Archive for the Category Cities


On the importance of doors

Red Door in the Cotswolds

Architecture in the Northern hemisphere is another great addition to the overall Scandinavian experience. Less is to be said about New York’s ditto.
From the man himself:

“I think there, we went through, obviously, an era of loss of architects doing these mega projects, doing mega towers in New York. But then sort of the middle is just a lot of mediocre rubbish, drywall, flimsy doors, uninspiring finishes. I think that’s a lot of the American design vernacular.”

We couldn’t agree more. When evaluating the livability of a country, always look to the sturdiness of the doors.

(Photo: UGArdener @ Flickr)

Survey: Best European Street Corner

"Seen in Antwerp /1"

After extensive research (consisting of some considerable loitering around Europe) our survey of the Best European Street Corner is complete. It has taken quite some time to finish, but patience is a virtue.

We first set off in Liguria, dashing down Via Garibaldi in Genoa. Lorenzo Bagnara was a charm, as always, but we felt as if the corner itself lacked the overall feeling of hospitality that we were expecting. Moving on. A swift Lufthansa Italia A320-flight later, and the warm tarmac of Lyon welcomed us. We went straight to Place Saint Paul, where a small, rustic, bakery had charmed us on the corner of Rue de la Lanterne. Perfectly connected with a convenient TCL tram stop just outside, surely this was it?

The charm of the childish interior mixed with the scent of freshly made flutes and Pain aux Raisins left us tempted to permanently move in at the Collège Hôtel further down the same street. Still, something was lacking. No cosy cinema. The metrics just didn’t add up this time.

Our quest went on. But this time we knew where we were heading – a mental image of a Flemish neighbourhood kept reoccurring in our minds. We boarded the TGV that brought us up state in a briskly fashion. As was expected, the corner was to be found in Antwerp. Kloosterstraat & Blarenstraat received us with open arms, with barista Rob Berghmans still remembering how short we prefer our ristretto to be.

In the end, the proximity of everything one could possibly ask of a street corner proved to be unbeatable. Brasserie Chez Fred for breakfast, a quick stop at Limonsoda to pick up a pair of shoes for our niece, or simply a relaxing muse through Erik Toonen Books. It’s simply all there.

Improvable cities: Toronto

Toronto Financial District

Complacency. Such a disappointing diagnosis for a city. Tyler Brûlé´s ex-home town Toronto suffers from this badly, and we thought we should go through a few pointers on how to improve this sub-par Canadian city.

Ultimately, the responsibility for all urban development is the mayor´s. And as Mayor David Miller of Toronto refuses to incorporate the advice given by Mr Brûlé earlier, we see no reason in supporting him in his position.

And my God, when you fly over Toronto you see these vast tracts of two-car garages that jut out in front of the house, and these communities where you have to live by the automobile. It won’t be sustainable.

We demand an immediate ban on two-car garages. The madness must stop. Learn from the free bike schemes “Züri rollt” and “Vélib” in Zürich and Paris respectively. Look at Spain´s Renfe AVE first class rail development – the Siemens S103 Velaro is a more than adequate for medium range travel. Copenhagen has their Ansaldo Trasporti contracted driver-less Metro systems (that now steadily runs all the way to Kastrup – handy for the environmentally friendly pre-flight lounge hopper). The possibilities are simply endless.

We expect more from you, Toronto. If significant changes aren’t to be seen within short, we’ll have Wally Olins at your doorstep with a complete rebranding scheme before you can say “24-hour-a-day metabolism”.