Category: Urban design

Why children walk less ?

50 – 70 years ago (not so long), most of children were coming back from school walking alone. It is illustrated in movies: ‘mon oncle’ Tati, or ‘La guerre des boutons’ Yves Robert. Now, most of them come back in cars with the parents.

Studies show that kids walk less and less: survey in 2008 in Languedoc-Roussillon estimate ‘70% of all movement of a child between 6 to 14, are in cars.’

(on the graph bellow: ….. Walk – Cars __ )


Don’t go to far

Why did they not walk more ? Because they are forbidden.

Le médecin britannique William Bird, doctor in Britain, showed it with the exemple of a family, comparing the radius of the area where people were allowed to walk as a 8 years old child on 4 generations.

  • in 2007,  Ed Thomas could go alone at the end of his street, less than 300m of his house.
  • in 1979, his mom, could go to the swimming pool, 800m of his home.
  • in 1950, his grand father could go the the forest, more than 1.5km of his home.
  • in 1919, his grand grand father, could go fishing at more than 10km.

Young kids are not forbidden to walk, but face a lot of bans. They can’t go over some spacial borders around the house, like a tree or another house. Most often a 10 years old child can’t go on the other side of the road (Pascal Legué, urbanist and anthropologue).

Because of cars

Since the XIX century, kids starts to loose a social function in town (Philippe Ariès, historian), moreover, it is in the XX century that starts the desertion of streets by kids. The kids who run and play in streets, disappear from our imaginary, and we saw them in reserved space, as parcs, playground, or halls. For the historian it is the fault of cars and urbanists, who builded cities for adults who have a car. Because a young kid doesn’t have the ability to react against the speed of a car, we removed the right to access the city.

On the graph bellow:
– space for 7-13 years old
– limit of the distance for 7-10 years old
– limit of the distance for 11-13 years old


Transformation to our relationship to the world

These modifications have important conséquences on children. We notice that they have less endurance than 30 years ago: physical aptitude decrease of 2% every 10 years, although studies shows that a walking daily and continuously, could  check this deterioration.

To give back the right to walk, urbanist Thierry Paquot propose to forbidden cars around school 15 minutes before and after the start and finish of the day. He also propose to rethink the entrance of the schools: where they installed barriers to move away childs from car parks: the space could become a space for exchange and play, garden could be developed in order to create a common intergenerational life space. Instead we think for cars and confines everyone on a reserved space.

I wrote it being inspired by a french article on the subject in Rue89.

Depth mapped pedestrian profiles

Created by Basel collective UNDEF, User 632 is an installation that stores the behaviour of the people who look at it by monitoring them in return. The installation is designed to know when and how a person passes by or if they stop on the way. All data is being tracked and displayed publicly where passersby are stored as an annonymous number without any hints to their identities. Whoever comes to close to the camera though will be stored with a photograph next to their id.

The installation uses openFrameworks and is made up of three Kinect depth cameras that constantly look for movements which are then reduced to a simple directional line in space. When a visitor enteres a specific area, the algorithm is looking for a face. As soon as one is found a countdown appears that shows the time until a photo is taken automatically. At the same time the time a user is in the visible area is stored. This data (time, path and eventually image) are stored in a database, interpreted and displayed as realtime statistics.

From Creativeapplications

Smart Highway

“Glowing Lines uses photo-luminescent paint to mark out the edges of the road, and is the first of five concepts to be realised from Dutch designer Daan Roosegaarde’s Smart Highway project – designed to make highways safer while saving money and energy.

Developed with infrastructure firm Heijmans, the paint absorbs solar energy during the day then illuminates at night. “Here the landscape becomes an experience of light and information,” said Studio Roosegaarde in a statement. “As a result this increases visibility and safety.” The lines are now installed along the N329 route in Oss for an initiative called Road of the Future. Three glowing green lines run along each side of the dual carriageway and illuminate every night.

Rooegaarde described driving along the section of road at night as “going through a fairy tale”. The project was first announced at Dutch Design Week 2012, and has since undergone a series of tests to gauge durability and user experience.

It was presented by Roosegaarde at the Design Indaba conference in Cape Town in 2013 and received an INDEX: Award later the same year.”

From dezeen

The Berlin Wall Is Going Back Up


“When the Berlin Wall was built back in 1961, it literally went up overnight. Constructed first out of just barbed wire, then supplemented with concrete walls, landmines, and watch towers, the mauer split Berlin in half for nearly 30 years, until it one of the biggest bureaucratic gaffes of all time caused the wall to come down earlier than expected in 1989. To mark the anniversary of the fall of the wall, Berlin will once again cut the city in half starting in the middle of the night on November 7. But this time, it won’t be done with barbed wire–it’ll be done with balloons full of light.

Designed by light artist Christopher Bauder and film maker Marc Bauder, Lichtgrenze is a nearly 10-mile installation which will feature around 8,000 glowing white orbs, marking the original path of the Berlin Wall through the city. For two whole days, the German capital will once again be split between East and West, at least metaphorically.

Situated at six key locations along the path, Lichtgrenze will display historical footage of what was life in those areas while the wall was up. In addition, every 500 feet along the wall, visitors will be able to find personal anecdotes, memories, and stories–100 in total–from people who lived on both sides of the Wall, or whose lives were affected by it in some way.

The Lightgrenze will stay erected until November 9 at 7 p.m., at which point thousands of volunteers (called balloon patrons) will attach personal messages to the balloons and then disconnect their strings, sending the lit balloons streaking into the sky. But no need to worry about the environmental impact here: the balloons have been specially designed for the event by researchers at the University of Hannover to make sure that they are completely biodegradable.”  From Fastcodesign

Swimming pool toys

A way to modify the experience of a space, creation of a different world. But why ?

Canadian design collective Les Astronautes has lined a disused alley in Quebec with hundreds of protruding pool noodles.

“The intervention takes advantage of the anonymity and the narrowness of the site,” the trio said. “The contrast with the historical surroundings attracts people to discover this forgotten space in the city.”

They lined the length of the passage between two buildings with wooden panels that reach well above head height. Hundreds of pink and orange tube-shaped pool noodles, normally used for staying afloat in the swimming pool, are slotted through holes in the pink-painted panels so they droop into the alley.

“The piece creates a total environment that throws passers-by into a completely different world,” said the designers. Visitors walking between the colourful walls can touch and hide amongst the foam tubes, which were positioned in patterns across the surfaces using software including Grasshopper and Rhino.

“The large number of pool noodles generates a colourful atmosphere reminiscent of summer that also has something uncanny, organic and lifelike, almost like vines in a jungle,” the designers said. From Dezeen

100 colors


The main interest in this project is to create ‘something’ to allow people to escape from the reality. Sometime it is good enough to don’t have other purpose that giving happiness, or well being. To bring back to David Steindl-Rast theory: Stop Look Go. Be great full.

“Emmanuelle Moureaux first conceived a floating volume of ’100 colors’ in 2013 for the shinjuku creators festa, delivering a massive suspended cloud of brilliant hues created from 840 sheets of paper from japanese paper manufacturer takeo. for the 2014 edition of the event, the french-born, toyko-based creative took her ’100 colors’ outdoors, transforming the water plaza in shinjuku central park; bringing a vibrancy to the urban site where high rise buildings soar in the background. this second installation was crafted instead from textiles — each of the 1875 strands have been individually hand-dyed — a medium which encouraged the entirety of the work to capture light breezes and sway in the wind. The brilliant tones layered with the surrounding skyscrapers, created quite the scene, bringing forth a breathtaking scene which encourages people to stop for a moment, and escape from their reality.” From Designboom

David Mesguich

“In a obsessional way David travels cities and develops an atypical mapping by focusing his interest for all which,in those spaces of passage separates and divides up. By drawing and by monumental installations in-situ that he re-appropriates some parcels of those aseptic territoriesHe turns his gaze to our world-cities, through which we construct our thoughts, identities, individual existences and even poetic speech. It is not that we find ourselves succumbing to the power of denial; the desire to reject the universe in which we are always, and undeniably a part of. On the contrary, we must seek to get through it as we can, to pass by the rifts, to follow through the arteries of our existence, to explore its folds. It’s a question of making live the movement of an eye which uses trickery with the objectives of CCTV, which challenges the modes of control and which tries to open the perspectives of a singular vision.”
“The story of “pressure” it’s the story of people who are on the fence, inbetween worlds, those who are both on the inside and on the outside.”

What if we were removing all the traffic lights ?


I came across a very interesting study in the book Ground control going against an idea firmly fixed in ‘everyone’s’ mind.  To resolved security on the streets and roads most of people will be tended to install all kind of signage, barriers, traffic lights, to separate the different kind of users (cyclists, pedestrians, drivers…).  A Dutch engineer, Hans Monderman, proved that all these artefacts intended to keep pedestrians and motorists apart and discourage both groups from engaging with each other, making interactions dangerous (Minton, 2009, p. 179). Experiences tend to prove that by removing all signs and protective objects the number of accident decrease drastically (44%), as it forces people ‘to look each other in the eye, to judge body language and learn to take responsibility’ (Minton, 2009, p. 181).

Source: Minton, A. (2009). Ground control. London: Penguin Group.

Pink Street

Architects: Jose Adrião Arquitectos
Location: Rua Nova do Carvalho, Lisbon, Portugal
Design Team: Carla Gonçalves, Ricardo Aboim Inglez, Tiago Pereira
Project Year: 2012




” From the architect. In December 2011 Nova do Carvalho Street [Rua Nova do Carvalho] in Cais do Sodré was painted in pink colour. The gesture of painting a street in pink synthesizes in a very pragmatic and effective way the need for change. It created a dynamic public space, inclusive, opened and multifunctional which enables access to one of the most precious values of our time: information. At Pink Street one produces, shares and consumes culture.

The colour announced a change of which a significant number of people adhere. Nova do Carvalho Street at Cais do Sodré was named Pink Street. The proposal aims to strengthen the character established with the previous intervention, giving ot continuity and permanency.

The proposal consists of levelling the sidewalk with the road so as to turn the existing space in a public space without continuous barriers. Along the street 8 MUPIS are assembled, which can be used for exhibitions (individual/collectives, night/day) or simple to advertise for events taking place. The 8 MUPIS can be used as well as street lamps, in case they information/exhibition contained apart from light. These lamps may change its tonality according to the character of the event they are associated with.”  from Archdaily

Rune Guneriussen


” Rune Guneriussen, born 1977, in Norway. Education from Surrey Institute of Art & Design in England. Live and work in eastern Norway. Is an artist working in the transition between installation and photography. As a conceptual artist he works site specific, primarily in nature. The work on objects started in 2005, and has been photographed on locations all over Norway.

It is not as much photography as it is about sculpture and installation. The long oneman work on an largescale installation is a process triggering the artistic genom. This process involves the object, story, space and most important the time it is made within. It is an approach to the balance between nature and human culture, and all the sublevels of our own excistence. The work is made solely on site, and the photographs represents the reality of the installation itself.

As an artist he believes strongly that art itself should be questioning and bewildering as opposed to patronising and restricting. As opposed to the current fashion he does not want to dictate a way to the understanding of his art, but rather indicate a path to understanding a story. ”  From his web site