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✊🏙 The brutalist revival 😍 Will AVs be mobile hotel rooms? 🚗 Many questions about Sidewalk Toronto 🤐

Hey urbanists, This week I'm revealing my love of brutalism to you. I sincerely hope you join me in m
September 9 · Issue #50 · View online
Radical Urbanist
Hey urbanists,
This week I’m revealing my love of brutalism to you. I sincerely hope you join me in my love of raw concrete architecture.
We also take a look at proposal for autonomous vehicles to become hotel rooms, why I think that’s yet another terrible idea, and the many questions that remain about Sidewalk Labs’ project in Toronto.
As always, there are a number of other links near the end of the issue, and I definitely recommend take a look at the heat maps at the very bottom. The word “scary” comes to mind.
Have a great Sunday!

Brutalism is back, baby!
I’m a big fan of brutalist architecture and it’s been so encouraging to see the resurgence in appreciation for the aesthetic over the past few years. We’ve even seen other mediums — web design comes to mind — see new styles inspired by brutalism’s raw qualities.
A little over a week ago, GQ Style even published a list of the “9 Brutalist Wonders of the Architectural World,” which signifies just how broadly accepted the brutalist revival has become — but also makes me worried tastes could shift just as quickly.
Will this attention result in real pressure to preserve and maintain our brutalist treasures, or is it just part of our culture’s obsession with the past and craving for nostalgia as we seem unable to truly move into the future? I hope it’s the former, but I fear the latter.
Either way, I have John Grindrod’s “How to Love Brutalism” on order and can’t wait to read it!
Autonomous vehicle as hotel room?
An LA-based architect designed an Autonomous Travel Suite to provide a comfortable door-to-door service, while Volvo is hyping the concept of autonomous vehicles becoming hotel rooms to compete with short-haul flights. I’m really torn on this idea.
On one hand, it could work for some people and wouldn’t cause any large-scale issues if uptake wasn’t too great. However, the more this aspect of autonomous vehicles is hyped, the greater the risk they increase sprawl by making commuting more comfortable — a negative outcome, as far as I’m concerned.
And who would use this service? Would it really be a cost-effective competitor to long-distance bus lines? It seems unlikely, so business travellers or wealthy people would likely be the target; but why would they spend all night in a vehicle when they have the money for the flight?
Even more worrying, would making these distances more comfortable reduce the pressure for high-speed rail? The United States is already far behind parts of Europe and Asia in adopting rapid trains, and relying even more on automobiles (even driverless ones) will keep the transit system quite inefficient. That’s worrying because transportation is responsible for a huge percentage of US emissions (see the article listed near the end of the issue for more on that).
Reasons to be wary about Sidewalk Toronto
Nearly 11 months into the company’s original, one-year consultation agreement, Sidewalk Labs has provided little information during the public engagement process about how data gathered at Quayside would be owned and used.
Laura Bliss has a great longread in CityLab this week looking at Sidewalk Labs’ project in Toronto and the many questions that remain unanswered 11 months into the consultation agreement. The company has been holding public meetings, but how can the public actually understand the project when Sidewalk isn’t releasing all the details?
Bliss speaks to a number of prominent critics, including Bianca Wylie, whose pieces I’ve shared in previous issues, and outlines the concerns that persist about Sidewalk Labs’ motivations, the unanswered questions about its business model, and its ultimate intentions in Toronto. If you’re interested in smart cities, I would definitely recommend it.
Other great reads
🚇 Elon Musk wants to build a tunnel to LA’s Dodger Stadium, but (as usual) it’s completely flawed. Not to mention 3 of the 11 people at the public meeting were interns for Musk’s companies.
🇦🇺 Daniel Bowen on Melbourne suburban rail loop: “Time and time again, it’s been shown that most people want public transport prioritised over roads, and I suspect most people are pleased to see such a forward-looking, big-thinking idea floated.”
👳‍♂️ Canada’s official policy of multiculturalism means immigrants are not expected to abandon their culture, and in some Canadian cities minorities are now the majority
💨 Transportation emissions are holding California back from being a true environmental leader
🤖 A brief history of cyberpunk: a genre, in part, defined by its distinct urban aesthetic
👩‍⚖️ US court ruling will stop nine cities from criminalizing homelessness
🎓 CityLab University explains induced demand
🛴 A group in Cincinnati is spray-painting “bird cages” to show where dockless scooters should be parked
☀️ Cities in the US “heat belt” are forced to adapt as temperatures increase due to climate change
✊️❤️ Thanks for reading, and feel free to follow me on TwitterMedium, or Instagram for even more!
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