Rainy day watching and listening fun

Some great city-building watching and listening we’ve been enjoying…

PODCAST: Infrastructure construction, and how to f*ck up

(spoiler: it’s quite easy!)

There’s (rightfully) lots of noise at the moment about New Zealand’s staggering infrastructure deficit, and some really big talk about what big infrastructure things politicians promise they’ll build for us (especially the kinds of things you can open with a ribbon-cutting ceremony). New roads, tunnels, bridges, convention centres, airports, ports…

banner picture of how to f ck up an airport - artist's painting of someone with a befuddled expression and a little plane landing in their head. Strong primary colours

Here’s an amazing podcast charting the extraordinary story of building Berlin’s Brandenburg airport. It’s properly jaw-dropping and makes you realise how awfully… human are the professionals and organisations trying to build anything big. And how important it is to listen to nerdy experts so you get things roughly right (and some things exactly right), in the right sequence.

VIDEO: “Traffic will flow” “Traffic will get all backed up” “Traffic will…”

Why do we think about vehicle traffic like it’s water – and try to manage it like water – when it’s not like that at all?

Lots of smart folks have looked at the history of traffic engineering, and how its mindsets and even its language shape how we understand it.

But this talk has the bonus of being by superbrain (and great speaker) Marco te Brömmelstroet, and hosted by the amazing Committe For Sydney *envious Wellington sigh.

(If you’d rather read than watch, here’s a good essay by Brömmelstroet.)

VIDEO: Actually building buildings: a bluffer’s guide

Cities can talk all they like about transforming themselves but there’s a universal, rough rule of thumb. For the total money that builds physical stuff of cities, public (and non-private) money : private money is about 1:4 [PDF 446k]. Even where there’s heaps of public money pouring in – like in post-earthquake Christchurch – that ratio still holds.

So, it’s worth understanding a bit about what private developers have to do to get a building up, with people in it, doing useful stuff (and paying). Especially when we need them to be building more good homes, stat – and there’s a cyclical market and lots of hurdles.

Fantastic city nerding channel City Beautiful have a great little explainer.

"who really builds cities?" over picture of a smug looking 40s bearded white man in a business shirt and hi vis holding some blueprints - video screengrab

(This is a link to Nebula, the creatives-owned streaming service which is a great way to support the people who make this sort of great stuff and get lots of nifty bonus content. Highly recommended.)

What cool city stuff do you recommend? Pop some suggestions (with links) in the comments

Banner image credit: probably photographed out of a book – couldn’t find any attribution online.

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