Things Are Good: How Pressure from Pedestrians and Cyclists Make Better Cities

Depending on where you live you may think streets are for people or for cars. The correct answer is that streets are for moving people and not built for the need of inanimate objects. In an interesting series of videos the Toronto Star’s Christopher Hume examines the different urban design decisions between suburban and urban ...

Things Are Good: Turning Homes Into Business Could Save the Suburbs

The suburbs are an energy-intensive housing solution that started in North America and has spread worldwide. The appeal of the tract housing the very thing that makes the suburbs detrimental to society: large lots, expansive houses, low density, and that they are reliant on individual use automobiles. With the mounting pressure of rapid climate change ...

Things Are Good: Building the WikiHouse of the Future

Affordable housing is a problem for every country and over the years there have been initiatives to lower the cost of being a home, today some of those are efforts in digitization. The WikiHouse project is all about lowering the cost to design a house by providing people the files needed to plan and build ...

Things Are Good: Building a City From Mushrooms

Climate change is destroying many parts of the world, which increases pressure on cities and farms to make more use of less space. Building flood walls will only buy so much time and the use of energy-intensive building materials contributes to faster climate change. This might sound like a catch-22, but it isn’t. We have ...

Things Are Good: Celebrating Resiliency

The Rockefeller Foundation has produced a new documentary celebrating areas humans live in that are designed to be resilient to climate change. By building our cities and countries around the concept of resiliency we can better prepare for what’s ahead when it comes to unpredictable and extreme weather. It’s design thinking applied on a ecosystem ...

Things Are Good: Incremental Design to Address Housing Inequality

Basically every nation has basic housing problems that need to be addressed. Chilean architect Alejandro Aravena won this year’s Pritzker Architecture Prize because of his work on community housing. It wasn’t just the buildings that got him the prize, it’s the fact that he and his team worked with locals to bring change to the community in a new ...

Things Are Good: Timber Towers

Skyscrapers have been made out of concrete, glass, and steel since the first skyscraper was built. Before these building materials were used it was impossible to build that high – wood wouldn’t cut it. Wood wasn’t strong enough so steel had to be used for the core support structure. Thanks to new techniques, that we’ve ...

Things Are Good: Architecture Should Be A Story

For architect Ole Scheeren, the people who live and work inside a building are as much a part of that building as concrete, steel and glass. He asks: Can architecture be about collaboration and storytelling instead of the isolation and hierarchy of a typical skyscraper? Visit five of Scheeren’s buildings — from a twisted tower ...

Things Are Good: A Tiny, Efficient, Affordable, and Inexpensive House

It’s often argued that providing homes to people will alleviate poverty, the problem is that homes are insanely expensive. Many attempts at making cheap house have happened but most meet with little success because of a litany of reasons. The material cost of a building aren’t the burden – instead it’s everything else. A new ...

Things Are Good: Preparing Suburbia for Disasters

The suburbs are not resilient places when it comes to disasters or having to quickly change to accommodate new realities. At Nautilus they have dedicated their recent issue to the concept of “home” and they looked at the monotony of the suburbs. The article explores how the suburbs serve to be a place for dwelling ...

Things Are Good: Why We (Still) Need To Change The Suburbs

The suburbs are massive urban design problem because they have a large footprint. The footprint is evident in the energy inefficiencies present in suburban design from sprawl to increased costs. To reduce the footprint and build more environmentally friendly neighbourhoods will cost a lot and some people are debating whether or not we should just ...

Things Are Good: The Slow City, The Good Life

Cities are often associated with the hustle and bustle of life and commerce. Whereas the countryside is associated with stillness and slowness. One author, William Powers, decided to see what life is like when you treat the city as a slow place akin to the countryside. Just like Thoreau, he wrote a book about it. ...

Things Are Good: Redistribute Neighbourhoods Instead of Wealth

People hate taxes despite the fact that basically every person who studies economics knows they are needed and a great way to spur economic success. Despite the fact taxes are needed and good at helping poorer people in society, taxes are hated. As a result, some researchers in the USA have looked into alternative ways ...

Things Are Good: Why Urban Areas Are More Efficient Than Suburban Areas

It’s been known for years that urban centres have a lower carbon footprint than the lands of urban sprawl. This is a for a variety of reasons and it’s rather complex, sure most of it comes down to density, but the exact know how is still being figure out. Over at Alternatives Journal they looked ...

Things Are Good: Berlin’s New Rent Laws Helping People Faster than Predicted

In cities all over the world housing people is an issue and some cities have it worse than others. In Berlin, where things weren’t awful they decided they waned to stop a downward trend that cropped up in the rental market. Renters were confronted with a market that was inhumane and the city took action. ...

Things Are Good: Using Bacteria to Make Buildings Healthier

A new field of research, that doesn’t even have a proper name yet, is looking into ways we can incorporate biology into our built environment. It turns out the bacteria and germs found in our indoor worlds are vastly different than those found in natural environments. It makes me wonder what are we inadvertently breeding ...

Things Are Good: Urban Living Cheaper, More Sustainable Than Suburban

Years of car-focused suburban designs have unleashed problems in the 21st century that we will have to deal with and accommodate. The years of the suburbs are coming to an end and it can’t be soon enough. With every passing years more and more municipalities discover that urban design is the better choice. The above ...

Things Are Good: Copenhagen Designed a Neighbourhood to Cope With Climate Change

Climate change is happening faster than projected and this means that cities need to react sooner than anticipated. We’ve seen efforts in New York that will create barriers against rising sea levels and other cities have done similar infrastructure improvements. Copenhagen has taken the next logical step: converting an existing neighbourhood into one ready for ...

Things Are Good: Painting Neighbourhoods

Artists Jeroen Koolhaas and Dre Urhahn create community art by painting entire neighborhoods, and involving those who live there — from the favelas of Rio to the streets of North Philadelphia. What’s made their projects succeed? In this funny and inspiring talk, the artists explain their art-first approach — and the importance of a neighborhood ...

Things Are Good: This Classroom Makes More Energy Than it Consumes

Anderson Anderson Architecture has built a classroom in Hawaii that generates more energy than it consumes, making what they call a “energy positive” building. The term “energy positive” is being encouraged to replace “net zero” as the benchmark for environmental consciousness in architecture. The classroom does use roof solar panels to generate energy, though the ...

Things Are Good: A Rebel Architect in Vietnam Creates Green Space

Al Jazeera has a series on rebel architects who are improving the world around them. In the documentary they released today they look at award-winning architect Vo Trong Nghia’s work in reshaping Vietnamese buildings to contain more green space. This film follows Nghia as he tries to find support for his vision to create a ...

Things Are Good: Emergency Shelter Packaged Like a Coffee Cup

Reaction Call to Action from Reaction on Vimeo. Reaction is a new company which recently crowd funded enough money to send a boatload of housing to help refugees fleeing the conflict in Syria. The company makes Exo shelters which are stackable and easily shippable emergency shelters that can be deployed to areas suffering a disaster. ...

Things Are Good: Better Urban Design Can Increase Happiness and Sexiness

Obesity is a growing problem in North America and it looks like this health issue will continue to grow. There are many contributing factors to what’s referred to as an obesity epidemic, and some designers think that we can curb at least one contributing factor: poor urban planning. Not coincidentally, places with a higher proportion ...

Things Are Good: Building Better Homes for Refugees

Ikea’s charitable arm has used the expertise of the cheap furniture manufacturer to design a better housing unit for refugees with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). Hopefully these designs will help people around the world who are living in poor conditions. The Refugee Housing Unit started working on a project to develop emergency shelters in ...

Things Are Good: Save the Environment, Live in a City

The IEEE Spectrum recently interview William Meyer who is the author of the book The Environmental Advantages of Cities: Countering Commonsense Antiurbanism. The book’s central thesis is that we need to change the discourse around cities from a negative one to a more positive conversation about the efficiencies of cities compared to lower density areas. ...