Green, Grey and the Good City: learning from Berlin

by Charles Montgomery on

On a blustery, rainy July day, more than 40 people showed up to join an urbanist experiment at the BMW Guggenheim Lab in Berlin. I was amazed to see them. For one thing, the weather was miserable. For another, none of them knew exactly what they were about to be subject to. This, I learned, was typical. Berliners are up for it, especially if they suspect they will get a… Continue reading

Are apartment residents more lonely and less trusting? @VancouverFdn study says yes.

by Charles Montgomery on

As the Vancouver Foundation starts to dig deeper into its Connections and Engagement survey results, it is finding plenty to worry about in our increasingly dense, hybrid city. The latest statistical dispatch has this disquieting salvo for Vancouverism: People living in high rise towers were about half as likely to say they had done a favour for a neighbour as were people living in detached homes. They were much less… Continue reading

Biophelia and Berlin: can green space make urbanites kinder?

by Charles Montgomery on

Is it possible to design cities in a way that makes people nicer? I began asking this question at the BMW Guggenheim Lab last year, when Colin Ellard and I found that certain places in NYC’s Lower East Side caused our tour participants to feel more or less happy than others. What made people cheeriest? A humble community garden in Sara Roosevelt Park. This reflected a mountain of existing research… Continue reading

Mr. Mayor, tear down this wall! (in colour)

by Charles Montgomery on

Vancouver planners and engineers have come up with a compelling plan for removing the Georgia and Dunsmuir  Viaducts. If realized, this plan will replace an underused fragment of freeway infrastructure with neighbourhoods, parks, and one grand boulevard. Take a look at their gorgeous presentation, above. Whoever produced it should at least get the prize just for their sexy PowerPointing: Interestingly, the team starts by making an economic case: that the… Continue reading

Meet the Straphanger tonight in Vancouver

by Charles Montgomery on

Taras Grescoe is a self-proclaimed straphanger:  He adores public transit so much, he spent the last couple of years riding systems around the world, from Bogota to Moscow. The resulting book–titled Straphanger, of course–is equal parts travelogue and manifesto. For Grescoe, the public bus is no Loser Cruiser. He argues that if we change the way we move around our cities, we can not only save the world, but produce… Continue reading