Note — Mar 31, 2019

Build the Cities of the Future, Get Out of Cars

Seen in → No.73

Source →

Long read (24 min) at National Geographic with quite a few pictures, although… not necessarily about the projects they talk about in the piece?? Anyway, the China and its Emerald Cities planning especially drew my attention. The other cities and projects are also interesting but perhaps already covered more widely. Basically: new cities being planned at a more human less car-oriented scale; reinventing suburbs by re-using malls as “downtowns” (!!); densification along old roads and train tracks; build housing and street level shops.

[C]ities would stop expanding so voraciously, paving over the nature around them; instead they’d find better ways of letting nature into their cores, where it can touch people. They’d grow in dense clusters and small, walkable blocks around a web of rapid transit. […]

It’s one many urban planners are terrified of: driverless autonomous vehicles, or AVs. Calthorpe himself thinks that, if AVs are left to individuals or the likes of Uber or Lyft, they will metastasize sprawl. He wants to harness the technology to benefit communities. […]

In 2016 the Communist Party Central Committee and the State Council, the highest organs of the state, issued a decree: From now on Chinese cities were to preserve farmland and their own heritage; have smaller, unfenced blocks and narrower, pedestrian-friendly streets; develop around public transit; and so on. In 2017 the guidelines were translated into a manual for Chinese planners called Emerald Cities. […]

Where the Eastside Trail crosses Ponce de Leon Avenue, for example, a giant old Sears, Roebuck warehouse has become the Ponce City Market, a food hall, mall, and office complex. A Ford factory that once made Model T’s is now loft apartments. […]

We didn’t have to go completely nuts about cars, allowing them to become the tail that wagged the urban dog. We didn’t have to rip up all the streetcar lines. We didn’t have to forget that cities are for people—and we don’t need to do it again.