I am pictured above in the Sculpture Garden of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. I am certainly a fan of Neo-Classical urban architecture like the museums that surround me, as well as of urban gardens, particularly if they offer 3D artworks. However, I did not spend my time with The Grid exploring any single city from the inside out.
Instead, I sat in front of my computer and initially worked off a list of 50 French-language urban blogs to search for opportune articles to translate into English for The Grid. Eventually, a well-researched Google alert took the place of the list as a search tool. Because I used the keywords chantier (construction site) and immobilier (real estate) in my search criteria, I got a lot of articles in my Inbox about construction site accidents and real estate trends in the Francophone world (well, most of the articles were about cities in France or Canada). Only 1 in 5 search results were relevant to my search for articles that were hyperlocal and addressed a design topic.
Among them were many articles about heritage, preservation and restoration efforts, like the ones underway at St. Peter's Cathedral in Poitiers, France, Lyon's Hotel Dieu or at Chateau Azay-le-Rideau, where visitors are welcome to view the work being done to restore the building in the Loire Valley.
My Google search also took me to Varennes, Canada, where the local public library monitors its own energy use, produces more energy than it consumes, and dedicates a corner to youth where they can bring their cellphones and speak outloud. Other noteworthy ecologically inclined projects were the vegetable gardens installed on a large University of Montreal construction site that has been cleared and is awaiting construction to begin, as well as the insect homes being adopted in Verdun, Montreal to increase biodiversity in the neighborhood's alleyways.
I also had the opportunity to write two book reviews, one about the history of solar houses in the world and another about journeying through world architecture to find out what it's like to experience its form, materiality and meaning in drawings and photographs.
I translated for The Grid for well over a year, so feel free to browse through my collection of translations near and past. You never know when you'll run into something that interests you. Topics include urban art, architecture, architecture competitions and exhibits, urban planning efforts through bike infrastructure, affordable housing, eco-neighborhoods, preservation, adaptive reuse, far flung ideas for Dubai-style islands in France, urban farming, urban and indigenous activism and more.
Credits: Images by Bora Mici and linked to source. Data linked to sources.