When the department of Transportation closed seven blocks of Broadway to cars this summer, New Yorkers were offered an object lesson in how profoundly urban space can be altered by a few traffic barriers and a bucket of paint. Within hours, the newly pedestrianized Times Square was colonized by wanderers, nearby office workers, and tourists calling home (“You will not believe where I am standing!”). But what, exactly, should replace an avenue formerly filled with cars? Three design firms were invited to suggest visionary ideas for the street’s future. None is particularly ... practical. But then again, this time last year, who would have expected to see our most famous boulevard transformed into a piazza? Dutch Designers West 8 created some ideas: It is crucial that Times Square not be further transformed into a theme park or playground: It must be robust, substantial, urban, and timeless, while amplifying the neighborhood’s singular reputation. To make Times Square a true public square, we propose repaving it with an LED-lighted “carpet” whose pattern suggests fireworks, spinning ticker tape, Champagne bubbles, and the New Year’s ball drop. Times Square is dedicated to the idea of verticality. How to add green in such a place? Make high, elevated places for solitary trees—“tree pedestals” that synthesize the Olmstedian lanterns of Central Park and the neighborhood street tree. Read more in NYMagazine.
The City of Amsterdam has made great efforts to promote greener means of transport, and successfully. The citizens now prefer bicycles over cars. With roughly 750,000 residents, Amsterdam is the biggest city of Holland and part of the great metropolitan area ‘Randstad’. The Dutch are fond of biking, and Amsterdam has always been a popular city for cycling. And now bikes have overtaken cars! Studies show that in the period 2005 to 2007 residents used their bicycle an average of 0.87 times a day and their car 0.84 times. Approximately three out of four of Amsterdam residents own a bicycle, and bicycles are the most commonly used means of transport. Over the last thirty years, the municipal authority of Amsterdam has worked hard on encouraging bicycle use by providing cycle paths and lanes; bicycle and pedestrian friendly roads and an extensive network of parking facilities for bicycles.The main bicycle routes through the city are part of the ‘Hoofdnet Fiets’ bicycle network. A complex network of bicycle routes through the entire city, which ensures all of Amsterdam is safely and comfortably accessible by bicycle. With this project description and this presentation Amsterdam is running for the European Green Capital Award.