Cities + Towns
Paris Is Undergoing a Water Revolution
From urban swimming to fixing leaks to public fountains, France’s capital is getting smart about its most precious resource.
‘Their Voices Will Be Heard Now’: How a Colorado Community Preserved Affordable Housing
In an unusual approach, a land trust and a co-op collaborated to save a mobile-home park from corporate buyout.
Barcelona’s ‘Bold Strategy’ to Quell the Tourism Crisis
The Catalan city is making big moves to get visitation and its impacts under control — and other European destinations are taking action, too.
Purified Wastewater Is the Drink of the Future
Wastewater recycling is gathering steam. If you’ve been to Disneyland lately, you’ve already tried the clean water it can produce.
The Frozen Waterfall Deal That Eased a Colorado Town’s Water Crisis
When Ouray’s main attraction dried up, an alliance between ice climbers and silver miners created a blueprint for how drought-stricken towns can keep water flowing.
Cities Are Becoming More Like Sponges
Water management that prizes lakes and greenery over concrete makes for less flood-prone cities — and prettier ones, too.
How India’s First ‘Green Village’ Turned Hunters Into Conservationists
In Khonoma, traditional knowledge has led to a boom in ecotourism and sustainable cultivation practices.
This Evolving 3,000-Mile-Long Park Is Already Improving Cities Along Its Path
Even before it is finished, the East Coast Greenway, an emerald necklace of car-free paths from Maine to Florida, is revealing surprising benefits.
Amsterdam’s ‘Smart’ Blue-Green Roofs Reduce Urban Flooding
The city scaled up the planting of self-watering residential rooftop gardens that mitigate flooding and lower temperatures.
The Slum-Inspired Apartment Complex Designed by Its Own Residents
In Jakarta, a building for evicted slum-dwellers has alcoves for hawking goods, stairs designed for cross-floor conversation and gardens to grow your own food.
Book Review: How Urban Biodiversity Can Help Cities Thrive
Ben Wilson’s “Urban Jungle” explores how cities teem with life — and the vital role urban ecology plays in the era of climate change.
How Norway Can Help Cure America’s “Range Anxiety”
The US needs to convince millions of drivers not to worry about where they’ll charge an electric car. Norway, the world’s EV capital, has cracked that code.
L.A.’s On-Demand Buses Pick You Up at Your Door
In a city conflicted about transit, an unusual Uber-like bus system is so popular it can barely keep up with demand.
By Adding Timber to Old Buildings, Stockholm Is Expanding Sustainably
Architects are using lightweight wood to add on to existing buildings, preserving what’s already there and preventing wasteful demolitions.
The Woman Who Brought Dirt to Harvard
Architecture pioneer Anna Heringer takes sustainable construction to a new — old — level, building with the earth beneath her feet.
For the Housing Market’s Greenest Buyers, ‘Earthships’ Are Taking Off
Long dismissed as hippie havens, off-grid communities are getting a fresh look as wasteful construction practices come under scrutiny.
As Climate Money Pours In, Some Urban Freeways May Disappear
The Inflation Reduction Act could usher in a new era of freeway removal in cities like Milwaukee, which transformed its urban core by tearing down a highway 20 years ago.
For More Sustainable Affordable Housing, Just Add Mushrooms
Architect David Benjamin is bringing his biology-inspired recipe for construction materials to an affordable housing project in Oakland, California.
How 130,000 Flamingos Changed Mumbai
As the city grew, they arrived in droves — and found a surprisingly welcoming habitat.
These Cities’ Car-Free Streets Are Here to Stay
Cars? In this economy? Here’s how four cities kept miles of pavement traffic-free, turning a popular pandemic solution into a permanent fixture.
The Florida Neighborhood Hurricanes Can’t Gentrify
After disasters, the wealthy often buy up working-class housing. On Big Pine Key, one community has found a way to ride out the storm of speculation.
‘The Green Steel of the 21st Century’
Cheap, strong and plentiful, bamboo has been used in Hong Kong for ages as an ultra-sustainable building material. Other countries are catching on.
A Better Way to Build
In our new ongoing series, Build Better, we explore how advancements in construction are leading the way toward decarbonized cities.
A Building Material That Consumes CO2 Has Finally Come to the US
A false association with drugs that banned ‘hempcrete’ from the US residential building code has been lifted, paving the way for widespread use.
In Barcelona, Kids Bike to School in Large, Choreographed Herds
Hop on the ‘bicibús,’ a highly replicable model that makes getting to school fun, safe and sustainable.
A Microhome Village in Austin Ends Homelessness for Hundreds
It’s billed as the country’s only master-planned development for people coming out of homelessness. Residents call it the best neighborhood they’ve ever lived in.
Cars Are Vanishing from Paris
The share of journeys made by car in the city has fallen by nearly half, and the trend is only accelerating.
Want Safer Streets? Cover Them in Art
With traffic deaths rising in the US, some cities are turning crosswalks and intersections into eye-catching murals — with life-saving results.
Kansas City Made Transit Safer by Making It Free
Eliminating fares was meant to give straphangers “the right to the city.” It ended up giving them a safer ride, too.
‘Ventilation Corridors’ Funnel Cool Mountain Air Into Steamy Stuttgart
With strategically placed channels for air flow, the birthplace of the automobile is using urban design to lower the temperature.
Europe’s New Trams Are Reviving a Golden Age of Transit
Tramways were once a staple of European cities. Now, a new generation is enhancing urban life once again.
The Address of the Future
In India, a new way of identifying where people live is changing the lives of thousands whose homes never officially existed — until now.
The Swedish City That Asked Its Banks for an Ultimatum
If Gothenburg doesn’t meet its climate and social goals, its lending banks will charge it a fine — at the city’s request.
The City Where All the Buses Are Free
When Covid hit, Alexandria, Virginia saw an opportunity to make its residents fall in love with the least-loved transit option of all.
Solar Microgrids Are Keeping Ukraine’s Hospitals Running
U.S. renewables experts support the war-besieged country with tech hailed a ‘game-changer’ for disaster relief settings.
The Chicago Neighborhood That Will Generate Its Own Energy
A cutting-edge form of urban energy independence could make cities more resilient to blackouts — and greener in the process.
What Is the Future of America’s Greenest Town?
After a tornado, Greensburg, Kansas rebuilt as a shining example of red-state sustainability. It wants to be more than a curiosity.
How Cap-and-Trade Keeps People in Their Homes
California’s program to lower carbon emissions has a surprising side benefit: preventing displacement.
Welcome to Your Friendly Neighborhood Mental Health Center
While communities often see large mental health facilities as a threat, one Kansas City neighborhood is discovering it can be an asset.
A Bicycle Is an Anti-Poverty Machine
Giving people bicycles may be one of the cheapest, easiest ways to support them. One group is distributing them by the thousands.
The Alpine Country Going All-You-Can-Ride
Austrians now have access to every form of public transit in the country through a single affordable ticket. Is it enough to make a dent in carbon emissions?
A Major Barrier to Affordable Housing is Finally Falling
Single-family zoning laws lead to sprawl, segregation and expensive real estate. They’ve also seemed untouchable — until now.
Mapping the Future
A new land policy replacing outdated colonial laws is being piloted in Sierra Leone — and putting the power back in the hands of the people.
A Bridge Will Help Humans and Lions Coexist in Los Angeles
As the only major Western city that is home to lions, L.A. is breaking new ground in infrastructure designed for big wildlife.
The City Owned by Locals
In South Bend, Indiana, a unique development model is putting ownership into the hands of hundreds of local residents — and giving big developers a run for their money.
How Norway Popularized an Ultra-Sustainable Heating Method
No other country has more heat pumps per capita, a cheap, highly efficient tool to keep homes warm — and carbon footprints small.
Do-It-Yourself Green Infrastructure
Tired of waiting for government to step in, New Orleans residents are flood-proofing their own communities — sustainably.
The E-Trike Armada Propelling a Net-Zero Dream
The German postal service wants to be carbon neutral by 2050. Its fleet of battery-powered cargo bikes could help.
How Brooklyn’s Library Gets Back Books Without Fines
The library partnered with behavioral scientists to help people return their books on time.
U.S. Homebuyers Could Soon Get Help with the Down Payment
The social spending bill includes funding — proven to work in other countries — that would help millions buy their first home.
The Anti-Displacement Repair Team of Portland
By fixing up homes in Black neighborhoods, one group is slowing down harmful gentrification and keeping communities intact.
How the Netherlands’ Train System Works for the Visually Impaired
From apps that read what’s on the signs to staff who meet you at the door, the country has built one of the world’s most accessible railway networks.
Could Low-Carbon Trains Cure Europe’s Flying Addiction?
A new generation of sleeper cars and short-haul routes are helping railways compete against discount airlines.
Austin Is Giving Displaced Residents the ‘Right to Return’
A new city policy allows working-class families priced out of their neighborhoods to come back — affordably.
L.A.’s New Reflective Streets Bounce Heat Back into Space
The air in these neighborhoods is getting cooler — with huge implications for sweltering cities worldwide.
Once Upon a Pandemic, New York Let Its Street Vendors Thrive
When vendors in Queens started self-governing during Covid, the city got a glimpse of how public spaces can truly flourish.
Rebel Eviction Enforcers Are Helping Tenants Stay in Their Homes
Instead of just kicking residents out, officers started tipping them off that they were in danger of losing their homes. Suddenly, eviction rates started to tumble.
This Seattle Affordable Housing Project Is a Transit Rider’s Dream
The city’s transit agency is building apartments by light rail stations that folks can actually afford.
A Centuries Old Idea That’s Making Cities More Affordable Today
Before being zoned out of existence, boarding houses gave less privileged city dwellers a place to live. Some places are bringing them back.
Churches Are Becoming Players in Making Cities More Affordable
They own prime land in expensive residential areas and have a mandate to help the vulnerable.
The Cities Trailblazing Transit Service into the Wilderness
“Transit to trails” is opening up breathtaking natural spaces to an outdoorsy crowd that is more urban-based than ever.
Is This the World’s Most Aging-Friendly City?
Arnsberg, Germany’s Department of Future Aging has made it a prototype for how cities around the world can help their older residents thrive.
Singapore Shows What Serious Urban Farming Looks Like
In a city-state that imports 90% of its food, rooftop gardens are a matter of national food security.
The Era of the Wood Skyscraper Is Arriving
Sprouting in our concrete jungles, high-rises built of wood are pointing the way to a greener form of construction.
The Tiny-House Village That’s Changing Lives
Agape Village is a place where people find community, structure, stability — and a path to permanent housing.
Instead of Eviction, Landlords and Tenants Talk It Out
In Philadelphia, face-to-face mediated chats help both parties get what they need.
Edmonton Is Making Its Alleyways a Great Place to Live
By squeezing in more housing, the city is giving new life to spaces that were once for throwing trash and parking cars.
5 Ways to Decongest a City (Without Making People Work from Home)
The Bay Area is walking back a proposal that would have forced residents to work remotely.
How Oakland Got Real About Equitable Urban Planning
When the city closed streets to traffic during Covid, it revealed a fix for designs that cater to white and moneyed interests.
What a City-Sized Sharing Economy Looks Like
How Canadian cities and First Nations territories discovered the catalytic power of collaboration.
Cooperative Housing Is Redefining ‘Home’ for People with Disabilities
By sharing everything from services to accessibility renovations, co-housing strikes a balance between autonomy and affordability.
Cincinnati Tenants Are Building Equity With Each Rent Payment
Why should homeowners get all the perks? How a different type of rental model puts equity back in the pockets of tenants.
How Europe Engineered Its E-Bike Boom
Millions of Europeans now commute by e-bike, a mobility revolution carefully cultivated by governments and employers.
The San Francisco Housing Policy That’s Stopping Displacement
In the city’s Mission District, renters are collectively buying their buildings before they get priced out.
Edmonton’s New Parking Rule Is an Urban Planner’s Dream
For the first time, a major Canadian city won’t require space for cars on any property.
The Perks of Roommates With a 50-Year Age Difference
Intergenerational homesharing has taken off. The pandemic has complicated the calculus, but some say it’s more vital than ever.
Socially Distanced Architecture That Brings People Together
When correctly designed, housing that gives people personal space can make them feel closer.
These Streets May Stay Open Forever
Hundreds of cities have handed over their streets to pedestrians and cyclists during the pandemic. Some of them plan to keep it that way.
Japan’s ‘Disaster Parks’ Help Explain Its Coronavirus Response
Benches that become stoves and manholes hiding emergency toilets reflect the survival instincts of a country that has learned to live with peril.
Hong Kong’s Subway Was Built for This
A profit-making enterprise with a mandate to serve the people, the city’s transit system is uniquely designed to weather a crisis.
100 Years of Urban Housing Success
As cities around the world confront an affordability crisis, a few have spent a century perfecting the art of subsidized housing for the masses.
Making It Rain
Is rainwater capture the new solar panel? How drought-stricken cities are capitalizing on a building solution so simple, it’s almost like it’s right above our heads.
Free the Transit System!
No, seriously. Like, actually make it free. A rust belt guide to increasing ridership.
Spain’s Happy Little Carless City
Pontevedra, once choked with cars, is a laboratory for how smaller cities can implement a few simple tricks to reduce driving dramatically.
Cars in Cities: How’s That Working Out?
They’re dangerous, destructive, polluting, expensive, inefficient and inequitable—not to mention a pain in the ass. Now cars are being chased off city streets. That’s progress.
A Republican Suburb Designed for Cyclists
A deep-red town in Indiana has a bicycling network that would make Boulder blush. Their secret? Forget the politics and treat bikes more like cars.
Can Flexible Pricing be Fair?
Opponents say fees for urban services hit poor people hardest. But the data show that, implemented right, dynamic pricing can be a tool for equity.
Less Parking, More City
Until recently, Mexico City was building more parking than housing. Now new reforms are pushing the parking aside and returning the pavement to the people.
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