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Sunset Drive, South Miami before (inset) and after

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Speedy Trains Transform China

Timothy O'Rourke for The New York Times

The high-speed rail station in Changsha, China, opened less than four years ago.

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traditional Porous Green Driveway
flickr photo by ChrisB in SEA

I have always been a fan of permeable driveways (except in my younger skateboarding days). They allow for absorption of runoff, recharging aquifers, and naturally filters the water before it reaches ocean, lake and river outfalls, improving water quality. It reduces the dangers from flooding and the need for huge storm drains and channels. Additionally, it can help with the ‘heat island’ effect where the heat of the sun is stored in all of the concrete and asphalt of urban areas, thereby trapping the heat and altering the micro-climate of the area.

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Blog post by Jay Walljasper on 22 Jul 2013
Jay Walljasper, Better! Cities & Towns

Neighbors in Conover Commons in Redmond, Washington share an open field as their community gathering spot.

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Home design: Where do our garages belong?

Front doors and porches should welcome visitors to your home, not an oppressive garage, argue city planners who are pushing builders to relocate them to the backyard

By Sheila Brady, The Ottawa Citizen February 12, 2013
1

Cardel is among builders set to launch a demonstration project in Longfields, bringing homes with rear garages.

Photograph by: Handout photo , Ottawa Citizen

You've seen them on countless suburban streets and maybe winced. They are snout houses: the design reality caused by builders trying to balance rising land prices, shrinking lots, maintaining affordability and delivering convenience for suburban families demanding double-car garages.

These are mostly suburban homes where garages dominate, sticking out front of the house and all but hiding the front door and any windows. Forget about front porches and room for a tiny outdoor living room to dally and say hello to the neighbours. Instead, thousands of homes built in suburban communities in the '80s and '90s were about Home Sweet Garage. But there are rumblings of a garage revolution.

"It's the evolution of the garage," says Alain Miguelez, program manager of development review for the inner urban area of Ottawa. To start, the city passed a zoning bylaw last May forbidding garages on lots measuring less than 7.6 metres if there is no rear access and imposing restrictions on bigger lots, telling developers who want to do business in the city's five inner wards they would have to tuck garages in the rear or have access off a rear lane. A garage on a lot bigger than 7.6 metres cannot take up more than 50 per cent of the house face.

The zoning bylaw is being contested by the building industry and a decision by the Ontario Municipal Board is expected shortly. (See Garage Wars on page 3) There is also a discussion ready to start to modify garages in the suburbs, says Miguelez, who expects talks with builders, developers and community groups will take place over the next 18 to 24 months.

The aim is to take the emphasis off the garage and put it on the house, he says, citing new communities such as Minto's Ampersand in Barrhaven. The energy-efficient walk-up apartments have front doors facing the streets and parking tucked into the interior. Ampersand was built to be close to public transportation, shops and restaurants, taking the reliance off the car.

Mattamy Homes has also developed communities with rear parking in both Fairwinds in Kanata by Scotiabank Place and in Half Moon Bay in Barrhaven.

"These are the type of community planning we will value in the future," says Miguelez.

The concept to overhaul garages is not new.

Snout houses were banned in Portland, Ore., in 2000, despite an uproar from the building industry. But it's a tough battle. Planners in Independence, Texas, for example, looked at banning snout houses in 2004 but backed away.

Contingents of architects and planners have promoted the concept of New Urbanism since the '90s, developing communities built on a grid pattern, with small parks and garages behind homes, like Seaside in Florida and Cornell north of Toronto.

- See more at: http://www.househunting.ca/edmonton/Home+design+Where+garages+belong/7952924/story.html#sthash.xkLL6UC7.dpuf

Home design: Where do our garages belong?

Front doors and porches should welcome visitors to your home, not an oppressive garage, argue city planners who are pushing builders to relocate them to the backyard

By Sheila Brady, The Ottawa Citizen February 12, 2013
1

Cardel is among builders set to launch a demonstration project in Longfields, bringing homes with rear garages.

Photograph by: Handout photo , Ottawa Citizen

You've seen them on countless suburban streets and maybe winced. They are snout houses: the design reality caused by builders trying to balance rising land prices, shrinking lots, maintaining affordability and delivering convenience for suburban families demanding double-car garages.

These are mostly suburban homes where garages dominate, sticking out front of the house and all but hiding the front door and any windows. Forget about front porches and room for a tiny outdoor living room to dally and say hello to the neighbours. Instead, thousands of homes built in suburban communities in the '80s and '90s were about Home Sweet Garage. But there are rumblings of a garage revolution.

"It's the evolution of the garage," says Alain Miguelez, program manager of development review for the inner urban area of Ottawa. To start, the city passed a zoning bylaw last May forbidding garages on lots measuring less than 7.6 metres if there is no rear access and imposing restrictions on bigger lots, telling developers who want to do business in the city's five inner wards they would have to tuck garages in the rear or have access off a rear lane. A garage on a lot bigger than 7.6 metres cannot take up more than 50 per cent of the house face.

The zoning bylaw is being contested by the building industry and a decision by the Ontario Municipal Board is expected shortly. (See Garage Wars on page 3) There is also a discussion ready to start to modify garages in the suburbs, says Miguelez, who expects talks with builders, developers and community groups will take place over the next 18 to 24 months.

The aim is to take the emphasis off the garage and put it on the house, he says, citing new communities such as Minto's Ampersand in Barrhaven. The energy-efficient walk-up apartments have front doors facing the streets and parking tucked into the interior. Ampersand was built to be close to public transportation, shops and restaurants, taking the reliance off the car.

Mattamy Homes has also developed communities with rear parking in both Fairwinds in Kanata by Scotiabank Place and in Half Moon Bay in Barrhaven.

"These are the type of community planning we will value in the future," says Miguelez.

The concept to overhaul garages is not new.

Snout houses were banned in Portland, Ore., in 2000, despite an uproar from the building industry. But it's a tough battle. Planners in Independence, Texas, for example, looked at banning snout houses in 2004 but backed away.

Contingents of architects and planners have promoted the concept of New Urbanism since the '90s, developing communities built on a grid pattern, with small parks and garages behind homes, like Seaside in Florida and Cornell north of Toronto.



































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San Francisco Builds a Visionary Public Transit Hub

If you’ve ever taken Bay Area public transit, you’ll know that there are many options for traveling within and between cities. There are also many options for traveling to different parts of California from the Bay Area using public transit.

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Top 5 Eco-Friendly Building Materials

If you’re trying to be eco-friendly while building your dream home, you might think there’s no way you can compensate for the carbon emissions and resources that you use. However, if you stick to using green companies and you choose your building materials carefully, you could stand to create a truly environmentally friendly home.

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By Project for Public Spaces on Mar 29, 2013 |
Future plans for Cadillac Square call for a lively marketplace / Image: PPS

 

You may have heard about downtown Detroit’s big comeback story. Campus Martius has become one of America’s great urban squares. Demand for housing has outstripped supply for months. Major tech firms like Twitter are opening up offices in refurbished historic buildings. The Motor City’s historic core is ascendant.

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An impressive example of new urbanism!

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Union Station

Union Station is Canada’s busiest and most important passenger transportation hub and a designated National Historic Site. The station’s revitalization will result in many benefits, including an expanded GO concourse, an increase in the number of exits and entrances, alleviated commuter congestion, and restoration and preservation of the station’s heritage elements.

The Revitalization is a $640-million City initiative supported by investments of $164 million by the Government of Canada and $172 million by the Government of Ontario.

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