The Case for Densifying Our Cities

When it comes to urban planning and planning the future of our cities, the temptation often is to think about space and how to create more of it. 

Currently around half of the world’s population lives in an urban centre or area, so overcrowding is a real concern. But what if the future of our cities and how people live in them, is not about spreading our cities out, but better organizing their structure and use as they exist currently. 

Usage segregates us all

Let’s explain that a little better. Urban residents currently live in cities segregated by usage. Generally in some of the world’s largest and most populous cities, the urban landscape is divided into clear and very separate commercial, industrial and residential and leisure areas. 

Urban residents live in one part of the city, travel to another part of the city for work or business, and then spend the rest of their time moving around the city in pursuit of leisure and recreational activities. If you are an urban resident you can probably relate to this model of a city and to the amount of time you spend moving from one place to another in order to live your life and the different parts of it. 

What this then creates is a city in constant movement from one area to the next. In reality this translates into a lot of people commuting a lot of the time. It creates immense demand on both private and public transportation, and it creates an issue with accessibility for many people. 

An accessibility problem

Without their own private transport means or access to affordable public transport you are effectively cutting large swathes of people off from employment and leisure opportunities. You are also creating a quality of life issue - where people are spending too much of their time commuting. Commuting also causes issues with pollution and reduces the ability of a city to build a more sustainable future for itself and its residents. It also means a lot of urban space has to be dedicated to spaces for parking and the infrastructure necessary to accommodate a city’s transportation needs. 

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Densifying for the win

This is where spreading out a city starts to make little sense and densifying it is a better option. And this is how. 

Densifying a city works to improve quality of life, and reduce commuting and all of the burdens it places on urban residents, in the following ways -

It merges different parts of a city and ends segregation by use. When we combine residential, working and leisure facilities in one development or several developments, we are not only eliminating the need for travel but also building a more accessible and equal city. 

There are several actual ways to make this happen. Co-living is one example. Co-living that combines apartments with co-working spaces, as well as leisure spaces is a prime example of how focusing people in one multi-use development creates a better quality of life. Densifying isn’t necessarily a negative. Urban residents don’t necessarily need more space, they just need better defined and designed spaces that accommodate their multi-level living needs in one area. 

Another example is the 15 or 20 minute neighbourhood concept, being trialed in both Australia and France. This approach relies on the development of neighbourhoods that contain everything a resident could need within a 15-20 minute walk or cycle. And by everything, we mean everything - from job opportunities to shops and supermarkets, to restaurants and green spaces, to medical and health clinics too. 

So rather than spreading urban life out, the idea is in fact to bring it back in. To create self-sufficient neighbourhoods within larger metropolitan areas that cater to their residents' needs in the day to day. This is how densifying becomes the future of our cities. 

At Vonder we are committed to being a key part of the future of our cities with an all in one living approach that places community at the heart of how we live, work and play. 

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