For whom and for what is a city? Can any design be truly universal? Seattle’s current construction boom and strong economy beget many questions for citizens and elected officials—about what types of public infrastructure to build, what types of development to encourage (or discourage) and what kinds of programming to introduce into the public sphere. The phenomenon is certainly not exclusive to the Emerald City.
Last July, Urban Land Institute (ULI) Northwest hosted a photo-essay contest as part of the seventh annual Cascadia Regional Conference in Seattle, inviting entrants from around the world to share collections that speak to the theme of “access” in our era of rapid urbanization. Contestants were encouraged to interpret the subject liberally, training their lenses on critical issues such as mobility, affordability, technological bandwidth and natural resource capacity.
Submissions arrived from nearly 20 different countries. An expert panel of local judges representing various professions connected to photography, the built environment and design awarded top honors to the following selections, reproduced here with excerpts from the original essays.
West Bengal, India
Darjeeling, the most popular hill station in West Bengal, India, is a favorite tourist destination. As such, it is rapidly being urbanized, which has forced this community to sacrifice its treasured greenery. Deforestation is now common in Darjeeling as its population increases and more people settle there and visit for its scenic beauty and fresh air. However, the increasing population and vehicle exhaust are polluting the city, while deforestation is severing the conduit to clean oxygen. To overcome this crisis, the people of Darjeeling have started planting trees in innovative ways with the hope of rebuilding a healthy life in an urban setting.
Public bathing is a civil and social imperative in the urban areas of India; the public bathhouse movement was the largest civic effort to meet the growing concerns of squalor in the county.
Pulsating, alive, vibrant—this is Mumbai, the largest, most diverse, cosmopolitan, westernized and modern city in India. This photo-essay is dedicated to several unnoticed people in Mumbai known for their warmth, love, anger, boldness, determination and courage. The project shows life around Marine Drive, a 4.3-kilometer-long boulevard in South Mumbai. It’s the ultimate seaside promenade, where Mumbaikars come for a few moments of freedom from the stresses of commuting, the high cost of living and cramped homes. It’s a place that breathes possibility.
Yew Kiat Soh
The world is rapidly aging; according to a recent Pew Research Center report, Attitudes About Aging, “…the global share of the population that is 65 and older will double, from 8% in 2010 to 16% in 2050. And, more countries will find that they have more adults ages 65 and older than they have children younger than 15.” Healthy older adults are a resource for their families, their communities and the economy. Making cities more age friendly is necessary to promote the well-being and contributions of older urban residents; policies, services, settings and structures should support and enable people to age actively, anticipating and responding to aging-related needs and respecting lifestyle choices.