Pecha Kucha Rundown: Denser, Part 2


Noelle and I had fun at Pecha Kucha in San Francisco at the SPUR Urban Center on June 21.  For those unfamiliar with the Pecha Kucha format, each speaker has 20 slides and 20 seconds per slide. The format makes for a fun but focused look at what a wide range of professionals is working on and thinking about. Presentations are loosely organized around a theme. The theme this time was “Denser.”

Using my notes, I am putting together a set of posts that lists the presenters in order, along with links to their website (if I could find them) and any major thoughts I jotted down. For some presentations, I took a number of notes. Other presentations have fewer notes (maybe I was looking at the images more carefully?). All of the presentations were more interesting and beautiful than revealed by my notes and these posts.

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Elizabeth Shreeve – Principal – SWA Group

looking at what vertical cities and high density mean for the ground plane

high tower in Dubai – a building becomes a city district by itself

65% of the firm’s work is in China right now

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Paul Jamtgaard – Architect, Urbanist – Group 4 Architecture

“Intensity in 10 Cities”

density x uniformity = monotony = DEATH

density x diversity = intensity = VITALITY

diagram of density in cities

density of people per square km in Portland, Mumbai, New York City, Tokyo, Singapore, Rio de Janeiro, Hong Kong, Istanbul, Copenhagen…

housing = human storage? or urban living

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Ben Grant – Public Realm + Urban Design Manager – SPUR

city skylines as a bar graph of property values

looking at historical increasing density of use of same lot in NYC – eventual mandating of air shafts

density / setbacks – effect above the ground plane

residential density vs auto ownership [looked at 2 maps]

green architecture in the 1970s was away from the city

aesthetic integration of greenery + verticality

Donald Appleyard – Livable Streets (1981)

SFPUC looking at how to manage stormwater

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Part 1 is posted here. Part 3 will be posted tomorrow.

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Blue Roofs


This post is part of our definitions series on “eco-lingo” and technical terms.

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Image: U.S. EPA

“Green roofs”, or roofs that use vegetation to retain stormwater and reduce the ‘heat island effect’ of miles of sun-absorbing rooftops, are more well-known than a related roof-type, the “blue roof”.

Blue roofs use stormwater capture devices rather than vegetation to reduce runoff levels from rooftops. Blue roofs can contribute to sustainable building design and retro-fits in a number of ways. Some blue roofs are designed to temporarily harvest and house stormwater others may divert and infiltrate  or slow-release stormwater. Since areas with large amounts of impervious paved surfaces may be subject to flooding, blue roofs can reduce the risk and associated damage and expense of localized flooding.

Blue roofs can also be employed strategically to avoid over-burdening combined sewage systems that are in danger of overflow and discharge into water bodies during storms.

New York City unveiled a new Green Infrastructure Plan in September that will employ blue roofs among its strategies to reduce sewage overage a target 40% by the year 2030.

Read an article on NYC blue roofs, here. A further definition of blue roofs can be found, here.

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What exactly does “sustainability” mean? How about “green”, “eco” or “environmentally friendly”? The truth is that these terms are just vague enough to mean many different things to many different people. With the staggering array of “green” products, ‘lifestyles’ and concepts being promoted by marketers and environmentalists alike (as well as the necessary coining of new terms to match new ideas) our definition series aims to make sense of the rising tide of “eco-lingo” and technical terms.

Philadelphia’s Green Stormwater Infrastructure


Many older cities face increasing stormwater management issues. Today’s video was put together by the Philadephia Water Department’s Office of Watersheds and gives a pretty good overview of an integrated approach.

The city is trying to address combined sewer overflows through a combination of traditional infrastructure and “green” infrastructure as the city is continuously rebuilt and repaired over time. The main goal is to prevent so much water from running off all of the impervious surfaces in the first place. More information on the approach is here.