Affordable Housing, Berlin style


Berlin has become the first city in Germany in which effective legislation has come into force in a bid to put the breaks on some of the fastest rising rents in Europe.  From Monday, landlords in the capital will be barred from increasing rents by more than 10% above the local average. Such controls were already in place for existing tenants but have now been extended to new contracts.

“The rent ceiling is very important for Berlin because the difference between the rent paid in existing contracts and new contracts is so high,” said Reiner Wild, managing director of the Berlin Tenants’ Association. “The other problem is that we have 40,000 more inhabitants per year. Because of this situation the housing market is very strong.”

Berlin is pioneering the rent cap after the national parliament approved the law, aimed at areas with housing shortages, in March…


Particpatory Budgeting + Tactical Urbanism = Participatory Urbanism


Can participatory urbanism — linking moves toward citizen involvement via participatory budgeting and other innovations — improve how cities adapt to climate change as well as other ongoing socioeconomic pressures?  By transposing these two seminars  I propose that Jane Jacobs’ dreams may come true, thanks to the urgency of rising tides and other urban concerns.

A pair of thoughtful panels discuss the issues, slowly but thoroughly. First, Mike Lydon and friends show how low-cost creative projects, such as pop-ups parks and open street initiatives, are the essence of the tactical urbanism movement. From guerilla wayfinding signs in Raleigh, to pavement transformed into parks in San Francisco, to a street art campaign leading to a new streetcar line in El Paso, demonstrate the breadth and scalability of tactical urbanism interventions.

@ Vimeo:

and then the Royal Society and William Solecki of CUNY and IPCC discuss flexible adaptation pathways (the panel was yesterday, video is due any minute!) at:

After the Climate March, onto the new High Line!

On Sunday afternoon, after we’ve taken to the streets to demand the world we know is within our reach — a world with an economy that works for people and the planet; a world safe from the ravages of climate change; a world with good jobs, clean air and water, and healthy communities — let’s take a walk onto that shining example of how things might work:  the High Line.

The newest, northernmost section opens Sunday afternoon, conveniently located right next to the endzone of the People’s Climate March.  More here (thanks to an unlikely source, the Wall Street Journal…):

WSJ-new High Line

Over the summer, the High Line at the Rail Yards—a stretch of the elevated park between 30th and 34th streets that also opens to the public for the first time Sunday—played host to the Argentine artist Adrián Villar Rojas and a team of collaborators who liked to get their hands dirty. The results of their work are 13 stylized cubes that look like they were dug up from the ground.

“This is the basics of life on earth,” Mr. Rojas said during the installation of the sculptures, which weigh around two tons each. “Inside you have all these tiny things that are happening, going back to billions of years ago when the first primitive organisms appeared. This is it. This is the primordial soup.”

Cecilia Alemani, the curator of High Line Art, offered a different interpretation: “Half of them look like chocolate, no?”