We have previously mentioned, on a number of occasions, the strategy adopted by the city of Boston to tackle the issues of climate change and rising sea levels: instead of just building levees and seawalls, the city is focused on building with the natural environment, by creating parks, wetland areas, and so on, to mitigate the impact of flooding. However, urban development projects at these sites will also make them much more expensive, ensuring only wealthier people are able to live there – a fairly standard type of gentrification. But what of the existing communities in these places? Will they be forced to move? And will their new homes also be protected against the risks of flooding? It is this “climate-driven” gentrification that Boston’s chief of environment, energy and open space is keen to avoid.
➜ The Guardian
What can be done to resist the devastating power of tidal waves that can strike coastline and homes? According to a group of scientific experts, waterfront parks could offer a better solution than protective breakwaters. These landscaped parks are a more cost-efficient solution that will no doubt be of particular interest to less wealthy countries. They also help to preserve the natural environment, or at the very least to create a planned landscape that can also be turned into a promenade area.
➜ The Verge
The World Economic Forum has its own platform providing information about the Covid-19 pandemic, but as reported in our previous newsletter, increasingly thoughts are turning to the post-Covid world and the future of our cities. For example, some are calling for city streets to be redesigned to create more space for cyclists and pedestrians. There were projects of this kind in place before the pandemic struck, and they could now be fast-tracked, as in Paris or San Diego. Others want to see a rethink of our offices and working environments. But looking ahead to the world after Covid also means assessing the different approaches that would enable our cities to generate new jobs, while refocusing on the issues posed by climate change. This is the target set by the task force of 11 mayors from the international network C40 Cities. The mayors represent 11 cities, almost of all which are major port cities! Finally, although there are fears surrounding the possible use of personal information to prevent a second pandemic wave. But new technologies and artificial intelligence also offer some exciting prospects. This leads into the debate about the challenges of the smart city, as raised by Gaetan Siew (UN Habitat special envoy) and Zaheer Allam, two experts whom you will have heard at our world conferences. For them, the current situation is an opportunity to redefine what we see as a better, smarter city, one built on more complex networks that are not just technology-based but human-centric.
Helsinki is aiming to establish its smart city credentials and has identified two key priorities: achieving carbon neutrality by 2035, and becoming the most functional city in the world for the well-being of its residents. As part of this strategy, the former port precinct of Kalasatama is being transformed into an eco-district. Nearly 25,000 residents and 10,000 workers are expected to settle in this area of north-eastern Helsinki by 2030. While the project entails a range of different environmental solutions, the aim is to create a brand new district in full consultation with the population. A sustainable city, designed both for and with citizens, in the words of the deputy director of urban planning.
➜ Smart Grid (1/2) ; Smart Grid (2/2) ; Smart Kalasatama
In our special Covid-19 newsletter on 1 April, we informed you about several international networks of cities that have published online resources to share the measures and solutions adopted by their members in response to the pandemic: Cities for Global Health, EUROCITIES, and the AIMF – the International Association of Francophone Mayors. Others have followed their example, including 150 urban decision-makers who share best practices via the platform UrbanLeague.
Architects and urban planners have also responded, suggesting solutions for building field hospitals from recycled containers, creating clinics, masks, and converting existing buildings into hospitals.
However, the pandemic has also generated a raft of different views about what the future should look like for our cities and our planet. As such, it could be an opportunity to rethink our approach to mobility and modes of travel within cities, taking a fresh look in order to consider issues of health and well-being, or to help us better understand climate change, and even tackle it more effectively.
Is this overly optimistic? Are these new approaches essential or inevitable? The debate is open.
The Moroccan Interior Ministry and the Casablanca Urban Planning Agency have begun examining ways of making the City’s more attractive to visitors, by capitalising on its tourist and economic potential. The project concerns a large area, covering 90 km of coastline, eight administrative territories, the port, a marina, the grand mosque, considerable landscape and built heritage, etc. It will also aim to anticipate natural and climate risks. The ANP (Morocco’s National Ports Agency) has already launched a number of projects for new access routes, the fishing port, the shipyard, and a new cruise terminal. .
➜ Aujourd’hui Le Maroc
Euroméditerranée has signed a framework agreement with the firm Leclercq Associés, partnered with Setec, to act as urban planning and design consultants for specific districts concerned by this vast development project. They will look closely at strategy on housing and public spaces. The wider aim is to design what could be the sustainable Mediterranean city, one capable of meeting the challenges posed by climate change. AIVP members will no doubt want to keep a close eye on the process and the resulting solutions.
(Euroméditerranée and Setec International are both AIVP members).
➜ Le Moniteur ; Euroméditerranée
By 2050, coastal areas will be home to 1.4 billion people and 570 cities, some of them vast megapolises, will be at threat from rising water levels, according to the international network C40. Extreme climatic events will only serve to exacerbate the risk of flooding, to which our port cities are increasingly exposed. In the course of the monitoring we carry out on your behalf, we are increasingly seeing the development of strategies inspired directly or indirectly by the “sponge city” concept. The aim is to restore the ground’s natural capacity to absorb water, a capacity that has been largely lost in our cities as a result of urban development, and the use of concrete and asphalt. The main solutions adopted include using porous materials, creating floodable green spaces, restoring wetland areas, and also treating and storing water for re-use during periods of drought. Chinese port cities are among the first cities to have opted for this approach, along with some major industrial groups such as Suez (a member of AIVP), which is helping Chongqing (China) along this path to becoming a resilient port city.
➜ Demain la ville ; Ejinsight ; Government of Hong Kong ; Wuhan
The three-storey building will house the headquarters of the Global Center on Adaptation (GCA), which works on measures to adapt to climate change. A whole range of solutions have been included to make the building self-sufficient and carbon-neutral: all-wood construction, green roof with solar panels, dock water used for air-conditioning, etc. The solutions are not only in line with the GCA’s own purpose, but can help all port cities to meet goal number 1 of the AIVP 2030 Agenda. The building is due to open at the end of 2020 in the Rijnhaven dock.
➜ Archpaper ; Archdaily