韧性城市的建设

关于城市的概念有很多,智慧城市,可持续城市,绿色城市,包含了人们对未来的各种美好期望。伦敦的未来城市创新中心Future Cities Catapult对种种概念还专门做了研究“What are Future Cities: Meanings, Origins and Uses”,探讨不同的概念与语言对城市发展有怎样的影响。

应该怎样发展未来的城市,不同的机构从各自的立场来看,自然关注不同的焦点。不过在各种潜在灾害威胁下,保证人类社会的生存且正常运转下去是大前提。归根结底城市的韧性是根本,在此基础上我们才可能研究其它的潜能,绿色也好,创新也好,智慧也好。韧性的概念最早是由ICLEI于2002年在联合国可持续发展全球峰会上提出的,这两年更是因为洛克菲勒基金会的100韧性城市项目而备受关注。

100 Resilient Cities

100 Resilient Cities by Rockefeller Foundation

洛克菲勒基金会对韧性的定义是:

“the capacity of individuals, communities, institutions, businesses and systems within a city to survive, adapt, and grow no matter what kinds of chronic stresses and acute shocks they experience”
城市里的个人,社区,机构,商业以及系统在经历无论何种慢性应激或急性休克时都能够存活,适应并发展的能力

对于通过评审获准加入100联盟的城市,洛克菲勒基金会除了提供资金援助外,还将协同合作伙伴提供各种专业支持。目前加入合作平台的公司机构有:

其中Palantir是专注大数据分析的硅谷高科技公司,虽然因其与美国安全与情报部门的关系而备受争议,但也与慈善人道机构有广泛的合作,并在灾难救援反面积累了不少经验。2013年11月的海燕飓风后,Palantir在新加坡搭建了基于云的平台整合来自各个渠道的信息,包括联合国人道主义事务协调厅的报告,卫星图像,气象信息,地理信息,新闻社的消息等等,以便于现场工作人员协调与决策。为了应对通讯中断的可能性,Palantir还准备了可以运行在笔记本上的单机版本。此外现场的救援人员还配备了Mimosa,一个通过卫星通讯的移动Palantir版本,利用GPS来定位人员,从现场发送来的信息也实时的标记在地图上。

Raven with live data from Tacloban

Palantir公司的地理空间数据分析产品Raven里的菲律宾Tacloban实时数据 (图片来源 Palantir)

raven_mimosa_test

Mimosa测试截图 (图片来源 Palantir)

目前已经公布的33个城市名单中并没有中国城市的身影,但这并不表明我们不需要建设城市的韧性。根据联合国国际减灾战略署的数据,1992年的里约热内卢地球峰会之后的20年里(1992-2012),中国的受灾人数为全球之首高达25亿人次,128298人死于灾难,损失共达3310亿美元。韧性城市对中国来说应该是首要的任务,不管我们的经济发展有多么迅速,如果没有在规划的阶段就加入韧性的考量制订相关策略,灾害来临的时候我们承受的不仅仅是经济损失,而是更多的生命的代价。

UNISDR的全球受灾人数 1992-2012 (图片来源 UNISDR)

全球受灾人数 1992-2012 (图片来源 UNISDR)

Screen Shot 2014-11-10 at 14.32.21

全球受灾财政损失 1992-2012 (图片来源 UNISDR)

Screen Shot 2014-11-10 at 14.32.28

全球受灾死亡人数 1992-2012 (图片来源 UNISDR)

2011年,国内外10个城市的市长共同签署的《成都行动宣言》为提高城市韧性勾勒出了路线图,这显然是个很好的开始。同时,我们应该建设更大的平台以便更多的城市可以共同探讨韧性城市的建设并分享经验。这正是洛克菲勒基金会的100韧性城市项目所希望达到的,帮助参与城市聘任专门的首席韧性事务官,提供平台使他们可以分享交流经验,并由基金会以及其合作伙伴提供各种专业知识与服务。城市的韧性与我们每个人的未来都息息相关,相关的信息应该被及时发布,以便公众了解讨论和参与。我非常期待能有中国城市参与下一路的100韧性城市的评选,能在未来将其收获的经验分享到国内的更多城市。

延续阅读
– Palantir How we’re building an information infrastructure for typhoon Haiyan response operations
– Can bid data save lives
– 联合国国际减灾战略署的中国统计数据

The Future of Work

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I’ve been reading “Remote: Office Not Required” by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson and I love it! These guys from Basecamp (previously 37Signals) are always able to summarize how I feel, just like what they’ve done in their previous book “Rework”. “Exactly!” was the most common comment when reading their books.

Their argument feels so reasonable that you start to wonder why everybody is not doing it already. Of course remote working is not practical for every type of role but it’s hard to argue most of office jobs can be done remotely.

Besides the obvious personal gains such as less time and money spent on commute, I can easily think of a few areas where remote working can be beneficial to the bigger picture.

Ease the housing crisis with more options available to people
With remote working, you no longer need to worry about commute when deciding where to live. You don’t have to squeeze in the small yet expensive flat near tube station, but to make decision based on the best living experience your budget can afford. There will be less room for investors to speculate and the price can reflect the true value of a property.

Rebuild the lost community spirit
Since very likely you will spend most of your time in the neighborhood, a lively and friendly neighborhood is probably where you want to settle down. You’ll be more interested in building the community spirit and will also actually have time for it.

Reduce total volume of traffic
After removing a big chunk of commute, traffic during peak time will be more manageable and more distributed. The total demand for transportation will be reduced and focus can be put on running public transportation on a more energy efficient model.

More space for residence, culture and community
If remote working becomes the norm, we won’t need so much commercial office space. They can be instead turned into space for residence or other purpose. What we need more is multi-purpose space which has a higher utilization. Coffee shops, libraries and culture centers can all double as remote office.

London already has the infrastructure required to support remote working. Most people have broadband at home. Even if you don’t, coffee shops with WiFi are springing up like mushrooms through the city. Public hotspots are everywhere. Libraries and cultural centers like Barbican and Southbank offer many seats for public to use. Coworking spaces are available to rent for those who prefer a fixed desk. Even survey says UK is leading other European countries on flexible working, it hardly feels this way. You just need to (try to) jump onto any tube/train during peak hour in London and you’ll have the same doubt. So we have the right to require flexible working, but we need companies and government to take up the initiative rather than us fighting for the right to do so on an individual basis.

If you, like many people, are tired of the weather, food and high living cost in London, remote working allows you to become a nomad. Move to where your family is, where the sun and good food is. According to Nomadlist, London has a disappointing (but not surprising!) score of -86 where Berlin gets 15 and Lison has 46. Chiang Mai in Thailand currently has the highest score of 138 points. Do you love Thai food?

Sir Richard Branson is allowing his staff to take as much holiday as like, and Mexican billionair Carlos Slim is calling for three-day working week. Whether you agree with these change or not, It’s clear that the current model of work will change, even if we’re not switching to remote working immediately.

南岸长存

Long Live Southbank Source: LLSB

Long Live Southbank Source: LLSB

南岸(Southbank),泰晤士河的南岸,一般指的是与西敏寺隔岸相望,南岸艺术中心周围的区域。

南岸艺术中心(Southbank Centre)是包含了皇家节日音乐厅(Royal Festival Hall),伊丽莎白女皇音乐厅(Queen Elizabeth Hall),Purcell音乐厅(Purcell Room),Hayward画廊(Hayward Gallery)以及Saison诗歌图书馆(Saison Poetry Library)的综合艺术中心。

Undercroft是伊丽莎白女皇音乐厅下的一片水泥柱撑起来的空间,40多年来一直是英国滑板爱好者的圣地。在原本粗野主义建筑风格的基础上,经过无数涂鸦艺术家的创作,这里已经成为南岸独具特色的一片小天地。每次还未走近就可以听到咣当咣当的滑板落地声,也经常可以看到围观的游客,还有跃跃欲试的小朋友们。

伊丽莎白女皇音乐厅 Source: Wikipedia

伊丽莎白女皇音乐厅 Source: Wikipedia

Undercroft  By T.frewin (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Undercroft By T.frewin (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

几个月前在南岸才第一次听说了Undercroft面临要被挪移的危险,滑板少年们自发成立了非盈利组织Long Live Southbank来反抗这片区域的商业开发计划。9月底就收到他们的好消息,南岸艺术中心与区政府已经同意放弃挪移Undercroft的计划并保证滑板爱好者及所有其他人可以长期免费使用这块空间。我并非什么滑板运动爱好者,除了签名也没为他们提供什么更多的帮助,不过这一民间自发的抵抗商业开发计划运动的胜利还是让人倍受鼓舞。虽然我相信他们也得到了专业人士的帮助与指点,可是想象一群年轻人,要在短短的时间内组织起来,从头学习政府的流程并按照他们的游戏规则来提交异议收集证据寻求支持筹集资金与政府和商业代表谈判斡旋,并取得最后的胜利,这一事件本身可以带给我们很多启发。提出异议并不难,难的是要利用对方制定的游戏规则来“合理”的达到自己的目的。

简单概括的时间轴:

19673月          伊丽莎白女皇音乐厅开放
20133月          南岸艺术中心公布了12亿英镑的改造计划,准备把Undercroft挪移到附近另一区域并讲现址开发成商业单元
20134月          Long Live Southbank成立,旨在维持Undercroft的现状,反对商业再开发计划
20135月          LLSB向Lambeth区政府提交了将Undercroft列为绿色村(Village Green)的申请
20137月          LLSB提交的将Undercroft区域列为社区价值资产(Asset of Community Value)的申请获Lambeth区政府批准
20137月          工党议员Kate Hoey向议会提交了有4万多人签名的反对再开发计划的抗议书
20141月          LLSB向Lambeth区政府提交了其收集的27286份反对意见书。当天上百名滑板人从Undercroft出发滑行了3公里亲手递交了这些反对意见书
20141月          伦敦市长Boris Johnson公开发表了他对LLSB的支持
20142月          南岸艺术中心暂时搁置了再开发计划
20149月          LLSB与南岸艺术中心及Lambeth区政府签订协议。在南岸艺术中心保证保持Undercroft现状的前提下,双方撤回了各自正在进行中的其他法律程序(南岸艺术中心的反对Undercroft被列为社区价值资产的申请,LLSB的将Undercroft列为Village Green的申请)
20149月          南岸艺术中心宣布将利用其从文化遗产彩票基金(Heritage Lottery Fund)获得的490万镑以及从艺术委员会(Arts Council)获得的1670万镑经费来进行伊丽莎白女皇音乐厅,Purcell音乐厅及Hayward画廊的维修工程,在新的计划中将维持与LLSB签证的协议维持Undercroft现状

从下面这段LLSB出品的短片里你可以看到Undercroft是怎样一个有活力深受喜欢的场所,我们幸运的得以捍卫它存留在南岸的权利。

Zhang Yue and his yet to be built Sky City

Zhang Yue, a Chinese billionaire who was the first Chinese to own a private jet, now wants to build a 838m Sky City in less a year using pre-fabricated units to promote his ideal and technology on sustainable building.

Sky City, source: Broad Group

Sky City, source: Broad Group

The man has the same name as my dad. Yue (跃), a common name for men of their generation, means “leap”. It probably refers to the Great Leap Forward (大跃进) campaign in the late 50s when everyone in China was encouraged to work hard to achieve rapid industrialization. Despite the huge social and economic changes in the recent decades, some of their generation still remain a little bit of revolutionary romanticism that can no longer be found in the younger generations. Even the song he commissioned, Song of Sustainable Building Soldiers, reminds me of the early Russian songs that my parents used to play so often at home.

Wired has a good report by Lauren Hilgers on Zhang Yue and the Sky City that he’s trying to build. At the time of that report, Broad Group was planning to lay the foundation in November 2012 and complete the project in March 2013. While in reality, as of now it still hasn’t started. Broad Group signed a 5.25 billion contract with The Fifth Engineering Division of China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC) in July 2013 but since then there have been lots of obstacles on the project, most of which are safety concerns from the government. It was reported in July this year that the construction site had been temporarily  turned into watermelon field while the project team worked on revising fire safety design in order to obtain approval from the relevant government body.

To many the idea of Sky City is crazy. Leaving aside the safety concerns, it’s dubious whether anyone would ever want to live and work and spend all their time in the same skyscraper. Even if there was such a group of target audience, given the bureaucracy in China (like what Finnish professor Eero Paloheimo experienced when he tried to push his Eco Valley project in China, which consists of the other story line in documentary Ecopolis China), it’s hard to imagine the Sky City can be realised according to its original plan. However, I still believe there’s a positive influence by Zhang Yue and his consistent pursuit of environment protection and sustainable building. Like he said in interviews, we don’t lack advocate. It’s already widely understood that we have an environmental crisis and someone has to do something about it. What we don’t know is who is this someone and what is this something. Zhang Yue is a doer. Even if his ideas are crazy and far from perfect, he’s got the will and execution power to do what he believes is right. It’s much better than just sit and wait for the perfect plan.

Key Indicators of Sky City

Key Indicators of Sky City, Source: Broad Group

Ecopolis China was shown in as part of City Visions, a Barbican programme of films, talks and debates looking at modern city and the experience of urban life.

一起来乓!

上上周日在雷克雅未克碰到了一个很有趣的活动,只要有能上网的智能手机,就可以每晚在音乐厅Harpa的立面上玩乓(Pong)这个游戏。Harpa Pong这个项目是由Atli Bollason和Owen Hindley合作完成的。不过这个项目得以实现,也是因为构成音乐厅立面的三维类砖石结构里已经安装了可以单独编程控制的LED灯管。Owen把代码公开在GitHub上,有兴趣的可以参考研究一下。

互动立面不是什么新概念,2010年有欧洲多个城市参与的Media Facade Festival就邀请了许多艺术家利用投影以及LED户外屏幕创作与大众互动的作品,其中西班牙的Lummo工作室就利用了位于马德里的Medialab Prado的数字立面创造了俄罗斯方块的舞台,游戏者必须移动身体来控制方块的走向。比起通过手机控制,这应该能更容易激起大家参与的热情吧。

虽然我们兴致勃勃的在最后一晚赶去Harpa,本想着可以看到激烈的乓大战,结果瑟瑟寒风中除了我们没有别人,也没看到Vodafone的红色设备卡车,只能靠着网上找来的视频来想像一下乓大战时的热闹景象了。
 

Harpa音乐厅(图片来源Harpa官网)

Harpa音乐厅(图片来源Harpa官网)

伦敦的”漂浮村”

2012年威尼斯建筑双年展上,英国的参展项目是Venice Takeaway。10个团队在10个国家进行了研究并希望他们的成果可以对英国本土有借鉴意义。去年在英国皇家建筑师协会RIBA,这个展览被搬回了伦敦开放给公众参观。其中最吸引我的是建筑事务所dRMM的关于荷兰水上房屋的研究The Dutch Way

The Dutch Way

Floating house in Holland

伦敦水域图

伦敦水域图


The Dutch Way hopes to address long-term flood strategies and housing need by proposing new floating neighbourhood ‘incubators’ to be tested in London’s Royal Victoria Dock.

“荷兰模式”(项目小组)提议在伦敦的皇家维多利亚码头实验漂浮社区‘孵化器’,并希望借此来探讨长远的洪水对策与住房需求。

在采访中,皇家码头管理局的董事经理Mike Luddy提到:

‘Our vision for the Royal Docks is to create a unique place for London with its own distinctive identity. The dock occupies a huge area, approximately 4km long. Since its closure in the 1980s, there have been many plans to redevelop the area, but every single one of them (and there have been 82 master plans) have looked at it from a land-based perspective: no one has actually looked at the water itself and at what an amazing asset we have. The water in the dock is controlled so it’s always at a certain level – it’s very stable. We could be developing a large community of up to 1,5000 – 2,000 homes, or we could have a more scaled-down development. The key is how to bring the local communities to the water, to incorporate infrastructure, housing and watersports. Through dRMM’s research in Holland we’ve started to understand more about how the Dutch have created this amazing development on the water. It has inspired us to believe that this is actually commercially possible.’

“我们对皇家码头的展望是为伦敦建立一个独具个性的场所。这个码头占据了约有4公里长的广大区域。自从八十年代被关闭以来,(政府)对这片区域的再开发有过多达82个总体计划,但是它们全都是从陆地角度出发,没一个注意到我们拥有的水域这一绝妙的资产。码头里的水域是非常稳定的,一直被控制维持在特定的水位。我们可以开发能容纳多达1500到2000个家庭的大型社区,也可以进行更小规模的开发。关键在于怎样把本地社区拉近到水域来,怎样结合基础设施,住房和水上活动。通过dRMM在荷兰的研究,我们对荷兰人是怎么开始这个令人惊叹的水上开发有了更多了解。这使我们相信(漂浮房屋)在商业上是确实可行的。”

 

“荷兰模式”项目组对皇家码头管理局的董事经理Mike Luddy进行了采访

“荷兰模式”项目组对皇家码头管理局的董事经理Mike Luddy进行了采访

也许正是由于这个研究的推动,去年3月,伦敦市长Boris宣布了和皇家码头管理局合作在皇家维多利亚码头开发“漂浮村”。这项开发计划涉及位于阿联酋航空空中缆车正下方的15英亩水域,包含漂浮房屋,旅馆,餐厅和酒吧。然而今年2月份,纽约时报的一篇报道里提到了这个计划可能因为缺乏投资商加上地方政府(该项目地处Newham区)的抵触而流产。时隔不久的5月,伦敦市长正式宣布与中国的总部基地集团签署了价值10亿英镑的合约,在皇家维多利亚码头东侧的皇家阿尔伯特码头开发建设“亚洲商务港” 。这一320万平方英尺(约30万平方米)的商业中心将主要吸引中国及亚洲企业进驻。

伦敦的皇家码头

皇家维多利亚码头和阿联酋航空空中缆车

皇家维多利亚码头和阿联酋航空空中缆车

就在也许所有人都以为漂浮村的计划完全搁浅让位于商业中心的开发时,7月份伦敦市长宣布了联合企业Carillion Igloo Genesis在竞争中取胜,将在皇家维多利亚码头设计建造“漂浮村”。这一联合企业是有建筑商Carillion,Igloo再开发基金(主要投资方是Aviva)以及旨在提供经济适用房的慈善机构Genesis住房协会共同组成,他们将会和dRMM建筑事务所及工程顾问公司Buro Happold协同研究开发建造百分百漂浮的50套住宅,步道以及其他商业空间包括餐厅,咖啡店,商店,露天浴场和溜冰场。

50套漂浮房屋,对伦敦来说无疑是就这一建筑形式的有益尝试,但这对于伦敦眼下每年4万多套住宅的缺口来说解决不了什么问题。而且即便Genesis住房协会的参与保证了这50套里有一定比例的经济适用房,我们也很难想像建成后的漂浮房屋售价多少。在荷兰的例子里,荷兰建筑中心的数据表明在Ijburg建造的水上房屋要比类似区域的普通房屋便宜:

Compared to house prices in similar locations near Amsterdam city centre, prices of the floating homes in Ijburg are relatively cheap. A 170 square metre houseboat divided over three floors, including a 45-square-metre sun terrace costs approximately 400,000 euros, including 120,000 euros for the 50-year lease.

与阿姆斯特丹市中心附近类似区域的普通房屋相比,Ijburg的漂浮房屋要相对便宜。一个三层共170平米的船屋,加上45平米的阳台,约合40万欧元,其中有12万欧元用来支付50年的租约。

虽然地产网站Zoopla的伦敦房价热图显示这一区域的住宅目前平均售价约为30多万镑,临近水域的两室一厅也可以开到56万镑的价钱。如果伦敦的房价还像最近两年这样持续飙升的话,很难说建成后的漂浮房屋是不是只有银行家和中国商人才能买得起。

房产网站Zoopla的伦敦房价热图

房产网站Zoopla的伦敦房价热图

Wuhan, the new C40 member city

On 17th June, Wuhan officially became the latest member of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, making it the 5th Chinese city to join this network, after Beijing, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Shenzhen. The city has committed to limit emissions to 0.16 billion tonnes by 2020. In terms of unit of GDP that’s a reduction of 56% compared to 2005 levels. The actual emission in 2010 was 0.102 billion tonnes which leaves a room of around 60 million tonnes. However, the fossil fuel consumption in the city has been growing at 9% annually in recent years (source). There’s a lot to be done to reach the set target by 2020. 

The Wuhan City Cluster is one of the two experimental zones in China to build ‘resource-conserving and environment-friendly’ society. The city itself also made it into the second batch of low carbon pilot cities selected by National Development and Reform Commission. Apart from the support it can receive from central government in terms of funding and policies, the city also benefits from the following: 

R&D centers and talent pool
Wuhan is home to 82 higher education institutions, including Wuhan University and Huazhong Technology and Science University which regularly show up in top 10 Chinese universities list. Currently there’re over a million students studying in these universities and institutions. 21 out of 220 State Key Laboratories are hosted in Wuhan, covering areas like software development, water resource and hydropower, remote sensing and survey, coal combustion and digital manufacturing equipment. 

In private sector, there’s also a strong focus on clean energy and emission reduction. In 2012, WWF announced 4 winners of its first annual Climate Solver China Awards. 2 of these companies are based in Wuhan. With Yunhe Dingyu Refrigeration Science & Technology Company’s technology, it could potentially reduce 15 million tonnes emission by 2022 (if its refrigerator can reach 50% domestic market share in vessel and automobile exhaust gas refrigeration). Similarly, if CCEPC’s technology can be adopted by half of the steel industry in China, it can reduce 7.5 million tonnes emission by 2022. 

Regional carbon market 
China Hubei Emission Exchange (CHEEX) was created in 2012 but only started the market trading earlier this year in April. In the first 12 trading days after the market opened, 1.6 million permits changed hands, compared to a total of just 66,000 permits sold on China’s five other pilot carbon markets in the same period. Potentially it can become the most liquid carbon market in China but issues like speculative traders attracted by no capital threshold set by the market, the future of the market remains to be seen. 

Commitment from local government
The city government has recently published a plan to improve air quality during the period of 2013-2017. The plan has listed 154 tasks for over 60 departments, including retire the current 140 thousands highly polluted vehicles by 2016, introducing 10 thousands vehicles running on new energy, restructuring Wuhan Iron and Steel group and reducing coal consumption to below 50% of total energy consumption.

 

While they all look nice and promising, I reserve my right to be cynical. When doing background research online on the Great East Lake Ecological Water Channel Network Project which is mentioned in the official press release by C40, I came across quite a lot of doubts from local citizens, not just those whose homes were forcefully demolished to make way for the project. The project was approved by in 2009 by National Development and Reform Commission. It’s been planned for a period of 12 years with total investment of around 16 billion RMB. Supposedly the aim of the project is to reduce pollution, preserve water resources and improve the whole eco system. However, the first stage of the project was handed over to a commercial real estate developer to connect Shahu Lake and Donghu Lake with a water channel (the option of building an underground channel was rejected), and at the same time develop commercial retail, office and residential space. 

 

The wholeGreat East Lake Ecological Water Channel Network Project aims to connect the marked 6 lakes within the city

 

Plan by Wanda, the commercial real estate developer for the first stage project. Blue area is the water channel. Orange is pedestrian-only shopping street. Red is additional commercial retail space. Yellow is commercial residential area and a school. Pink is office building. Green is water-front park. Purple is for hotel.

 

The pedestrian-only shopping street has been completed this is how it looks now

 

To make the above nice view happen, 8932 households were forced to move elsewhere to make way for the project. Some of them only received compensation of 6000 RMB per square meter (when price for a new development in that neighbourhood was already 9000 RMB per square meter at the time).  Four years later, it has doubled the price now.