The Cranberries, Budapest, and Urbanism

What do “The Cranberries,”  Budapest and urbanism have in common? Well actually more then one would think.

“Oh, my life is changing everyday,

In every possible way.
And oh, my dreams, it’s never quite as it seems,
Never quite as it seems.” -The Cranberries, “Dreams”

The more I learn about urbanism, cities, and life within cities the more I realize that life isn’t stagnant. Cities like life are every changing, they meet the current needs of society. Yes, although “Dreams” by The Cranberries is more of a song associated with openness of love, this is also how I recently feel about Budapest. When you experience change in your life, such as a when I moved from the US to Budapest, you realize that it really never is as you could predict. Yet the beauty of unpredictably is it provides insight.

Budapest has provided me with insight not only into the complexities of understanding the association of people and place in urbanist studies, it also provided clarity into my personal relationship with the built environment. I have come to realize that when I gave up my inhibitions of trying to analyze all of the similarities and differences between cultural variations within Budapest and the US; in a sense, I started to understand more about how I fit within the context of Budapest. I can not change an environment to fit me, instead I must fit myself within the environment. That is the interesting thing about cities, we can find aspects of a city that are a direct reflection of our ideologies, and if you don’t we start to see how that environment impacts us physiologically.

I have started to realize that the aspects of cities that are the most intriguing are the aspects that aren’t necessarily analogous with our ritual lifestyle. I myself, am particularly interested in the organic development of cities. Living in Budapest, a city with such rich history is reflected within the streets, buildings and people whom occupy it. The development of the city shows the development of the “magyar” identity, an identity that is continuously “magyar” but also ever changing? The magyar identity is a dream to me, because it hasn’t been as it seems but yet it’s a beautiful mystery that I will continue to explore.

“And oh, my dreams,
It’s never quite as it seems,
‘Cause you’re a dream to me,
Dream to me.”

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Urban Agriculture

The following post is a writeup created for “Magyar Urbanisztikai Tudásközpont Nonprofit Kft./Hungarian Urban Knowledge Centre (www.mut.hu)” providing case-study research surrounding the topic of sustainable city developments. 

Site Source: Sustainable Cities Collective

Article Title: Urban Agriculture- A Next Big Thing for Cities

Author: David Thorpe

David Thorpe petitions that urban agriculture and vertical farming are means to establishing more sustainable and innovative alternatives for improving metropolitan food security. David Thorpe analyzes the Sky Greens in Singapore as a case study to research the potential of vertical farms within urbanized environments. Vegetables are grown within towers that are approximately nine meters high and provide vegetable production while mitigating the usage of water, electricity and land that are typically association with food production. Singapore imports most of its food and this a way the city can become sustainable and self-sufficient through food production.

David also noted that today’s cities are unsustainable. He mentioned the reason for the collapse of past cities such as Jericho and Babylon were caused by environmental pressures. He questions the reader to discover how we can avoid having our current cities collapse as well? We need to understand how to utilize the potential of cities from further damaging the earth’s ecosystems. We need to start incorporating hydroponics, aeroponics and drip irrigation within our urban design and planning schemes. The possibility of using abandoned buildings for indoor growing strategies is one way to begin increasing the usage of vertical agriculture within cities. Obviously it’s critical to start analyzing potential solutions to creating more sustainable cities with the incorporation of urban agriculture.

Cities: Transportation In-Frastructure

Growing up in a small mountain town public transportation is very limited. There are obviously many benefits to living within a smaller and less dense environment such as accessibility to the natural environment. I have a huge appreciation and stewardship to the protecting and engaging with the natural environment. However, I have also found that there are limitations to living away from urbanized areas. Within the Vail Valley where I am from, the only form of public transportation is a bus system that runs across the county. It runs often but due to the distance between cities it often times seems easier and more convenient to take a car. The limitation of public transportation also plays out from a socio-ecomonic standpoint. Owning a car is very expense, unless you have the income and means to pay for a car, purchase insurance, fill the car with gas and all the other expenses associated with a car you can’t easily get around the Vail Valley. The development of Vail based around I-70 is also a major contributor to US cities being designed around the auto industry, instead of pedestrian accessibility. 

Budapest on the other hand, a city that is over 1,000 years old, is a city that was developed around the Danube. The city wasn’t established based upon a grid of roads, but was established based upon trade routes. The city is divided into three segments; Buda, Óbuda, and Pest. Buda is consider the residential part of Budapest, Óbuda is the more historical part of Budapest located on the same side as Buda, and Pest is the commercial center of the city. The city is connected by seven bridges that join Buda and Pest together. The Pest side is much more dense with less space between building and city blocks. Buda is iconic with rolling green hills dotted with házak (houses). 

Budapest’s first underground railway system is the second-oldest in the world only predated by the 1890 City & South London Railway (part of the London Underground). The iconic Line 1 Budapesti Metró (Budapest Metro) was completed in 1896 and was later declared a World Heritage Site in 2002. The development of transportation in-fracture obviously isn’t something new to the city. Is much easier to take a metro, villamos (tram), or busz (bus) to get around the city at time instead of being caught in traffic. By designing a city around people and public transit the urban environment dramatically changes. Instead of focusing the city life around creating parking lots, additional side street parking, wider roads, the city is designed around people. People take the time to walk down street and you can actively engage in civic life instead of viewing it through your car window as you zoom past it. 

I’m interested in understanding more about the differences and similarities that exist between cities that are development around the auto-industry, like many cities in the US and cities that are developed around water-passages or cities that antacede the invention of the car. What can we learn from both cases? Are there successes and failures associated with both instances?