No one wants their neighborhood to be an experiment. (5 min read)

5 things happening in Europe. (6 min read)

Infrastructure expenses are institutional. (7 min read)

Robots on bike paths? (3 min read)


Episode 20 Patterns of Development

Old School, Euro Trends, Robot Paths

This is patterns of development.

Hey everybody it's Kyle. Where, on this podcast, I share, discuss, ponder, and try to connect some dots through the best content I've discovered each week related to urban planning, architecture, and cities.

Ultimately, trying to learn, what are the patterns of development?

I want to build with you case studies, discover examples, refine ideas, that hopefully inspire you as you go along your journey as a developer, real estate agent, city staff, builder, or citizen. If you don't have time to read, I'm trying to break down the patterns here and help you stay ahead of the curve.

I was talking to an architect the other day, what's up Cody, and  he and I were talking about the patterns of development. Cody said, "we really nailed development in the early 1900s" buildings had to be designed simply to be constructed quickly, natural lighting needed to be considered because we didn't have electricity, airflow and windows had to be considered because we didn't have modern climate control...its' amazing how quickly we got away from 1000s of years of fundamentals.

I was just watching ALONE, the show where people have to survive   on their own in the arctic wildness. Season 7, I think is on Netflix. One of the contestants, players?, people on the show stuck in the woods didn't have a chimmney on her shelter so when she lit up her camp fire she obviously smoked herself out. Kind of an aside but the point is we've come along way in our construction of shelter. From the huts in the woods to our tall climate controlled skyscrapers. But regardless of form, they still need to serve some basic functions for humans.\

Climate control. Natural light. Ventilation.

No one will argue that these ideas are experiments, or things that need to be tested to see if they work. These are facts.

So with this theme, an article from strong towns, "the best new ideas in planning aren't new" by Daniel Herriges.

There aren't any new ideas under this sun, they're all recycled.  And the same goes for how we build and plan our cities. The two tactics called out in the article have been well covered here as successful patterns of development:

Accessory dwelling units for both residential and commercial spaces. Primary units are typically where the owners live. Accessory units are second units on the same lot.

And Duplexes. Similar to ADUs. Duplexes are when two units are on the same lot.

The best part, the magic, in this article though, are these couple of lines:

"...many homeowners who are told that their city is considering "ending single-family zoning" (or even scarier, "abolishing" it). They may have read in the New York Times or the Washington Post or their local paper about this growing national trend to upend residential zoning across whole cities or even states as a new, untested way to address long histories of exclusion and segregation.

The way we talk about it feels like an experiment. Almost nobody likes the idea of their neighborhood being a laboratory for some new idea cooked up by remote public-policy tinkerers. But almost nobody who actually lives next to an existing duplex or triplex thinks of that building as an experiment. It's just part of the fabric."

This is Kyle again.

To me, the most important part, nobody wants to live in a laboratory cooked up by remote policy tinkers. And I agree. I think the biggest argument to be made is that these ideas aren't new. This isn't a laboratory. This isn't an experiment. This is how cities were built until the 1950s.

I've always said that alot of urban planning and architecture concepts have branding and marketing problems. Here's another one. This isn't an experiment, this is time tested. This isn't radical thinking, this is boring thinking. This isn't another new plan, this is going back to the old one. This isn't "new"...this is a throwback...dare I say an opportunity to make America...I won't I won't.

Let's go across the pond. A couple of urban euro trends:

Brownfield redevelopment goes next level with consideration for placing car restrictions on new neighborhoods. That's something they can do over there. To quote the author, Mike Eliason, "It should be noted that these developments are largely the result of urban planning competitions. This is in stark contrast to the US, where we incorporate little to no urban planning and essentially let the market drive development."

Back to Kyle, It sounds like citizens also proactively get involved to make something happen, rather than only get involved when they want to block something\

The use of mass timber for large construction projects

Cooperative "social houses"...with multiple families, rather than making a single family home making 1 larger structure and pooling their resources together to make synergies happen.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, running on a 15 minute city platform , won the reelection and they're making moves to re do the champs elyese. Go Anne.

How can we effectively mix uses. Brussels is highlighted as an example of how to better create safe density for citizens across the spectrum from industrial, commercial, and residential while also mixing a variety of transportation options.

And let's come back closer to home where in Austin Tx there's a debate about if bikers should share their bike lanes with robots delivering pizzas.

One of favorite quotes, it was originally about bankruptcy but it can be applied to any change, "change happens gradually, then suddenly."

And here we are the first hints at how robot delivery might start using existing infrastructure. I think this is a change it will happen gradually, then suddenly. One day were going to look up and robots are going to be moving a lot of stuff around.

The question is where. And in Austin, they're thinking bike lanes. Of course we don't want our robots getting crushed by cars and trucks so let's put them where they're safer. It leads to an interesting debate:

Will this lead to more bike lanes? And space for small autonomous delivery vehicles? Or will robot use overtake the space and force bikers out? They don't have an answer, I don't have an answer. But it's something I'll be thinking about in the coming weeks. And it likely will start to form another pattern, how do we intend to add yet another type of use to our public transportation stack. Planes, Trains, and Automobiles had their space. I think pedestrians and bikes have struggled to have their space in the states (for a variety of reason) now we add robots, do they get their own space or do we figure out how to cooperate together?

Talk to y'all soon...