National Links: Buildings as Batteries

Every day at The Overhead Wire, we collect news about cities and send the links to our email list. At the end of the week we take some of the most popular stories and post them to Greater Greater Washington, a group blog similar to that focuses on urban issues in the D.C. region. They are national links, sometimes entertaining and sometimes absurd, but hopefully useful.

How capitalism shapes our architecture: In his new book, Matthew Soules documents how financial market features are reshaping the built environment of cities. Like the ultra-thin luxury towers that mostly serve to fund the mostly empty vacation homes of rich investors, he details how capitalism is creating new types of urban forms in this interview with Fast Company. (Nate Berg | Fast Company)

Australia’s pre-covid traffic is back: Data from Facebook users is revealing that much of Australia’s pre-pandemic traffic has returned. The fear of crowds on public transport has further incentivized commuters to drive, and remote work has only made a small dent in reducing congestion. (Josh Nicholas | The Guardian)

Funding to end Baltimore highway to nowhere: State and local officials representing Baltimore are calling for the infamous “Highway to Nowhere” to be removed using federal funds designated for reconnecting communities. Tearing down the urban highway that displaced 1,500 residents would reconnect razed parts of the city and undo some of the cultural and economic damage the highway inflicted on the community. (Ron Cassie | Baltimore Magazine)

Cities built for 6 feet tall men, not women and the disabled: French Architect Le Corbusier developed a standard measurement to be used in his cities and buildings that catered to men that were 6 feet tall. But this standard left everyone else out, and it led to the women-run architecture firm Matrix pioneering a new way of designing spaces in the city that were instead specifically tailored to the people who actually used the buildings. (Oliver Wainwright | The Guardian)

Buildings could be at the center of a cement battery revolution: A team at the Chalmers University of Technology has devised a new rechargeable cement battery that could mean the very structure of a building could be a massive energy source. The cement building blocks used a coated fiber mesh to create a high-performing battery that doubles as a building material. It’s not ready for production, but it offers fascinating potential. (Chris Young | Interesting Engineering)

Alissa Guther contributed to these summaries

Quote of the Week

“Parking drives so much about the design of buildings and the cost of housing in our city. … This opens up so much possibility, especially to develop the smaller-scale projects that so many of our constituents point to as they tell us the kind of projects and housing they want to see in their communities”

Minneapolis Council President Lisa Bender in the Star Tribune during a vote by the Minneapolis City Council to eliminate minimum parking requirements on new development.

This week on the podcast, Chris Puchalsky and Andrew Simpson of the Philadelphia Office of Transportation, Infrastructure, and Sustainability discuss the Philadelphia transportation plan.

Jeff Wood

About Jeff Wood

Jeff Wood is an urban planner focused on transportation and land use issues living and working in the San Francisco Bay Area. Jeff blogs at The Overhead Wire and tweets @theoverheadwire. He also shares news links daily from around the country on issues related to cities at The Direct Transfer