Making Dense Cities More Liveable thru Better Design and Planning

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An article in the Conversation makes a great case on how urban living could be bliss and gives some examples of metropolitan cities around the world that shifts our perceptions of what it is like to live in dense urban areas.

When we think about urban density, the picture that usually comes to mind is congested roads, expensive housing, noise and air pollution, shoebox apartment living, vertical slums, etc. – not a lovely picture at all.

While this condition is true in many crowded cities around the world, there are some exceptions.

Melbourne, Australia is a fast-growing city, but it does not have to mean congested roads, high housing or rental prices. The city could do better like Paris or Barcelona – dense cities that Aussies admire and visit regularly.

Paris houses 213 people per hectare, Barcelona 156. Contrast it with Melbourne that averages 38 people per hectare, and Sydney at around 50 people per hectare.

What makes Paris and Barcelona though densely populated, a great city to live is that its higher density living makes their streets bustling through a combination of well-designed mid-rise apartments close to shops, services, and efficient public transport.

Without adequate public transport, roads will soon be jam-packed with cars, high-rise apartments would come with multiple floors of parking, and streetscapes will be rife with vehicle crossover ramps.  

According to the article, parking spaces are valuable spaces that could otherwise be used for green spaces to counteract the urban heat island (UHI) effect and essential for all the residents’ health and well-being.

An example of a liveable dense city is a neighbourhood in the Netherlands that house 100 dwellings per hectare. It has minimal street parking, a speed limit of 15km per hour, and lots of road space for trees and plants. 

One will barely miss rows of apartments because of the prominence of trees and vegetation in the area.

The point of this type of city design is that it puts people and place first.

This urban design is possible in any city with a “courageous policy change”, the article says.

This type of urban design that allows for green spaces, fewer cars, utilizing public transport, and retrofit urban spaces to cope with natural hazards is also a great climate adaptation and mitigation strategy and one that could increase a city’s resilience against climate change effects like rising temperatures, severe rainfall, and flooding.

Read the entire article by clicking the link below:

Source Citation:

Croeser, T. & Gunn, L. (2020, February 19). No need to give up on crowded cities – we can make density so much better. The Conversation. Retrieved from

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