About stacy:

Profile: Stacy Passmore is a writer and urban designer. Currently living between New York, Nigeria and Ghana, she is working on the design of a new city in Nigeria [anamcity.com]. She is particularly interested in expanding the dialogues on African urbanism and ecological approaches to city design.

Contact: lsp213@nyu.edu

Posts by stacy:

The Social Life of Public Space in West Africa

Black Star Square in Accra, Ghana [Photo by Author

Of the 163 public spaces included on the Project for Public Spaces’s list of “The World’s Best” only a single nomination is located on the African continent (Greenmarket Square in Capetown, South Africa).  The other 162 parks, squares and plazas are European, North American and a handful are South or Central American.  Is the absence of African pubic spaces on this list due to lack of recognition?   Does this expose a European cultural proclivity for public space? Or perhaps there are not enough African public spaces that meet the standards of this review, which is a cultural standard in itself.  At best, we must recognize that the details of African … Continue Reading

“The First Step of Cultivation” in Little City Gardens: Zoning for Urban Agriculture

Inch by inch, row by row...urban agriculture challenges residential zoning in San Francisco. (Thanks to Little City Gardens for this great photo!)

Earlier this spring in San Francisco a team of experienced urban farmers signed a land use agreement for a plot of land to expand their growing market-garden business.  Unlike most productive urban landscape in cities, which are community gardens or NGOs, Little City Gardens is a for profit enterprise. Owners Brooke Budner and Caitlyn Galloway have set out to experiment with the economic viability of urban farming by designing a financially self-sustaining urban farm business.  The new plot is an expansion of a smaller garden that was started in the Mission District, where they have been providing specialty salad mixes and organic produce to local … Continue Reading

Biogas: It’s not a waste of energy.

While some cities are staring to get savvy with organic waste management in municipal composting programs, rarely do you see an integrated approach to sewage or other…less desirable…animal byproducts that creates energy. Biogas is a time-tested technology for the anaerobic processing organic waste to create two very valuable byproducts: methane gas (energy) and nutrient rich sludge (fertilizer). The energy can be piped and used in stoves, heating systems, refrigerators – basically anything that runs from gas (including machines like generators that produce electricity).

A basic biogas system. Thanks to the Unesco Training Manual for this diagram!

Some clever communities, like Bern, Germany, are even compressing the gas and using it as fuel for buses. Although Vancouver’s Olympic Village does deserve credit for passively extracting heat from sewages for … Continue Reading

Making Space for A Cart/Kiosk Culture in Accra and Portland

Portland Food Carts: Photo by Author

In Portland you might enjoy a steaming bowl of curry, while in Accra a spicy box of jollof.  Both purchased for a low cost and in a convenient location.  What is known as a cart in Portland or New York, a kiosk in Accra or Moscow, might also be a booth, pavilion or a stand.  Each is a different form of micro-enterprise that plays an increasingly important role in our cities today. A kiosk is an efficient way for an individual to start a business with low costs and short time, while providing an immediate service to an urban area.  Congruently, the vibrancy of a neighborhood can be accentuated through the articulation of these small forms.  But … Continue Reading

Greening Small Home Renovations – The City of Vancouver may require Green Improvements to the Renovation of One and Two Family Homes

A small but important part of the ‘Greenest City Action Plan’, The City of Vancouver hopes to tackle the resource efficiency of existing buildings through a proposed amendment to our building by-law (VBBL) that would require green improvements along with the renovation of one and two family homes. Arguably, it might seem like this will have a small impact on the massive GHG goals taken on by the Province and City, however it is an essential step in any Green Building plan. Read more…

Top Five Urban Design Solutions

With this highlight of urban design winners, we hope to draw out a discussion around public space and built form.  The focus of this list is current trends in urban design, ones that have been built rather than ones that haven’t happened. There are heaps of exciting ideas coming from firms, competitions and students that are very innovative. The real winners, however, are the ones that actually happen.  Today, high quality urban design is widely applied in our urban centers as a critical element in any municipal density initiative, as it is recognized to have positive impacts on ecological, economic and social well-being.

1. Urban ecology

The Dockside Green neighborhood in Victoria, BC received LEED designation, in part because of its attention to urban ecology. Thanks to J. Scratchley on Flickr for the great Creative Commons photo!

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‘Urban Acupuncture 101’ – Mobility and cycling in New York with Janette Sadik-Khan

October 19, 2009.  In a room full of Vancouver’s planning and transportation elite, Gordon Price (director of SFU’s City Program) introduced an event from SFU’s public lecture series, evoking New York City’s gritty and dangerous history, comparing it to a “fallen empire.”  He feels that the success in recent years give it reason to be called “a resilient city” – acting as proof that cities can rebound – and aptly referencing the Gaining Ground conference this week.  Our guest this evening, Janette Sadik-Khan is the commissioner for New York City’s Department of Transportation (DOT). She is largely responsible for this transformation, rigorously analyzing ways to make streets more people oriented in one of the world’s largest most congested city.  “It’s a war out there,” she said a few times.

[caption id=”attachment_1459″ align=”aligncenter” width=”574″ caption=”Creative Commons photo of NYC's 9th Ave … Continue Reading

In New York City – Fresh Kills Park is Waste Space, Play Place


The NYC Sanitation Department donated one of these machines for use in the new park's signage. Photo by author.

For over 50 years Fresh Kills was the main landfill for New York City and  the largest dumpsite in the world.  In March of 2001 the site was closed due to pressure from the Environmental Protection Agency, only to be reopened temporarily in September of that year as the receiving site for the demolished World Trade Center buildings.   Now the land, once a symbol of waste and environmental disrespect, is being re-developed as the largest park in New York City—at 2,220 acres it will be almost three times the size of Central Park.  The site will be extensively landscaped with native vegetation and will provide natural ecological areas as … Continue Reading

In New York City: Abandoned elevated rail becomes a new urban park


The High Line, underneath the Standard Hotel. Photo by author.

High Line_Complete

Pedestrians enjoy a stroll on the completed High Line in New York. Thanks to Gerard Dalmon for the Creative Commons photo!

Two weeks after the opening of the High Line, New York is still reveling in its newest city park. The creation of open space is a rare event in the world’s densest cities, a treasure hunt sometimes known as landscape urbanism. Seoul, Korea recently brought to daylight a forgotten river under the city, opening up a wide boulevard of parks and recreation spaces. Many cities have converted unused belt railways into community gardens or greenways. Now this trend for generating innovative … Continue Reading