Anne Marie Moro,
“If we can build a successful
city for children, we will have a
successful city for all people.”
— Enrique Penalosa, Bogotá Mayor (1998-2001),
Author and Consultant on Urban Strategy
According to UN estimates (April 2018), the current world population is 7.6 billion. With over half the world’s population now living in cities, urban ‘liveability’ has taken centre stage. What can be done to make living in cities safer, healthier and less alienating? What creates the kind of city where people want to live, work and stay?
To support our ‘Growing Communities’ theme, here are a few approaches urbanists have proposed about liveable spaces in urban environments:
1. Build Community
People want to be part of a community. Opportunities to be sociable increase where there are friendly streets, mixed neighbourhoods, public spaces and amenities. Vibrant neighbourhoods ensure older people aren’t left out and children have plenty of outdoor places to play and have fun. Most experts agree that being social has the biggest impact on wellbeing.
2. Build Up
To avoid more urban sprawl, commercial property developers today are building up rather than out. Although high density has been blamed for a host of problems, many urban strategists today see a high concentration of people as vital for city life, economic growth, and prosperity.
Jane Jacobs (1916-2006) urbanist, activist and writer, illustrated how only higher densities can yield the critical mass of people necessary to support more vibrant communities.
Yet, if green access is so important for people’s health, doesn’t building dense, vertical cities mean fewer green urban spaces? Not necessarily. Developers need to think seriously about how projects can bring nature and greenery into urban neighbourhoods. Street trees, pedestrian areas, garden rooftops and living walls can help mitigate noise, too.
3. Build Mixed-Use
Jacobs also advocated for “mixed-use” urban development. Neighbourhoods depend on a diversity of buildings, residences, businesses and other non-residential uses. It brings people of different ages into the area at different times of the day. She saw this intermingling of city uses and users as crucial to economic and urban development.