Apr 26, 2014

coulée verte

above street level in the 12th arrondissement, the promenade plantée runs for 4.7 kilometres along the disused track of the vincennes railway from the bastille to the bois de vincennes. it has done this since 1993, when it first opened to the public. workmanlike benches abound, under arbours of rose and ivy, between stands of peony and under the canopies of surprisingly large trees. where stairs descend to the street, sometimes there are quiet intermediary squares of open space filled with geometric arrangements of shade plantings. some people sit and read. other people are carrying their shopping. there are very few people with big cameras. there are regrettably few dogs. in the jardin de reuilly, above which the promenade vaults, there is a pick-up rugby game, a swarm of kindergarteners playing ghost, sunbathers, snoozing folk of all ages, and a water-pipe party. this is not the high line format of urban linear park, but it is just as good.

Apr 19, 2014

high contrast

kattenburgerstraat, amsterdam

Apr 7, 2014

loan fruits

c/ benet mateu, 62.

Apr 3, 2014

thorn hedge

To sit in the sun and read Columella on how to plant a thorn hedge is a pleasure I had to teach myself. No, I was teaching myself something else, and the thorn hedge came, wisely, to take its place. They're longer lasting than stone walls and have an ecology all their own. Birds nest in them and snails use them for a world. Hedgehogs, rabbits, snakes, spiders. Brier rose, dog thorn. There are some in England still standing from Roman times.
"the hunter gracchus," guy davenport

Apr 1, 2014

stacking spaces

on two visits, we met two different halves of the cøffee lab and shop on passatge sert in barcelona. but we only found this out by accident.

the first time we visited, jordi mestre, owner of nomad coffee productions made us a v60 out of a prototype roast of colombian beans from la esperanza—the profile was light as is the mode these days, but sweet too, with red fruit. on our second visit, kim ossenblok made us a chemex from kochere roasted by nomad (intense blueberry, as is sometimes the case). as he poured, one of us asked if he was a partner in nomad. of course not. turns out, kim runs a cupping and training studio. in the same space, during only partly overlapping hours, nomad roasters also has a retail space and coffeeshop. kim tells us it is "like a coffee coworking space," but it isn't really coworking.

we don't have a good word or phrase yet to describe an arrangement in which multiple businesses occupy the same space at different times of the day or week (or even the year). so i'm going to coin one: let's call them stacked spaces. kim says, "it is a good way to have a physical space to work. for me, a space to teach about coffee. for jordi [from nomad], a place to show his coffee. it's not always easy to find people you can share a space with, but we are lucky. it works. i have what i need, jordi has what he needs. the cafe doesn't even have to be so profitable because we've all got something else going on ... it is more efficient to use the space this way."

stacked spaces reduce rental cost and operational risk for the businesses that occupy them. many east asian and south-east asian cities have acquired stacked spaces purely out of a combination of laissez-faire regulation, high rents, and dense population—and in cities like singapore or tokyo, stacked spaces contribute to urban vitality and adaptability. similar patterns are now emerging in manhattan, london, and paris, mostly in the interstitial spaces that are not carefully managed or regulated in conventional ways. this is the shape of one type of urban innovation.

it is fair to say that city planners, city governments, large property developers, and property managers are not yet in on this game—but they should be.