The Science of Sustainable Cities

ARTICLE / TALK

Centre for Liveable Cities, Urban Solutions, July 2018

Underlying the extraordinary complexity and diversity of cities is an approximate simplicity. As a city increases in size, all of its various socioeconomic metrics scale in the same way no matter where you are on the planet. Through analysing data from thousands of cities in different countries, I found that when the size of a city doubles, there is an approximate 15% increase in its socioeconomic outcomes—from income, wealth and number of patents, to crime rate and number of flu cases. This scaling law is valid across the globe, although cities have evolved independently.


To watch Geoffrey West’s 2011 TED Talk click here.

RECENT POST

In search of the real Adam Smith

ARTICLE

Jesse Norman, The Financial Times, 22 June 2018

For Smith, the crucial linking idea is that of the continuous exchange that occurs in all human interaction. This may be the exchange of goods and services in markets. But it can also be the exchange of meanings in language and in other forms of communication. And it can be the exchange of regard or esteem that in Smith’s view underlies the formation of moral and social norms in society.


To visit Jesse Norman MP’s website click here.

RECENT POST

The biggest risks facing cities – and some solutions

TALK

Robert Muggah, TED Talk, September 2017

It’s a small opportunity but a golden one: in the next 10 to 20 years, to really start designing in principles of resilience into our cities. There’s not one single way of doing this, but there are a number of ways that are emerging. And I’ve spoken with hundreds of urban planners, development specialists, architects and civic activists, and a number of recurring principles keep coming out. I just want to pass on six.

First: cities need a plan and a strategy to implement it. I mean, it sounds crazy, but the vast majority of world cities don’t actually have a plan or a vision. 

Second: you’ve got to go green. Cities are already leading global decarbonization efforts.

Third: invest in integrated and multi-use solutions. The most successful cities are those that are going to invest in solutions that don’t solve just one problem, but that solve multiple problems.

Next, fourth: build densely but also sustainably. The death of all cities is the sprawl. Cities need to know how to build resiliently, but also in a way that’s inclusive.

Fifth: steal. The smartest cities are nicking, pilfering, stealing, left, right and center. They don’t have time to waste.

And finally: work in global coalitions. You know, there are more than 200 inner-city coalitions in the world today. There are more city coalitions than there are coalitions for nation-states.


To learn more about Robert Muggah, his work on evidence based urban policy and data visualisations, visit the Igarapé Institute here and SecDev here.

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Machiavelli’s advice for nice guys

ARTICLE / SHORT FILM

10 Feb 2017

And so, proposed Machiavelli, the secret to being effective lies in overcoming all vestiges of this story. The Prince was not, as is often thought, a guide to being a tyrant; it’s a guide about what nice people should learn from tyrants. It’s a book about how to be effective, not just good. It’s a book haunted by examples of the impotence of the pure.


For another article and short film from The School of Life on Niccolò Machiavelli and his ideas click here.

RECENT POST

LA is doing water better than your city. Yes, that LA.

SHORT FILM / ARTICLE

Matt Simon, Wired, 12 June 2018

But Los Angeles is in the midst of an aqueous awakening, setting an ambitious goal to cut its reliance on imported water in half by 2025 by following an increasingly urgent rule of good water policy: diversification. In a nutshell, that means getting your water from a range of sources—rain capture, aquifers, wells, desalination, even right out of the air. A study from UCLA earlier this year even said the city could feasibly reach 100 percent locally sourced water. To do it, the city is diving into a series of high- and low-tech campaigns that could transform Los Angeles into a model city for water management.


To find out about Singapore’s ‘Four Taps’ and leading water supply policy click here.

Smart cities: Digital solutions for a more livable future

REPORT

McKinsey Global Institute, June 2018

After a decade of trial and error, municipal leaders are realizing that smart-city strategies start with people, not technology. “Smartness” is not just about installing digital interfaces in traditional infrastructure or streamlining city operations. It is also about using technology and data purposefully to make better decisions and deliver a better quality of life.


To download the Briefing Note for the report click here.

When affordable housing starts in a factory

ARTICLE

Eric Jaffe, SideWalkLabs, 18 May 2018

“On the one side, I was building all kinds of hardware and software with the engineering team,” says Holm. “And then in the outside world, looking at how to scale out the physical stores, I was looking at this world that was just completely inefficient.” He was dealing with city bureaucracy, working to obtain the right permits for various parts of the construction, and hitting seemingly unavoidable delays throughout the process. “I was like: ‘This is crazy.’ ”

There are better ways to get around town

ARTICLE

John Massengale, New York Times, 15 May 2018

New York City’s Department of Transportation has led the American movement for better streets …

The next step is to adopt congestion pricing below 96th Street in Manhattan and then:

1. Decrease the number of Manhattan streets that function as transportation corridors primarily devoted to moving machines through the city.

2. Design and build Slow Zones where people actually drive slowly.

3. Make the transportation corridors that remain better urban places, with a better balance between city life and moving cars.

Citymapper

APP / WAYFINDING

citymapper.com

Cities are complicated. We use the power of mobile and open transport data to help humans survive and master them. Apple Apps of the Year 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017. Google Choice Editors’ Choice + Best Apps of 2016, 2017

Tools for measuring public life

TOOLS

Gehl Institute

We offer tools that draw on decades of applied research demonstrating how a walkable human scale is part of what makes cities interesting. The public life tools available on this page will help you measure how people use public spaces and better understand the relationship between those spaces and the public life that takes place in them.

Was Karl Marx right?

SHORT FILM

Open Future, The Economist, 4 May 2018

Although there is a lot to learn from Marx, his solution was far worse than the disease. At the same time it can’t be said that today’s capitalism, dominated by immense inequality and  financial crises has triumphed. 


For more from The Economist and their Open Future project, click here.

Liberalism: where did it come from and are its days numbered?

SHORT FILM

Open Future, The Economist, 17 April 2018

Liberalism has been the dominant political philosophy in the West for more than 200 years. Populists say liberals are too elite and are out of touch with ordinary people. Here’s what you need to know about liberalism and its place in modern society.


For more from The Economist and their Open Future project, click here.

Nightingale Housing wants you to own a great apartment

ARTICLE

Lucy Feagins, The Design Files, 13 February, 2018

The Nightingale Model empowers architects to develop their own thoughtfully designed medium-density apartment buildings. Profit margins are capped, and savings are passed directly onto homebuyers. For their part, homebuyers have to play by the rules too. They must be owner-occupiers, and they must agree to certain limitations about on-selling their apartment in the future, to ensure affordability is passed on.


For more coverage of Nightingale Housing click here, for Nightingale Housing’s website click here, to watch Jeremy McLeod’s TEDx Talk click here, and for a short film featuring Jeremy and a tenant / soon to be owner, click here.

Urban design is really the language of the city. When you walk down the street everything you see has been designed.

Amanda Burden, urban planner

Architecture is a language. When you are very good, you can be a poet.

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, architect

We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us.

Winston Churchill, politician