Building better cities demands a more innovative approach.
The 15 minute city
As our cities expand and grow, both organically, and with some degree of attention to city planning, both residents and city planners are continually looking for better ways to build and develop a city.
One innovative approach to future city planning involves embracing the concept of a 15 minute city. This means a city that is first and foremost accessible, and built from 15 minute neighbourhoods.
What does this mean?
This means a city, or neighbourhoods within a city, where everything is accessible within a 15 minute walk or bicycle ride. By everything we mean the essentials a city resident needs in their daily lives - food, work, medical care, social interactions and community events.
The concept was popularized most recently by the Parisian mayor, Anne Hidalgo, who included the concept within her 2020 re-election campaign. The idea of a 15 minute city itself is attributed to the French-Colombian scientist Carlos Moreno in 2016.
In what some dub the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution,’ where large numbers of people can work from anywhere, as long as they have access to the technology which enables remote working, a 15 minute city makes more and more sense.
The benefits of a 15 minute city
Improved access to essential services
If every urban resident is just a 15 minute walk from the services they need to live their life, the city is automatically accessible to everyone. It also means that every urban resident gets to enjoy the urban services that improve quality of life- parks, medical services, and employment opportunities. In theory, it should make cities more diverse and equal.
Revival of local businesses
A 15 minute city is all about local businesses. When people are encouraged to shop locally, local businesses naturally thrive, and it encourages more businesses to open. This in turn creates diverse employment opportunities for people within their own neighbourhoods. It also allows for smaller and independent businesses to thrive, and encourages urban residents to start their own businesses as well.
Emphasis on local communities
When people have everything they need within a 15 minute walk, what should develop are vibrant, flourishing local communities. People connect more with local business owners, and their neighbours when they are all sharing the same services and facilities. There are more opportunities for neighbours to connect, and to find ways to come together.
It is impossible to talk about the benefit of a 15 minute city without looking at sustainability. Urban centres have the largest carbon footprint, we know this, and so they also have the responsibility to address, as much as possible, their ability to develop ways of living and urban development that are more sustainable for the environment in the long term. The 15 minute city is one way to address this need for sustainability.
A 15 minute city encourages residents to walk or cycle. When everything is within 15 minutes, there is less need for cars and even for other forms of public transport, such as buses. A reduction in traffic, in congestion and air pollution are all positive outcomes from this reduced dependency on non-environmentally friendly means of transport.
A 15 minute city, by reducing the need to travel long distances to access important and essential services, encourages urban dwellers to get moving. This push to get people moving, more regularly, is a good thing, and promotes a healthier approach to life.
Implementing a 15 minute city, or even a 15 minute neighbourhood within an existing city is no mean feat. But it is something that can be integrated slowly, and in line with the current development of a city.
In 2020, Paris started implementing features of a 15 minute city, by converting school school playgrounds and parks after school hours for the benefit of everyone in the immediate neighbourhood. With the right amount of commitment, and creativity to city planning, there are ways to use existing infrastructure to make a city more accessible to everyone.
Similar 15 minute city initiatives have been introduced in cities from Singapore, to Portland, to Shanghai and Melbourne.
The events of 2020 have highlighted the importance of local communities, and having local resources and facilities accessible closer to those who need them.
At Vonder we believe in the importance of community. Our approach to co-living prioritises connection and relationships. We also understand the importance of local neighbourhoods, and aim to grow within our local communities. We are excited to offer our communal spaces to local artists, and businesses in order to promote shopping and buying locally.