The Sustainable Cities Institute describes a positive vision for cities, towns, and neighborhoods. It’s one of many sites and communities advocating better places, places designed to human scale and with our planet in mind.
There’s also Peter Calthorpe, an urban designer who emphasizes space’s economical use to create better places. He advocates transit-oriented development with well-ordered transit nodes to make travel convenient and sustainable and greatly reduce cars’ need. He also talks about urban design’s key role in fighting climate change. He’s part of the New Urbanist movement – which has an approach and an aesthetic that is sometimes controversial but which has a clear vision for what it takes to make a city sustainable and livable.
Other “city thinkers” are designing buildings and cities with dense housing interspersed with large amounts of green space – Singapore is a leader in this approach and has become a desirable city to live in. Proposed developments in Kuala Lumpur further take the idea, with tall buildings that narrow down at the bottom to allow more space for greenery.
Visions for the future aren’t all about high rises. Peter Newman describes the Danish “dense-low” tradition – compact, walkable communities of 2-3 story buildings and plenty of open space.
This is just scratching the surface. StreetsWiki is a great source for more ideas about making a great city – sadly, it’s no longer active, but we’re making an effort to reach out to that community, support, and continue the work.
There is no shortage of ideas, but there’s a need for better coverage and presentation of these ideas so that policymakers, journalists, and voters can use them to inform themselves.
We have the ideas and experience to tackle this, and we’re looking for partners in the urban design and planning fields. Please leave a comment below, or contact us.