And this Week – April 30

This is a new feature of At Waters Edge. I hope to send it out each Friday. The first three articles tie in neatly with my newsletters on solving the housing crisis. 

Monocle Minute on Design – April 28, 2021


Inside job

Logements – MARS Architectes – Paris 12ème

The breathtaking design for this residential building in the 12th arrondissement of Paris, tucked in the courtyard of a 1970s apartment block, evolved from pure necessity. “We had to fit all construction elements through an opening only 2.3 metres wide,” says Raphaël Renard of French firm Mars Architectes. “Working with timber was simply the logical solution.” Fortunately so, as its masterful employment elevates this project into a class of its own. Imbued with the natural warmth of the European Douglas fir, each of its 14 apartments boasts a balcony, ceiling-height windows and fine wooden flooring. Residents also have access to an inner courtyard that helps to provide a sense of community.

 Laudably, the architects devoted just as much care to the surroundings, creating a haven of more than 30 regional plant species in what had previously been a barren concrete enclosure. This regard for detail and wellbeing that is frequently lacking in new builds sent Parisians clamouring. On completion last October, rental contracts were snapped up from developer Gecina within a few days. “The feedback from the residents says that they are delighted, so we are happy too,” says Renard. Indeed, 14 Accommodations shows that, in expert hands, architecture is only enhanced by being in a tight spot.

Nate Berg, Fast Company – April 29, 2021


Home Depot Architecture 

Quonset Hut Housing – Detroit, Michigan

If you click on the hyperlink, the article is a four minute read. – Excerpt:

“On a half-vacant block a few miles outside of downtown Detroit sits an unabashed oddity. Nearly 200 feet long and 23 feet high, it’s a gleaming half-cylinder of metal surrounded by trees. Built out of a military-style Quonset hut and plopped into the dwindling remnants of a residential neighborhood, this alienlike arched steel structure may be the world’s most unexpected new apartment building..”

The Economist – April 25, 2021


What history tells you about Post-Pandemic Booms 

This article explores three lessons from previous post-pandemic eras – Excerpt:

“The situation is so unfamiliar that economists are turning to history to get a sense of what to expect. The record suggests that, following periods of massive non-financial disruption such as wars and pandemics, GDP does tend to bounce back. But it offers three further lessons. First, while people are keen to get out and spend, uncertainty lingers for some time. Second, the pandemic encourages people and businesses to try new ways of doing things, upending the structure of the economy. Third, as the example of “Les Misérables” shows, political upheaval often follows, with unpredictable economic consequences.”

The Economist – April 8, 2021


The Biggest Losers from Covid-19 

Worldwide, we may have applauded essential workers but have we really considered their wellbeing


“The pandemic has reminded key workers that without them society would grind to a halt. In its early phase homebound folk in Britain stood outside their front doors once a week and applauded the “heroes”. Yet as Camilla De Camargo and Lilith Whiley, two sociologists, argue in a paper, giving essential workers “an almost mythologised status and value” obscures the human suffering that many have endured.”

Quotation of the week:

“Never wrestle with a pig. You just get dirty and the pig enjoys it” George Bernard Shaw

Cities are in Crisis

March 7, 2024

Anastasia Mourogova Millin, March 5, 2024 Earth’s urban population will grow by 2.5 billion people over the next 30 years. Over the same time period, urban land expansion put at risk the survival of 855 different species and will threaten the homes of over 30,000 animal and plant species. Add in the impact of climate […]

The Co-working Concept, Issue 80

January 22, 2024

Co-working space came to mean the notorious We Work model. When I had been asked to opine on co-working I tried to steer the conversation away from the Adam Neumann / Softbank  flimflam growth model. Instead, I suggested that property owners look at usage and users. While I doubted We Work’s ability to survive I […]

The Affordable Housing Conundrum

October 3, 2023

Before I fall completely into the trap of opposition politics, I have decided to take a break from never-ending criticism and to start suggesting solutions to the affordable housing conundrum. Do I have a plan? No, more a collection of ideas To start with, I think there are three key issues: Home ownership is not […]

We Should Know Better

August 26, 2023

I know! I am going to sound like a grumpy old man. Maybe that is because I am. I have been scratching my head in wonderment at the Taylor Swift phenomena. Is she an Incredible song writer, composer, and performer? I really don’t know! A discussion for another time? But probably not. At my age […]

Not in My Back Yard

August 4, 2023

Don’t build it! At least, Not In My Back Yard ! I acted as an advisor  in the sale of a beautifully natural, 14-acre urban waterfront estate. Existing zoning allowed for the development of 30 to 35 single-family homes, which after road dedication would leave very little green space. I did not think that was […]

Glasgow – That Dear Green Place

July 31, 2023

We were visiting Glasgow (literally that Dear Green Place in Gaelic) to see where my father was born, grew up, and went to University. Fortunately for me, my cousin John from Australia had just visited and had met with historians, Bruce Downie  and Norry Wilson.  So,  we too arranged to meet them in the Govanhill […]