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Urban Fun

This tag is associated with 25 posts

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.

Mummy Dance Party at Bryant Park

via one of our new favorite sites: Urban Prankster

Improv Everywhere is a group that we have mentioned before, and it is a driving force behind the flash-mob movement. In one of their latest variations on the flash-mob the folks at Improv Everywhere have started The Mp3 Experiments, wherein they post an Mp3 online for participants to download and listen too simultaneously.  The most recent of these was Experiment 7 that started in the retail stores surrounding Times Square and culminated with a Mummy Dance Party at Bryant Park.

Edited by Keith Haskel / music by Tyler Walker

The Pirate Ride

An entrepreneur prepares to unload his pirate ride from the back of his truck on the streets of downtown Seoul. Photo by Nathan Hudon

The Fight for Fiddler’s Castle Continues

The story of Fiddler’s Castle on Honeycrock Farm in Salfords England has been going on for years now. We first highlighted the story back in July 2008 and ironically because of the spelling mistake that post continues to be one of the highest traffic drivers to urbanneighbourhood.com. Yesterday the Homes From Hell feature of Fidler’s Castle must have been shown again because there was a spike of visitors. Because of all the interest we decided to do some more research and see if we could find any new news.

On November 19th 2009 Mr Fidler went before the British High Court in a bid to convince High Court Judge Sir Thane Forbes to overturn the decision of the government planning inspector who ruled that the structure had to be torn down in May of 2008.

The key aspect of the case revolves around a decision as to when the construction of the house was “substantially completed”. Mr Fidler and his counsel argue that the home was finished in 2002 when Mr Fidler and his family moved into the building and no further modifications were made to the structure for the next four years.

Planning law in the Reigate & Banstead Borough states that if a property is “substantially completed” for four years, it is legally allowed to exist.

In 2006 four years after construction of the house itself was completed Mr Fidler removed the barricade of straw bales and tarpaulin, believing that since the building had been completed for four years it should be granted planning permission.

Image by Flickr User Pilgrimbridgeclub

The government planning inspector argued otherwise finding that “the removal of the straw bale disguise constituted part of the building works” and as a result the inspector found that Mr Fidler could not rely on the four year immunity period which starts from “substantial completion,” and the Reigate & Banstead Borough Council issued a demolition notice.

Mr Fidler’s appeal, launched on the 19th of November centres on the question of when exactly the castle was “complete.” The town argues that the removal of the hay bales was a substantial part of construction, the lawyers for the Fidler family argues that it was not. “The appellant’s case is that the removal of the bales was not part of the building operation against which the enforcement notice was directed.” The Fidler’s argue that the removal of the straw bales was a separate operation and as such doesn’t breach planning control. Consul argued that the building was “substantially complete” more then four years earlier in 2002 when the family moved into the home and that “no other reasonable conclusion is possible… construction was complete and it was in occupation… the removal of the bales cannot even be classified as part of a building operation. The decision was wrong in law and should be quashed”.

Image by Flickr User Pilgrimbridgeclub

High Court Justice Thane Forbes Stated “The key point in your case is whether the inspector was right to conclude that the removal of the bales and the tarpaulin formed part of the building operation.”

At the end of the two days of arguments before the High Court Justice Forbes reserved judgment and is expected to give his decision in writing soon.

Of course even that may not be the end of it, Robert Fidler has already stated “We are determined to take this all the way to the top. We are quite sure that ultimately we will win”.

Image by Flickr User Pilgrimbridgeclub

source 1 source 2

NVS: The Food Court Musical

From http://www.ImprovEverywhere.com, 16 agents create a spontaneous musical in a food court in a Los Angeles mall. Using wireless microphones and the mall’s PA system, both their voices and the music was amplified throughout the food court. All cameras were hidden behind two-way mirrors and other concealed structures.

This is one of over 70 different missions Improv Everywhere has executed over the past six years in New York City. Others include Frozen Grand Central, the Best Buy uniform prank, and the famous U2 Rooftop Hoax, to name a few. Visit the website to see tons of photos and video of all of our work, including behind the scenes information on how this video was made.

Song by Scott Brown and Anthony King.
Arranged by Jamie Laboz


The Pedestrianization of Times Square and the Naked Cowboy

Times Square is an iconic location in the City of  New York. In planner speak a place like this is often called a magnet, attactions like these generate activity and draw in people. They call them attractions for a reason. One of Times Square’s more notable citizens is Robert John Burck, more popularly known as the Naked Cowboy, an American Busker with a signature style of wearing only his hat, cowboy boots, a pair of tighty whiteys and a strategically placed guitar. As his main patch is times square the Naked Cowboy and the multitudes of photo’s of him scattered across the Internet as a backdrop to the change taking place in Times Square.

Naked cowboy times squarenaked cowboy per closure

You see up until recently Times Square, while known as an attraction for people, was predominantly a space for cars.  However with the induction of New York’s Fearless new Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, and the changes that have come with her, Times Square is now a different place.  Janette has mentioned that she is taking part of her inspiration for the pedestrianization of Times Square from the Strøget, a car free zone in the center of Copenhagen. In Copenhagen it has turned that part of the city into the longest pedestrian shopping area in Europe and now a very genteel (tax generating) part of the city.

naked cowboy traffic island pre closure

In a brilliant stroke of decisive action the commissionar has decided not to bother waiting for fancy paving stones, and public squares. The first move was made with traffic cones, paint, and cheap patio furnature. The swift take over gives the plaza and exicting feel, pedestrians get an immeadiate payoff from the enjoyment of  being able to use the space and the local buisness owners might even get a taste for the effect of the increased foot traffic. There is no inbetween period when the space isn’t for cars or pedestrains fenced off and waiting for the fancy work to be done making the plaza a permanent installation, everyone can experience the kind of place Times Square can become right now. Instant gratification.

naked-cowboy- when there were cars

The many photo’s of the Naked Cowboy in Times Square show the kind of place it was, and now photos are arriving that show the kind of place it has become, and the kind of place it can be. At the moment the lawn chairs and traffic cones represent an irreverent and almost adolecent kind of Times Square. A Times Square that you assume would have a Naked Cowboy. It is an invigorating transition before it eventually grows up into a more genteel and tidy space.

(Photo: Damon Winter/The New York Times/Redux)

(Photo: Damon Winter/The New York Times/Redux)

The Fight Over OMB Folly Continues


Back in October we brought up an interesting tale of revenge at the municipal level, North York council overwhelmingly approved a motion (7-2) to name one of the new streets in a development that was approved contrary to the master plan ‘OMB Folly’.  We had a couple comments to that article and most all were in favour of the name change.

Well now time is coming to put shovel to ground and future residents of OMB folly are starting to weigh in on the debate. In The Star its reported that a future resident wrote to Mayor David Miller to request that the name be changed back to its original intended name ‘Connfield Lane.’

“We just felt it was very inappropriate for elected officials to be toying around with people’s investment and purchases in the city,” she said in an interview. “And we felt it was very derogatory to the Ontario Municipal Board.” S

They Mayor is quoted as saying that he didn’t agree with the new name either but that she needed to speak to John Filion the councilor who first came up with the motion. “Filion said he won’t support a switch. He considers the matter closed after the community council voted 7-2 to recommend OMB Folly, and city council approved it, 14-13.” S

Barring a judicial injunction I doubt that the new residents are going to see much help. I have to say that I wonder just how much of an impact to their investment the new home owners are going to see. Just how much does the name of the street actually play into a buyers mind when it comes to property purchases?

While some streets do carry a certain mark up price or prestige, Sherbrooke ave in Montreal, or Park Avenue in New York, does the name really matter all that much when dealing with the thousands of permutations in the suburbs? Connfeild lane vs Wilson lane? Whats the difference?

When my parents moved back in 1997 they ended up choosing a great house with a ‘bad’ address, and while my dad wasn’t too happy about the street name one ‘Puff Ball Lane,’ they were and are still very happy with the house. When it came down to it, it was about finding the best house for their needs and in the location that they wanted. The street name was ultimately irrelevant to the purchasing decision. While I certainly am not going to try to suggest that most people are as practical as my parents when it comes to home shopping, I would venture a guess that things like the roof and the foundation are going to be bigger concerns then the street name.

I wonder what people who live on other Follys would say?  Just by searching ‘Folly Lane’ I came up with 10 different lanes, 9 in the UK where it is evidently much more popular but one here in Canada as well. I wonder if the people on Folly Lane in Belleville have had any trouble with the resale value of their homes? Not to mention all the other permutations like ‘Watts folly’ in Australia, and the town of Folly Virginia. Ultimately I still hope the name sticks, ‘OMB Folly’ has a real history to it now.

Antwerp Central Station & The Sound of Music

A flash mob takes on the Sound of Music at Antwerp Central Station.

Recycled Buildings Portfolio

I have to mention it because it really is an excellent file on recycled buildings, and other things that have been recycled into buildings. From a trailer park treehouse, to a shipping container hotel and a refridgerator Stonehenge. This link is worth checking out.


The Street as a Nutcracker

We  urbanites are not the only ones present in the city. There is another urban environment that shares the neighbourhood with us and some of them have figured out how to get us to crack their nuts.

The Flash Mob

Just imagine that one day you are out doing errands, you have to pick up something from the store just need to get  home so that you have enough time before people arrive. Then all of a sudden almost everyone around you stops, how would you react?

I think it would make my day.

When children lead design, the tale of Coriandoline.

I came across an article today that had an interesting supposition about planning and neighbourhood design, for all our public consultations and all the research that is done on what the ideal family home or neighbourhood should be, we generally ignore the opinions of a significant group of inhabitants. The children, I mean what do they know after all? they ‘re just kids.


Back in 1990 a construction co-operative decided to listen to every one of the inhabitants that would live in the neighbourhood they were building, including the children, and that is how the idea for Coriandoline came about.

The project won the Peggy Guggenheim Prize for the most innovative project in 2001 and then the World Habitat Awards in 2002. To look at the neighbourhood that children built you get the feeling that the design was not constrained by the ideas that adults would simply take for granted. The paint job is one of the most striking aspects as the buildings are covered with the work of Italian painter, illustrator and set designer, Emanuele Luzzati.


The first phase of the project was essentially research and consultation with about 700 children from 12 local nursery and infant schools. Teachers, psychologists, architects, engineers, surveyors, builders and carpenters all spent time with the children to both teach them about architecture and neighbourhoods and also to learn from them.

Ilaria Ligabue was a 5 year old when the project started but remembers the process quite well. “We drew loads and gave free reign to our imagination. We even painted on real small wooden houses which became our play area. It was a great adventure for us kids.” S

The children came up with a list of essentials, after much collating and data processing by the adults and the Manifesto of Children’s Living Needs was published. The essential features were; transparent, hard outside, soft inside, playful, decorated, magical and peaceful.

“When we started the planning phase, we realised we faced an enormous risk. On the one hand we could have fallen into the trap of creating something banal – houses that looked just like all new houses, with token ‘corrections’ providing superficial concessions. On the other hand we could have gone to the opposite extreme and end up creating a sort of fairytale playground which had no meaning as a part of the town. We wanted to create an area which could be exploited and enjoyed by the whole community, but which used children’s experiences and needs as a parameter for quality.” S


The neighbourhood has ‘built in playability,’  the designers realised through their work, that in Italy the most common sign you see is ‘No Football Allowed’ or no playing allowed. In Cariandoline the entire neighbourhood is designed for play, from the covered garage areas that double as sheltered play areas, to the slides next to the stairs and the fun house mirrors in the elevators.

The sucess of this neighbourhood makes me wonder how much more enjoyable our cities would be if we listened to the children who live in them a little more.

If you would like to learn more about Coriandoline please visit the community’s online portal. Not surprisingly it is pretty fun to navigate.

Liverpool Street Station Dance Party

T-mobile advert which was filmed at 11am on Thursday 15th January 2009 at Liverpool Street station, London

Track List
1)Lulu – Shout
2)Yazz – The only way is up
3)Pussycat Dolls – Don’t cha
4)Viennese Waltz
5)Kool & the Gang
6)Rainbow – Since you’ve been gone
7)Millie Small – My Boy Lollipop
8)Contours – Do you love me

NVS: My Playground

A teaser for an upcoming documentary, MY PLAYGROUND by Kaspar Astrup Schröder. It is a film about movement, tricking, freerunning and parkour in the urban space. Keep a look out for more clips released during the winter and a premiere of the film in summer 2009. The film will feature parkour, freerunning and tricking by freerunners: TEAM JIYO teamjiyo.com

It will also feature interviews with urban planners, local politicians, architects and philosophs.

Shot, edited and directed by
Kaspar Astrup Schröder

Atlas of True Names: The world without the curse of Bable

England...in English

England...in English

Playing around on Stumble upon found me this fantastic link from Der Speigel, the world translated into English. This map gives the image of a peaceful world where people understand each other. Where someone could travel from the land of the long beards to the town of happiness.

The map makers researched global place names to find their origins, and then translated them to English.