Category: Writings

Ban cars in cities

Opinion piece

Henrik Valeur, 2016

The problem
Do you know the feeling? You’re stuck in traffic and you can literally feel your blood pressure going up as you become increasingly frustrated with the time that is being lost because of all those morons who are blocking the way ahead. You may also begin to wonder what all those gasses and fine particles of soot, which are being emitted from all those idle engines in front, are doing to your health. And, if you’re less of a narcissist, you may begin to take pity on the poor cyclist who is being bullied by the big SUV or on the woman with her bags and children who is unable to cross the road.

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Running out of water – in India

Paper in India: the Urban Transition – a Case Study of Development Urbanism, 2014.

Henrik Valeur, 2013

According to the “Performance Audit of Water Pollution in India” by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India:

“Water contamination weakens or destroys natural ecosystems that support human health, food production and biodiversity. Water-borne diseases kill millions people […]. Livelihoods such as agriculture, fishing and animal husbandry are affected by poor water quality”.[1]

Yet …

“Presently, only about 10 per cent of the waste water generated is treated; the rest is discharged as it is into our water bodies”.[1]

Read the paper …

Alternatives to the Automobile in the Indian City

Commentary in Economic & Political Weekly

Henrik Valeur, 2013.

For the past century, the automobile has captured the imagination of people around the globe and for many, it still constitutes the ultimate symbol of having achieved middle-class status. According to a rapidly-growing number of academic studies, however, the automobile may have detrimental effects on human health and life quality, especially in cities, where the concentration of automobiles contributes significantly to pollution, environmental degradation, social isolation, stress and physical inactivity.[1]

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Making India slum-free

Paper in India: the Urban Transition – a Case Study of Development Urbanism, 2014.

Henrik Valeur, 2013

Compared to China, where rapid urbanization seems to have been instrumental in lifting several hundred million people out of extreme poverty during the past three decades, urbanization in India has been slow and, as a possible consequence, poverty alleviation has been almost stagnant.

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The slum dweller

Short story in India: the Urban Transition – a Case Study of Development Urbanism, 2014.

Henrik Valeur, 2013

Pawan is 26; he’s a good-looking guy, with a charming smile and eyes that inspire confidence. Furthermore, he holds a university degree in geography and is working for the High Court of Haryana and Punjab as a clerk. It’s only a temporary job but he is also taking classes in the evening to pass the examination to qualify for taking on a higher and steadier position with the government.

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Car-free sector (in Chandigarh)

Published in The Global Urbanist

Henrik Valeur, 2013

In contrast to Bangalore, in the south of India, which has been influenced by both British colonization and contemporary processes of globalization, Chandigarh, in the north of India, is a unique modernist city. It was designed in the early 1950’s by a team of Indian and foreign architects headed by Le Corbusier, one of the “fathers” of the modernist movement.

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Car-free campus (in Bangalore)

Published in The Global Urbanist

By Henrik Valeur, 2013

Mobility is crucial for human development and for the functioning of cities but the automobile may not always be the best solution, especially not in cities where it may have detrimental effects on human health, the environment and development.

While evidence of these effects is piling up in a rapidly growing number of academic studies nothing much seems to be done on the ground. Though the following case, from Bangalore, may, perhaps, provide some inspiration.

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The horrendous costs of motorized transportation in (Indian) cities

Paper in World Streets, 2013, The Global Urbanist, 2013 andIndia: the Urban Transition – A Case Study of Development Urbanism, 2014

By Henrik Valeur, 2013

It could presumably be argued that it is the combined ability to both move and think that has enabled us, human beings, to achieve the kind of progress we have achieved. Today, however, mobility and thinking often seem to oppose – or even exclude – one another, especially in cities, where the current modes of transportation and traffic behavior are not only threatening the health of the individual but also that of communities and eco-systems.

Read the paper …

Bangalore – the urban schism

Essay in India: the Urban Transition – a Case Study of Development Urbanism, 2014.

By Henrik Valeur, 2013

By the beginning of the 21st century, Bangalore had emerged as a global hub for software development, production and services, with most of the world’s leading IT companies being located there and two of the leading Indian IT companies being headquartered there.

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The godfather of the hyper-modern city

By Henrik Valeur, 2011

“I apologize”

Chen breathe

“I apologize to the party, the people and my family”

He sits down. A broken man who has lost everything. The last two years he has spent in prison in Beijing and under house arrest in a distant province. It is spring 2008 and he is now sitting in a courtroom in Tianjin, waiting for his verdict.

He risks the death penalty.

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Grow your own food!

Article in Economic & Political Weekly, Vol. 47, Issue No. 24, 16 Jun, 2012.

By Henrik Valeur and Arshinder Kaur, 2012

Growing your own food in the city is becoming a global trend; from growing vegetables in recycled plastic bottles in a loft in New York or in a slum dwelling in Manila to community kitchen gardens in a posh neighborhood in London or in a favela in Sao Paulo; people are experimenting with ways of becoming self-sufficient with food in urban settings.

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The poor are moving to town

Feature article in Information 21 June 2010 (originally in Danish).

By Henrik Valeur, 2010.

According to the UN, the world will be populated with two billion more people within the next twenty to thirty years, almost all of whom will inhabit cities in the developing world.

Building cities for nearly 100 million additional people every year over the next twenty to thirty years is a challenge, but also an opportunity of enormous dimensions. Depending on how it is done, it could either become one of humanity’s greatest successes or one of our worst failures.

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Lost in Transition

Talk by Henrik Valeur at the 51st IFHP World Congress in Copenhagen.

24 September 2007.

Abstract: While Mao Zedong sent millions of people to the countryside, his successor, Deng Xiaoping initiated an even more frenetic movement in the opposite direction. In the past 20 years some 400 million Chinese people have moved to the cities, and in the next 20 years an additional 400 million people are expected to follow suit. Even if China is still the World’s number one manufacturing country, and its apparently inexhaustible pool of cheap labor is still the main driver of the globalization of trade, the manufacturing industry is no longer the main driver of economic development in China.

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Chandigarh – an Indian adventure!

Essay in Journal of Architecture Vol. 1, No. 2, 2012 (India).

By Henrik Valeur, 2011.

After more than 300 years of British colonization, the inclusive and contradictory India was no longer capable of holding herself together. At independence in 1947, India split into two, and subsequently three, independent nations.

Thus the capital of Punjab, Lahore, came to be located in Pakistan, while the Indian part of Punjab came to lack a capital. The first Indian Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, therefore decided to build a new one.

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The Diagram

By Henrik Valeur, 2001.

Looking at film footage and development schemes documenting the suburbanization around Copenhagen during the late 60’s and early 70’s, it is striking to see how directly principles of temporal organization were transformed into principles of physical organization. Corresponding to the labor unions demand for eight hours of work, eight hours of sleep and eight hours of leisure the territories of the suburbs were divided into segregated zones of production, living and recreation.

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