Expert advice for building the city of the future

open streets
CC BY 2.0 Lloyd Alter/ People dancing in the streets of Toronto during Open Streets.

Toronto architectural critic Alex Bozikovic does the rounds of a number of prominent urbanists, architects and scholars, some of whom will be familiar to regular TreeHugger readers, asking them for their suggestions for fixing our cities. The responses were interesting; read them all here. Some of particular note:

Jan Gehl's response is summarized by the headline: Make people, not cars, happy.

Gil Penalosa: Decrease speed limits.

When you’re walking and the cars are going by at 20 or 30 kmh, you feel at ease; if they are going faster, it’s not an enjoyable walk. So the community is much more walkable. It’s good for mental health and physical health; it’s good for economic development, because if you walk, you buy local.
Richard Florida: Empower city governments
If highways were the infrastructure of 20th-century industrial capitalism, then transit, high-speed rail and better airports are the infrastructure of 21st-century capitalism.

Anthony Townsend: Embrace the science of big data

Vishaan Chakrabarti: Mix residences and workspace

This one is really interesting, looking at the whole model of how we occupy space. It's a lot more than cohousing, almost like a commune.

We should be reinventing the nature of the urban building. Think of a model where an individual can rent a private room, but where there are shared amenities, including communal kitchens, work spaces, child care. I think younger single people and also empty-nesters aren’t interested in having all that infrastructure for their private residences; and they’re also looking for shared experiences. If there’s communal space, you begin to interact with people differently. Ideas come out of that, and new experiences.

Janette Sadik-Khan: Turn streets into destinations

To see where smart cities are headed, don’t look up at the newest skyscraper; the answer lies beneath your feet. Those that succeed in this urban age will be the ones that design sustainable mobility into the streetscape.

It really is one of the best summaries of great urban planning ideas that I have seen in a while, all important thinkers, tightly edited. Of course the only comments are complaining about lowering speed limits, this is Toronto. Really fascinating, inspiring stuff in the Globe and Mail.

Expert advice for building the city of the future
Alex Bozikovic asks international experts what advice they would give urban mayors today.

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