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.
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.
So, pack your pencil and eraser, and journey to the metropolis of your choice. Take in the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of the urban landscapes on offer as you tackle the challenges of the book’s 30 mazes.
Our cities have become small little areas of concentrated wealth and advantage for the global super rich, for knowledge workers, for the members of my own creative class. It’s not just the 1%, it’s about a third of us who can make a go, but then the other two thirds, falling further and further behind and surrounding these areas of concentrated advantage much larger spans of concentrated disadvantage, and those are not only in the city, what’s so interesting about The New Urban Crisis, that’s spread out to what we used to think of as the great affluent suburbs, so it really is a new geographic divide in our society, and that divide is not only causing inequality it’s causing this terrible backlash.
To visit Richard Florida’s website click here, for an article from The Guardian about his previous thesis on The Creative Class and it’s relationship to The New Urban Crisis click here, and for a longer discussion of The New Urban Crisis with the LSE Cities Ricky Burdett click here.
The New Urban Agenda represents a paradigm shift in global thinking, recognising what professionals have perhaps understood for some time: that our future is urban. From gender-equity to youth-empowerment, participatory planning to inclusive public space, The New Urban Agenda sets a high benchmark for the type of urban development we should strive for and a global accountability framework for achieving it. Its catch-cry to “leave no one behind” commits to reducing urban inequality. This is a challenge that we can take up and apply to every city and neighbourhood.
The skill of boiling down an intertwined web of routes into something that can be followed at ease, often in a rush, and occasionally in dimly lit environments, has given scope for some great designers to shine, and for some creations to attain iconic status.
It’s all about the people in the Life-Sized City. The people are the main priority, not the machines, not the cult of big, the people. Everything else is secondary. Amazing people populate our cities, like The Lulu. The Lulu is not a consumer, she’s not a statistic, she’s not a number. She’s an amazing little human. Don’t measure her, don’t calculate how much money we’re going to make off of her in the course of her life. How much the cult of big is going to earn of this little statistical person. No. You know what you do? You design the city around her as your baseline. You reduce the number of cars, you reduce pollution, you create more green spaces, you build bicycle infrastructure, safe bicycle infrastructure, so that she can ride her bike, because that is all this kids wants to do. (Apart from eating ice-cream … ) You design for her, for the The Lulus of our world. You design for the citizens of the city, every single one of them, all of them apply here. It’s time to hack it back.
For more from Mikael Colville-Andersen, visit his urban design company Copenhagenize click here, for their ‘Bicycle Friendly City Index’ click here, for their short film series ‘Top Ten Design Elements That Make Copenhagen Bicycle-Friendly’ click here and for The Guardian article ‘Copenhagenize your city: the case for urban cycling in 12 graphs’ click here.
In accordance with modernist ideals of progress (which encouraged the annihilation of tradition), The Radiant City was to emerge from a tabula rasa: it was to be built on nothing less than the grounds of demolished vernacular European cities. The new city would contain prefabricated and identical high-density skyscrapers, spread across a vast green area and arranged in a Cartesian grid, allowing the city to function as a “living machine.” Le Corbusier explains: “The city of today is a dying thing because its planning is not in the proportion of geometrical one fourth. The result of a true geometrical lay-out is repetition, The result of repetition is a standard. The perfect form.”
Cities, the dense agglomerations that dot the globe, have been engines of innovation since Plato and Socrates bickered in an Athenian marketplace. The streets of Florence gave us the Renaissance, and the streets of Birmingham gave us the Industrial Revolution. The great prosperity of contemporary London and Bangalore and Tokyo comes from their ability to produce new thinking. Wandering these cities—whether down cobblestone sidewalks or grid-cutting cross streets, around roundabouts or under freeways—is to study nothing less than human progress.
For a talk by Edward Glaeser at UC San Diego summarising this book click here. For a discussion of Glaeser’s work on eliminating barriers to innovation for food trucks by The Urbanist, Alan Davies click here.