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Housing & urban design - Sept 16

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Live the good life in a green mansion

Jessica Dickler, CNNMoney.com
As demand grows, multi-million mansions that are both indulgent and eco-friendly emerge.
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After 20 years of building multi-million-dollar mega-mansions, real estate developer Frank McKinney is betting $29 million that what luxury home buyers want now are environmentally friendly estates.

His speculative 15,000 square foot mansion in Manalapan, Fla., will be the first home of its size to be certified green by the U.S. Green Building Council and the Florida Green Building Council.

In addition to eight bedrooms, 11 bathrooms, two elevators, two laundry rooms, two wine cellars (one for red, one white), a movie theater and guesthouse, the house will also have a state-of-the-art air purification system and eco-friendly light fixtures that will reduce energy consumption by 90 percent.
(12 September 2007)


Overweight? Blame your ZIP code

Jennifer Langston, Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Property value beats income and education as obesity predictor
In 98103, one of Seattle's skinniest ZIP codes, a woman pedals barefoot in well-marked bike lanes along Linden Avenue North, her basket overflowing with fresh chard.

The neighborhoods around Green Lake have P-patches, destination parks, crosswalks, corner groceries and one of the densest concentrations of farmers markets in the city.

Those niceties account for some of the most sought-after real estate in Seattle and some of the city's least obese residents.

University of Washington researchers recently found wide disparities in obesity rates among King County ZIP codes. The rates range from less than 10 percent in parts of central Seattle and Bellevue to more than 25 percent in some south county neighborhoods.

The strongest predictor of obesity rates wasn't income or education but property values, the study found. Each additional $100,000 in median home value for a ZIP code corresponded with a drop in obesity of 2 percentage points.

It's further evidence, experts say, that weight isn't solely about individual behavior and that the environment you live in matters.
(12 September 2007)


Japan: Overcrowded from Cradle to Grave

Steve Levenstein, InventorSpot
Living in a small island nation 80% covered in forests and mountains isn't easy, especially when there are 127 million of you. Japan: Overcrowded from Cradle to Grave graphically illustrates how Japan's citizens cope with overcrowding everywhere; all the time.

1) Tokyo Megalopolis ...Tokyo reigns as the world's largest city. The estimated population of 35 million in the Greater Tokyo Metropolitan Area gives new meaning to the word "overcrowded". With so many people crammed cheek by jowl, one might expect chaos and crime on a Lagos-ian scale, but no. Amazingly, and without the need for martial law, Tokyo works very well indeed. Crime is low by western standards, services are reliable and the infrastructure is the envy of most other cities. You won't find much peace & quiet in Tokyo; what you WILL find is a city that ticks like clockwork through the combined efforts of its people. Speaking of clockwork, the above video compresses 35 years of skyscraper construction in Shinjuku, downtown Tokyo, into just 10 seconds!

2) Tokyo Streets were Made for Walkin' ...Tokyo was founded over 400 years ago but very little of the old town remains. A catastrophic earthquake in 1923 and the devastation wrought by World War II resulted in the city being rebuilt to modern standards. Wide streets that work WITH the city's infrastructure, not against it, funnel hundreds of thousands of people to and from major train stations. Overcrowded, yes, but the streets of Tokyo, Osaka and other Japanese cities are rarely prey to pedestrian gridlock. (
(10 September 2007)
Striking photos and videos. Recommended by the indefatigable Big Gav.

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