The Cities This Week: Edition 45

A rendering of Amazon’s proposed development of the South Lake Union neighbourhood, including the “biodomes.”

A rendering of Amazon’s proposed development of the South Lake Union neighbourhood, including the “biodomes.”


“Thousands of South Africans have queued to view the body of former President Nelson Mandela in Pretoria. Mr Mandela’s body was lying in state at the government buildings where he was sworn in as South Africa’s first black president in 1994. Among those paying their respects were his widow Graca Machel, President Jacob Zuma, celebrities including Bono and other relatives and officials. Mr Mandela died last Thursday at the age of 95 and will be buried on Sunday. Tens of thousands of South Africans joined scores of world leaders for a national memorial service on Tuesday, as part of a series of commemorations.” – BBC News


Hundreds of gay rights activists gathered in India’s capital and other cities across the country on Sunday to protest a decision by India’s top court to uphold a law that criminalizes gay sex. India’s Supreme Court last week reversed a landmark 2009 lower court order that had decriminalized gay sex. The country’s gay community is demanding that the government take immediate action to remove the colonial-era law banning same-sex relations. About 800 protesters in New Delhi, the capital, wore black arm bands Sunday and waved rainbow-colored flags and banners. Some people wore masks and wigs to protect their identity. They said the Supreme Court’s ruling had evoked anger and dismay across the country.” – CTV News


In an effort to deflect public anger from himself and his government, Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych has ordered the suspension of the Mayor of Kiev and the deputy head of the National Security Council over allegations they encouraged police brutality against pro-European protesters. Along with the mayor and the national security director, the public prosecutor is also questioning the Kiev chief of police and his deputy. Mayor Oleksandr Popov, who was appointed by the government three years ago, has been accused of being responsible for a violent police raid on peaceful pro-European protesters. All four are being investigated over their roles for their roles in the early morning crackdown on protesters on 30 November. Club-wielding riot police stormed Kiev’s Independence Square just, cracking the protesters in the heads and bodies and pursuing them to a nearby monastery where many had sought sanctuary.” – City Mayors


The government has not ruled out any options on airport expansion in south-east England, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has said. The independent airports commission, chaired by Sir Howard Davies, is set to release an interim report on Tuesday. The Independent on Sunday has reported that Sir Howard will shortlist two options for expansion at Heathrow. But Mr McLoughlin said the government would stick to its pledge not to build a new runway at Heathrow before 2015. He told BBC 2’s the Andrew Marr Show: “What we said at the last general election was that we would not build a third runway in this Parliament. “We will not be building a third runway in this Parliament. We will stick by our manifesto commitment.“” – BBC News


“With Johannesburg’s official memorial for Mandela at FNB Stadium marred by issues ranging from a dodgy sign language interpreter to a feeling of general soullessness, it was hard not to feel despondent. But Cape Town’s memorial event, held at the Green Point stadium on Wednesday night, gave the great leader the send-off he deserved. For anyone lucky enough to be there, the sight of a multi-racial, multi-class crowd singing and dancing in a moment of unified catharsis will have moved them in innumerable ways. It was Madiba Magic given flesh and form once again, and it deserves to give us back the pride and hope that we need now, more than ever.” – Daily Maverick


“Ghana has agreed to join four other West African countries to raise $50 million as seed money for the implementation of the Abidjan-Lagos road corridor project. In agreeing to raise the funds at a meeting in Yamoussoukro December 10, 2013, the five ECOWAS Member States including Ghana, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Benin and Togo who are involved in the project believed the move will ensure speedy implementation of the 1028-km project. A statement issued by ECOWAS, said the money would help “fund preparatory activities and provide further evidence of commitment by the countries for public and private sector operators interested in investing in the project”.”  – SPYGhana


“Seattle loves a big corporation. Ever since the 1962 World’s Fair, it’s been the nation’s capital of space-agey, Jetsonian optimism, embracing companies that promise a spiffier future. First came Boeing, then Microsoft. Now there’s Amazon, which is leaving its mark on the city in a way that those previous corporate residents – which were located far from Seattle’s urban core — never did. Amazon has spent the last few years pushing directly into the heart of Seattle. Last year the company snapped up 11 buildings in a neighborhood called South Lake Union, and the former warehouse district soon filled up with food trucks and coffee shops — a Millennial programmer’s paradise. As of this month, Amazon is in negotiations to acquire another 275,000 square feet of space a dozen blocks away near the neighborhood of Belltown. Then there’s the famous “biodomes,” Amazon’s proposal for a glassy, somewhat testicular monument to its own success, which the company hopes to emphasize with a trio of adjacent 38-story high rises.” – NextCity (see: “What Tech Hasn’t Learnt from Urban Planning“)


The pitch for new startup incubators is usually about filling ever-smaller niches: an incubator for social innovation, an incubator for breweries, an incubator for foreigners who can’t get visas. But an incubator in Paris is looking for the opposite of niche, as one can tell from its name:1,000 Start-Ups. Billed as “the world’s largest startup incubator” (and one-upping the U.S.-based incubator,500 Startups), the project plans to turn some 322,917 square feet of a former railway hall into what looks like a giant greenhouse of startup activity. “These spaces will include co-working areas, a fablab, a large auditorium, meeting rooms, large work spaces, and a huge bar-restaurant open 24 hours a day,” says a press release. It’s primarily funded by Xavier Niel, a telecom billionaire who co-owns the Le Monde newspaper.” – FastCoExist

There is one comment

  1. Glyn Morgan

    Walk around Cape Town from the CBD to Pinelands. It has hundreds of small design and lifestyle businesses. We could turn the old Salt River rail sheds into start-up launching pads!

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