« 99% Invisible

385- Shade

2020-01-14 | 🔗

Journalist Sam Bloch used to live in Los Angeles. And while lots of people move to LA for the sun and the hot temperatures, Bloch noticed a real dark side to this idyllic weather: in many neighborhoods of the city, there's almost no shade. Shade can literally be a matter of life and death. Los Angeles, like most cities around the world, is heating up. And in dry, arid environments like LA, shade is perhaps the most important factor influencing human comfort. Without shade, the chance of mortality, illness, and heatstroke can go way up.


This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
This is ninety nine percent, invisible, I'm roman Mars last October. The mayor of Allay Eric girl said he gave a speech about when the biggest she was fixing. His city is just way too hard, but we know it climate change is not an abstract crisis. This is the, I defy lives mere Eric our city in South, LOS Angeles today, rolling out key of his cool streets programme. This is the first of five neighborhoods across the city were rolling out new features, that'll help us lower our temperature the city is trying lots of things to cool down temperatures like painting site. Why easiest way to solve this problem is shade, just create in lots of neighborhoods mullay dont have treated bridge or high rise buildings, and because of city bylaws, it's really difficult to build features like shade sales or canopies
Journalists, SAM Block, has spent a lot of time looking into shade. So I sat down to talk with him about by seed is actually a matter of life or death for people live We really sunny places. You used to live in LOS Angeles and what Did you notice about LOS Angeles when you started walking in the city, noticing knows that there is no one around. I noticed The people who are around would have to position themselves in such a way to protect themselves from the sunlight. What do you mean? I noticed people waiting for the buses behind telephone pulse. I noticed people waiting behind the people waiting behind telephone poles because only at small sliver of shade that people were protected from the sunlight. Why is she to important LOS Angeles like every city in the world is heating up. There are some scientists who I speak too, who have found that in hot DR arid environments, like close
It was, but also Phoenix. That shade is the most important factor when it comes to human comfort. More than our but you're more than humidity. More than when speed and there's a close relationship, in human thermal comfort and mortality and illness and he'd stroke. If you're gonna shit if you now protective my son, you can. Oh, you can become dizzy, can become disoriented, you can become confused lethargic hydrated. If you are obese, sir elderly or pregnant that can tap into more dangerous things like heart attack organ failure into what is the magnitude of the problem in ITALY are a few different ways, thinking about it, we can about shade in terms of tree canopy, which is a very serious problem. While Sandy This has terribly unequal tree, canopy and better. Can it be? I just mean coverage like that: you're, not a space. Looking down in that way, you'll see parts of the city that
covered in green and must part of the city that are not their baking and asphalt and those to a t follow lines of wealth. It's a problem with three canopy. It's a problem in terms of the built urban form. Los Angeles is notoriously he density whilst angels has this image of itself has not been New York City infecting the Anti New York so sunlight? Open space is a part of the culture, and that's not us, early problem but becomes problem when you can't escape it. So there are no tall buildings provide some measure of shame. I wouldn't go as far as to say. There are no told me if it, however, and futile there are few tall buildings space briefer apart, correct there located in certain height districts, downtown being one of them and even some areas that city partners have designated to be tolerant, neighborhoods. Even today, there still thought, contested by neighbouring activists so pictures and I get a sense at LOS Angeles, used to be greener, like that, there's a lot of shade. So tell me how
the city was designed and how it developed into this, so time was LOS. Angeles was a prairie. If you look at photos of valet from hundred fifty years ago, it's all grasslands and it was settled by the spanish downtown, which was the she'll settlement was laid out according to the law of the Andes, the city would run They confirmed or forty five degree angle, so you can of sunlight in the winter and shade and shadow in the summer school the law of the Indies, what does this mean? while the Indies means build your cities at forty five degrees? Basically, really completely? like the way we think it most american Citys, which have the sort of North South EAST, was very region grid. So you have these original settlements that are laid out in such a way as to be able to create shadowing. You need at NASA to bestow sunlight also when you need it. Spanish architecture, tenths of a very strong sense of natural comforts, you'll see a lot of these Missions and Adobe's that have these internal courtyards that are shaded
of covered walkways persicos and even today, you'll feel out of his. Unlike, like spanish revival, are picture or me no outdoor malls that have goofy spanish names was Endless was also in a way it sort of a dusty old West town. So you think about these covered boardwalk see you think about large canvas awnings that are killing people whom you know living outside. Turning and another way to LOS Angeles, her to stay cool was through rich beautiful kind of flamboyant. Let us treat canopy, but innocent critic overwhelming vote. It's true canopy, but innocent credit, overwhelming variety of exotic flora and fauna. In so doing period there was a recognition. The environment and how to be comfortable inside of it and wind that go wrong. You put it that way. Things started to go wrong after cheap electricity came down to LOS Angeles, with the completion of what is now called the Hoover. Damn see start to see.
The city rebuild itself and the new development becomes like we see today, you have control air conditioning you ve maybe all which comes to dominate the city and authorities in the forties in width I believe that a whole new way of seeing the city, the names of the streets are, has Homewards translated into magic, fabulous stacks of freeways. Tremendous turn by the cities are to think about how to market itself and how to make itself Seymour tracked it outside. It- and this is where you get palm trees palm trees. One essay said were about as useful for shade as a telephone Paul she hated them. But the city was an of them and, interestingly, you have different philanthropists and celebrities starting to think about trees as being a public good, but the palm tree in particular, being
guys doesn't just message. Pickford said a kind of semi tropical Paradise, but also sea to your car, because the tree trunks are that robust of your driving down symbol of our see. That robust sub you're driving down some boulevard, you can see all the great stuff because of the time trees so narrow, so LOS Angeles, was up. Resumed in the nineteen, thirty is to become a single family city was in the less in order to sort of pacify not suck up at the sort of remake itself, the image of the under a J, decide that all new single family homes had to come to the front in aside yard start to create a lot of space around them was angels really serves to hate the idea of density, and so, when you have this type of sprawling, not very dense city, how is the shape distribute unevenly shade is distributed to people who can afford it. If you going he's neighborhoods that were laid out to be,
healthy residential enclaves, you a very wide sidewalks and thus the Strip grass, where you can treat plant, which is called the parkway, becomes for five. Maybe even ten Why'd you have these wider parkways. You have a greater space to plant a bigger thicker Lee fear tree, so the parkway is the area between the sidewalk and the road correct, and this can be pretty wide and therefore have treated with correct in other neighborhoods. I ve been red line that were designed a sort of worker housing that were meant to sort of jam people together. You don't have these kinds of wide residential sidewalks. Instead, where you have a very narrow, sidewalks, these neighborhoods are designed to facilitate automobile passage of giving our assent. Who are you? Don't really have the space to point a thick leafy tree? Furthermore, it's been incumbent upon property owners and renters to maintain this sort of semi public space of the parkway. You would think
that in a city where is on the sidewalk, whatever is outside of the property line, would be managed by the city that is not historically been. The case, in LOS Angeles, has been incumbent upon property owners to water. Trees to maturity and maintain them. If there's a tree there, it's because someone has taken it upon themselves to water it to maturity and to care for it so Each part of that process. The design of where the sidewalk is relative to the street, the fact that a person of wealth plant and maintain a tree. All these things cause more uneven distribution of of shade trees, that's right, and I would also add that in some neighbourhoods and thinking about a neighbor called Hancock Park, which is a flat neighbourhood landlocked in the center of the city. There is nothing about that. A truly lends itself over to being a lush verdant tree festooned paradises, but the neighborhood was developed as an exclusive, wealthy residential enclave.
When that happened, the power lines were underground in there is nothing in the way it is designed specifically to allow for tree gruff. This is not the case in most have lost the Angeles Sue because of this lack of shade trees. Their efforts to build a shade, especially run by shelters, but it's been incredibly hard according to your reporting, so like in your article, you, you talk about one by shelter at Glasnost park. Can you tell me about that and and why it was so hard to put shade there. It was hard because shade as a trip wire in the end then said the glass Park, Transit Island, you had a concern neighbourhood resident in the neighborhood activist, maybe you'll call them a homeowner who want, to throw. This is a bus, shelter over a space where she saw people naturally confiscating. She ended up talking to an architect who said, let's not do a regular bus shelterless, throw some big
sales in here and when that happens, you have to start thinking about how we gonna fix these shade sail to the ground, and when that happens, you have to start thinking about. What's underneath the girl and you have water mains. You have underground utilities in order to upgrade aside or transit island. You then have to start honouring newer regulations like the Americans with disabilities acts. So then you have to start making curb cuts to make it wheelchair accessible. Though you have to take care of all these other things before you can decide to do this very lightweight sort of low respects. This through enemies of shade are not always bad guys, in this case ABA confined to the banker now like carpets Nova. Not all these things are not bad. You know it's not just sort of around sidewalk, No, it doesn't have a lot of shipments city parks either. So why is
Why was this never considered valuable? I wouldn't go so far as to say, was never considered valuable because I'm thinking about a park downtown called Pershing Square. That up until the nineteen fifties was a tropical paradise. It was incredibly shady. It was meant for people to kind of hang out and shoot the breeze and after a while, the business elite in the neighborhood decided, first of all, to install underground parking, which gets through to the whole root system. So you can no longer plant thicker density, canopy and part of the reason why Pershing Square was redeveloped in short of its true canopy, as because LOS Angeles is a city where residents are worried about crime, a city where
has it in so worried about homelessness. As I was working on the story, I came across multiple instances where LAPD had installed pole cameras in parks or in public housing projects, and I've been told about something called crime prevention through environmental design, which is this idea that we need to have incurred visibility in public spaces, and you can go on Google Street view and go back five six seven years, and you can see over time when a pull camera goes up. Mature street tree goes down. So this is all these selective pressures where other things are just more important. You know like it whether its own call it some of the illusion of crime prevention strategies and no one told me that it actually prevents crossing what what's this detective told me was that it helps the police catch and prosecute criminals, not that it stops them right, and then this preference for this
program parking which makes shallow ground, which, therefore, you can only have trees that have real ball root systems like palm trees are at it. It seems like everything is working against it, especially in this city, and so how do you think about how to balance the? these different factors and their value in an urban setting great question. There are few wasted. Think about this mention that in LOS Angeles, its homeowners and residents who are responsible for the maintenance and cultivation of ST trees? Why does it have to be that way? Why doesn't the city decide that a public urban forest wizened that a value you might also think about? The question of density spoke to an architect and what he told me is that maximizing floorspace is the name of the game, which means, if you only have so much space to work with which developer is going to say. Let's actually, com
about some of our forests base to make and arcade report ago. That's a tough cell. So why doesn't the city properly incentivize developers to create these sort of semi public shaded environments behind the property line that are contiguous what the sidewalk
and what about displacing trees, knowing what is Ellie doing about just adding to the canopy in general, the city is trying to plant more trees into the city, has a goal of planting ninety thousand trees in the next few years. I am not sufficiently convinced that the city recognizes the infrastructural challenge to planting ninety thousand trees, because ass we ve been talking about the space in which you can plant a tree is limited when you have things like an arrow, sidewalk overhead power lines or even regulations that limit or prohibit the planting of a street tree within forty five feet of driveway, which, let's be real, that's practically all of LOS Angeles. Again. That makes me think of the city. Is not understanding the complete wholesale re, imagining of the street that's needed in order to plant ninety thousand trees. So we ve talked a lot about informal urbanism on the shoulder of interventions. People could install
Listen canopies without permission to fix this kind of problem, just in their own neighborhood did you find Evan so people doing this and in what is the reaction? When this happens, people do it all the time partition Really, I will add unlucky, no neighborhoods isn't there's an earnest named James Rojas, who writes about let you know urbanism, and he is a pretty compelling theory that letting our residents of LOS Angeles know how to use the shade, and he leads these wonderful walking towards world how point out shade sales that have been connected between two garages in an alley way for kids to play and because it's more comfortable under the shade real point out elaborate front yard where you have blue Polly tarps, just strong across space, or maybe I'm exam, trees that are sort of overflowing into the street
me about it. I get the impression that the city doesn't always see things. The same way when I did find is that in a private room, the things are tolerated when they step into the public him when they step under the sidewalk things become more complicated. I write about a grassroots, shade, shelter on Figaro, awe and avenue twenty six in Cyprus. Neighbourhood near the Alley River and a barber name. Tony corn would not admit that it was he who made this really great fantastic
shade. Shelter made out of like an eye beam in a great tar, been a couple bus benches, but he told me that he recognized the need for people when they're waiting for the bus just to have some protection tony or some one had to take down this grassroots bus shelter, because it was an obstruction in the public right of way. The city processes, sixteen thousand obstructions and the public right of way every year, if property owners, if residence did not fear that the city would come out threatening them with fines? Perhaps we would see more grassroots urbanism and it's pretty surprising to think of shade as a political inequity issue. It surprises alot of people doing, but your awaiting this and convincing
people of it and just make your best case for what it is that you want people to think about anything about Shana City shade in a city is to me respect for people who can't afford to duck into an air conditioned cafe or left when it gets too hot. Shade is to me an understanding that the world is changing and we want to protect it the most vulnerable citizens who can't protect themselves and its also just nicer to be in the shade schooler in the shade. I always Welcome a shady side of the street. It's easier to see in the shade United spoke to scientists who said that direct sunlight is the kind of light they haven't. You perform oral surgery unpleasant now, dappled light is more like reading
But so I want my city to help me read a book. I don't wanna perform surgery, you thanks for coming I appreciate that yeah thanks for having me wrong. Same blogs article cobbled she appeared in places Of next as the hottest cities are beginning to recognise the importance of trees and shade, architects are drawing. More and more trees all over their building proposals, almost a comical amount trees, even on the building itself curtain. Thought about that after this.
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and at an affordable rate. Nineteen April invisible listeners will get ten percent off their first month with discount code, invisible, that's better help, dot com, slash invisible! Why not get help better help dot com, slash invisible. So, after a interviewed SAM block about shaven cities, we reached a bunch of landscape architects and each of them said: The solution is pretty simple: that we need to play more trees, and it is one thing that you notice, if you look at architectural renderings, propose buildings is that their trees everywhere in the drawings, because it looks pretty and it sell the idea of this future site being an oasis in concrete city entity further more more renderings feature big trees and shrubs action, on buildings themselves like home, vertical forests on skyscrapers incur closed. It was
the person who may be aware of this trend- and he's MR do with me to talk about it. So when you first notice trees, over money, skyscrapers and renderings, I made them He wasn't the thing when I was an architecture school a decade ago, There is more recent the that during the two thousand tens I started to notice more and more of these increasingly absurd, renderings, where, when it these are just cannot everywhere and are a beautiful and blue and archive have a long tradition of color, pushing the edges their renderings you'll, see legal out of they clean lines. You might not see the ugly railings on balconies of things that are gonna, be there. In the end, but this kind of like we're just gonna, put. Greenery on everything and just assume, that's fine and people will buy that cabotage is kind of got to the point of being absurd, is it really this idea so in an image? Or do you think it's like a little bit of this green
she knew so she's in that it feels environmental. They have trees on building. Only about the great thing about a right it, you can sell it to environmental us like look. How literally grew in our Billy his and, of course you can tell people because they like, while I went beyond the twenty fourth floor, but I'm still gotta have this kind of like lush greener, surrounding me there's something to that too. Rising like you can help bolster ecosystems. You cannot filter ere. You can provide some shade, at least for the residents their argument. For putting greenery up high. The problem in general is just that people don't realize how challenging it is right, right and what are the challenges of putting really big greenery on a building,
to the kind of number one challenge of this is just being able to support that greenery physically right, so like like from her heavy, yet trees are heavy and light. Architects have to design for both active and passive loads, active loads being things like people and passive loads being like snowfall and basically putting click. These big heavy trees can, like D, over triple the passive load requirement. So you end up having to bring in all his extra structure and on top of that at such a structure to support that is that also structure to support two or three feet of soil to support the tree of his chemist staff, regular irrigation systems, there's the hoisting up of these things in the first place amid the list is long reign. Is it only passive em? It strikes me that trees at high altitude are actually kind of active because
bone, the wind and they move, and it is that something into account. For I mean I don't love their duties. Are lateral load calculations for that, but definitely the impact of wind on these things is a factor in like so you get these things up. High trees like forests. Reason right like that to be surrounded by other trees and other trees, help keep them from blowing down, so the high winds at higher attitudes can interrupt. Photosynthetic processes in just gonna cause different issues for very little There wasn't born and bred for related by on a big building by itself, and on top of that too, in a lot of these towns. As they should have equal greenery on all sides and that looks lovely reality works differently like the sun rises, it sets and answer. If you got a building, for example, with the north facing facade, you might have trees that never see any sunlight, so this Equal treatment on all sides makes it seem a little artificial and not very sustainable. So the group
looks environmental, but the first problem is, you have to put up. These extra materials concrete and steal, to make this greenery viable on top of a big building. So that sort of one of the drawbacks If any of this was ever reality fundamental thing is most determined, isn't real right right. A lot of these don't get Bell rang. There's a concept renderings that kind of get people interested in an architecture firm designed for competitions and for being built. Some do get built, but sort of various degrees of success and failure, and while the classic examples of one of these really did get belt is called the vertical Forest and MILAN at a pair of towers. They meet a lot of the criteria. We ve been talking about they need, a lot of the criteria we ve been talking about. They essentially how kind of equal greenery on all sides, it's real
voice of the trees up, and it doesn't look bad and its use me sort of working. But you know they encountered a lot of issues to in construction. There were a lot of construction delays and sort of figuring out how we get a year these things and accommodate these load. So some of those are predictable and some of those are kind of specific to the fact that this building had to do more than a lot of buildings have to do right right in that same firm has since gone on to design other eggs the bulls for other cities. They none this they sort of like a we ve got this model and we're gonna can apply lobbies to their places, but one of the things that always ex me, but I'm looking at their renderings, is you'll, see all these trees up on the sides of the building and then fail to pick the applause. Surrounding it. Below and they'll be like a couple of trees. A cure, but think either. If you really, you wanna go all green the easiest way,
to do. That would be the just add more trees on my grandma room, and so it makes you wonder what is really the purposes it aesthetic is it just for the residents of meat they are trying to sort of serve the public good filter air. Do all these things. They could just really packing the greenery on the space below do be potential. You're. Really, nice amenity right, that's what interesting side effects that exit you may be aware of as well, which is like you're putting trees and a building is like in the Vanguard of Architecture and what they are buying then in this is just putting tree The ground where everyone can use the internet also interesting is that it feels a little bit like architects jumped the shark at some point, we used to have This idea of green roofs are good agreed are good and often they're kind of thing, layers of greenery and they serve certain Timberlake like absorbing heed and converting oxygen and and they don't take nearly as much work to make or maintain scanner. This was called extensive.
In an area which is say elixir of thin mosses and grasses. Yes, I learned the worry about its yeah. Like it more or less takes care of itself, you may need some irrigation. The weight requirements are far reduce, and so I ve started in this good place of saying like well. Let's have these layers of greenery and it'll be a real benefit to the city to the building and all these things and it super pleasant. Have you ever been in like a fancy off building and has a green roof its yeah yeah up there and I ve been really lay screen. Walls like that to sort of just cut a thin, not overdone, and then at some point it's like the aesthetic just correct hook over. That's like well, that's nice about. But it doesn't really look great in my drawing this thing that I'm using to sell to like developers and whoever out and then what what dream in over a month ago, we had it but a whole force that they have all vertical forest
But I'm really intrigued by this sign of acts of like the way to make your vertical skyscraper forest stand out is to take away all the trees at the base oh yeah, that's where it would do the most good and solve this problem. That SAM has pointed out the lack of equity when it comes to shade in places and whereas I think simple conclusion that we come to when it comes to the issue of shade in cities is more trees but like most thing, location, location, location is really important. Yeah, that's the thing! I would trust the intentions of these designers more if they were putting trees both on their buildings.
Also all around their buildings and every available space, because those are gonna be the easiest to install or plant. There can be the easiest, take care of their gonna serve some public benefits, potentially or even if here, instead of a courtyard, at least they serve the community that is being built for and Willie omit those trees on the ground and stack them all up high to make their building really stand out it does it feels kind of like their leaning into this almost aunt, I shades dance like route. We are going to reserve the shade for life These rich citizens who live here with privatized, shall we have successfully privatized shade and one of the things that I dug into a little bit.
I am not an expert on, but one of the things that I have looked at is this question: how much good do these trees do, because it is good to add green repositories absolutely and by some rough math sadova me to it. It looks like, for example, in one of these projects, the greenery that theyve encased this giant building in offsets the effective carbon footprint of heating, a half dozen homes for a year, and that's good, but it doesn't. You know if you're thinking about carbon neutrality or even having some less carbon negative, just installing those trees and creating other structure for them might take up just as much carbon has their offsetting, and so the idea that, if you clad your skyscraper in trees, it's going to actually make the billing greener is going to be really context dependent. It might someday in some cases, but in a lotta cases its offset by all the work you have to put into it in the first place through architects have good
tensions in general and I think our sex tend to want to solve every problem. They can including problems that are within their purview. Essentially, I'm sure a lot of architects say to themselves. This is great. I'm putting greenery up on buildings and I just think it would be helpful if There is more self examination or on the question of know, how is this gonna work as a system beyond my particular building its create if you're providing habitats and shade and oxygen conversion on your building, a house? I can interact with the city and what is the net effect of what you're doing forget. Why I'm so glad that you may be aware that a new wrote an article about this on the site a long time ago. He ever a few in their somewhat snarking in their headlines. I cannot have like a little axe to grind when this polar culture. Ok, let's go where check it out on the website, its name ip. I've done.
Ninety nine percent invisible was breezes week by Chris Peru Bay in Turkmenistan. He's based on real Katy me. Who is the senior producer The team is senior editor Delaney Home to refuse a reach of emitted Gerald Vivian lay so be a clatter, Joe Rosenberg and me roman Mars. We are subject. Many one point: seven k a w in San Francisco and produced on radio run in beautiful, downtown Oakland Kaliko. No, you know presented visible as a member of re utopia from here acts are fiercely independent, collective of the most innovative shows in all a podcasting find them on a radio Tokyo Donovan You can find a show in your discussions about the german facebooking twitted me at Roman Mars and the show at ninety nine p. I work one Instagram and read it to, but we're throwing a lot more shade and then I ve, I thought
radio do.
Transcript generated on 2020-02-14.