An article in U.S. News & World Report about plans by government officials in Estonia to roll out free public transportation nationwide, which, if successful, would make the Baltic state the first country to implement such a system, interviews Daniel B. Hess, professor of urban and regional planning in the UB School of Architecture and Planning. “As we continue to urbanize and have denser places that need many people reaching them, there will be an increasing need for public transit to serve these places with high-capacity transit vehicles, such as buses, streetcars or subways,” he said. “Any growing city where there’s a premium on land value and the traffic is choking, and where it’s very expensive to travel by car and park, seems a possibility for free public transport.”
Intersection of the global climate agenda with regional development: Unequal distribution of energy efficiency-based renovation subsidies for apartment buildings (2018)
Lauri Lihtmaa, Daniel Baldwin Hess, Kadri Leetmaa
Photo by Annika Väiko
The residential sector is an important target area for achieving Europe’s 2020 energy saving aims. There is virtually no evidence, however, of how incentives for attaining energy efficiency ciency interact with countries’ regional development aims. This paper presents recent experiences from Estonia, where an energy renovation subsidy programme financed with carbon emission trading funds was carried out between 2010 and 2014. We show that despite equal access to subsidies for residents living in various places, a regionally unequal distribution of subsidies occurred.
Daniel B. Hess, a professor of urban planning who studies the socio-economic dynamics of housing, transportation and land use, has been appointed chair of the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at UB, effective January 1, 2018.
A member of the faculty since 2002 and former associate chair of the department, Hess begins his tenure as chair just as he concludes a two-year research fellowship in Estonia at the University of Tartu.
The transition takes place amidst a period of tremendous growth for the program fueled by its city-as-laboratory engagement with Buffalo, and new transdisciplinary research initiatives that address challenges as diverse as climate change and social justice and engage disciplines including architecture, public health, law and engineering.
Network Connections and Neighbourhood Perception: Using Social Media Postings to Capture Attitudes among Twitter Users in Estonia (2017).
Photo by Camden Miller
The residential landscape of a city is key to its economic, social, and cultural functioning. Following the collapse of communist rule in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) in the late 1980s and early 1990s, urban residential dynamics and household mobility have been critical to urban change under new economies and political systems. This article explores neighbourhood perception, which is a link in the chain to better explanation of socio-spatial processes (and their interruption by the socialist system). We use a novel data set ‒ opinions expressed on one of social media (Twitter), and a novel empirical method ‒ neural network analysis, to explore people’s current attitudes and perceptions about the neighbourhoods and districts in Tartu, Estonia. Continue reading New publication in Journal of Architecture and Urban Planning
Among many possible interventions in public transport finance and policy designed to enhance the attractiveness of riding public transport, one of the most extreme, which is seldom implemented, is the elimination of passenger fares, effectively making public transport “free” for riders (with operating costs paid from other funding sources). This article describes a fare-free public transport program in Tallinn, Estonia, launched in 2013, which has exhibited lower-than-expected increases in ridership. Evaluations of Tallinn’s fare-free public transport program are presented and synthesized, with a focus on program goals and how goals are met through program performance. Findings suggest certain flaws limit the program’s potential success since the program design is misaligned with its primary stated goals, and several program goals relating to external effects of fare reform cannot be evaluated. Although it would be valuable for transport managers in other cities to learn about this experience, the Tallinn fare-free public transport program provides scant transferable evidence about how such a program can operate outside of a politicized context, which was crucial to its implementation in Estonia.
Here are a few images from a recent visit to Seda, a small town in Northern Latvia (current population 1,700). Built amid swampland, the town was established in the 1950s to house workers of a nearby peat extraction plant. The town is dominated by a formal geometric street pattern lined with 1950s-style apartment buildings in the Stalinist style, as well as 1960s- and 1970s-era Soviet-style apartment buildings.
Revisiting the role of architects in planning large-scale housing in the USSR: the birth of socialist residential districts in Tallinn, Estonia, 1957–1979 (2017).
In Central and Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union, housing estates are often associated with inhumane architecture and unwelcoming public space, an outcome that can be attributed to strict design requirements in a rigid centralized system. Due to the uniformity of residential housing produced during socialist times, both the design process and its master – the architect – are believed to have played only minor roles in shaping townscapes. This study, situated in the large housing estates of Tallinn, Estonia, challenges these assumptions using analyses of archival material (relating to planning procedures during state socialism) and articles in specialized magazines. Continue reading New publication in Planning Perspectives
Transport in Mikrorayons: Accessibility and Proximity to Centrally Planned Residential Districts during the Socialist Era, 1957-1989 (2017).Residential housing compounds known as mikrorayons were enclosed within vast housing estates and served as central features of socialist urbanism in the Eastern Bloc. To reduce daily travel, designers located the communities on well-considered metropolitan sites and proposed embedded commercial opportunities and community services. This article examines, twenty-five years after the disintegration of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), the vision and implementation of transport planning in these modernist residential districts. Continue reading New publication in Journal of Planning History