,000 at the outset, it was clear this wasn’t working. In no time, Kilamba, like other satellite cities before it, turned into a ‘ghost town.’ Eventually, President Dos Santos scrapped the pricing controls and ordered that they be more affordable. This resulted in a gold rush, whereby demand surged so much that the system overloaded, leading to a temporary “transaction suspension.”9 Kilamba effectively turned itself around, as it now houses a population of 80,000. But, this ‘ghost town’ no-more shouldn’t exactly be lauded as a success or evidence of “rising,” full stop. Post-conflict, Angola had a rare and unique opportunity, unlike the rest of Africa. For once, an African nation had the capacity to build itself anew on its own terms and with its own resources in large thanks to its oil economy.10 The country was quickly reimagined with tall skyscrapers and satellite cities that reached the peripheries of the capital. Unfortunately, Angola’s reconstruction also revealed one of Africa’s sore points— corruption. As a new nation, so to speak, Angola had been under the control of President Eduardo Dos Santos who accumulated so much wealth during his tenure that the country ran out of money.11 With no public funds, Angola turned to international investors and developers

in what is known as a “resources-for-infrastructure deal.” 12 China, in Kilamba City’s case, received oil and other minerals in exchange for the construction of the $3.5 billion city.13 It is arguably more financially sound than what’s been occurring in other African cities, like Addis Ababa, which built large-scale condominiums solely with public resources that sit empty.14 It is no wonder why African cities have looked to foreign investors and developers to help solve their problems, but at the same time, the fixation on “exchange” value so intrinsic to this deal, as well as this project’s outsourcing, brings up a detachment from Africa’s, or rather in this case, Angola’s urban realities.15 For instance, the lack of integration into the local context has been a major challenge in the functionality of the city, which is not ameliorated by the Angolan governments poor public service delivery.16 Granted this is not easily solvable, but it can at least problematize “rising” as more than just a mode of economy. It also goes as far as to dispel the notion that “rising” is something to be favored. Surely, “rising” can’t be an affirmation of good, if it isn’t situated in the lived experiences of Angola’s urbanites, who are most impacted by and made vulnerable to changes in their environments.

This detachment from reality, and by extension this conjuring of an “‘urban’ fantasy,” projects a mythology of Africa that has and continues to worsen existing inequalities. Since the era of reconstruction, Angola’s growth rate has grown at about 3% annually.17 For urbanists, Africa’s growth factor is one of the most important challenges to be faced. Nevertheless, housing, or at least, this kind of housing has only fueled more questions on equity and the so-called “fallacy of urban planning” (the notion that cities today are the result of a ‘planned serendipity’ when in truth, planning is the result of ever changing and often unpredictable circumstance).18 Having an oil-based economy, for one, is not only unpredictable and vulnerable to shocks, but again, reverberates the controversy that “exchange” often obfuscates the intentionality and functionality of development projects and propagates an “‘urban’ fantasy.” The truth is, coming to terms with a population that doesn’t cease to grow is more overdetermined than any single development could ever mitigate. And while the promise of “Africa Rising” is remarkable, it is important that steps are taken to really evaluate the multiplicity of “rising” as a far more grounded and inclusive narrative of what is happening across the African continent.


paints a picture of Africa as not just a new frontier, filled with verifiable ‘economic promise,’ but as the “last frontier,” a kind of last-go for the global economy. 6


Notes: [1] Population. (2015, December 14). Retrieved November 2, 2018, from http://

[14] Gardner, T. (2017, December 4). “Addis has run out of space”: Ethiopia’s

radical redesign. The Guardian. Retrieved from cities/2017/dec/04/addis-ababa-ethiopia-redesign-housing-project [15] Watson, V. (2014). African urban fantasies: dreams or

[2] Angola: civil war | Mass Atrocity Endings. (n.d.). Retrieved November 2, 2018,


nightmares? Environment and Urbanization, 26(1), 215–231. https://doi. org/10.1177/0956247813513705

[3] Angolan capital “most expensive city for expats.” (2017, June 21). Retrieved

[16] Benazeraf and Alves - ‘Oil for Housing’ Chinese- built New Towns


[4] Watson, V. (2014). African urban fantasies: dreams or nightmares?

Environment and Urbanization, 26(1), 215–231. https://doi. org/10.1177/0956247813513705

[5] Coulibaly, B. (2017, June 27). In defense of the ‘Africa Rising’ narrative.

Retrieved November 2, 2018, from [6] Africa as the Last Frontier: Why It Matters in the Global Economy. (2013,

August 8). Retrieved November 2, 2018, from event/africa-the-last-frontier-why-it-matters-the-global-economy [7 ] Buire, C. (2015, September 2). Views of suburban Luanda: banishing the

ghosts from Kilamba - Africa Research Institute. Retrieved November 2, 2018, from [8] Poverty & Equity Data Portal. (n.d.). Retrieved November 2, 2018, from http://

[9] Buire, C. (2015, September 2). Views of suburban Luanda: banishing the

ghosts from Kilamba - Africa Research Institute. Retrieved November 2, 2018, from [10] Muzenda, A. (2017, December 7). The Kilamba City controversy. What

can African cities learn from it? Retrieved November 2, 2018, from http:// [11] Onishi, N. (2017, June 24). Angola’s Corrupt Building Boom: ‘Like Opening

a Window and Throwing Out Money.’ The New York Times. Retrieved from

[12] Muzenda, A. (2017, December 7). The Kilamba City controversy. What

can African cities learn from it? Retrieved November 2, 2018, from http:// [13] Buire, C. (2015, September 2). Views of suburban Luanda: banishing the

ghosts from Kilamba - Africa Research Institute. Retrieved November 2, 2018, from 38

in Ang.pdf. (n.d.). Retrieved from uploads/2014/04/saia_spb_88_-Benazeraf-Alves_20140416.pdf

[17] Angola Population (2018) - Worldometers. (n.d.). Retrieved November

2, 2018, from

[18] Bowden, N. (2017, March 6). The Fallacy of Urban Planning. Retrieved

November 2, 2018, from

How can cities prosper after periods of crisis? Which strategies should be implemented? Mayor Enrique Peñalosa Explains Laura Postarini

Enrique Peñalosa is completing his third year as Mayor of Bogotá for the second time. Despite a strong political opposition, he is on track on developing mayor urban infrastructure projects for the city. The Colombian politician tells URBAN how he has managed to implement some of the most controversial projects, and which are the ideological challenges the city still face today. Q: Let’s go back to Bogotá in 1998, tell us about the conditions and context of the city when you were elected Mayor for the first time? What were the drivers that led Bogotá to be in this state?

I would have to say that it was one of the most hopeless cities I have seen, the city was a disaster and the worst problem was that people had zero pride in the city. It is now difficult for people to remember, but no one saw the possibility of rescuing it. It was thought that nothing could be done. The city reflected plenty of the errors of underdevelopment, mainly inequality, and this was a big issue. I believe cities are powerful tools

to create happiness and equality. In the case of Bogotá, our city had a terrible public transport system, [cars] were parked [on] every sidewalk. Upper-income citizens moved by car to go everywhere, had made somehow of an enclave, in which to have shops on the street was terrible for business. In regards to public space and parks, there were barely any, and the existing parks were not designed for people to enjoy. Parks were abandoned fields and often used as parking lots. In upper-income neighborhoods, people just planted trees with no planned design, and this created dark and cold spaces where people could not play in them. The previous administration had done some work on recovering parks, but a lot needed to be done in terms of recovering the public space.


Edited by Michael A. N. Montilla

Q: During your first administration, Bogotá had some of its most significant transformations (In fields like education, social inclusion, urban infrastructure). Which one for you was the key issue that needed to be addressed and how did addressing it helped you in achieving other transformations? Which interventions do you believe were a catalyst for improving the quality of life in Bogotá?

Some of the issues we addressed was an improvement and reclaiming of the public space, which was a great challenge. I was almost impeached for getting bollards and removing cars from the sidewalks in order to make space for pedestrians, this was a huge political war - to get cars off the sidewalks. 39

What makes the difference between a good and a bad city is sidewalks, good sidewalks. In terms of infrastructure, [it] is not subways or highways its sidewalks. We also, started making bikeways, protected bikeways, almost 300 km of protected paths. At this time, there were no bikeways in any major city in the world, except for Nordic cities, like Copenhagen. This was a very crazy proposition at that time, but the purpose of it was to create equality. When you think of sidewalks in a developed country it seems ideologically neutral. But in developing countries [it] is different, especially in this city, where only 10 or 15% have cars and the people who walked or used a bike where commonly lower-income people. This is why we decided to banish the cars parked on sidewalks, which were a huge symbol of inequality, telling the public that people who owned cars were more important. Protected bikeways were also a very important symbol. To be on a bicycle for lower income [people] was a symbol of poorness, they felt they were a nuisance to cars, to be a hindrance. With the paths everybody was equally important, people on bikes and people in cars. We created a public transport system, which became a model in the world. It was originally implemented in Curitiba (Brazil), but this was the first time it was implemented on a large city as Bogotá. To put it in a 7 million people city, it was a revolution, taking a car lane and use it to for exclusively for public buses. This system now has been replicated in other cities around the world, and today BRT system moves more passengers per hour than most subways of the world do. It is a powerful symbol of equality. We invested in schools too, building a system of schools in the lower income neighborhoods and in informal settlements. The system was organized such that we gave the administration of these schools to the best private schools and universities in the country. And this strategy proved to be a huge success; pregnancy rates dropped, desertion rates lowered, fewer conflicts among students. Nonetheless, it was a huge battle. It cost me blood on political terms. Libraries were another key element in this process, we built beautiful big libraries, which were temples. Mostly in lower-income neighborhoods. We wanted the libraries to be more attractive than a shopping mall, to give it the importance it deserves within a society. Schools and libraries were symbols of what we wanted to prevail in the city, learning, and education. 40

After completing his first mandate, Enrique Peñalosa went on to become a consultant on urban strategy, advising officials in cities all over the world on how to build sustainable cities that can not only survive but thrive in the future. (“Enrique Peñalosa,” n.d) He was president of the board of directors of the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy, ran for the presidency of Colombia in 2007 and 2014, but lost. He ran again for Mayor of Bogotá in 2011 and lost against Gustavo Petro, whose administration preceded Peñalosa´s until 2016. Q: Let’s Jump to Bogotá 2016 when you are re-elected as Mayor. Which different challenges have you found this time?

We found a very polarized city, we had a leftist government that was in power for 12 years in a row, and did very little to nothing in terms of infrastructure. It worked basically on Assistencialist policies to give money away and left a city in big financial problems and extremely politicized. The former Mayor and his administration have made false claims in social media generating more polarization. But in many ways, we have similar challenges that we had last time, again we are focusing on bringing and creating equality in the city. In our previous government, we had created 60 km of greenways, which we are continuing now, developed along creeks and wetlands improving mobility, and social integration. In an area with land still yet to urbanize we are creating a development of about 4,400 Hectares. 2,000 ha for parkland and forests and the rest for urban development. It includes 450,000 homes with an innovative financial scheme, where private developers are not going to have the freedom they usually have where there is a little area for public space. In this case, we envision greenways, forests, sidewalks, parks, playgrounds, schools and everything connected to an improved transit system.

Q: One of the toughest challenges is not only to improve the built environment but to regain citizens’ trust in the city? How can we achieve this?

Most of the things I have done, people would have not thought about they would have never imagined [that] was possible.

Once people see that things can be achieved, people start to feel empowered, optimistic and begin to dream. The first reaction will be of resistance, but then a city begins to appear. A city with sidewalks, parks, cultural centers, public pools, and people embrace it. Most of the things happen unconsciously. Even though it is an unequal society, Bogotá [is an] incredible example of democratization. Every Sunday the major arteries of the city, 120 km in total, are closed for cars for seven hours. Citizens come and use them for walking, riding bikes, teaching kids [to] roller skate, walking the dog or jogging. This is very powerful, where two million people come out every weekend for this activity. In Bogotá, when a new BRT line is proposed nobody complains, because it is ingrained in the mind of people. The city has a democratic culture, which is difficult to implement in other cities. Where else in the world can we take a lane away from private cars and give it away for public transport and there is no opposition around it. Bogotá has the largest number of people that go to work by bike in America: 7% of the city´s population, almost one person on a bike for every two driving a car. Photo: Avenida Jiménez, Centro de Bogotá,2006. Santiago Cortés

We are also working on mass transit, increasing Transmilenio [Bogotá’s BRT] roadways by about 60%, we are building the first subway line, increasing and improving bikeways. [It is] one of the main conflicts we are facing in this administration. Currently, we are developing a Transmilenio Roadway in La Carrera Séptima, which stretches over 5 km. [It] is one of the main roads in Bogota and where about 150,000 of the most powerful Colombians live. This has made negotiations very difficult, but when the project is completed people will be able to leave their cars at home and use Transmilenio. [When this happens] it will become the first city in the developing world [where] upper-income people will use public transit. This will lead to social integration, where people meet as equals.


A government must do things that are not popular, new ideas are never born with majority support. Almost all important changes affect some powerful people, and it is difficult to do this, especially in very unequal societies such as the Colombian.

This is something that began to empower people, young people were born with these bikeways. They don’t remember how difficult it was to implement them in the first place. Today, the younger population demand more pedestrian spaces, protected bikeways and so on.

The most important thing to have in mind is to have a shared vision, what do we want? And allow people to dream and envision. When they see things happening, they start to believe that things can be different. 41

Photo: Centro de Bogotá (Downtown Bogota ). FILMICO, Q: Can you describe the three most difficult challenges cities and Latin American cities in particular face today? What strategies are being implemented to prepare cities for these challenges?

•We still have the conflict between private car and the space for bikes and pedestrians. This is one of the most difficult ideological discussions of our time. How to distribute road space between pedestrians, bikes, cars and public transport. Privatization is not as important as the distribution of public space. We need to understand that pedestrians have the same right [to] road space as a luxury car.

• It is necessary to grow in a compact way, investing in great parks; suburban growth is seen all over the world around cities, but the sprawl in Latin America is even worse than in The United States as it is done through gated communities. These are not cities, there is no public space and its impossible to provide public transportation. In the case of Bogotá, the problem is aggravated as we ran out of land availability. This has led to an uncontrolled growth of peripheral municipalities, which usually have weak governments. We need to build cities in a dense and compact way, and yet with green space.

•In terms of mobility, an immense challenge is to get upper-income people to move by the public transport system. 42

Q: According to a recent study made by the NGO Techo, more than 200,000 people live in about 125 informal settlements in Bogotá. These are cause for unsafe housing and services situations, lack of public space and poor or no connection to the transport system. Which are the preventive measures that your administration is taking to reduce this issue?

It is a smaller problem from what it was in the past. By the 1970s about 25% of the city was an informal settlement, this is due because Bogotá has grown as an informal city. The most common case in the city was for informal settlements to grow freely and organically. Most of these areas are now being legalized and were never punished by the State. Currently we are working on property titles on the ones that are still illegal, simultaneously there is a large investment in improving the spatial conditions for these areas. The whole city is organized so that redistribution is secure, Bogotá has a system of subsidizing. What occurs is that Upper-income people pay high taxes, in terms of property tax, which are higher than in the US, about 1 % every year of the value of the property and these resources are given to subsidize lower income neighborhoods. This system works pretty well, even though upper-income people do not

This is what happened in 1954, Bogotá is the result of the fusion of 7 municipalities, and that was a great decision, it allowed the city to have ground institutions and to be a powerful machine of redistribution income. This is not happening in other municipalities. Wealthy municipalities are able to charge low taxes, and less wealthy ones have no money coming in as there is no investment.

Q: Planning decisions and public policies have also caused some of the greatest mistakes in cities. What are some of the weaknesses of the urban planning field? What should be expected of future planners?

There were many mistakes from the planning field in the past, most of them stem from the same problem, which is inequality. When higher income people try to make special areas for themselves excluding other sectors of society, and where private property ownership of land occurs without enough government intervention.

Planning can make many mistakes, but lack of it tends to be worst. Nonetheless, the problem of the lack of planning is much larger. Planning can make many mistakes, but lack of it tends to be worst. [Still,] we have much to learn from informal developments as these tend to be more lively, and are very good examples of a mixture of commercial and residential areas, as well as good architecture. But keep in mind that the most important thing we need to do in our time is to build cities well, in the ideal place, in the right place, and the right way. As I mentioned earlier, a great planning challenge today for us is the excess autonomy of small municipalities that do not have the institutional capacity to strive on their own, this is the case of Colombia. Mosquera, which is the municipality right next to the center of Bogotá. Decided to not urbanize, to not allow the future metro line of Bogotá to continue to their domain, leading to a very poor urban infrastructure where urban growth is uncontrolled. There are no sidewalks. There are no parks. There is an excess in traffic. But of course, planning needs to be done as organically as possible, and minimize the errors it carries.


use these services, they do not use public nurseries, public schools or park infrastructure, community centers, and so on. Bogotá s a huge machine to redistribute resources from the higher income areas to the lower income areas. We are paving roads, schools, nurseries, hospitals, and parks in lower-income neighborhoods with these resources. But in terms of informality and uncontrolled growth, the biggest challenge today is that Colombia is a very municipal country, the National Government does not intervene in the management of the city, and it provides very little resources to it. On the other hand, Regional governments are very weak, leaving municipalities with much more autonomy. [Colombia is] unlike Chile, where the National Government manages The Santiago Metropolitan area or Panama where the National Government exercises control over Panama City. In the case of Bogotá, the city is growing outside its borders into other municipalities, so these small municipalities are getting rich and growing at a very fast pace, but still, lack the necessary resources and technical capacity. Such is the example of Soacha, which is a destitute municipality in much need of investment, I have my own ideas on how it should be solved. But the bottom line is that municipalities should be fused, wealthier and poor municipalities merged into one.

Notes: [1] Enrique Peñalosa. (n.d.). Retrieved November 14, 2018, from https://www.

[2] Santiago Cortés is a local photographer. To see more of

his work visit ig:@cortesvillota.


Figure 1: Shelly Beach Hotel & Club coastline view

Dormant infrastructures and tourism decay, Shelly Beach Mombasa, Kenya. Pauline Claramunt Edited by Tyrene Calvesbert



Figure 2: Shelly Beach Hotel & Club

A few minutes drive down Kingston road from Likoni´s ferry station we find Shelly Beach, where the decay of tourism industry has left a trace of abandoned resorts that used to be an attraction for international visitors offering all-inclusive experiences. The natural scene formed by turquoise waters, reefs, white beaches and a marine ecosystem fuels an idyllic imaginary for tourism. In the 1980´s tourism grew in Mombasa along with multiple investments to upgrade infrastructure populating the beaches in the north and south of the city. However, in the late 1990´s the violence related to political riots in Likoni District negatively affected Shelly beach as a touristic destination due to lack of safety (Rakodi, Gatabaki-Kamau, & Devas, 2000.)

The proximity between Shelly Beach Hotel and its coastline invites us to reflect on the temporality and permanence of infrastructure. Mombasa is one of the most vulnerable cities for coastal flooding due to sea-level rise and storm surges (Kebede, Nicholls, Hanson, & Mokrech, 2012.) Contrasting tourism concerns and climate adaptation make us read these images differently offering a lens that gives the opportunity to rethink how this infrastructure wakes up or stays dormant.


Figure 3: Shelly Beach Hotel & Club main entrance



The main entrance of Shelly Beach Hotel, shows a half deteriorated-half lasting space. Nature is claiming to be a protagonist as time goes by reconfiguring existing materials and creating an in-between experience by blurring interior and exterior space. Since 2005 the resort have been closed to the public.

Notes: [1] Rakodi, C., Gatabaki-Kamau, R., & Devas, N. (2000). Poverty and political conflict in Mombasa. SAGE Journal of Environment & Urbanization Vol 12. [2] Kebede, A., Nicholls, R., Hanson, S., & Mokrech, M. (2012). Impacts of Climate Change and Sea-Level Rise: A Preliminary Case Study of Mombasa,

Kenya. Journal of Coastal Research,28 (1A), 8-19. Retrieved from





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