Urban Planet: Wenling’s Nail House, Bulgaria’s Klek Shops

Urban Planet is a daily roundup of blogs from around the world dealing specifically with urban environments. We’ll be on the lookout for websites outside the country that approach themes related to urban experiences and issues.

Luo Baogen’s house is the  last holdout on the new highway outside of Wenling, China. The highway required the demolition of an entire neighbourhood to provide access to a newly built railway station. According to the article posted on Archinect, these so called ‘nail houses’ “occasionally have resorted to violence. Some homeowners have set themselves on fire in protests. Often, they keep 24-hour vigils because developers will shy away from bulldozing homes when people are inside.”

Cities can be very noisy places to live. As the decibels rise, from cell phone chatter, loud music, traffic and more, we tend to raise our voices to compete. Tim Kreider at the New York Times writes about how hard it can be for those who love the sound of silence. Especially, as it turns out, when you are simply too loud for those who love silence even more.

The fall of the Berlin Wall yielded some pretty interesting urban economies in Bulgaria. After the fall of Communism, when private ownership of production was legalized, basement shops, called ‘klek’ shops (in English, knee shops), began to spring up in Sofia. The basement locations were affordable for entrepreneurs just starting their new businesses. The shops tend to sell cigarettes,  snacks and alcoholic and soft drinks, some also provide services, such as shoe repair. The shops are so low that customers must squat to interact with the vendor. (PopUp City)

Image from Archinect

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