As cities become home to increasing numbers of people, what they look like and how they function demands a re-think.
There has never been a better time for us to decide what it is we really want our urban spaces to look like, and in turn how we want them to function.
Urban populations are growing, urban populations are younger than ever before; but urban populations are also facing unprecedented challenges around housing, inequality, access to communal and green spaces, that threaten the whole ecosystem of how our cities operate.
The fact that our cities are also currently the largest and most impactful contributors to climate change and a possibly impending environmental crisis, makes the need to take action on our urban spaces, even more pressing. Urban populations and local urban councils are currently not doing enough to offset their carbon footprint created from living in a city.
Cities are contributing to the environmental crisis. Image by Ana Paula Grimaldi.
Inspired by ‘The Ideal City,’ a book that travels across 53 cities in 30 countries and recounts the experiences and expertise of experts in the fields which build our cities, architecture, design, technology and governance, on what will make for better urban spaces in the not so distant future. The book shares the concepts, plans and projects that are helping cities grow, develop and morph into something better for all of its residents.
Based on the experiences of the authors of this book we look at what makes for a truly ideal city. Some of these are steps we can all take in our daily lives to make the urban spaces around us that little bit better, while others require a commitment from all urban stakeholders as well as a great deal of focus and vision, to make them happen.
Where do we need to focus our energy when it comes to building better urban spaces?
Without both a macro and micro level commitment to sustainability in how our cities are designed and work, the future looks pretty bleak for our urban spaces as a whole. Cities, through their large populations, traffic and need for more and more resources to sustain their populations, are some of the largest contributors to climate change. Understanding this reality, and then working to fix it, should be a major focus of all city governments, councils and residents.
Understanding the reality of cities contribution to climate change will lead the way to finding a solution. Image by Joseph Balzano.
This will require creative and visionary approaches to solving how we live, work, and play. It will mean a greater commitment to public transport, to conserving water, and electricity resources while still allowing cities to function as they need to, and it will mean a greater commitment to the long term development of housing, and mixed-use developments, the design and use of which are guided by sustainable principles first and foremost.
Co-living developed out of a need to address housing shortages within urban spaces, triggered by growing populations and reduced land supply, but it also has known from the beginning that to truly be a housing option for the future, it must also be driven by sustainable development.
By its very nature co-living promotes a way of life that puts sustainability first. Complexes that combine apartments, co-working spaces, and communal spaces are often referred to as mixed-use developments. These developments eliminate the need for travel around the city, and by combining many services under one roof, do their part to reduce congestion and traffic, as well as conserving resources.
Much of what makes urban spaces so great is derived from their diversity. As melting pots of nationalities, cultures, and languages, cities tend to take on identities of their own, which celebrate this diversity. But with this must come a greater push for equality.
What does this mean? This means access for all. Access to quality education, employment opportunities, as well as to the facilities and services that enhance quality of life: outdoor spaces, sports facilities, community and communal facilities that build and foster communities through activities and collaboration.
Urban spaces are so great because of their diversity. Image by Christina Wocin Tech Chat.
With this they must also invest in the arts, and creative fields. Celebrating the creativity of a city, and its residents, is what makes a city truly great.
It also means a greater emphasis on shared facilities and resources. Co-working spaces are a prime example of this, bringing together people from diverse fields, backgrounds and industries while also providing opportunities for cooperation, collaboration and sharing.
Urban spaces of the future must understand the needs of all of their population, and a commitment to greater equality means also addressing income gaps, unaffordable housing and substandard quality of housing too.
At Vonder, across all of our co-living London, Warsaw, and Berlin locations, we understand the importance of a new vision for our cities. Urban spaces are the epicentre of what makes a country great, and we are committed to providing quality housing, working, and leisure spaces which build better cities for all of its residents.