It looks like they rolled out a Pixar movie, but they are very real: the nine electric vans of the UK’s national mail service that recently hit the London roads. Designed and manufactured by startup car builder Arrival, it is probably the cutest mail van you have ever seen.
By 2050, about 75% of world’s population will live in cities. Cities play a key role in developing resilient and sustainable societies.
Being raised in a rural village in Belgium, living in the busy and polluted city of Barcelona makes me crave for some fresh air every now and then. I am certainly not the only one. 90% of the world’s urban population is breathing polluted air. Sometimes called the silent killer, air pollution is responsible for nearly half a million premature deaths a year in Europe alone. I know everyone is freaking out about ISIS right now, but the real killer is all around us and we have created it ourselves.
With the coldest of winter behind us and the promise of spring in the air, the gardeners under my readers might feel the call of nature to start growing food again. Or maybe you would love to grow some yourself, but happen to live in an urban area with little open space? Do not despair! IKEA’s designer lab Space10 has the solution for you: the Growroom. Meant to be a community garden to grow local vegetables and herbs, the designers recently made the plans available to everyone. Team up with your neighbors and friends and get building –only 17 steps!
It’s no secret that China has serious problems with air pollution. In December last year, the situation in the capital Bejing became so bad it halted everyday life: schools were closed, planes grounded and cars banned from the roads. In a radical move to fight the issue, Chinese urban developers are envisioning forest cities where offices, hotels and residential buildings are covered in a blaze of plant life. The first step is underway in Nanjing, the capital of China’s eastern Jiangsu province: the Nanjing Towers.
Exactly one week ago I embarked on one of the most exciting journeys of my life. With a oneway ticket to Barcelona, I exchanged the safety of my comfortable life in rainy Belgium for the Spanish vibes in Barcelona. Having no place to call home yet, I booked a cosy hostel to start my apartment hunt in the Gracia neighbourhood — popular with students, young professionals and families alike. With its abundance of second hand shops, vegetarian restaurants, ecological streetmarkets and low-traffic streets, it didn’t take long before I fell in love with this village within the city. No wonder rooms are expensive and hard to find.
But Gracia has not always been like this. It was only after a major reorganisation of the neighbourhood in 2003 that the streets were given back to the people. The urban concept behind the area-wide urban experiment is the Superille or Superblock. The superblock idea was first outlined in 1987, after studies revealed noise and pollution levels in the capital of Catalunya are far above what can be considered healthy. Madre mia! Disclosing a territorial unit smaller than a neighbourhood but larger than a residential block for public space — therefore bearing the name superblock — are meant to improve the quality of life and conditions for local residents. Car traffic is deviated to a couple of large streets enclosing the superblock, within pedestrian and bikers are king.
As an energy engineering student, I come across a lot of inventions that are about to save the world. At least, if they would ever get further than their inventor’s desk. Sometimes low-tech solutions can have a way bigger impact, simply because they happen. Urban development site de Ceuvel in the up-and-coming Amsterdam Noord area is a gem that exemplifies exactly what I’m talking about.