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Dan has written 357 posts for Urban Neighbourhood

Wuppertal River Transit

The city of Wuppertal is in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. The town is located in the river valley surrounding the river Whupper.

One of the city’s attractions is its suspended monorail, the Wuppertaler Schwebebahn which was opened in 1901. The tram line is suspended 8 m above street level and 12 m above the River. It is both the oldest and the only  electric elevated railway with hanging cars in the world. It’s also still in use by the public and moves close to 29 million passengers annually. (2014)

The official name is the “Electric Elevated Railway (Suspension Railway) Installation, Eugen Langen System” (Anlage einer elektrischen Hochbahn (Schwebebahn), System Eugen Langen).



The video, uploaded by VidetVidet to YouTube was shot in 2011 and takes a journey along the suspended railway’s path.


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For more details about the Wuppertal Suspension Railway see the Wikipedia page or the official site.

Dear North American Airports, you wish you were as cool as me… love Winnipeg International

If you are a traveller you appreciate a good airport, when I lived overseas I had the pleasure of transiting through Incheon International Airport on a regular basis on my way to the south coast of Korea and I used to marvel at the experience. Bright airy spaces, fast service and a logical design, I used to think that the half hour average time from gate to subway stop was a byproduct of my ‘professor status’ but that airport has been ranked in the top 5 airports in the world since it opened so maybe not so much.

Until now the top airports have been primarily located in Asia but there’s a new city appearing on the list; Winnipeg’s James Armstrong Richardson International Airport.

It made it on the list of the Travel Channel’s top ten most iconic;

 Renowned architect César Pelli (who designed the Petronas Towers in Malaysia and the International Financial Centre in Hong Kong) drew his inspiration from the vast prairies and sky when he conceived of this terminal, the first freestanding airport building in Canada that’s LEED-certified. Skylights, an atrium and large windows fill the space with light and bring the big sky inside — a design element that (along with “smart” mechanical systems) helps reduce overall energy consumption.  Travel Channel

The existing terminal designed in 1964 is on its way to retirement or to be re-purposed.  The Winnipeg Airports Authority (WAA)designed the new terminal with the following principals; abundant use of transparency and natural light, openness to the interior, and connectivity. Special attention was paid to space management which resulted in; wider corridors, larger lounges, more seating, and larger customs facilities, with extra space in the screening and security areas in case any new regulations come along. I guess its important to plan for 1984 even if you don’t want it to happen. s

Either way, the new terminal in Winnipeg is likely to stay near the top of the list for a while, until another North American city gets frustrated that it is being beaten by Winnipeg. To bad for Toronto, and Vancouver, your new Airport’s are already done.

The Winnipeg Airports Authority has a youtube channel if you want to take a closer look.

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For a better gallery of images from inside visit ChrisD.ca for gallery supplied by a local and the requisite photos of college age people wearing inflatable airplanes that authorities love so much.

Surviving A Troll Attack – Or Why I Stopped Blogging For A While

Any semi regular followers of Urban Neighbourhood, or anyone who pays attention to the date ranges on posts will have no doubt noticed the drastic slow down / reduction in posts here at Urban Neighbourhood over the past year.  I would like to take the opportunity to explain why this outage occurred as Dan starts to gets his Blog back, (Anyone over the age of 25 should get the film reference). I started this post a couple months back but held off as I was concerned about the implications of ‘poking the dragon’ after my case was closed. However now that the court is considering sending US Marshals to drag Mr & Ms Righthaven’s asses into court so that they can start liquidating their assets I’m not so worried, seeing as they would be arrested if they showed up to file another suit against me. That said it should be noted that all my references to the personalities or person hood of the referenced parties are alleged and should not be taken as fact. So if I suggest that the people associated with Righthaven are soulless  trolls who deserve to trip and fall into a tire fire, I am only alleging that they are soulless trolls. The tire fire part however, is totally true.

Anyone paying attention to the blogosphere and the legal wrangling that has been going on for the past 4 years regarding fair use and digital rights will be familiar with the copyright troll better known as Righthaven(1). Starting last fall, Righthaven began suing bloggers who quoted articles from a paper with the initials LVRJ(2)  for copyright infringement. Even in cases where the quotes were properly sourced and hyper-linked the firm struck. www.urbanneighbourhood.com was the victim (3) of one of these Troll attacks last year, right before Christmas. Just to be clear I don’t make any money of this blog, and in fact it costs me about 30$ bucks a year so any claims that I am making money off the efforts of others are ridonculous.

Now I don’t know if you have ever been sued before but it is not a nice feeling, and getting sued right before Christmas feels even worse. But it shouldn’t really surprise anyone that trolls + Christmas doesn’t work. I spent the next couple of weeks freaking out and badgering many lawyers and other people that knew stuff about lawyering for legal advice. This advice ranged from; ‘you’re screwed even if your innocent, try to settle for around a grand’, ‘ummm copyright law isn’t really my thing’, to ‘lay low and don’t sign for any packages and use the back door so they can’t serve you’ (4). I spent those weeks searching all over the internet where I found a few different websites that were great, Righthaven Victims, and the Electronic Freedom Foundation along with a bunch of others, but I lost the list when my hard drive died this fall. For those of you that would like to read a full overview of the rise and ultimate crash and burn of Righthaven, please do check out Righthaven Victims.

Unfortunately none of the Pro Bono firms wanted to take me on as a client, I have a feeling that they already had their hands full and my out of country status wouldn’t have helped either. Feeling overwhelmed I was ready to settle and so I called the Trolls to offer a pile of my gold, (5) but the Troll’s assistant was busy on another call and asked if he could call back in an hour for my gold. I meekly said ‘OK fine’ and continued to surf the internet for the next hour or so. It was at this point I came upon a goldmine.(6) The Internet was coming to my rescue as because the Trolls had sued about 300 bloggers by this point, and a good portion of them had posted their legal arguments, counter suits, motions, and judgments online, and I realized that by using the appropriate legal citations from those documents I could write my own damn counter suit without having access to a legal library. The only problem was that I was on the last day of my window to respond, so the troll people could motion for summary judgment.

 (1) allegedly they became actual trolls after someone thought it was a good idea to sue a Wicca blog.
(2) I categorically refuse to do anything that could send traffic to that paper’s website. Including typing it’s name.
(3) Depending on who you ask of course, the Trolls basically claimed I was stealing the food from their poor troll babies mouths.
(4) That gem came from my mother who was a legal secretary for 20 years.
(5) Well the bank’s gold since I was a broke student.
(6) Figuratively.

When the assistant troll called back, I emailed the him and apologized for not picking up and informed him that it was because I had had a family emergency,(7) and then asked for an extension of the window to respond till the following Monday, which assistant troll then gave to me in writing via a return email. (8)  I then proceeded to lock myself into my office at home and at work and spend more time writing that legal paper then I have any other 22 page paper in my life. On Friday I dropped the completed paper off with FedEx and then spent the next couple of days obsessively checking the tracking website to watch the progress of the first copy travel priority overnight to the Court Clerk’s Office, and the second travel by 3 day shipping to Righthaven’s cave under the bridge (9). On Monday afternoon when my reply and counter suite landed in the cave I got an irate email from the head troll claiming that I had violated fair practice or some shit by offering to settle and then not doing so, to which I responded with a copy of the email granting me the extension and a ‘we’ll see what happens in court.’ (10)

The Trolls then responded with a counter argument that once again argued that I was starving their poor troll babies and that I was going to bring about the end of civilization if I were permitted to quote and reference articles (11). In many ways this counter argument was a bonus for me because it allowed me to submit my own reply to this counter argument and actually spend three weeks writing it, thus making it even better and full of even more relevant case law as to why the trolls had their heads up their own rear ends.

Meanwhile the news in the courts was not so good… for the Trolls. The Judges that were hearing the cases that had already gone to court were finding Righthaven’s arguments that they were losing gold problematic (12) since the only way that they got gold was by suing people and that the court was also failing to see how quoting and hyper-linking to a website was damaging. (13)

(7)Emergency = I desperately needed time to write a counter argument and motion to dismiss so my family didn’t lose a whole bunch of gold.
(8) The lawyers reading this understand the importance of getting stuff like this in writing.
(9) Most likely a strip mall in real life, but I am sure the inside was done up like a cave.
(10) I was also giving my computer the finger.
(11) Based on this I assumed that these trolls loved Fox news because the liberal elites who go to university do this all the time and we know how people who watch Fox news feel about us beer swilling liberal elites.
(12) The basic gist was that by creating a website that talked about a news item reported by their troll masters, they were somehow not getting food for their troll babies because presumably their troll masters wouldn’t feed them until their work suing people was done.
(13) Because as any person who understand the internet can tell you, having hyperlinks that direct traffic to your website is a good thing, and is why so many people get paid to spam the internet and comment boards with hyperlinks.

A couple months later I got an email from the assistant troll telling me that I had to respond within two weeks to their request for a discovery meeting or else! So I responded with an email stating that I would be more then happy to do a discovery teleconference with them on one of four dates (14). I then got an email from senior troll telling me that this was not good enough, and I must come to the troll cave in person. In a bit of a bluff I calmly replied that since their toll enforcer (15) had served me in Canada they could hire a Canadian Lawyer or fly up here themselves  if they wanted a face to face discovery meeting. Either because I was right, or because they didn’t know the law well enough, they didn’t send any more threats for discovery. This could have also been due to the fact that things were going worse and worse for them in the courts.

Then came June 22nd. See it turns out that in one of the other cases in front of the court, the judge had ordered that the contract agreement between Stevens Media and Righthaven be unsealed where upon it turned out that Righthaven didn’t actually own the copy right to anything as the contract stated that they had only been licensed the right to sue. While this may have seemed smart in terms of keeping Steven’s Media the ultimate owner of the IP, and shielded from counter suits and liability, it was also completely wrong. See any good lawyer will tell you that you can’t sue over the patent for something unless you actually own it. Wham Bam  good by lawsuit! Since the Judge found that the Trolls had no right to sue, (and apparently needed to go back to law school), my and all the other pending lawsuits were dismissed! Good bye legal nightmare!

So now I like to check Righthaven Victims, to follow the saga every couple of weeks because Judges do not like it when you lie to them and waste the Court’s valuable time with over 400 groundless lawsuits and have in the last couple of months reduced them from a set of scary trolls to a set of fugitives on the run to try to keep from being liquidated, and that my friends is how I survived a Troll Attack. Ironically the Judges have been so pissed off that most people involved in copyright law would agree that the resulting judgements have weakened copyright protections for media creators/owners.

(14) a month later.
(15) a process server they had hired here in Montreal.

Japan’s Solar Shift

One thing that you can say about disasters is that they are rare opportunities to redo everything. A tabula rasa opportunity when it comes to rebuilding affected areas.

Japan is still recovering from the massive earthquake and tsunami that struck on March 11th and the nuclear crisis that it triggered.

The AFP is reporting that Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan is expected to announce Japan’s decision to continue operating nukes in order to meet the countries current power needs, but to also a mandate that would require all new homes and buildings to be outfitted with solar panels as part of the upcoming G8 Summit in France.

Of course a mandate isn’t legislation, but the construction required does present an opportunity for a solar company to step in and take advantage of the increased opportunity for demand if they can offer an efficient solar option.

North America’s Most Sustainable Telecommunications Company Plan’s New LEED Platnum Headquarters

As North American telecommunications companies go, it is hard to find a company with better sustainability cred then TELUS. The firm made the decision to reduce its environmental footprint about 9 years ago, before sustainability was cool and embarked on a now decade long journey to lower it’s impact on the environment.

..everything from diesel generators and chemicals to batteries and pole storage. “As an incumbent telecommunications company, we’ve been around a long time, so we have older infrastructure in some areas,” says Joe Pach, Telus’s environment director. “We recognize the risk that that represents to us, so we’ve embarked on a program to upgrade these systems.  In the past, we have had people say to us, ‘Why are we even doing this? They’re not.’ [But] we can’t take that approach, because the risk to the company in terms of its public profile … is greater to us than the monetary risk of, say, a fine … TELUS wants to send a very clear signal to the investment community that we are a very well-managed company.” And there’s no better way to do that than taking care of all the small, green details. S.

It is all well and  good for a company to say that . it is a green company but the proof is in the details and TELUS has those to back it up.  TELUS has been ranked among the world’s leading companies on the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index for the past nine years. It is the only North American telecommunications company to make the list and one of only 11 Canadian businesses across all sectors included on the global index.S.

As part of its ongoing efforts TELUS has also being upgrading its corporate offices, Known as TELUS Houses, 3 so far have been renovated or constructed,  TELUS House Toronto and Ottawa were awarded LEED Gold, and TELUS House Quebec LEED Silver. For its new National Headquarters in Vancouver the company is aiming for LEED Platinum.  The $750-million, one-million square foot project will radically transform an aging downtown block into one of the most technologically and environmentally-advanced sites in the world

In the Company’s own words:

The million-square foot, $750 million project will see almost the entire block of prime downtown real estate bounded by Georgia, Robson, Seymour and Richards rebuilt into one of the most technologically and environmentally-advanced sites of commerce, employment and living in the world. It will create half a million square feet of much-needed new office space available for multiple tenants and 500 new residential units, all setting new standards for environmental sustainability. The 22-storey signature office tower will be the first building in Canada built to the new 2009 Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum standard and the 44-storey residential tower will be built to the LEED Gold standard.

“TELUS Garden will exemplify the TELUS brand and be a truly amazing destination for our team members, the community and the city,” said Darren Entwistle, TELUS president and CEO. “Our vision is that TELUS Garden will be a beautiful and unique location where leading-edge technology, urban living, environmental sustainability and tomorrow’s work styles are elegantly integrated into a vibrant community. This development, which will inject millions of dollars into our economy, will highlight TELUS’ advanced communications technologies and environmental innovation in a way never before seen. TELUS Garden will be a breathtaking place to live and work, an architectural icon that will consume 30 per cent less energy thanks to its responsible, leading-edge design. It will be a celebrated urban oasis that is literally alive with plant life and showcases our great province’s arts and culture.”

The landmark development reinforces TELUS’ commitment to the City of Vancouver, and will make a significant contribution to the city’s goal of becoming the greenest city in the world. Once complete, TELUS’ new headquarters will be unique in North America, featuring 10,000 square feet of green roofs providing organic produce for local restaurants, two elevated roof forests, British Columbia artwork, LED lighting on the western façade projecting programmable coloured images on to fritted glass, and media walls where cultural events such as symphony concerts can be broadcast to the public.

“The fact that TELUS is choosing to build a new national headquarters in Vancouver is a great vote of confidence in our local economy,” said Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson. “Their proposal to build to LEED Platinum is extremely ambitious and sends a signal that in Vancouver, going green is good for business and the environment. I’m very excited that they are investing in Vancouver – we’ve worked hard to build a competitive climate for business, and when companies like TELUS choose to expand their presence it is great for creating new jobs and economic spin-offs in our city.”

TELUS has partnered with Westbank to lead the project, and has engaged Henriquez Partners as the architect that is designing the iconic development. TELUS will fund its share of the development predominantly through leveraging its existing real estate holdings in this block, coupled with the sale and lease of space in the new buildings. The investment is consistent with TELUS’ overall capital expenditure target for 2011 and longer term capital intensity goals. TELUS has just entered into an agreement to purchase the city-owned parkade at the corner of Georgia and Richards, consolidating the entire block, other than the Kingston Hotel, to create a unified development.

While I don’t envy guests of the Kingston Hotel during construction, when the dust settles the hotel will be better situated between two cutting edge and lively buildings instead of a pair of park aids. As an observer of the development landscape here in Canada I have been watching with interest to see what TELUS would decide to do after the company announced it was considering a new Headquarters. In Keeping with its previous property investments in Toronto, Ottawa and Quebec City, TELUS once again delivers an office building that looks forward and sees a city where “the future is friendly.”

Independent America

Artisanal foods, microbreweries; local business has been making a bit of a comeback in recent years as there is a growing insurgency against corporate retail. Hanson Hosein and Heather Hughes drive 13,000 miles across America’s back roads to see if its possible to make the shift from chain store back to Mom & Pop.

These days, you have to go out of your way if you want to do business with Mom & Pop. One couple has taken that notion a little bit farther, 13,000 miles farther to be exact. … a thought provoking new documentary, which uncovers the growing opposition to big box retail across the U.S. and the often desperate fight being waged by independent retailers to stay alive.

Find out more about the film at http://ww.independentamerica.net

Promoting Local Business One Bus Shelter at a Time.

One of our Urban Compatriots Ryan Craven who writes for Londonfuse talks about how easy it is to promote local businesses when you do it right. Take a look at his post on Londonfuse for more details.

The Detroit Woodward Light Rail Transit Rap

Two involved peeps Joel Batterman and Elias Schewel have produced a video on YouTube outlining all the reasons why the centre lane Light Rail Transit option is the way to go. For anyone who cares about mass transit, or likes to see LEGO figures rapping, this video is a must see!

It’s time for Detroit to reclaim the mantle of transportation innovation. This music video argues that a light rail line running down the middle of Woodward Avenue, “Mainline Option A,” will be faster, safer, and more reliable than the side-running alternative, “Mainline Option B.” Let’s bring the trains down the middle! Tell it to the feds by March 14: take a moment to submit a comment to woodwardlightrail@detroitmi.gov. See TransportMichigan.org for more information.

Swedbank Selects 3XN for it Spiffy New Headquarters

In architectural news on of our favourite European architecture firms 3XN has been selected to design the new international Headquarters for Swedbank. In keeping with 3XN’s talents as a designer of modern and innovative office buildings, 3XN has based their design for the structure around Swedbank’s core values; openness, simplicity, care and durability.

“The building is conceived and designed from the inside out. We have literally translated Swedbank’s core values into the creation of a modern and groundbreaking head office. Swedbank has conveyed the importance it places on creating an open social environment, which happens to coincide with 3XNs design beliefs and ideology. It has been a very interesting process and we look forward to getting to work on the project”. 3XN Principal Kim Herforth Nielsen

The design further develops these core values with a structure that focuses on transparency, Scandinavian simplicity and dynamic social environments.

The site selected for the new head office is in Sundbyberg; a fast developing traffic centre approximately five kilometres outside downtown Stockholm. The company plans to move approximately 2.500 employees will move into the building before the end of 2013.

3XN explains “With its innovative and transparent expression formed in an unconventional triple-v structure the building will become a landmark among Swedish office buildings. The large volume is broken up to create spaces on a human scale. This makes the building inviting on the inside as well as on the outside.”

For more information on the project visit 3XN’s online portfolio.

Playing dirty in sustainable energy.

In a confluence of two news articles that have come across my desk in the past month; the first from Time discussing how the Chinese have shown that they can do capitalism better then the west, made evident by their decisive decision making and fast response times when dealing with the recent recession. While western governments argue if tax cuts for the wealthy or infrastructure spending is best, the Chinese central government acted swiftly, invested in the right places and the Chinese economy has carried along at a steady pace. The second a news report from the CBC discussing how the the US in up in arms about the Chinese green revolution and the unfair trade practices they used to developing their own solar panel manufacturing industry. An industry that China developed, incidentally enough, almost entirely in the last two years.

The United Steel Workers go on a long rant about how the United States needs to put  a stop to the illegal and unfair trade practices that China is adopting to build its green energy industry;  sanctions, lawsuits and the like, which we all know will be very effective, but while the US focuses on suing China, China will just carry on building the industry, they know that in the long run energy independence is much more important then keeping the US, (who’s debt it practically owns anyway) happy.  As the quote indicates, they already know how to win the battle for clean energy. (not to mention have a strangle hold on most of the raw materials.

“Who wins this clean energy race really depends on how much support the government gives.” Zhao Feng, general manger of Hunan Sunzone Optoelectronics.

I have always been a little dubious about Free Trade, its not that I don’t think that there are certain good things about it, I mean I like my goods to be inexpensive,  it’s just that I think the pay off has mostly been for big business and not for the rest of us.

Do you think that it is unfair for a country to subsidize an industry to the detriment of its other trade partners?  Do you think these sudden changes in trade practice have wronged the US? (if you think government subsidies are a new phenomenon… you are so cute!)

That isn’t the ultimate question for me though, My question is, does the planet care? Ever since I read a particularly apt line in a Terry Pratchett novel about how the planet was also alive, but it just moved a lot slower then the rest of us eons rather then years, and humans had better watch out for the point in time  when the planet realizes that it has developed a disfiguring skin condition, I have been more concerned with the effect, rather then the politics.

Ultimately the environment doesn’t give a geological event who comes up with green technology, it just cares that someone does, and in this case China showed the rest of the world that you can create a sustainable industry in no time at all, if you just do it. So maybe next time a western government decides that it wants to become an industry leader in some green technology then they will just do it… since time has proven that if they don’t someone else will beat them too it, that’s just business after all. There isn’t any crying in capitalism.

Skating at the Halifax Oval

Halifax Oval timelapse 6am – 6pm. Rain/Snow closed the Oval at 3pm, but still a good showing. vollmerk

The Canada Games Oval is located on the Halifax North Common at the corner of North Park Street and Cogswell Street.

A Tour Through Benny Farm

Benny Farm was first developed in the years immediately following the Second World War. Returning veterans needed homes for their families and the country needed housing to deal with the impending baby boom. In the Late 1940s the Canadian government built a number of apartment buildings on the site of what was then a former farm on the western edge of Montreal. The project was, and remains one of the largest government housing projects ever undertaken in the country. The property and the apartments were maintained for a number of years under the auspices of the Department of Veterans Affairs, and then by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, (CMHC).

In the 1950s and 1960s thanks to most residents being of the same age, community life at Benny Farm thrived due the prevalence of many young families (hello baby boom!) Historical accounts suggest that during the 1950s there were over a thousand children on the property. However in the 1980s the age homogenization began to work against Benny Farm as the mean age of residents rose to 70 years. Most of the buildings had not been well maintained, and the post-war three story walk ups with no elevators or air-conditioning were increasingly difficult for elderly residents.

In the early 1990s the the CMHC announced plans to redevelop the property with more accessible units for the aging population and reopen the door to new tenants in more modern units. In order to finance the redevelopment the agency planned to have the private sector develop the rest of the property. The scale of the private development; 1200 units in a number of 6 story buildings, the destruction of the existing post war buildings, and a fundamental change to the social role of the site caused an outcry from members of the community. What ensued next was a 20 year battle over the future of the Benny Farm site.

Arnold Bennett, and Jason Hughes helped spearhead the battle to keep Benny Farm affordable, arguing for public and affordable housing rather then private development.  For a long time it seemed that the site would end up going to private developers who would build standard condo style units that would price many area residents out of the market. While there are many people and events that were responsible for making Benny Farm what it is today, the eureka moment came when the team realized that nothing was stopping the the Habitations communautaires NDG, (HCNDG) a community-run non-profit corporation, from bidding on the parts of the site that were open to the private sector. The idea was to create a non-profit, community-run organization that would offer and manage the units at a below market rate. The proposal went over very well with the community and over 80 people had signed statements of interest by the time the HCNDG submitted a bid to the Canada Lands Corporation for three sites, with a total of 74 units. The ‘Affordable Home Ownership Initiative’ was awarded the sites after beating a number of private developers who submitted more traditional site concepts.

Claude Cormier Landscape Architects was selected to develop the master plan for the Benny Farm Housing project and created a network of promenades that ties the paths, and semi private courtyards of the project into the surrounding neighbourhood streets. An orchard of 170 ornamental crab apple trees is also distributed throughout as a nod to the sites agricultural past.

The new Benny Farm site includes a diverse mix of housing types, over 200 rental properties, a public health clinic, recreation centre, community garden, daycare, and other neighbourhood services. The property was also developed with sustainability in mind and features; Geothermal heat exchange, hybrid glycol/electric solar power, air- and water-based heat recovery. There were plans for grey-water and storm-water reuse, wetland treatment and sub-grade water-table recharge, but news reports indicate that the water reuse was never installed and I was unable to spot evidence of a  wetland on my site visit.  A non-profit, community-run utility owns and manages the energy infrastructure as well as continued  re-investment in sustainable construction for this infrastructure. The utility was set up with a legal structure similar to that of a cooperative housing development. Green Energy Benny Farm (GEBF) is owned and controlled by a voluntary, user-driven board, and the project has won at least one award; The Bronze Prize at Global Holcim Awards.

Of course most of this was laid out in the planning stage so what about now? As the pictures show, Benny Farm isn’t just a concept anymore, it is once again a living and working community. It appears that being at the cutting edge of sustainability in a non-profit housing complex has its risks. Hour.ca published an article in 2007 that reported problems with leaking geothermal pipes, that combined with other leaks have lead to a serious mould problem in one of the Co-ops, and some solar panels have leaked glycol, while some of the radiant floor heating systems didn’t balance, resulting in some residents freezing while others boiled. Some blamed a low-bid contract process while others suggested that there was not enough co-ordination between the parties involved in merging the green technologies. Most news reports on the project and issues stop after 2007 so presumably the kinks have been worked out.

While the process was long and contentious Benny Farm is considered a success for sustainable, affordable housing, and community renewal. I took a walk through Benny Farm in the fall and was very impressed with the site design and landscaping in particular, while a lot of modern buildings can look very similar and repetitive each area felt different enough from the others to make each seem distinctive while still maintaining a connection with the project as a while. There is also clear evidence that the kids are back with all the toys that were scattered about. So was Benny Farm a success? I’ll let the photo’s speak for themselves and you can make up your own mind.

For a great photo-spread of the property before its renovation, take a look at The Benny Farm Condemned Housing Projects @ Citynoise. Also check out our related gallery, Cave Art (ok not really) of  Benny Farm. Reference links and other great places to visit for information about Benny Farm. Story Telling At Concordia Benny Farm Calgary Housing Action Initiative, Alternative Housing Models: Benny Farm. Canada Lands Company: Community Success Stories: Benny Farm

Discussion of Creative and Reclaimed Home Construction: Dan Phillips at TED

Dan Phillips discusses human psychology and it’s impact on the home construction industry. In this funny and insightful talk from TEDxHouston, builder Dan Phillips tours us through a dozen homes he’s built in Texas using recycled and reclaimed materials in wildly creative ways. Dan examines the why of the rational that causes so much waste in the construction industry and offers ideas on how to create low-tech design details will refresh your own creative drive.


Contemporary Architecture and Christmas Deliveries.

When home designers don’t consider all factors.  Buck Brown brings a a great little cartoon about Santa’s feelings when it comes to delivering Christmas presents to contemporary homes.

Seattle’s Lighthouse Apartment in the Smith Tower

For those of you who love to look inside other peoples apartments, the New York Times takes us on a tour of one of Seattle’s most interesting and until now, mysterious apartments. Word has it that the apartment had taken on the status of an urban legend in Seattle that oscillated from occupied by crazy cat lady to home for a line of artists who have passed the key from one tenant to the next. Well the legend has passed from fiction to fact as the New York Times managed to get themselves a tour and sets the record straight.

How did a 46-year-old choreographer-turned-venture-capitalist-turned mom win a long-term lease on what may be the most extraordinary apartment in the city: the space at the top of the historic Smith Tower in Pioneer Square?

Read more: A Home in the Pyramid Atop Seattle’s Smith Tower.

See the photo Gallery Here.