SUPRA_Fall 2017

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01 From The Editors



Upgrading or/and Resettling?

Self-Sacrifice and Durian Skins

Guilherme Rocha Formicki

Stephanie Yee-Kay Chan

Pauline Claramunt Torche



Design Thinking:

The Pearl Of Indochina

An Innovation Tool For Urban Planners Kathleen Onieal Verena Kuen Lee E Miller

Tim O’Grady



The City Is Everywhere

Crowdsourcing and

Eri Furusawa

A New Financial Model?

Urban Planning:

Avery Dement



Common Ground: A Reflection on Navigating the Cognitive and Physical Borders of the West Bank

A Photo is Worth 729 Words

Adam Lubitz

41 Transportation Infrastructure Funding: Ignorance Is Hard At Work ! Floyd Lapp

Charlie Romanow


Dear Readers, URBAN Magazine is a publication produced by the students in the Urban Planning Master program at the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation (GSAPP) at Columbia University. Since 1997, the magazine has produced bi-yearly issues that have touched on topics broad and small covering all layers of the planning discipline. Today, the magazine presents itself as a forum for new voices from students and faculty from all over the world and for all types of materials, such as photography, reviews and creative writing. The issue you hold in your hands is a small contribution to further discuss sometimes divergent ideas about planning. The Fall 2017 issue, SUPRA, looked for pieces about the planning discipline that go above and beyond traditional notions, it was a call meant to be broad in order to rethink the way planning is done and how it can transform and adapt to new paradigms and future technologies. SUPRA yielded pieces ranging from social control during Colonial planning in Yangon to human-centered strategies applied in the planning field and a vivid comparison about planning practices in South America. The Spring 2018 issue will look for ideas that lie in-between the different planning realms and pose the question about the connection between these ideas. ‘INTER’ asks contributors to ask critical questions about how planning can be a link between Chief Editor other disciplines and the role planners play in today’s context, where people are Maria is: increasingly connected and have become citizens of the world. 1 part Architect URBAN seeks to continue to be a formal but public forum to discuss these ideas and more, inviting planners and the general public to participate and share their voices in a non-academic format. Through this publication, we can foster discussion and critically question the state of our environment and its possibilities for the future. We hope this issue will encourage new voices and inspire your planning sensitivity to what surrounds you.

1 part Urban Planner 1 part Foodie 2 parts Dog-lover. Layout Editor

Eva: Design Eat Sleep Publication Editor Ramya: Planner



Dreamer On a quest for a better India


Upgrading or/and Resettling? What does Sao Paulo (Brazil) and Santiago (Chile) experiences have to say about methods of vulnerable housing improvement. Guilherme Rocha Formicki Pauline Claramunt Torche

Sao Paulo



On that cool August morning, I saw a couple with a newborn baby inhabiting a shack made of wood and zinc. Outside of their residence, there was a lot of trash and I spotted a rat making its way through the leftovers. This family had to be provided with better housing conditions. After only a few inspection visits to the most vulnerable families of Favela do Sapé, in São Paulo, I certainly couldn’t claim to have a real grasp of the situation. But what I was able to see left me with a big impression and an understanding of the conditions under which so many people lived.

“The ambiance was tense and neighbors did not talk to each other”

The meeting started at 7 pm, at the community center located two blocks away from Eusebio Lillo’s Housing complex in the municipality of Conchalí in Santiago, Chile. The ambiance was tense and neighbors did not talk to each other. This was the second attempt to improve the common areas and open space by the Programa Quiero mi Barrio (“I Love My Neighborhood” programme).

Favela do Sapé, São Paulo Brazil

After several meetings on Tuesday nights and Saturday mornings, the ice started to melt and those who previously watched now began to participate. We asked the neighbors to draw, mark, and describe the different ways they use their common areas in an extended plan of the 14 buildings in the complex. I remember that collective mapping identified locations of common gardens, areas to locate inflatable pools in summer, and home-made access ramps. They also marked fenced areas claimed by neighbors that restricted access that hinted at the internal violence experienced in the neighborhood. Even if it was just a map, the meetings and collective process empowered the community to let go of their fears and speak up for the goal to recover common spaces and their feeling of safety.


On another visit, I interviewed one of Sapé’s community leaders. She was a very active contributor during the participatory meetings held by the Programa de Urbanização de Favelas (Slum-Upgrading Program) in Sapé settlement. She had been resettled to a new housing unit built as part of the Sapé upgrading program. She told me about her effort to keep her new apartment building and housing unit in good shape. After all, that was an achievement that couldn’t be lost. She described how Sapé was before the upgrading works started. “When I arrived here, there were no shacks on the riverfront. There were shacks, but very few. Then, the years went by and Sapé grew, grew, grew. The occupation on the river’s shore got bigger. It got bigger and there was a point where there was no room for buildings anymore (Formicki, 2016).” On the day of that interview, Sapé was already different and it was evolving fast. By 2017, 462 new housing units had been delivered. The stream bank, over which so many houses had been erected, was cleared to make room for a linear park with a new bike lane. The remaining part of the favela was provided with sewage, electricity and water supply infrastructure. The narrow alleys between houses had been improved with steps and cement.

Bajos de mena, Santiago, Chile

The community of Eusebio Lillo went through an internal “negotiation process” that allowed them to get back their common areas and open space. They were supported by a professional team of architects and social workers. Each block had its own process. Some blocks voted while others came to agreements that allowed families to keep three meters of front yard for private use. In a few exceptional cases, internal conflict and the scale of built structures in common areas only allowed for partial interventions. However, most agreements were favorable and the land became available for the redevelopment of common areas.


I remember talking to one of the women’s leaders who fights for this project by confronting neighbors. She invited me to her apartment, which she shares with her three kids and her mother. I immediately felt the overcrowded conditions and the precarious state of the building in which she lived in. The walls and partitions showed signs of high humidity, lack of insulation, and the electrical and sanitary system were unmaintained. “We cannot continue like this, children need space to play and we can’t let them go outside if it is not safe. We need to do this project for our children, for our youth and for our seniors, we deserve better conditions and dignity.” (Claramunt, 2016) The common space’s upgrade for recreation fulfills a daily need of the neighbors. The spaces were designed with the community considering priorities and understanding budget limitations and the process helped improve their cohesion and communication. While the plazas and patios are still in construction to incorporate green areas, pavement, parking, illumination and open space, neighbors also participated during meetings about the building upgrading program, which was held simultaneously by “Quiero mi Barrio” to improve the electrical and sanitary systems.

But it had not always been like that. For decades, slum dwellers in São Paulo were displaced from their settlements which, albeit in poor conditions, were usually located in central zones close to their jobs. Many of these people were resettled to COHABs— housing condominiums provided by the City Hall—in the outskirts of the municipality. As a consequence, relocated citizens across São Paulo Metropolitan Area—especially those who lived in areas such as COHAB—had long commutes , which reached over an hour and which ended up in the need to transfer from one system to another. (Secretaria dos Transportes Metropolitanos 2008).


Recent housing policies shifted the São Paulo City Housing Department modus operandi. Upgrading vulnerable settlements became more popular after experience proved that it is unfeasible to remove all slums and resettle their original dwellers elsewhere due to economic, social and political issues. (Ancona, Ana Lúcia and Lareu, Stetson 2002). In São Paulo, upgrading favelas has become a more common practice, especially in the 2000s and early 2010s (ZUQUIM 2012).

“the Chilean government is currently applying a comprehensive plan for urban regeneration (Plan integral Bajos de Mena) “ Under the experience of settlement relocation, Santiago has applied different policies and strategies that consolidate social housing complex in pericentral or peripheral areas, lacking connectivity and amenities. The resettling process related to the “Program of basic houses of eradication of camps” (Programa de viviendas básicas de erradicación de campamentos) from 1970 to 1985 relocated 28.703 families in the southern area of the city forming clusters of poverty and social segregation. (BNC, 2017) Since then, the strategies to supply social housing have been based in subsidiary policies where land price is a main factor for placement housing projects, which consequently implies building in peripheral area with low connectivity encouraging segregation (Ducci,1997.) An important example is “Bajos de Mena,” a neighborhood located in Puente Alto, Santiago, that covered part of the social housing deficit and has relocated informal settlements since 1990 (Cociña,2016). Today’s population is 122,278 inhabitants (MINVU, 2012) and the Chilean government is currently applying a comprehensive plan for urban regeneration (Plan integral Bajos de Mena) where they are demolishing more than1.300 housing units and, at the same time, building schools, parks, and other community amenities. (Intendencia Metropolitana, 2017.)


After going through some experiences related to cases of settlement and upgrading in São Paulo City and Santiago, we notice that there are various and complex ways of intervening and many of the strategies are modeled case by case. Both experiences show that resettling developments in the past have led to situations in which lowincome people would be placed in distant areas in a segregated manner. This reinforced vulnerable communities’ physical segregation and engendered hardships of other types, such as long commute times and, most importantly, lack of urbanity: vulnerable dwellers ended up in distant metropolitan areas, with no public facilities, equipment, leisure and, in some cases, infrastructure.

do not solve the housing deficit for new families, so the actual policies of subsidies that relate directly to land market prices have perpetuated the development of peripheral settlements increasing spatial segregation by income. São Paulo’s upgrading experience–and, to some extent, Brazil’s–show that rampant and generalized poverty cannot be resolved by architectural and urban design alone. Broad economic, social, educational, and other strategies should be deployed to effectively increase wellbeing. Otherwise, people who live in newly-built units will not be able to afford the better living standards brought by this unit.

“upgrading as an alternative and contemporary approach has its constraints as well”

However, upgrading as an alternative and contemporary approach has its constraints as well. In Chile’s capital, upgrading is applied over past resettling experiences and it does not consider new housing provisions. It actually aims to improve neighborhood indicators and living conditions that were not considered in its previous resettling experiences. Upgrading programs in Chile


For instance, take the family described in the first paragraph of this article. If they were given a new housing unit in Sapé, they probably wouldn’t manage to stay for too long in this new residence. This was at least what happened to some vulnerable families from Sapé. Although the apartment costs were heavily subsidized by the government, many families simply don’t earn enough money to afford electricity, water, gas and condominium fees, as well as the apartment installments. So, they end up selling their unit and move back to a place in even poorer living conditions. Upgrading in Chile helped decrease vulnerability by improving dwelling and neighborhood conditions, as well as social cohesion. But it did not resolve poverty, which remains a systemic problem in Santiago and which has to be addressed with other types of policies too.

So, is there any other contemporary alternative that solves resettling issues and at the same time addresses upgrading problems better? In fact, each vulnerable community is unique. Sometimes both upgrading and resettling work within these communities, sometimes only one of those approaches is advised and sometimes none of them are. Case by case approaches can address local complexities in better ways and be part of a comprehensive set of actions that open new possibilities.

“rampant and generalized poverty cannot be resolved by architectural and urban design alone”

Edited by Emily Junker 08

Ancona, Ana Lúcia and Lareu, Stetson. “Avaliação do Programa Guarapiranga - Custos e Componentes de Infra-estrutura.” Anais do Seminário de Avaliação de Projetos IPT em Habitação e Meio Ambiente: Assentamento Urbanos Precários, 2002. Accessed November 11, 2017. < > BNC, Biblioteca Nacional de Chile. "Poblamiento en: Santiago (1930-2006). Memoria Chilena. Accessed November 15, 2017. <> Claramunt, Pauline. Technical Asistance Quiero Mi Barrio Program in Eusebio Lillo Neighborhood, Conchalí. Santiago. 2016. Cociña, Camila. “Habitar desigualdades: Políticas urbanas y el despliegue de la vida en Bajos de Mena”, Serie documentos de trabajo PNUD, Desigualdad No. 2016/05, September 2016. Accessed November 15, 2017. < trabajo/habitar-desigualdades--politicas-urbanas-y-el-despliegue-de-la-v.html> Ducci, María Elena. “Chile: el lado oscuro de una política de vivienda exitosa” in Revista EURE, vol. XXIII, Nº69, Julio 1997. Santiago de Chile. Accessed November 15, 2017 Formicki, Guilherme. “Sapé, Favela, Cidade.” Undergraduate Final Thesis. Universidade de São Paulo, 2016. MINVU, Ministerio de Vivienda y Urbanismo. “Plan Integral de Rehabilitación Urbana Bajos de Mena 2012-2014”.2012 Secretaria dos Transportes Metropolitanos.”Pesquisa Origem e Destino 2007 – Síntese das Informações da Pesquisa Domiciliar”. 2008. Accessed November 11, 2017. <http://> Intendencia Metropolitana, “Plan integral Bajos de Mena, Unidad de planes integrales para barrios de alta complejidad de la Intendencia Metropolitana”. 2017. Accessed November 15, 2017 < Zuquim, Maria de Lourdes. “Urbanization in squatter settlements in São Paulo: who wins and who loses?” Paper presented at II Encontro da Associação Nacional de Pesquisa e Pós-graduação em Arquitetura e Urbanismo, Natal, September, 18-21, 2012. Accessed November 11, 2017. <http:// de_ assentamentos_precarios_no_municipio_de_Sao_Paulo_quem_ganha_e_quem_ perde.pdf>



Self-Sacrifice and Durian Skins: Colonial Era Planning in Rangoon, Burma Stephanie Yee-Kay Chan

TThe aroma of fresh cut durian drifts through the sticky and humid air. At a street stall in downtown Yangon, a durian seller scoops out the pale, yellow meat and throws away the fruit’s spiky shell into the street’s gutter where a large pile of skins have already accumulated to knee-height. Underneath the top layer of spiky durian skins lies a second decaying layer - remnants of yesterday’s sales and from days past. Passerbys lift their longyis (traditional wrap-around skirts) and step off the sidewalk to avoid this mountain of brown matter. In the same lane, a bedraggled Toyota swerves to

avoid these pedestrians, only to skid to a halt in the back of a long line of backed-up vehicles. Its driver rolls down the window and spits out slimy betel nut residue onto the street in impatience. He joins the mercilessness honking of disgruntled drivers as they collectively announce the beginning of the unavoidable evening traffic. In the scene on the left, paved roads and an urban grid illustrate a picture of a modernized and orderly city that signifies Yangon’s potential as the local, urban driver of the nation’s growth in infrastructure and tourism. On the other hand, the quality and quantity


Location of Yangon (Rangoon) in Myanmar.



of available public services to residents in Yangon and other areas of Myanmar remain rudimentary, such as sewage, electricity, water, and traffic control. In analyzing planning as a tool that confers infrastructural services to populations, it is apparent that planning also serves a further purpose as an exhibition of power of one group over another, especially in the context of postcolonial spaces and cities. This piece begins by introducing the internal, political and regional conflicts that Myanmar is experiencing throughout the country, followed by a discussion of Yangon City’s modern developments and achievements. This article concludes with a discussion of the city’s historical development that arose out of colonial planning including the impact on immigrant communities and social stratifications in colonial Myanmar. The country of Myanmar is rooted at the boundaries of Southeast Asia and South Asia, and was once the crown jewel of the British Empire. Known as Burma at the time, it was made the capital of British India during its colonial occupation between

the years of 1824 to 1948, including a brief occupation by Japan in 1942 to 1945. Planning is inherently political, and in Myanmar, planning for the future of a rapidly developing post-colonial nation is even more nuanced. The Burmese government has experienced and is still concerned with continuous shifting political alliances and ethnic strife throughout the nation. These include the end of a long-standing military coup in 1962 that was quickly followed by an autarkic system led by military leader Ne Win who determined Myanmar’s isolationist policies up until 1988. Most recently, ethnic genocide against the Muslim Rohingya peoples in the western Rakhine State continues to drive refugee populations into the neighbouring country of Bangladesh under the guise of nationalism. To the country’s north, internal conflict and insurgent groups continue to persist amongst the Kachin, Shan and a multitude of other indigenous communities. It is no wonder that the provision of public services remains at a standstill, when the legitimacy of the nation’s government, an entity supposedly representing 135 distinct ethnic groups,

remains debated, challenged and questioned. To some, modern Myanmar has become an apartheid state fronted by the highly criticized but notable, Aung San Suu Kyi. To others, the country holds potential as an economic powerhouse and tourist magnet for those with a penchant towards untouched, historical architecture and affordable real estate. In the midst of national turmoil, the prior capital of Yangon stands in relative peace as the primary destination for visiting tourists and investors. Examples of new urban developments aimed at fueling tourist numbers include the launch of a new Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system in 2016, an extension of the international airport terminal in 2015, and the formation of the Yangon Heritage Trust that was created to preserve historical, colonial buildings via public-private collaborations in 2012. Unlike the dirt roads and thatched roof huts found in villages throughout other regions of the country, the city boasts of paved roads on a meticulously plotted orthogonal urban grid with mixed-use zones, residential streets, and waterfront planning. Yet, these


exemplary planning attributes have dark origins of social control by colonial powers when Yangon was once called Rangoon; one that sought to reform the native Burmese and immigrant populations to conform to a new social order and urban aesthetic that served the British elite. Seized by British forces during the Second Anglo-Burmese War of 1852, and similar to other colonial cities such as Bombay and Brasilia, Rangoon’s design as a colonial outpost was shaped through scientific rationality that aimed to render its native residents more easily controllable and civil. To this day, the city reports the largest number of colonial buildings in the country. The first urban plan that was proposed by Dr. William Montgomerie, superintendent surgeon during the war, suggested two attributes for an effective removal of all undesirable elements attributed to Burmese natives such as poverty, illness and crime.

One of the initiatives included transposing an urban grid plan with 100 and 150 feet wide streets that emphasized the riverfront as a European commercial corridor. This decision aimed to discourage traffic congestion and the spread of bodily disease and crime through population deconcentration, beautify the city with an orderly street network, and increase order and manageability of crime by decreasing potential hideouts for criminals and offering officers clear lines of sight. Unlike traditional Burmese villages with planning oriented towards local Buddhist monasteries, the British-imposed structure devised an order that focused on commerce and capitalism. Second, the plan called for a division of lots and governmental distribution of all land; “25 blocks that were subdivided into 172 lots per block, which resulted in 4,300 lots that would be available for sale.� Although not explicitly stated, these divisions restricted the sale of land according to class through five zoned districts that varied in value.

Riverfront properties and those in the business district were the most valuable and required dwellings to be, made of brick with tiled roofing and built within one year of purchase. As brick was not a common local material, unlike bamboo or thatch used by the Burmese, only the wealthy could afford to buy lots and build on the waterfront according to this regulation. In addition, the use of brick would render the city more aesthetically pleasing and modern to ships arriving to the waterfront. Lots further away from the riverfront commercial area were more affordable, although still out of purchasing range for the common Burmese citizen. In an effort to control the illegal squatting of unoccupied land outside of city center, the plan was changed in 1854 to allow for rental properties. However, since these lots were located away from the riverfront, this only further subjected locals to a constrained, colonial, capitalist system that profited the British while prohibiting the Burmese from participating in commercial development and international wealth. The combination of unaffordability and colonial


Map of Colonial Rangoon showing the urban grid of the downtown and waterfront areas (1912).


legal structures created districts identifiable by race and socioeconomic status. Properties located at the riverfront included courthouses, banks, commercial offices, and luxury hotels servicing the British elite – including the still-standing Strand Hotel built in 1901. West of the commercial waterfront was the Muslim Indian merchant community which served as Rangoon’s stock exchange for the purchase and sale of primary exports such as rice. The urban centrality of the Indian merchant community illustrates their commercial dominance in Rangoon’s trade during this time. In addition to the construction of mosques built by the Muslim Indian community in this area, Armenian churches can also be found in this vicinity as Armenian immigrants arrived to the neighboring district of Thanlyin as early as the year of 1612. Next to this district came the early beginnings of Rangoon’s Chinatown (Tayout Tan), an area for Chinese merchants and residents that was “one step removed from colonial power but still in the planned city.” (Keighly) Through zoning and planning, it is clear that


the Chinese were “third-tier foreigners, placed below the Europeans and Indians,” but were unable to compete with Indian businesses until after World War II when the Indian population were driven out of Burma via a passing of antiIndian policies. Lastly, in the lower rung of the socio-economic colonial hegemony came the native Burmese who served as laborers and servants to the British elite. Colonial literature originating from this period, most famously “Burmese Days” written by George Orwell, illustrates the British perception of the Burmese and the belief that the indigenous Burmese population were helpless and dependent on colonial powers for modernization and civil advancement:

“Could the Burmese trade for themselves? Can they make machinery, ships, railways, roads? They are helpless without you. What would happen to the Burmese forests if the English were not here? They would be sold immediately to the Japanese, who would gut them and ruin them. Instead of which, in your hands, actually they are improved. And while your businessmen develop the resources of our country, your officials are civilising us, elevating us to their level, from pure public spirit. It is a magnificent record of self-sacrifice.” - George Orwell, Burmese Days

In today’s Yangon, popular sites for tourists include seeking out Victorian façades at the city’s waterfront, the busy neighborhood of Chinatown, and the still-standing structures of the Bengali Sunni Jameh Mosque, Sule Pagoda, and the Armenian Apostolic Church of St. John the Baptist. These institutions not only show the significance of Yangon’s immigrant, diaspora populations upon the cultural diversity and history of Yangon, but also the underlying legal planning structures that defined their spatial placement within urban and colonial contexts. Planning then and now, thus shows meaning beyond the superficiality of street beautification and enhanced transit, rather becoming an exhibition of power that advances or de-legitimizes populations and their participation in local and international economies.

[1] Henry Keighly, “Appendix R: Report on the City of Rangoon,” p. XXVII, in “Report of the Administration of the Province of Pegu for 185556,” Administration Reports of the Government of India, 1855-56 (Calcutta: John Gray, “Calcutta Gazette” office, 1857), IOR V/10/2, as cited in Maxim, “Resemblance in External Appearance,” 49. [2] Ibid., 110.

Edited by Adam Lubitz 17


DESIGN THINKING: AN INNOVATION TOOL FOR URBAN PLANNERS Kathleen Onieal Verena Kuen Lee E Miller Planners understand that cities are more than their architecture and infrastructure. Foremost they are about the people living in them. It is the planners role to focus on human needs to help create a better and sustainable urban living environment. With new technology comes new opportunities to address an array of problems facing today’s cities. Design Thinking is a problem solving approach that starts with a deep understanding of the needs of the members of the community achieved through studying and interacting with that community. Underlying Design Thinking is a belief that simply doing what we have been doing better will not be sufficient to enable cities to address the challenges they face. Innovation and co-creation are the hallmark of Design Thinking. Why not co-create our immediate living environment with the people that reside in the communities we serve? Below is a brief description of the design thinking process and how it is being used to address some of the challenges facing our cities today. 19

STEP 1 The starting point for Design Thinking is immersive research to identify the urban challenges that have the greatest impact on people’s lives, so we can address our resources in ways that are truly impactful. The BMW Guggenheim Lab, a mobile space which traveled among 3 cities (New York, Berlin, Mumbai) with the aim of interacting with the residents and discovering their most significant concerns is an example of immersive approaches can be used to identify and define problems that need solving. As an urban think tank, community center and public gathering space, the lab was able to identify 100 urban trends and challenges to focus on as a way to improve the urban environment for its residents (http://bit. ly/14u2LQ9).


STEP 2 Once these challenges have been identified, gaining a deeper understanding of how these issues impact the city’s inhabitants is possible through available technology such as: mobile ethnographies, lifelogging cameras, digital diaries and big data analysis. Traditional Design Thinking tools such as explorative interviews, diaries, observational research and immersion will complete the picture. Design thinking studios such as the Mobilab in Sao Paolo (http://bit. ly/2yyewVe) seek to develop a deeper understanding of how specific urban challenges impact upon different stakeholders and end users and can result in previously undiscovered insights into new ways to look at the problems that have been identified.

STEP 4 STEP 3 With this “deep dive� understanding of the actual needs of the community and its residents, design thinkers can bring together relevant stakeholders in what design thinkers call co-creation initiatives to generate possible solutions. Designing Dublin ( and Urban Pioneers Community Vienna ( are examples of real-life innovation labs where urban planners using design thinking methods are focusing on topics such as waste, water and community and new energy as well as mobility models and develop viable solutions to address identified insights.

Prototyping and experimentation with the resulting ideas and concepts before they are can be tested in the community is a critical aspect of design thinking. Pilot projects which can be augmented with technologies such as virtual reality prototyping and dynamic design which are ways to test and iterate possible solutions with co-creation panels of stakeholders and simulate possible future scenarios, before full scale projects are launched.

Design thinking is a tool that allows urban planners to identify major challenges that really matter for the population, work with stakeholders and residents to co-create solutions which can be rapidly tested and iterated incorporating the latest available technology to develop innovate solutions to address problems facing the world today.

Edited by Alexander Gallo 21


Crepuscular hour, on the back of a tar-emitting, Pulsating scooter, I’m whisked away into the urban Chaos. Each intersection an unspoken compromise; a fumbling waltz. I hold on tight to the ancient vibrating Machine as it weaves and twists and brushes by Obstacles; Crossing over crosswalks, Cutting corner cuts. I’m smothered by the evening Bustle of the quartier français on the banks of the muddy Mekong.


The grands boulevards, and curvy façades fade into the Fiery sky – ephemeral hues of both Heaven and Hell, amidst a canvas of Pure Blue. Electrical wires hang entwined above the sidewalks; coalescing into charged buzzing tangles – Formless at the frenetic breakers. Sloppy cords droop above the restless streets in bundles, errant splayed wires dangling Haphazardly above the revving motos, noodle shops and prostitutes. As darkness prevails, the spiderwebs of sparking circuits Electrify the pearl city. Edited by Maria Garces 23

THE CITY IS EVERYWHERE Eri Furusawa In 2015, architect Sou Fujimoto held an exhibition at the Chicago Biennale entitled “Architecture is Everywhere.” He placed tiny human figures beside various everyday objects: ping-pong balls, feathers tied together to make a ring, a porous rock, a loofa, an overturned ashtray. It seems confusing, even absurd at first, but gradually all the surreal juxtapositions begin to make sense. “I might have seen that building somewhere”, you say to yourself, “that fragile


pile of potato chips could totally be another starchitect piece, and that one even looks similar to the residential high-rise on Spruce Street.” The message was simple; anything can serve as inspiration for architecture.

Now, let us start experimenting. This kitchen will be named Commons City.

Figure 1. Kitchen Plan Can something similar be done for the city? Can urban planners be inspired by non-urban phenomena too? I currently live in a dormitory near campus. The shared kitchen on the sixth floor will be my laboratory. First, I’ll give some context of the space. It is used by thirty female dorm mates, and has three refrigerators, two microwaves, two sinks in the corner, and counter space along the walls (Figure 1). At the center is a kitchen island which residents can use freely while cooking. Counter space is valuable since everyone likes to place their toasters, rice cookers, and other appliances on the

counters. The most sought-after counter spaces are located near electric outlets, refrigerators, and gas cookers, while spaces nearest the garbage tend to be avoided. Due to residents’ distaste of cleaning the sink after use, mysterious residues often linger in the sink strainer. The Residential Advisor is responsible for maintaining peace and order in this community of independent students.

Commons City has few inhabitants. A large open space lies at the center (residents call it Central Park) surrounded by residential and commercial space. Central Park is surrounded by a wide ring road without dedicated lanes (known to residents as the “Incomplete Streets”). Residents ride their cars or bikes wherever they please, in whichever direction they see fit. No traffic lights or crosswalks exist prompting people to drive/ride/walk slowly and constantly observe their surroundings. The housing pattern is quite unique; no official zoning, or permanent lot lines exist; everything is settled through negotiation.When Commons City was first settled, residents established property by placing their houses wherever they felt appropriate. A general consensus was established


that one should keep a polite distance from adjacent houses and not take up too much space. Residents constantly adjust property boundaries. When a resident needs more space, she silently expands her property into her neighbor’s, but offers some form of public benefit . Demand for residential real estate is greatest near commercial centers and utility access. Some unlucky residents who were late to claim their property were forced to settle near the sewage treatment plant. The layout of Commons City is illustrated in Figure 2. Fostering a sense of ownership over public space is crucial for the peaceful continuity of the city. Maintenance of public space depends on the residents’ sense of citizenship, conscience, and self-control. These desirable qualities are fostered through public outreach; sending citywide emails and placing carefully crafted signs. So far, this has yielded mixed results. The lake at the edge of the city needs to be cared for, and the city code stipulates that residents must clean after themselves when holding events 26

Figure 2. Composition of Commons City

in the lake. Some residents follow this rule, but others opt to freeride. Consequently trash accumulates in the lake, inviting unwanted visitors to the city , prompting the mayor to declare a state of emergency and hold a public meeting to discuss possible courses of action. Due to the Mayor’s one-year tenure, few residents criticize her capabilities.

Who says the city only exists in the city?

Edited by Charlie Romanow


It is unsurprising that in a fiscal and political environment so unfriendly to urban planning initiatives, planners and citizens are turning to alternative sources of funding. The president’s 2018 budget proposes a $6 billion dollar cut to the Department of Housing and Urban Development. While this fiscal plan is only a proposal and Congress is ultimately responsible for passing the 2018 budget, the proposal clearly states federal priorities. At a smaller scale, communities across the country are feeling the squeeze of shrinking local budgets. Particularly acute for municipalities that are losing population and seeing a decline in the local tax base this recent trend in community-led development and participatory planning offer a logical next step: crowdfunding. Crowdfunding seemingly offers an ideal solution: funds for the project, direct community involvement, and the chance for residents to engage more fully in the planning process. However, crowdfunding as a source of capital does more harm than good- it allows the government to devolve its responsibility of maintaining healthy cities Avery Dement

onto citizens.

Crowdsourcing and Urban Planning: A New Financial Model? behind it was simple; artists and musicians needed money to create, and their fans could provide it, before the actual product was produced. In some cases there was an incentive, such early access to a song. This model evolved into better known websites today such as GoFundMe and Indiegogo. These websites raise funds for a wide variety of projects


from consumer products to educational campaigns. The problem is that they are also increasingly being used to fund what should be fundamental services provided for by the government. Out of the $2 billion raised between

Crowdfunding as we know it arose to support the arts and music during the early days of the internet. The thesis

2010 and 2016 by GoFundMe, $930 million, or nearly half, went to medical expenses not covered by health insurance. In the wake of the Flint, Michigan water crisis, which left residents of the city without safe, leadfree water, slow government response prompted the creation of crowdfunding campaigns. The mayor of Flint declared a state of emergency on December 14, 2015. By January 23, 2016, civilians started 65 campaigns that raised roughly $200,000. It wasn’t until February 17, 2017 that the EPA began to disperse $100 million in funds to repair Flint’s water infrastructure. As an alternative to this, Individual citizens offered to step in and attempt to finance mitigation projects for Flint’s crippled infrastructure. This should not have been necessary. Under the basic social contract between citizens and the government, it is expected that the government will provide infrastructure and services to maintain certain standards of living. If the government fails to do so, essentially privatizing these provisions is not the correct course of action.

Proponents of crowdfunding as a means of funding urban projects argue that it allows for direct resident participation, increases funds available to the city for certain projects that have not been fully funded through other means, and facilitates the creation of a broad community consensus. Traditional financing methods would likely still make up the majority of project financing, however crowdfunding would act as additional source for any capital still lacking from the project. In this way, crowdfunding ensures that a project gets done, while also having citizens’ input on its implementation. Funders would feel a sense of ownership over the project and be more likely to engage through the entire process, due to their ability to choose where their funds are going.

This model could be used to fund projects such as new community centers, parks, or neighborhood cleanups. In Rotterdam a local architectural firm raised funds for a pedestrian bridge. In exchange, investors had their names carved into the wooden bridge. Crowdfunding websites dedicated specifically to public projects are popping up. Through Citizinvestor, created in 2012, residents can propose a project or fund a public project that has run into budgeting constraints. Neighbor. ly, a similar platform, focuses on private investors looking to make a return on their investment.


The problem with this theory is that it ignores the funds citizens already contribute to urban projects in the form of taxes. Taxes are essentially a nonvoluntary form of crowdfunding, by which large scale projects are funded by pooling the resources of many people. Communities already contribute financially to projects ranging from basic infrastructure to community development initiatives whereas these grassroots funding efforts move the financial burden from the state or local government to individuals. Proponents of the model might argue that it is voluntary. However, it is a misuse of grassroots effort and momentum.

Rather than using community organizing to raise funds from private individuals, this effort should be used to build political power for residents so they have greater input in how the government allocates funds. Crowdfunding can get individual community projects done, but it cannot solve the underlying problem- the politics of who determines how funds are allocated. In many cases the resources are available, but it is necessary for citizens to organize the political will to make the project happen.

Edited by Adam Lubitz

Agrawal, Ajay K., Christian Catalini and Avi Goldfarb. “Some Simple Economics of Crowdfunding.” The National Bureau of Economic Research. Working paper. June 2013. Accessed November 1, 2017. Garcia, Ahiza. “65 GoFundMe accounts raising money for Flint water crisis.” CNN. January 23, 2016. Accessed November 1, 2017. Kennedy, Merrit. “Lead Laced Water In Flint: A Step-By-Step Look At The Makings Of A Crisis.” NPR. April 20, 2016. Accessed November 1, 2017. Mathis, Joel. “With “Citizinvestors,” Philly Will Try to Crowdfund its Way to a Better Future.” Philadelphia Magazine. philadelphia-citizinvestor-citizens/. Accessed November 1, 2017. Pelley, Virginia. “The Rise of Public-Sector Crowdfunding.” CityLab. September 15, 2017. Accessed November 1, 2017. “Rotterdam’s Residents Crowdfunded Its New Pedestrian Bridge.” CityMetric. July 29, 2015. Accessed November 10, 2017. “State of Emergency Declared in the City of Flint.” City of Flint. December 14, 2015. Accessed November 1, 2017. Woolley, Suzanne. “America’s Health Care Tragedies Are Taking Over Crowdfunding.” Bloomberg. June 12, 2017. articles/2017-06-12/america-s-health-care-crisis-is-a-gold-mine-for-crowdfunding. Accessed November 1, 2017.



Common Ground: A Reflection on Navigating the Cognitive and Physical Borders of the West Bank Adam Lubitz

Shuffling through the crowded customs room in the Tel Aviv airport might have been the longest thirty minutes of my life. I had received a travel grant in order to intern at the architectural conservation firm Riwaq over the summer, but I was still uncertain what to expect. Although I made sure to include in my passport the entry and exit visas that I had received two years prior on a birthright Israel trip, and brushed up on my Hebrew and the Jewish calendar, I remained nervous for the experience I was about to have under the auspices of both Columbia GSAPP and Israel. I would be travelling to see friends in Jerusalem, I


said. Not really a lie, but far from a whole truth. Ironically, more of a truth to them than it was to me. Ramallah, Al Bireh, and Beitunia form the metropolitan area which serves as the de facto capital region of the Occupied Palestinian Territories “OPT” in U.N. terms, or “Palestine,” or “Eretz Yisrael,” depending on who you ask. From the official Israeli perspective, these municipalities are mere remnants of an ‘Arab Occupation’ of originally Jewish lands, and fall within the commuter-shed of the true hub of urban life nearby: Jerusalem. With the help of my white, male, and Jewish privileges,

I got by without additional interrogation, collected my checked bag, and met up with a prearranged Palestinian cab driver with an all-important Israeli passport. The first few days in Ramallah were very much a culture shock, as I had expected, but I have travelled abroad enough to appreciate how accessible and friendly the city became to an obvious outsider. This was, in part, due to how technological advancements have blurred the traditional demarcations in a landscape between cities and their corresponding cultures. I recognized landmarks and local businesses I had seen or read about online, and of course was much more impressed by all of them in person. These new ways we build expectations for a place before visiting for the first time speak to how we’ve readily come to anticipate an array of seemingly unbiased information at our fingertips. With the proliferation of crowd-sourced, easily deployed information, the more traditional “Stranger’s Path” I was inevitably walking along was already informed by an assortment of information. In spite of this advantage, the very first day, another westerner gave me the sound advice of

how I should switch out my Google Maps, which was now basically useless, for Maps. me, an open-source mapping app based on OpenStreetMap. Regardless of previously hearing the telling questions from other Americans of whether or not I’d be “safe” here, the answer was that I was already a lot “safer” than I had any right to be. As an American, I am by circumstance a beneficiary of the exploitative practices of originally British and, more recently, our own federal government’s practices towards securing resources, primarily oil, from the middle east. Without delving too much further into that complicated history, what I witnessed upon arriving was, by several measures, a very successful urban condition, but also one profoundly divided from the urbanity which we’re taught to aspire towards via planning. From our understanding of access to urban life as articulated by Henri Lefebvre and later David Harvey, these spaces within Ramallah’s city center defined a central city for hundreds of thousands, and felt universally urban in many respects. However, I immediately stood out as

an outsider. As A.M. Simone explains, the creation of these spaces which are racially homogenous in historically oppressed states is all too common, due to “the dissipation of once-reliedupon modes of solidarity, the uprooting of individuals from familiar domains, and the ghettoization of individuals within highly circumscribed identity-enclaves...Residents can orient themselves in this conflict and discover profitable opportunities only through constant interactions with real and potential antagonists.” (Simone, p. 419) In experiencing even brief moments of the lived reality around the borders of Jerusalem, I witnessed this transactional nature of the occupation, where Palestinian auto repair shops have signs in both Hebrew and Arabic. My task there wasn’t just to observe, of course. I was also starting an internship at the Riwaq Center, an architectural conservation firm which gained recent international acclaim from one of their projects winning the Aga Khan Award in 2013. Working within old but very much living Palestinian villages, the experience allowed me to reflect on how


we, as planners, position ourselves as experts on the built environment. When we use certain language specific to our profession, who are we convincing, and is this a necessary part of the process? How do these disparities in access to capital and influence affect our work, and do they manifest as a foundational aspect of the colonizing structure of urban studies, embodied in the figure of the ‘expert’ (Holston 2007)? Often, organizations such as Riwaq in developing contexts rely firstly on architectural expertise, rather than on knowledge of planning or historic preservation practice, despite how they’re recently wanting to move beyond their traditional focus on historic architecture. By virtue of their approach, a broad heritage reconstruction value is applied from a western perspective, as there is a newfound economic value in historic buildings and spaces (just look at UNESCO). Almost invariably, projects involving the subaltern and hegemonic “others” involve a heavy reliance on outside investment, and already within the context of a donor-based economy. As with those who write history, those who are given authority or authorship


on interpreting and redesigning spaces from the past are inherently connected to greater privilege, including mine in this experience. Are we, as built environment influencers, inevitably always creating or infringing upon these alleged “shrines of local culture” (Jackson 92)? In trying to better understand the Palestinian perspective, the dismissive othering of a people by targeting their language and cultural values became all too visceral a memory. Having been raised Jewish and in a much more red-state context than New York City, I still remember the fear and hatred peers would attribute to the Arabic script, and common symbols of Arab states. While raised Reform, and thereby surrounded by some conversations on viable twostate solutions, I’ve also been met with orthodox attitudes denying my Jewish heritage. Indeed, disagreements among the diaspora across borders and political spectrums remain a macrocosm of the situation I experienced on the ground. Paralleling this struggle for space is the present-day reality of increasing demand on urban space globally, and how this dictates how much more we

Holston, James. (2007). Citizenship made strange. In: Insurgent Citizenship: Disjunctions of Democracy and Modernity in Brazil. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 5–10. hooks, bell. (1990) “Marginality as a Site of Resistance”, in R. Ferguson et al. (eds), Out There: Marginalization and Contemporary Cultures. Cambridge, MA: MIT, 241-43. “Innovation: Africa.” “Inside East Jerusalem’s Bus System for Palestinians.” inside-east-jerusalems-bus-system-for-palestinians/519339/ Jackson, J. B. (1957) “The Stranger’s Path,” in Landscapes: Selected Writings of J.B. Jackson, Ervin H. Zube, editor. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1970, pp 92-106. Originally published in Landscape, vol 7, no. 1, Autumn 1957. Simone, A. M. (2004). People as Infrastructure: Intersecting Fragments in Johannesburg. Public Culture, 16(3), 407-429. OpenStreetMap Foundation. Weizman, Eyal and Fazal Sheikh. (2015) The Conflict Shoreline: Colonialism as Climate Change in the Negev Desert. Steidl.


which are framed by a perpetual war against an Arab ‘other.’ What’s more tragic is how I still believe there’s even more common ground, both literally and figuratively, between Muslims and Jews than Jews and Christians.

resettle. Our narratives socially construct a “right” to a home, but this experience made me reconsider what we mean by that. Is “home” merely a place where you feel sheltered, both literally and figuratively as being free from fears of eviction, dislocation, or other danger? The experience made it apparent how planners can’t copy and paste best practices everywhere. Even with a world-class light rail, Jerusalem’s transit remains distinctly divided. In many ways, and in particular when it comes to highway construction and eminent domain, Israel has used planning strategies to divide and justify a military 36

occupation of the West Bank. While purporting an environmentalist and very much “green” agenda, their plantings of pine trees across the landscape have only served as an environmental colonization. Moreover, by invoking exceptionalist narratives of the past which position themselves as persistent victims of persecution, Israel has learned nothing from history and remains at the forefront of promoting global Islamophobia today. Rather than working towards a shared future which acknowledges a pluralistic perspective, space is only valorized and planned in terms

I’m not sure I had emotionally prepared myself for the transition back from Palestine into Israel. An hour or so spent queuing through the infamous Qalandiya checkpoint, receiving no trouble thanks to an American passport and Jewish name, and before I knew it I was back in Israel, or at least on another fenced-off highway through parts of the West Bank, where I could see and access the Israeli settlements much easier than the Palestinian villages. Arriving at my hotel in Tel Aviv, rather than being greeted with a shared meal of falafel or fried chicken with new friends and colleagues, there was a luxurious buffet with slightly more similar-looking strangers and news of a recent ISIS attack in Barcelona looping on a loud, big-screen television. I was definitely back from the borderlands and into the west.

Edited by Emily Junker

37 Madeline Berry

Hundred’s of years of development reveal a constantly changing skyscraper-studded Lower Manhattan skyline. Modern flashy buildings rise while aged relics retreat into the Manhattan schist, the foundation allowing the manmade mountains to protrude. A slight glimpse of nature hangs off the Financial District at Battery Park. Created by landfill, the manicured space includes a fort, statues, memorials and an unfettered view of the world beyond. Lying against the East River sits a cluster of 1970’s office towers. Catering to the world’s financial leaders, the buildings’ and their tenants cling to the Financial District through triumph and terror, serenity and flooding. On either side of the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel entrance lie the International Mercantile Marine Company Building and Whitehall Building.

Preserved artifacts each nearly a century old; they await time and surrounding structures to entirely overshadow them. Built through landfill and enormous wealth, Battery Park City lies on Manhattan’s southwest corner. Sitting neatly between the Hudson River and West Street, the neighborhood’s peaceful streets host an indoor shopping mall and thousands of residents and workers. West Street and FDR Drive enclose the remainder of Lower Manhattan. Inventions of Robert Moses, the frequently congested highways’ separate New Yorkers’ from the island’s most prosperous resource; water.

Lower Manhattan’s prominent location on the water sped the flow of development and travel. Millions of people entered America through New York Harbor; gazing at the eternally impressive skyline. Though once bringing hope to New Yorkers’, the sea creeps ever closer. Hurricane Sandy flooded the Lower Manhattan skyline. Sea level rise maps paint a startling picture of a waterfront ¼ mile inland from present. Communities in Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island face more imminent danger. Coney Island, the Rockaways and Midland Beach, like much of New York developed because

Charlie Romanow

A Photo is Worth 729 Words 38

of proximity to water. City government and residents’ face the impossible decision of whether to stay and fight the inevitable or retreat and allocate resources elsewhere. Due to Lower Manhattan’s historical presence and wealth of economic and infrastructural resources, fight they must. Constructed walls and protections slow disaster while New Yorkers’ wait for miracles to appear beyond our lifetime. New York’s strongest asset becomes its greatest foe. As sea level rise gradually shrinks the physical envelope of New York City, the universal nature of climate change brings the shared essence of life to the forefront. The same process affects different corners of the Earth in similar ways. Though having the potential to divide, the existentialist force should instead inspire us to see similarities. The water adjacent to Lower Manhattan allows a view of the reflection of our creations. Together, the most rewarding and hurtful pieces of life manifest themselves in New York. All visitors are able to experience the architectural landscape of the Financial District, but the benefits are

not equally distributed. The early flow of capital through New York Harbor fueled the construction of buildings throughout the City. Further exploration and creation of new markets led to larger and more profitable industries. Maintaining the growth we had become accustomed to required the development of new real estate ventures, such as Battery Park City and Hudson Yards. Once the only place for capital and wealth in New York, the culture of Lower Manhattan spread across all three hundred miles of the City through real estate development and gentrification. The greater the flow to the top, the larger the divide from the bottom. Emma Lazarus famously stated to “give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” Masses continue to wander into and through New York City. Though no longer living in such crowded, squalid conditions life in New York City remains a battleground.

The photo of Lower Manhattan identifies various facets of New York City. Once used as a fortification against invaders of Lower Manhattan, Governors Island now provides an oasis from the dense city it protected. The fence on Governor’s Island obstructs the striking skyline. The water splits the City while engulfing those closest to it. Highways separate New Yorkers’ from the peace and tranquility of the Hudson and East Rivers. The skyline of the Financial District creates an image of prosperity and peace, but blocks the view of poverty and crime beyond. New York has remained resilient and innovative through natural and human-made terrors. The City’s future remains uncertain; belonging in the hands of all users of the City, particularly planners.

Edited by Maria Garces 39

40 Madeline Berry


The editorial staff of URBAN magazine has requested,”...ideas in planning that go above and beyond the limits of traditional planning methods.”A good example,but unfortunately of a bad policy decision ,is the Trump Administration’s upending of infrastructure funding. Here is the story very briefly described for transportation . Since the Highway Act of 1916, the federal government has taken the policy and financial lead in infrastructure funding complemented by funding at the state and local levels. For more than a century the federal government has taken the policy and financial lead in ,beginning with the Highway Act of 1916, the federal government has

taken the policy and financial lead complemented augmented by funding at the state and local levels. This intergovernmental approach makes sense as an appropriate way of promoting interstate commerce. The current transportation fiscal challenge is to provide support for maintaining a state of good repair, normal replacement, while also supporting extensions and expansions of the existing systems. However, with the advent of gridlock government in Washington D.C. and responses that merely “kick the can down the road,” diminished resources and increased needs have resulted in an infrastructure deficit estimated at more than $4 trillion!

Given this dire financial situation, all levels of government and the private sector must be participants to the maximum extent feasible. To respond to this deficit, In addition,an array of innovative financing approaches are needed such as : public-private partnerships, known as 3P, value or congestion pricing, tax increment financing and ,design-build options whichto promote timely completions and to control inflation., among other options, are also needed. With this background,tThe Trump aAdministration’s $1 trillion infrastructure proposal, of which transportation is a part, only includes only $200 billion, of federal funds as an incentive for requiring localities



to raise the additional funding share. Historically, the federal funding share for transportation infrastructure has been greater than well above 50% and up to ,usually in the 80% or range,and even 90% in the 1950’s and 1960’s when the federal government financed the Interstate Highway Systemfor highways. These standard federal funding shares have been deemed an appropriate role for the most affluent intergovernmental partner which is also charged as the lead level of government for promoting interstate commerce throughfor such functions such as : the interstate highway system, high speed rail and or airport construction and expansion,among other programs.

agreed for each state to a funding formula of 25% each from the two states and 50% from the federal government 50% into support of this $30 billion project. The anticipated White House refusal to commit their share of approximately $15 billion will jeopardize theis project. These projects evidence the is decrease in funding action, if implemented ,would be a experienced throughout the country is a great good example of ;a bad policy decision that goes above and beyond the limits of traditional planning methods.

A good example of how this new infrastructure proposal contradicts past patterns and practices is a close to home transportation mega-project;, a proposed rail tunnel under the Hudson River linking the New York and -New Jersey metropolitan areas,which would be the linchpin project of the Boston to Washington northeast rail corridor. After much debate and discussion the two states and U.S.DOT agreed last year

After 107 years of usage, a second set of tunnels are needed to respond to increased ridership. The BostonWashington D.C. railroad corridor rehabilitation and modernization program faces has a giant gap if the tunnel is not funded and upgraded in the next decade. A new tunnel has been studied since the 1990’s going back to a project known as Access to the Region’s Core. Given the sorry situation of state finances this

project could become the hole in the donut if more federal funds are not included. These projects evidence the is decrease in funding action, if implemented ,would be a experienced throughout the country is a great good example of ;a bad policy decision that goes above and beyond the limits of traditional planning methods.

Furthermore, the 1910 tunnel needs an upgrades because it is an aging, poorly maintained, Superstorm Sandy salt waterdamaged piece of transportation infrastructure.

Edited by Charlie Romanow

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