The Favela Painting Project was a collaboration between the local community and artists Joroen Koolhaas and Dre Urhan to transform the community into a landmark, a tourist attraction but most importantly it elevates the image of the favela as an essential part of Rio and a place where its people take pride in their surroundings.


Grill Station

Pop in a couple of coins and you can get the heat going on this outdoor grill station in Michelwiese park in Hamburg.  There is even a spatula attached to the grill by a chain, as well as some grill themed art.

(More info at the official grill station site: grill-drauf-los)

Photos taken April, 2014

Related Posts:

Grilling With Epic Views (Brooklyn)

Bike tool share (Brussels)

Urban Gardening (Brussels)

12 Steps to a Great Public Space

1. Protection from traffic

2. Protection from crime

3. Protection from the elements

4. A place to walk

5. A place to stop and stand

6. A place to sit

7. Things to see

8. Opportunities for conversations

9. Opportunities for play

10. Human-scale

11. Opportunities to enjoy good weather

12. Aesthetic quality

— Jan Gehl & Lars Gemzoe

Sir John Egan defined 8 characteristics which need to be considered when creating sustainable communities. The Egan Wheel outlines these factors. 

Source: ASC (2006) Making Places: creating sustainable communities. A teachers guide to sustainable communities, Leeds: Academy for Sustainable Communities


Inside Out XL

I’m a little late to this project, but better late than never!  Over the past few months, a large number of residents of the Ixelles commune of Brussels took part in being photographed for the Inside Out XL project (XL being slang for Ixelles).  The photographs were then hung on buildings, in windows, along fences, and on many other surfaces throughout the neighborhood, creating sort of a visual gallery of local residents and contributing to local community building and placemaking.

Some of the photos have started to become damaged through ripping, tearing, tagging, and presumably some weather damage, but they are still literally everywhere around the neighborhood.  I find it interesting to document them, even as they start to deteriorate.

The photos above are just several I snapped on two recent walks through the area.  There are many many more to be seen.

Check out more about the project on the official website here, including maps, event listings, and videos. 

The video below shows how many of the residents who were photographed also helped paste the pictures up, and also shows some people’s initial reactions.

Photos taken July, 2013


Bellevue, WA. These concrete bollards communicate in no uncertain terms that drivers of cars, trucks and busses must respect the pedestrian realm and it’s inhabitants. The language is simple: come too close and I’ll F—k up your bodywork and everybody will see what an idiot you are. But, asking politely by being pretty.

Urban acupuncture, by Jaime Lerner (forthcoming book)

During his three terms as mayor of Curitiba, Brazil in the 1970s and ‘80s, architect and urbanist Jaime Lerner transformed his city into a global model of the sustainable and livable community. From the pioneering Bus Rapid Transit system to parks designed to catch runoff and reduce flooding and the creation of pedestrian-only zones, Lerner has been the driving force behind of a host of innovative urban projects. In more than forty years of work in cities around the globe, Lerner has found that changes to a community don’t need to be large-scale and expensive to have a transformative impact—in fact, one block, park, or a single person can have an outsized effect on life in the surrounding city.

In Urban Acupuncture, Lerner celebrates these “pinpricks” of urbanism—projects, people, and initiatives from around the world that ripple through their communities to uplift city life. With meditative and descriptive prose, Lerner brings readers around the world to streets and neighborhoods where urban acupuncture has been practiced best, from the bustling La Boqueria market in Barcelona to the revitalization of the Cheonggyecheon River in Seoul, South Korea. Through this journey, Lerner invites us to re-examine the true building blocks of vibrant communities—the tree-lined avenues, night vendors, and songs and traditions that connect us to our cities and to one another.

Urban Acupuncture is the first of Jaime Lerner’s visionary work to be published in English. It is a love letter to the elements that make a street hum with life or a neighborhood feel like home, penned by one of the world’s most successful advocates for sustainable and livable urbanism.


Getting Funicular in Lisbon, Portugal

Getting from one neighborhood to another in Lisbon often involves navigating some pretty steep hills.  Luckily, carefully placed funicular railways, like the Elevador da Glória pictured above, can help people with that task.  In the case of the Elevador da Glória, the high-level district of Bairro Alto is connected to Baixa down below.

Besides their obvious functionality, I find that they add a huge amount of character to the neighborhoods, and city as a whole.  I love the combination of the old-timey yellow cable car, bright colored graffiti, and steep narrow streets - urban scenery at its best.  

The fact that they’ve been around since 1885, and have also been declared National Monuments, indicates that others might like them as well.

Photos taken July, 2013