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Fantastical lifts, a Matatu transit app and the case for London's death pyramid

Our weekly round-up of cities stories we enjoyed elsewhere. 

Urban planning for the dead

Remember London’s Death Pyramid, proposed by architect Thomas Wilson in the 1920s? The one that never got built because it sounded so terrible? Well, CityLab made the case this week that London might actually need a death pyramid after all, as we’re running out of cemetery space:

Sited for Primrose Hill, today a park area in North London, the necropolis was designed to alleviate the overpopulation of London’s graveyards while adding a looming monument to mortality to the city’s skyline.

Nah, said London. Which is too bad. London should really reconsider… London should be at the forefront of cities in regard to planning for the dead. After all, in London, there is barely room enough for the living. 

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They might also just be trolling us, of course. You can read the rest of the piece here.

Why fantastical elevators aren’t so fantastic

Elevators are undergoing a renaissance. New technology which would allow them to move side to side, as well as up and down, is on the cards, and soon we’ll all be able to zip around buildings in any direction and never use our feet again.

But a writer at Al Jazeera isn’t so pleased with the idea: 

In the future, perhaps, business executives will step out of their offices and into elevator cars that take them through a system of tunnels to small landing platforms attached to their apartments, creating a daily commute completely devoid of human interaction.

This new system could displace cars — and if so, it would no doubt be safer, less damaging to our ecology and probably faster than driving. But how boring and alienating and sad.

Who knew lifts could be so controversial. 

NYC on film

Untapped Cities has got hold of what may be the oldest surviving footage of New York City. What’s striking isn’t the differences, but the similarities: more than anything, it looks like people in Victorian costumes frolicking around still-recognisable landmarks.

A transit app for the city without a transit map

Nairobi’s bus system collapsed in the 1990s, and, since then, there’s been little official effort to fix it. But, as you might expect, when the formal economy failed, the informal one stepped in. Now, the city runs on a system of matutus; brightly coloured buses and minibuses run by enterprising individials.

Without a centrally-run transit system, you might assume that the city wouldn’t be able to make use of new transport app technology. You would be wrong. This fascinating piece at Quartz details how Transit App is trying to do just that: they mapped the matutus’ informal routes, and found that they were following routes just like those of a centrally-planned system:

Click for a larger image. Image: Transit App.

Big mouth strikes again

And finally, CityMetric’s editor, Jonn Elledge, can be heard talking about the prospects for devolution on this week’s City Talks podcast from the Centre for Cities.

The discussion is chaired by the think tank’s Ben Harrison, and also features Labour List’s Mark Ferguson and Bright Blue’s David Kirkby. You can listen to it here:


This article is from the CityMetric archive: some formatting and images may not be present.