Cities for Ladies – Defending the Clothesline – Reviving Vending Machines – POLITICO

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By Aitor Hernandez Morales

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happy thursdayCity Lovers: Welcome to another edition of Politico’s Live Cities newsletter.

Every day, mayors and city planners make decisions that shape the spaces in which we live. But this week I’ve been thinking about how a certain man – Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier (1887-1965) – ended up adapting negatively to the way half of the urban population lives.

In the 1940s, Le Corbusier (pseudonym for Charles-Édouard Jeanneret) came up with his Modulor system, a type of golden ratio still used to this day to determine the standard height of elevator buttons and the distance between steps on stairs.

The Modulor is great for tall men because Le Corbusier based it on the imagined proportions of the “good-looking” policemen in English detective novels, who he said were “always 6 feet tall.” [1.82 meters] Tall.” But this is inappropriate for European women, who average 1.67 meters in height. This means that they are forced to live in cities with very tall seats, ATMs a little out of reach, and subway cars very far from the platform.

We’ll look at how some cities have modified urban landscapes designed according to the whims of men, after the jump.

metro briefing

Cities for all: The Swedish city of Umeå has made a political commitment to gender equality – including how the city itself operates. Since the late 1970s, a Commission on Gender Equality has been influencing policymaking to ensure that any new urban plans also work for women and take their needs into account.


Redesigned tunnel in Umeå, Sweden | Giovanna Coy

Think differently: Jiu traveled to Umeå last month, where she spoke to gender equality officials and toured her most successful initiatives. Among them is a 170-meter underpass for pedestrians that has been repaired to make it safer for women. Before it was remodeled, it was narrow, dark and steep, making it difficult to cross with a stroller and dangerous to walk alone. The existing structure is well lit and includes an additional exit halfway. Its walls are also covered in art. Linda Gustafson, a city gender equality official, told Geo that designing urban spaces for women requires “critical thinking…creativity and imagination.” This means looking beyond infrastructure to increase women’s visibility in the city – for example by installing footpath lights that depict both men and women, and renaming public buildings after prominent local women.

green corner: Gustafson said that as cities look to be climate neutral and adapt to climate change, including women in city planning is becoming more important. This is because they are likely to be disproportionately affected by climate change but also because they tend to “make more sustainable choices than men.” According to a 2020 Swedish study, if men commute like women – including by choosing to use their cars more often – the country’s emissions would be reduced by about 20 percent.

Outside Sweden: Umeå isn’t the only city working on this problem: URBACT’s 2022 Gender Equal Cities Report provides examples of gender-sensitive urban planning in places like Barcelona, ​​where the city has set up a meeting space for women entrepreneurs, and Trikala, Greece, which has invested in areas of childcare and breastfeeding.

Learn more about the problem in Gio’s story.

Offered by AirBnB's work in support of refugees’s work in support of refugees

To celebrate World Refugee Day, announced this week that in Europe more than 42,600 refugees from Ukraine have been linked to free or temporary housing thanks to the generosity of its hosts and in partnership with non-profit organizations. To learn more and get involved, visit

Highlights of the city

Keep it green: Brussels wants to protect and increase the tree cover in the cities of the European Union. In the proposed Nature Restoration Regulation, the European Commission requires EU countries to end any net loss of urban green space – which it defines as “trees and tree groups, green roofs and green walls, urban forests and herbaceous plant associations” – in cities by 2030. The Commission is also proposing to cover trees at least 10 per cent of the EU’s city areas by 2050.


Need for Speed: Developers are pissed off by the very long waiting times for green light for construction projects in Copenhagen. Municipal rules state that requests for construction projects must be resolved within 40 to 60 days, but some companies wait up to seven months for permits to be issued. City authorities acknowledge a significant backlog and say they are looking for funds to hire outside help with the goal of getting waiting times back to normal by 2023.

Planning for future crises: Ten liberal mayors led by François DeCoster, mayor of the French city of Saint-Omer, want Brussels to do more to help EU cities prepare for large-scale immigration. Leaders say they need help to house and integrate people displaced by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and prepare for the arrival of refugees likely to come to Europe as a result of global warming, natural disasters and future geopolitical crises. EU statements, forward-looking projects and direct access to emergency funding can help.


Diritto fondamentale, patrimonio dell’umanità! | Aitor Hernandez Morales

dry to dry: Naples Mayor Gaetano Manfredi was forced to defend residents’ habit of air drying clothes on balconies and laundry lines this week after… Press reports of a new municipal decree fining them for hanging their laundry in the open air. “The clothesline is a symbol of our city and does not represent a lack of decency,” Manfredi said, adding that for people who live in narrow city alleys, “there is no other way to dry clothes.” In response to mayor Pino Di Stasio, who angrily justified the practice as an “ancient ritual” of Naples immortalized in the films Pasolini, De Sica and Sorrentino, Manfredi insisted that the ban “will never exist”.

Own goal: While clotheslines remain legal, the city council has issued a controversial ban on playing street football. game over, Guaglio’.

Amazing support: A rainbow flag no longer adorns the walls of Madrid’s Chueca metro station: after six years, passengers this week found the station’s formerly rainbow-colored walls covered with advertisements for a underwear brand. change him The city’s LGBTQ+ community outragedwhich accused conservative regional president Isabel Diaz Ayuso and mayor Jose Luis Martinez Almeida of undermining the community’s vision during Pride Month. Earlier in June, Almeida confirmed that, for the second year in a row, he would break an old tradition and not fly the rainbow flag from City Hall during the city’s Pride celebration, the largest in Europe.

urban trends

Automatic return: Eating well can be a challenge for urban professionals who live in countries where shops have early closing times: an unexpectedly long day at the office in Austria, Belgium or Cyprus, where even major stores close by 8pm, can force workers to To rely on the local night store or food delivery services. But an increasing number of shopkeepers are using vending machines to cater to these customers.


Meat on demand? Afek Placer! | Laila Aksu

meat machine: As the butchers in Carlos en Zonen, located in the Saint-Gilles district of Brussels, start preparing the meat before sunrise, the shop closes early – 5pm in summer, closes at 3pm last year, wondering how the food will be served More customers, the idea of ​​a “meat cabinet” that was installed on the front of the building hit. “It was a hit,” Butcher Kurt Verdulig told me. “We’ve gotten great feedback from our customers, and for us it’s been a great way to sell around the clock.” The machine is strategically stocked: on weekdays Verdoolaege fills it up with “easier fare” like hamburgers or homemade lasagna at the store, “high-quality stuff that people can easily cook.” But on sunny weekends, it fills the slots with ribs and other pieces perfect for barbecues—and even bottles of champagne.

growing fashion: Erwin Wetzel, director general of the European Vending and Coffee Service Association, told me that while the major operators have historically been the main buyers of vending machines – of which there are about 5 million across the European Union – independent shopkeepers are increasingly investing in them. “Pharmacies in Madrid and Barcelona have used it for years to sell over-the-counter products,” he said. “But during the lockdowns, butchers and bakers in the cities realized that these machines could also allow them to reach more customers, and more and more of them want them now.”


Fresh bread vending machine in Vienna’s 7th district | Aitor Hernandez Morales

something for everyone: Vending machines have been a constant in our cities for over a century, selling sandwiches, cigarettes, condoms, face masks — you name it. In the Sihlfeld Cemetery in Zurich, there is also a Trauerautomat (“mourning machine”) that sells handkerchiefs, condolence cards, and rosaries. Wetzel said vendors are constantly adapting machines to users’ needs. In the urban context, this increasingly means selling “fresh bread, fruits, cheese and meat at any hour… With modern technology, the possibilities are endless.”

Stats and the city

public forum


remind: To celebrate the conclusion of this first chapter of Living Cities, we’re compiling a playlist of songs that remind you of specific cities, urban infrastructure, or big city life. Thanks if you have already provided a tune, and if not, now is the time! You can submit your favorites our way here. We’ll be including the definitive collection of soulful city songs in our newsletter next week.

Offered by AirBnB’s work in support of refugees

More than 42,600 refugees from Ukraine have been linked to free or temporary housing in Europe thanks to generous hosts on and in partnership with non-profit organizations. The latest notable numbers come on the heels of’s commitment in February to provide accommodation for up to 100,000 refugees who have fled Ukraine. Poland and Germany are the two largest countries in Europe supporting the initiative with 10,000 refugees finding temporary homes with hosts on Airbnb in Poland and about 5,900 in Germany. To date, the team has connected more than 107,000 refugees and asylum seekers to free temporary housing around the world, including more than 26,000 Afghan refugees since August 2021. is grateful to hosts and donors around the world who have done so. Help make this possible. To learn more and get involved, visit

local library

– Stockholm has announced the winner of its 2022 Building of the Year competition: Kajplats 6, a tall, handsome figure, received 700 votes out of 4,700 votes cast.

Esther and my editors were shocked by this powerful story from The New Yorker about the deadly presence of cars in our cities.

Herzlichen Glockwansch returns to Vienna after regaining first place in The Economist’s annual ranking of the world’s most liveable cities.

Let’s finish this week’s newsletter the way we started: talk about how awful Le Corbusier is. Several times a year I remember his 1922 proposal to “reform” Paris by replacing the Marais district with 24 towers and a network of motorways. Thank God the plan did not go beyond the drawing board.

Thanks: Giovanna CoyAnd the Louise Gillow, Sarah Wheaton, my editors Esther King And the James Randerson , and the product Julia Boulogne.

Politico’s Global Policy Lab is a collaborative journalism project that searches for solutions to the challenges faced by modern societies in an era of rapid change. Over the coming months, we will be hosting a conversation about how to make cities more livable and sustainable.

More… Aitor Hernandez Morales

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