November Briefing - The latest positive change in your city?

We asked our cities: what’s has been the latest positive change you’ve seen in your city? Here some great findings by Chicago, Madrid, Hongkong and Amsterdam, mainly around Architecture and Mobility.

Chicago - Mobility

Chicago currently has around 20 movable bridges in the downtown area.  Depending on its size, each comes with at least two bridges to four bridge houses. These bridge houses are ubiquitous small-scale architecture buildings. They blend away against to the cities infrastructure and large skyscrapers.

I recently attended a Chicago Design Week workshop at Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art in River West, where I have met Mejay Gula. She is an architect that spearheaded a project called “Tender House Project.” This project was to reimagining on how to repurpose and protect these architectural relic bridge houses. The proof of concept is from an architect out of Amsterdam, where they have been successfully converting these bridge houses into hotels. Now we will have to wait to see what Chicago will be doing with theirs.

By captain Touly.

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Chicago Avenue Bridge (100-years old) and bridge house shown here is set to be demolition in winter of 2018.

Madrid - Mobility

Madrid has become the Spanish epicenter of new mobility, due to the traffic restrictions approved by the City Council, that aim to fight pollution and to create a cleaner space for the citizens of the capital. These decisions are aiming to build more pedestrian-friendly areas, even making streets disappear and cars with it, such as the famous Gran Vía (one of the main roads of Madrid). Since then, and mostly during the last year, the number of platforms in the whole new range of transport is growing strongly: car rental with drivers such as Uber and Cabify; electric car sharing, motorcycles and bicycles for minutes or, the last ones to break in, electric scooters.

This latest new trend, born in San Francisco, seem to please people that don’t feel safe on a bike in the middle of the traffic jungle, because it allows you to go also on the sidewalk.

This phenomenon allows citizens to move around the city also in more economical ways than with their own vehicle, with trips from 3 cents per minute. Madrilians who use Car2Go's electric Smart to move around the city grew 41% in the last year.

It’s important to know how this will evolve, and whether these alternatives are helping to reduce the use of private vehicles or, moreover, they are moving customers away from public transport. It has already happened in the US and in London: the reduction of costs in these services has made that many users prefer to move with these alternatives before in Metro or bus. But without a doubt, this is a big step towards a more sustainable way of living in our city, with greener alternatives to live through one of the most populous cities in Europe, to help develop healthier and greener spaces for all.

Words by captain Marta
Imagery by correspondent Patricia

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Hong Kong - Architecture

Before I get into the topic, I’d like you to envision an alleyway. Got it? What does it look like?

Some alleys are crowded and cluttered with rubbish. Rodents and roaches may often be seen scurrying about in these dark, wet areas. Such was the problem that had plagued Hong Kong (as well as many developing cities) for a long time. Children were discouraged from frolicking in alleys, adults would avoid them in fear of lurking dangers, and the few who dared venture down such places were – at one point – looked upon with disdainful shakes of the heads.

The Transformation
With the increase in population and rise of density, governments had no choice but to reduce risks of epidemics. As such, I have observed a steady improvement in the standards of alleyways over these few years. In Hong Kong, new laws were implemented to fine people who clutter alleyways with rubbish, furniture, or unauthorised materials. Health inspectors have become more vigilant in chasing off or eradicating rodent infestations. Some shop owners have even installed surveillance cameras at back exits for safety, protection, and reporting unlawful disposing of waste material.

Hong Kong alleyways in general are becoming more organized, accessible, and somewhat more sanitary.

The Humans
As humans continue to flood pavements and traffic congests the streets, clean alleyways have provided the public of Hong Kong with an alternative route to move around an overpopulated city.

Perhaps alleyways are not the most conventional routes, but they are still options for those who do not appreciate crowds of people. What about you, how would you consider moving around a crowded city?

Words & imagery by Mikaela Gordan

Amsterdam - Mobility

Our city is well-known for its bicycle culture but also for the overwhelming amount of people crossing the streets every single day. Whether it’s in a car, taxi, bus, tram, scooter, or just walking, the local city council has acknowledged the importance of safety on the streets. Especially when it comes to its cycling citizens.

Several streets in certain busy areas have been painted red and rebranded to ‘Fietsstraat’ (bicycle street), where the car is merely a ‘guest’ so has to pay even more attention to its environment and speed. Some call it the ‘Red Carpet for Cyclists’ and we think it’s a tremendous innovation on the streets of Amsterdam. More of this please!

Words by captain Robin

Every month we’re asking our network of cities/ correspondents to explore a question. Not only to see difference, but also similarities that could us help learn from eachother.
Any ideas or topics you would like them to observe? Let us know via