Public Spaces for People

5 Amsterdam Ideas That Could Work in Cape Town

Cape Town and Amsterdam go way back; in fact, many features of Cape Town could have originated in a 17th century Ideas from Cities blog post.  The Dutch showed us how to push the sea back from the Castle, gave us the gorgeous gables of Cape Dutch architecture and provided the base for one of our indigenous languages.  This edition of Ideas from Cities explores some less grand, but nevertheless innovative, ideas from the Amsterdam of today which could work in the Mother City.



Amsterdam takes the idea of a bicycle-friendly city to the extreme.  Cyclists, who take advantage of the flat landscape and compact city centre, enjoy their own traffic lanes, right of way and multi-storey parking garages.  No wonder the city topped the Copenhagenize Index, a biannual international study of the most bicycle friendly cities.  This may not be the ideal for Cape Town, but at the very least, awareness of cyclist-safety on the road and provision for bicycle storage could definitely benefit the city.  How about converting a few Waterfront or beachfront parking spaces into secure, free bicycle storage spaces to encourage less traffic and healthier bodies? Read More…


Urban Placemaking: The LA Park That Used to be a Parking Lot

Los Angeles’ 50 Parks Initiative was launched in August of 2012 by then-Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and aims to transform underutilized properties in areas lacking recreational space into parks. The 16th park to open as part of this scheme is located on Spring Street in the city’s downtown and saw its official opening on June 17th.

Lehrer Architects partnered on the project with the City of Los Angeles, and we recently got the opportunity to email a few questions to Michael Lehrer about his work on Spring Street Park.

This Big City: You won’t need to convince readers of This Big City that converting a parking lot into a park is a good thing, but not everyone feels this way. Did you meet much resistance when developing Spring Street Park?

Michael Lehrer: No resistance at all. It is a motherhood and apple pie opportunity. That said, I have learned that in the public realm even motherhood and apple pie can bring out the skeptics. The friction– actually necessary and desirable friction between public and private interests– in creating public places originates from the different constituencies and their needs which are often at odds with one another. A beneficial tension is created. The fix offered by good design is making important and maybe even beautiful places from that tension. Adults with children versus hipsters who wonder why a tot lot is even necessary; dog lovers versus the non-pet owner; public agencies and their role and cost of maintenance over time versus Homeowners groups committed to the park and their capacity to maintain the park, etc. Read More…



I also highly recommend this website :, it has great sustainability articles in a variety of subject ranging from Transportation, design to business, Energy and science.


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