A day at the zoo. No, worse: they were scared. That’s how David Smiley describes the time he took his Urban Design students to Los Angeles. LA can be chaotic, especially when you are 18 years old and had never left your native Texas before.

Griffith Observatory — Los Angeles, California, 2017 — Ph.: Jennifer Micó

I don’t get why some people insist on contrasting city life with suburban life. Is there anything to compare? I mean, if you need a hammer, you probably won’t compare hammers with cement mixers. Rather, you are more likely to analyze different hammer types. You may even consider similar tools, like palm nailers.

The COVID-19…

After COVID-19 lockdowns, the restoration of the city’s livability will rely on deepening its walkability. In the new normal, street life will be hyperwalkable.

Witnessing still-life cities all around the world, it’s been hard to imagine when we’ll be able to navigate the streets as we used to. Which features will we able to actually keep from the walkable city model? Which changes will we be forced to introduce? What opportunities do we have to make better cities?

Fictional cafe. Warner Bros Studios, Los Angeles — July, 2017 — Ph.: Jennifer Micó

The Unwalkable City

Since the lockdowns, the walkability has been partially suspended.

Schools, shops, restaurants, and cafes remain closed. Bus operators drive the usual routes but with empty vehicles. The city has turned into a still life painting. But its key sectors — the essential services — keep functioning.

How are denser cores’ more efficient to cope with pandemics? In compact cities, distances are shorter. Access to well-equipped hospitals and medical centers is easier. Also, according to recent research, a 1% increase in density lowers the costs of providing local services — such as healthcare — by 14.4%. Furthermore, denser urban areas gather talented doctors with diverse specializations. …

If last September you didn’t see a street billboard advertising the movie The Irishman, then you didn’t leave your house.

Should ‘The Irishman’ be watched in one sitting? Photo credit: Netflix

As the release day approached, the city became saturated with images of Scorsese’s film. Many of us were excited about the idea of De Niro and Pacino once again together in a movie. My enthusiasm, however, diminished when I found out its running time was 209 minutes.

Movie critics, artists, and even my butcher Julio insisted that the movie should be watched in one sitting. Well, I watched The Irishman in chunks. Have I strayed from the right path? …

A Discussion on the Smart City

Popcorn and surround sound keep people going to the cinema. In the case of the erudite cinephiles, they find a je ne sais quois only at the movies. I go there for the trailers. However, last time I went to the cinema I saw many advertisements. That’s when I learned about the latest project in Buenos Aires suburbs. A firm is developing a theme park that reproduces a Middle Age town in Tuscany.

Torre Pueblo is a settlement 17 miles away from Buenos Aires city. Inspired by medieval Tuscan village, it opened in 2016. Photo credit: Undersecretary of Tourism, Tigre Municipality.

That wasn’t the opening sequence of the movie. I double-checked it with the person sitting next to me. Had I had…

But a City Without Them Wouldn’t Be Viable

There is, apparently, a kind of memories we consider insignificant. However, for whatever reason they materialize, we realize they’ve made an impression in our lives. I’ve recently remembered the day my English teacher Judie asked me if her belly was too pale. I can’t judge her. Judie had three jobs and spent most of the day away from her house: acting with decorum during long hours is challenging.

Think about it. Except for those days when we are sick or mad, we never behave in public the same way we behave at home. For instance, I can’t watch myself in…

Urban planners aim short distances but fewer and fewer people can afford to live in the city center. Photo credit: photos.icons8.com

The day I met Ray, he told me his drain was clogged. As we looked for a plunger in the apartment where we both rented a room, he told me he’d soon move from Manhattan to Queens. He needed a bigger place for his children’s overnight stays. The kids’ visits, though, would only be during the weekends. From Monday to Friday, they’d stay in Manhattan with their mom and everything a teen needs: school, sports, and social life. WiFi and iPhones are the foundation, but neither attaches people to a certain place. Ray was also born and raised in the…

Forget the experienced urbanists and forget the new graduates. Forget the Department of City Planning and forget the neighbors’ council. Forget the excavators, the concrete, and forget the asphalt. Render your mind blank.

Now, we are halfway to answer who builds the city. It’s the public, systematically observed by urbanists, that creates a city. In this article, I propose to think about city planning as the work done by a function rather than a human being, a group or a sector. I name it ‘usser-byers’. The concept merges ‘user’ and ‘passer-byers’ and refers to public space users. It avoids the…

Or How Should It Look Like?

London has a walk score of 100 out of 100. Beautiful streets, benches everywhere, and a brilliant transit network. I’m positive there’s a tube station on the moon. They call it a ‘walker’s paradise’.

To understand what that means, I’ve talked with Mr. Michael Edwards (1) and Dr. Robin Hickman (2)from The Bartlett School of Planning, Faculty of the Built Environment. In Urban Design Group, I’ve interviewed Mr. Paul Reynolds (3). Also, I’ve met Dr. Michael E. Leary-Owhin, who has an international reputation in the fields of urban planning, urban theory, and regeneration.


It’s funny. Look for ‘city’ in Google Images. The first photos depict skylines, highways, and waterfronts. But we know cities are more than concrete and asphalt. We can’t blame Google because the pictures represent what we think of when we think of cities.

Hisaya Odori Garden, Nagoya. Photo credit: 公益財団法人 名古屋市みどりの協会 (Nagoya City Green Association)

Besides the buildings and the vehicles, in all cities, there are parks, plazas, and playgrounds. Although the predominant color is gray, the presence of green in cities is essential. City greenspaces (GS) are the main suppliers of ecosystem services. They help us to breath better air quality and they reduce noise pollution. GS play a fundamental role…

jennifer micó

I travel and write about walkability.

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