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Five Ways to Create Better Cities


Ikea’s research and design lab in Copenhagen has teamed up with publisher Gestalten to explore how to create better urban environments beyond the pandemic.

The lab, Space10, takes a multidisciplinary approach to rethinking how we can better design, plan, build and share our cities.

Space10 co-founder Simon Caspersen says the aim is to showcase “inspiring solutions” and approaches that can lead to a better everyday life for both people and the planet.

“Today, cities are not meeting the essential needs of a big portion of the people living there,” Caspersen said.

“Simultaneously, urban areas are the biggest driver of the climate crisis.

“Cities are right at the heart of the problem, and therefore also at the heart of the solution. We have an unprecedented opportunity to rethink, adapt and design our cities to be places that feel better for more people.”

Asking architects, designers, researchers, entrepreneurs, city planners and community leaders to share their vision of the ideal city, the book unfolds projects from 53 different cities in 30 countries.

It also gives five clear ways to create better cities for the future.

The resourceful city

The book, The Ideal City, explains that a city must first be resourceful.

Five Ways to Create Better Cities. Urban Cities. Urban future planning
▲ A concrete sidewalk tile with holes for redirecting rainwater to reduce flooding risks and raise climate change awareness. Image: Tredje Natur.

It says that a resourceful city manages to be both ecologically and economically sustainable.

“It prioritises circular principles, meaning fully-closed water, nutrition, material, and energy loops. It builds sustainably and uses waste as a resource.”

Bjarke Ingels Group founder Bjarke Ingels says that just like in nature, in a circular economy nothing is wasted. Waste is designed out and all that is used is reused.

“Increasingly, we are being invited to think about the city as an organism... not just the way it channels the flow of people through it, but also the way it channels the flow of resources,” Ingels says.

Global consulting firm Accenture estimates that adtopting circular economic models could generate as much as $4.5 trillion in additional economic output by as early as 2030.

Cities. Ideal Cities. Urban Planning.
▲ Bjarke Ingels’s CopenHill, an example of an eco-friendly designed structure. Photo: Rasmus Hjortshoj


The accessible city

More than half the world's population today live in cities. The book said that around 1.5 million people move into urban areas around the world each day, although a large portion cannot afford to live close to opportunities and are pushed out to the urban fringe, far from schools, jobs and services.

“An accessible city is built for diversity, inclusion, and equality—regardless of age, ability, religion, financial stability, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or gender identity,” it notes.

“It ensures fair and equal access to urban amenities, employment, health care, education, services, culture, business, leisure, heritage, sport, and nature. 

“Finally, a truly accessible city provides affordable housing and access to home-ownership.”

Cities. Urban design. Yasmeen Lari – Pakistan’s first prominent female architect has demonstrated how both education and simple design interventions can empower communities.
▲ Through her humanitarian work in flood prone rural villages, Yasmeen Lari – Pakistan’s first prominent female architect demonstrates how both education and simple design interventions can empower communities.


The shared city

A shared city encourages a sense of community, collaboration, and togetherness.

It is designed for social interactions through shared facilities, public spaces, coworking, co-living spaces, and transportation.

Space10 says the pandemic has shone a light on a rising trend of co-living for city dwellers.

It says the idea of a shared city enables pooling intangible resources, such as skill-share, shared mobility technologies that encourage meaningful social connections.

Making cities safer

As well as lowering crime, resilience to climate change, extreme weather events, and flooding is imperative for a safe city, the book notes.

“Beyond that, a safe city ensures a healthy environment to live in while providing access to resources such as food, water, shelter, and care, and fosters physical and mental wellbeing through access to healthcare and green spaces.”

▲ Tapis Rouge a public space in Carrefour-Feuilles, Haiti. Image: Gianluca Stefani. Gestalten
▲ Tapis Rouge a public space in Carrefour-Feuilles, Haiti. Image: Gianluca Stefani. Gestalten


Tapis Rouge is one of several public spaces in Carrefour-Feuilles, Haiti.

Characterised by extreme poverty, it is one of the many informal neighbourhoods that was impacted by damage in the 2010 earthquake.  

Built under program LAMIKA, whose acronym stands for "A better life in my neighbourhood" the EVA-designed project aims to construct multifunctional spaces to facilitate community gathering.

Cities. Future Cities. Urban Planning.
▲ Grotao Community Centre and Park, designed to help alleviate erosion, mudslides in Sao Paulo. Image: Urban Think Tank - Gestalten


The desirable city

A desirable city is one that is a pleasure to be in. It activates all of our senses. 

“An ideal city should be fully enriched by nature, have buildings made from organic materials that are surrounded by parks, with streets that are walkable and bikeable, and areas that encourage wildlife,” Michael Green of Michael Green Architecture says.

According to Space10, it is designed on a human scale, making everything accessible within a 15-minute walk.

“This is a city that encourages the playful side of humans by promoting curiosity, wonder, and discovery. It nurtures a vibrant public life, with access to culture, art, and activities, and appealing public spaces for relaxation, well-being, and learning.”

The book notes we are naturally drawn to certain environments.

“We gravitate toward places like Rome, Tokyo, and Rio de Janeiro, Barcelona, Brooklyn, and Bangkok, Paris, Hanoi, and Mexico City. 

“Something about these cities make them desirable, and it has nothing to do with high employment or low crime rates. It is something that we sense with our bodies: these cities feel good to be in. To attract us, a city must hit us on a gut level.” 

The final chapter says that the best cities are designed on a human scale with a focus on people, and not cars.

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Article originally posted at: https://www.theurbandeveloper.com/articles/ways-to-create-better-future-cities