Our cities are growing rapidly, racing to deliver more affordable housing, sustainable workplaces, digital and transport connectivity. While significant regeneration programmes are underway, they are not always welcomed, particularly when a city’s character is perceived to be under threat. So, how can we balance serving the needs of a city with a desire to conserve its character, history, and charm?
As cities urbanise rapidly, density is essential. This doesn’t necessarily mean building tall or micro-housing, but cleverly designing buildings that make the best use of the site. Denser developments can meet higher environmental standards, freeing up more space for attractive areas of public realm. Taller buildings should not be discounted in the right locations, taking into account the local context and materials and incorporating green infrastructure to boost biodiversity.
Designing buildings for future resilience is also vital, such as semi-demountable buildings that can become bigger or smaller depending on the needs of the occupants. Additionally, we need to improve the way we consult with communities to ensure their diverse needs are met. Community engagement is crucial to developing placemaking strategies that promote inclusivity, wellbeing, belonging, and community success.
Our objective should be to make our cities truly fair by pursuing a sense of belonging for all residents. We need to get people engaged in shaping their city’s planning framework early on in the process, so that everyone understands the city’s vision clearly and appreciates what they stand to gain from it. While every city is different, fundamental considerations, such as density, resilience, and community engagement, are key to ensuring the success of our future cities.