Have you ever wanted to go to the park but had a highway or rail yard in your way? Ever feel like the best parts of your city are disconnected? Do what Rotterdam- and New York–based designers Zones Urbaines Sensibles (ZUS) did. They wanted to connect parts of Rotterdam, so they took matters into their own hands and put together a crowdfunding initiative to connect a series of three districts through public infrastructure. Luchtsingel, a 1300-foot-long bridge received support from some 5,000 people and finally opened last week. The saga started in 2011 when the city cancelled the development of an office building in Rotterdam Central District. ZUS took over what is known as the Schieblock, and turned it into a city laboratory. The space acts as an incubator for young entrepreneurs and includes a ground-floor store, bar, culinary workshop, information center, and the Dakakker, Europe’s first urban farming roof. When the Delftsehof nightlife area and two parks opened, Pompenburg Park, and the Hofplein Station Roof Park, the districts needed to be connected. As part of the 2012 Architecture Biënnale Rotterdam (IABR), co-curated by ZUS, the area was named “Test Site Rotterdam,” and included 18 interventions connected by the Luchtsingel. The crowd-funding project “I Make Rotterdam” sold over 8,000 boards inscribed with the names of those who donated, for just €25 each. Not all 18 proposals were but the Luchtsingel has now happened. The project is a unifying factor in the resurgence of Rotterdam as a sustainable and pedestrian-friendly urban area, and uses “the city's evolutionary character and existing forms as a starting point. Therefore, we have developed new instruments for design, financing, and planning" to make "a new three-dimensional cityscape," according to ZUS founders Elma van Boxel and Kristian Koreman.
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Chicago’s plan to extend and revamp its downtown riverwalk got a major shot in the arm from the feds last week. U.S. Dept of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced the federal government will loan the city $99 million under the Transportation Finance Innovation Act, a program geared at transportation projects of “national and regional significance.” Mayor Rahm Emanuel had previously set his sights on just such funding, as well as financial sponsors for ongoing maintenance. The project, which is scheduled to be finished by 2016, hopes to draw more attention to the riverfront. Designs by Sasaki Associates, Alfred Benesch & Co., Ross Barney Architects, and Jacobs/Ryan Associates call for six unique identities across six downtown blocks of the Chicago River, such as The Jetty, The Cove, and The River Theater. Read more about the design in AN's previous report.