Jeremy Smith

I dream for better cities.

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De Waag Sketch

This used to be the gate into Amsterdam! I took out the restaurant additions that currently exist in the front. De Waag Sketch.jpg

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Studying Urban Planning, I have a whole different kind of “research” when it comes to designing urban spaces. Walking around a city is sometimes the best, most raw, and most fun way of evaluating and visioning a current part of a city. It reminds me of the way authors read and re-read books–both their own and those that inspire them–to analyze the work from the way it will be experienced. When planners plan using just maps, they’re planning for people who will be flying over the city in an airplane. The right perspective matters. Planning and urban design shouldn’t just focus on the big things like street layouts but should also address the smaller things like the façades of shops, or the shadows from trees and awnings. That is why walking, biking, driving, running around a city is so important to understanding the needs and the possible solutions.

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Interesting Paving Technique

While biking, I noticed that the streets in the polder were paved with solid pavement and then paved with pre-casted squares with holes that allows the surrounding green to grow in between the holes. This allows for a gradient from pavement to the ecosystem and acts as a natural drainage and filtration system, a perfect adaptation for the rainy Holland climate. IMG_2661.jpg

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Biking the Amstel

Prior to our case study with Niels, Eduardo, and Danbi, we went on a guided bike tour of the region we were to be studying. This bike tour was much more enjoyable than the first one because (A) we were not on bright yellow—oh those are without a doubt tourists—bikes and (B) we went out into the country, where people aren’t honking at you because of aforementioned bikes. The experience was valuable not just in being fun, but for getting a sense of how crazy these Dutch people must have been to settle here. The dykes on either side of the Amstel ‘river’ were keeping the water from flooding huge polders filled with cows and houses on either side. We learned that the settlers of this area came from Utrecht and reclaimed the land by harvesting peat for fuel and building canals and dykes. Amsterdam is the result of these people realizing that they could better protect themselves by banding...

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Amsterdamse Huis

Amsterdam House.jpeg

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A Sunday in Utrecht, NL

Only a 20 minute train ride away, the medieval city of Utrecht brings very different “vibes” to the table. Utrecht echoes the sit down and enjoy culture found throughout Europe. Because of smaller living spaces, the public space in central Utrecht becomes a place where everyone wants to be. On this Sunday afternoon, almost every seat at every table was taken. Restaurants, cafés, bakeries, and of course coffeeshops to fit the needs of every sub-culture. The canals, differ from Amsterdam in that they lie about 25ft lower than the street level allowing for a building space, a street space, and a lower canal level, for even more sitting and enjoying. The trees in Utrecht provide shade and environmental health and look as old as the famous Domkirk church tower.

There are little to no cars in the center of Utrecht, its walkability encourages its culture of using public space.

Evernote Snapshot 20140622 205952.jpgIMG_2612.JPG

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Doodling in Utrecht Café


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The Public Realm in Amsterdam, NL

After spending two weeks in the Netherlands, I’ve had my fair share of interaction with the city streets. Here in Amsterdam, you spend a majority of your time walking/biking/tramming through the historical streets and canals. I’ve noticed four basic types of place that one runs into in the inner-city. These are: Street, Alley, Square, and Canal. Its interesting that each of the four share the same kind of building face: the classic Dutch townhouse, with all of the building right up against the sidewalk. This does not follow some of the modern practices to create varied and inviting openness of the first floor of commercial areas, or the porches and yards of residential, or the small green space dividers that are so common in today’s architecture.

Is this the right way?

The coherence of Amsterdam is commendable, but also (talking from experience) can lead one to get very lost without...

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More Street Art: Amsterdam, NL

I think that there are certain culture values here in Amsterdam which make street art acceptable and appreciated, though I also see communities else where in which the culture (or sub-culture) exists but it is criminalized and thus uglyfied. In true Dutch fashion, the taboo becomes de-criminalized and is regulated to ensure safety, quality, and equality of expression.

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Street Art Culture

During my time in the Netherlands, I have noticed an acceptance and embrace of street art (graffiti). Every unused wall is almost guaranteed to be covered with amazing street art. Urban centers such as Rotterdam embrace this as part of the urban aesthetic, as seen through these pictures taken in the city center. IMG_2467.JPG
Above, shows the kinetic aesthetics of Rotterdam, with what you wear on your bike to work being included as part of the public realm.

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