foster and partners reveal design for 80-storey mixed used tower in toronto

towering at 318 meters, 80-storey 'the one' will be a mixed-use tower located in downtown toronto.

The post foster and partners reveal design for 80-storey mixed used tower in toronto appeared first on designboom | architecture & design magazine.


Houzz Tour: Modern Addition for a Historic Bungalow (21 photos)

Joel Contreras has always felt torn. He loves historic homes but is also a huge fan of modern design. So when it came time for the real estate agent to design his own house, he thought, “Wouldn’t it be cool if I could combine the two?” A large lot with a 1927...


۸ Inventive Ideas for Your Unused China (13 photos)

Whether you have inherited your grandma’s collection of china or, like me, have amassed an eclectic secondhand collection of your own, there are more ways to make use of these delicately crafted beauties than to occasionally pull them out when company calls for tea.
There’s just



۱۲ Inventive Ideas for Your Unused China (13 photos)

Whether you have inherited your grandma’s collection of china or, like me, have amassed an eclectic secondhand collection of your own, there are more ways to make use of these delicately crafted beauties than to occasionally pull them out when company calls for tea.
There’s just



Detroit Water Will Soon Get More Expensive

Detroit resident Nicole Hill displays her overdue water bill last year. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Last summer, thousands of Detroit residents were forced to lived with no water service. Now, this year, the city will see the latest hike in water and sewer costs, with fees increasing at an average rate of over 9.3 percent in the city and its suburbs.

The Detroit News reports that the Board of Water Commissioners unanimously approved the increase yesterday, along with a five-year, $1 billion capital improvement program.

Detroit water made headlines last year when the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department announced it would shut off water service to 150,000 delinquent customers who were over two months late on their bills. Nonprofit Quarterly reported last year that residents have dealt with water rates on the incline up to 119 percent in the last 10 years, subjecting Detroiters to an average rate of $75 a month, compared to the national $40 average.

Stories of Detroit residents with no running water at home and no means to pay big outstanding balances garnered the attention of the UN. “Disconnection due to non-payment is only permissible if it can be shown that the householder is able to pay but is not paying — in other words, that the tariff is affordable,” a UN rep said..

The Detroit News reports some activists attended yesterday’s board meeting to protest the rate increase. “There’s so many people who live here who are below the poverty line and live on fixed incomes,” said one. “Water is a right and there are industrialists who are making money selling what Mother Nature provides.”

In an article published before the vote, Nonprofit Quarterly examined the issue of Detroit water and human rights.

Calling the rate hike “inevitable,” Melissa Damaschke, the Great Lakes director of the Sierra Club, said that it was unacceptable for rates to be increased this much without a water affordability program for poor households in Detroit. Mayor Mike Duggan and others contend, however, that there is a program of payment plans and other assistance that would be available to low-income Detroiters who might find the new rates a hardship.


bloom buds like a tulip to create semi-private pavilion

when rotated open 'bloom' provides a private space for people to share moments in the public space.

The post bloom buds like a tulip to create semi-private pavilion appeared first on designboom | architecture & design magazine.


mathieu lehanneur appointed as chief designer of huawei

the french designer will work together with twenty other designers, bringing coherence to each branch of huawei's products -- from image to object, and from product to shop…

The post mathieu lehanneur appointed as chief designer of huawei appeared first on designboom | architecture & design magazine.


Edible Plants That Double as Ornamentals (15 photos)

A combination of flowering plants and attractive foliage usually comes to mind when we imagine a beautiful garden. What about the plants we grow for food? From flowering herbs to leafy vegetables, many edible plants have shapes, textures and colors that can add both beauty to the landscape and flavor...


In This Healthcare System, a Bus Can Double as a Pharmacy

A market in Accra, Ghana (AP Photo/Christian Thompson)

It was a hot December day in Accra, Ghana, and the tro-tro was already full when the last person stepped on. A tro-tro, the dominant form of transit in the West African nation, is a van that traverses a set route. Stationed in Ghana’s packed marketplaces, they move only once full of passengers. This one, loaded with 15 tightly packed bodies, was about to set off into the city of two million.

The street-seller found his way on just before the door closed. He was short enough to stand nearly upright in the low-ceilinged vehicle. As the driver started the engine, he turned toward his captive audience and began a rapid-fire spiel in English and the local language Twi, holding aloft a small packet of albendazole, a medicine used to treat intestinal parasites. As the van sped down the road, he ran through the medicine’s benefits, pausing only briefly to pluck small bills from a few extended hands. By the time the tro-tro reached its next stop, the seller had made change, distributed the deworming tablets, and praised Jesus aloud. He nodded to the driver and debarked, ready to repeat it all on someone else’s commute.

That is System D.

System D — the D stands for débrouillardise, a French word meaning “to get by” — is another term for the “informal economy,” a term coined in Accra in the mid-1960s by British anthropologist Keith Hart. The terms represent the portion of the world’s transactions made without government monitoring or taxation.

In the United States, the informal economy accounts for just 8.8 percent of all transactions. (In the U.S., where government oversees, licenses and monitors perhaps more than any other country in the world, the sector is often illegal due to the very fact of its informality.)

In a place like Accra, the informal system looks far different. The sector makes up 38 percent of Ghana’s total economy (a percentage that rises sharply when agriculture is counted in). Streets vendors are so common that one can live there almost indefinitely without entering a store — buying instead from hawkers who offer everything from bananas to plumbing parts to pharmaceuticals. Other developing nations’ informal sectors often account for an even bigger percentage of their national economies.

Despite that ubiquity, it’s hard to precisely describe informal economies. By definition, the jobs are unmonitored. They can also be unstable, unrecognized as “real work” even by those who do them, or associated with outlaw status (as with drugs).

In Accra, Ghana, one can live almost indefinitely without entering a store. The large informal economy means you can also buy medicine on a commuter tro-tro, pictured above. (Photo by Eigene Fotografie)

But the main reason the informal sector escapes description may be the blurred lines between it and the formal economy. Informal workers often provide formally manufactured products (like cigarettes, or in the case of the deworming tablet-seller, pharmaceuticals) in spaces partially controlled by governments (like tro-tros, which are nationally registered, or streets patrolled by cops). “Everyone is in the formal economy and the informal economy,” Hart points out.

Health issues in informal sectors are especially neglected. Rachel Glennerster, an MIT economist researching Ebola’s effects on informal workers in West Africa, points out that “people advocate for their own sector, and there isn’t anyone advocating for the informal sector. You can distract attention from where the worst problems are.”

In a year when the agenda for global health and development is being rewritten, informal workers’ health is ripe for investigation. While unregulated transactions can be found all along the socioeconomic ladder, workers closest to the bottom rungs of the global economy — in Cote d’Ivoire’s cacao farms, for example, or in Mumbai’s notorious Dharavi slum — are most likely to have no choice but informality. Hart describes a world of “women with babies on their backs selling oranges, being controlled by gangsters.”

Informal workers don’t have employment-based health insurance plans, and the relationship between informality and health is complex. “The informal sector does not observe formal health and safety regulations,” Hart says. Investigative journalist Robert Neuwirth describes “so much demonization” of these workers, a stigma that can impede well-being.

Yet informality is not only a health drawback. As Neuwirth writes in Stealth of Nations, “System D emerges whenever people who have been passed over by the dominant economy start to act.” Informal jobs can allow people otherwise shut out of capitalist development a way to secure basic wages, reducing inequality and helping ensure nutrition, healthcare access and a measure of dignity.

System D offers healthcare innovations too. Informal health workers range from the hawkers of surgical equipment clustered outside Indian hospitals to the traditional birth attendants of sub-Saharan Africa. Many fill in gaps in formal healthcare systems, selling otherwise inaccessible products or providing care where doctors are short-handed. Driven by necessity to find accessible means of staying well, the informal sector also blooms with healthcare solutions and strategies for resilience.

The story is rich, and it’s mostly untold. For the next year, I’ll be writing stories from African, Asian, and Latin American cities on how the workers no one recognizes are thriving. I’ll trace a path around the planet, talking to healthcare corporations, labor activists, and the average woman selling oranges in places like Khayelitsha, Capetown, South Africa; Kibera, Nairobi, Kenya; the slums of Karachi, Kolkata, and Kathmandu; and Manila, Philippines. I’ll make my way to Accra, Ghana, to a neighborhood called Nima, where study of the informal economy was born.

I know I’ll find change — Hart told me last week that Nima, where he once lived side-by-side with petty criminals, is now mostly a sleek four-lane highway — along with challenges, innovations and strong communities.

If I end up needing any deworming tablets, I’m sure I’ll be able to find those, too.


Introducing Next City’s New Series “Health Horizons”

High-rise buildings stand in the background over Dharavi, one of Asia’s largest informal settlements, in Mumbai, India. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)

We are living in a time of breakneck urbanization. More people than ever before live in cities and over the coming decades, the numbers will grow exponentially. But the places that are growing the fastest bear little resemblance to the gridded, mapped affairs of Europe and the U.S. Across Africa, Asia and Latin America, people are building their own cities from the ground up, without resources or recognition of government. Lacking permits and paved roads, they are building their own neighborhoods, businesses and transportation networks. They are also building healthcare systems.

Those health systems and the innovations they generate will be the focus of Next City’s newest investigation into the informal city, “Health Horizons: Innovation and the Informal Economy.” Supported by the Rockefeller Foundation, this weekly column will run for one year, exploring the challenges and solutions bubbling up from the unnamed streets where 1.8 billion people, or 60 percent of the world’s working population, labor without any legal protection or safeguards, picking trash, transporting goods, selling food and drink, or doing the untold other jobs that keep the urban world running.

Our columnist, M. Sophia Newman, will investigate new technologies designed to work outside of formal healthcare settings and take us to the places where change is being made one person, or paper microscope, or bootleg deworming tablet at a time. She will introduce us to the men and women providing needed healthcare where doctors are in short supply, the hawkers selling what’s needed when a pharmacy is nowhere to be found, and the neighbors devising quick and dirty life-savers when there are few other options around. Together, we will explore the solutions arising from the intersection of health and the informal economy; we will discover what the formal healthcare sector can learn from the informal. None of this is simple, but neither is our future.

Read Newman’s first post of the Health Horizons series, “In This Healthcare System, a Bus Can Double as a Pharmacy,” here.


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