urbanism – mammoth // building nothing out of something

Category Archives: urbanism

suburban futures

At Next City, Amanda Kolson Hurley reports on two examples of contemporary suburban growth, Montgomery County in Maryland and the York region of Ontario, and ties those two examples into broader questions regarding the future viability of suburbanism: Dead malls. Zombie subdivisions. Metastasizing sprawl. Not a horror movie, but the suburbs circa 2014, or at […]

glitches, flash crashes, and very bad futurists

Last fall, Vincent deBritto and Ozayr Saloojee invited me to come visit their Resilient Infrastructures project at the University of Minnesota; my main contribution was to deliver the lecture above, “Glitches, Flash Crashes, and Very Bad Futurists”. The lecture examines a particular class of landscape problem, which I’ve provisionally described as “glitches and flash crashes”, […]


Tim Maly interviews Bryan Boyer and Dan Hill about their new project, Brickstarter: Anyone who’s ever tried to get some change to their neighborhood done knows the pain of fighting through a bureaucracy that tends to dampen even the most enthusiastic of spirits. “This activism often occurs on the periphery, in the legal gray areas […]

the new modulated world of invisible fields

[A portion of Nicolas Rapp’s map of the internet for Fortune magazine.] Writing for Quaderns, Kazys Varnelis argues for an infrastructural urbanism that not only embraces and seeks to design (or design with) infrastructure, but also imagines new infrastructures “more appropriate to network culture”: But we have not gone far enough yet. The Deleuzian modulations […]

zones and extrastatecraft

[A zone: Ebene Cybercity in Mauritius. As a bonus, Ebene is also an excellent example of the capacity of the Tubes to direct urban futures, as one of its prime selling points is that it sits at a landing point for the “the SAT3/WASC/SAFE sub-marine cable which links Southern Europe, Western and Southern Africa and […]

atlas of suburbanisms

[“Montreal: Percentage of residents who drive to work, live in single-detached housing, and own their homes”, from Moos and Kramer’s Atlas of Suburbanisms.] The University of Waterloo’s Atlas of Suburbanisms — a research project by the School of Planning’s Markus Moos and Anna Kramer — looks like a fantastic effort to understand Canadian suburbs on their […]

glitch jam

[The Placer County Courthouse, in Auburn, California — imagine it swarmed by a glitch jam.] NPR reported this morning on a traffic jam in California caused by an algorithmic glitch “accidentally summon[ing] 1,200 people to jury duty on the same morning”. An excellent reminder of the tendency of algorithmic dysfunction to manifest as physical dysfunction, […]

minus extraction

[Miami’s Lake Belt, the zone in which the city of Miami becomes a mirror image of itself — reflected in blue polygons induced by the mining of the limestone rock literally used to construct the city — before it disintegrates into the Everglades.] I’ve gotten part way through listening to the portions of last weekend’s Landscape Infrastructures […]

“the last remaining organic components of a city-wide cybernetic system”

Writing at Fast Company, Tim Maly ties recent interest in autonomous cars and related intersection-managing algorithms back to the guest post he wrote for mammoth during our reading of The Infrastructural City: What’s interesting about the skepticism towards automated driving is that it reveals how invisible the current systems of automation already are. Traffic control […]

schafran on race and foreclosure

Speaking of the geography of financialization, Alex Schafran had a fantastic post at Polis last December on race, foreclosure, and rhetoric surrounding the “death of the fringe suburb”. In forthcoming work done with my colleague Jake Wegmann, analyzing real-estate data in the region since 1988, we can show that the zip codes to which African […]

metro international trade services

[Warehouse at 1200 E McNichols Road, Highland Park, Michigan. The small red sign at the bottom right corner of the second image says “Metro”.] The warehouse above — and a network of others like it, scattered around the industrial abandonia of Detroit — is a crucial bottleneck in the global aluminium trade. Before I explain how this […]

dharavi: globalization and spontaneously mixed uses

[The following piece, on the surprising ways that the residents of the Mumbai settlement of Dharavi have integrated that urban agglomeration into global economic networks, and the value of the unique spatial formatting that both enables and results from that integration, is the second thoroughly-footnoted guest post we’ve run from Peter Nunns. (The first was […]

the network as industry

[“Interior components of the cooling system” at a Facebook data center in Palo Alto; image via Alexis Madrigal’s report for Domus on Facebook’s Open Computer Project, which “describes in detail how to construct an energy-efficient data centre”.] “Secret Servers”, an article by James Bridle originally published in issue 099 of Icon magazine, looks at the […]

quilian riano interviews chris reed

Quilian Riano interviews Chris Reed (Stoss Landscape Urbanism) for Places; the interview touches on a broad range of topics, including Stoss’s recent work, the importance of an expanded field for landscape architecture, and possibilities for inventing flexible alliances between design teams and collaborators in “related fields such as engineering, ecology, economics, etc.”: “Within this expanded […]

fecal politics

The following piece is a guest post from Peter Nunns. Peter is a recent graduate of the University of Auckland, with a MA in Political Science; mammoth readers may be familiar with him from his contributions to last summer’s discussion of the Infrastructural City. His current research interests include shelter and urban development challenges in developing-world cities, the […]

de-damming the dutch delta

[The Haringvliet Dam] In recent years, as they seek to rethink the flood control infrastructures and climate defense systems of the Mississippi Delta, American politicians, engineers, planners, and designers have, with good reason, looked to the Netherlands for inspiration and expertise. This is entirely natural, as the Netherlands has long been the world’s most sophisticated […]

a quick and unnecessary defense of density against some chart

Grist recently cross-posted an article by Per Square Mile’s Tim De Chant which mines an old (2009) study from the Journal of Urban Economics to argue that “only the steepest increases in density could reduce car usage”.  Unfortunately, I think that’s entirely the wrong conclusion to draw from the study. Here’s the key graph that […]

urban field manuals

[Photographs from Christoph Engel’s series “Exterieur”, which explores the sort of cryptoforested terrain vague which the urban field manual might excel in operating in.] Issue 14 of the Magazine On New Urbanisms, “Editing Urbanism”, is out.  Brian Davis, Brett Milligan, and I co-wrote a piece in that issue, “Urban Field Manuals”, which argues that the […]

a pre-modern critique of the new urbanism

A minor point, but this is kind of fascinating — a critique of New Urbanism which, rather than going the common route of charging New Urbanism with nostalgic pre-modernism, argues that New Urbanism is insufficiently pre-modern — in this specific case, arguing that New Urbanists have praised a certain kind of narrow traditional street but […]

west kowloon reclamation

[Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Reclamation project, photographed in the mid-nineties while under construction; photographs via GAKEI.com.] [“Since land reclamation first began in 1841, [Victoria] harbor has shrunk to half its original size.  Meanwhile, more than 17,000 acres of developed land have been added to the waterfront throughout the region — accounting for nearly 7 percent […]