MBRCGI Websites
|
Ibtekr.org
|
MBRCGI.gov.ae
|
UAE Innovates
|
Edge of Government
|
Pitch@Gov

The 15-Minute City... Cities Choosing to Live Locally and Sustainably

10 minute read
To build cities better, The concept of "city of finite minutes" is very popular from Bogotá to Berlin, And from Shanghai to Seattle.
Share this content

Add to Favorite ♡ 0

To rebuild cities better, ‘minute cities’ are taking off from Bogotá to Berlin, and Shanghai to Seattle. They allow their dwellers to reach everything they need within a fixed amount of time, with the aim of protecting the environment and establishing a more stable and sustainable lifestyle.

The human mind has gone through numerous adventures trying to imagine what an ideal city should look like. Countless theories have emerged, each seeking to respond to the challenges of its time, keep pace with latest developments and offer people a prosperous life.

In this day and age, key challenges are climate change and extreme weather, and developments can be summed up by the critical role played by technology in our lives. These realities are now more evident than ever, thanks to the global alarm sounded by COVID-19. The pandemic confined people to their homes and cities, limited their mobility, and permanently changed the way many live and socialise. Now that the danger has receded, many cities have reconsidered their management patterns and acknowledged the need for small neighbourhoods that provide their residents with all their basic needs.

On this basis, the concept of ‘minute cities’ has been built. It means designing an urban space with a transportation system that ensures the longest journey takes a fixed number of minutes, enabling residents to travel between their homes, work or school, and basic facilities within 15 to 20 minutes, for instance.

For a city to achieve this, each of its neighbourhoods must accommodate the basic needs for living and working, such as health facilities, schools, markets, grocery stores, entertainment venues, and others.

The concept first emerged when an American urban planner proposed the idea of the ‘neighbourhood unit’ in the 1920s. A few decades later, Copenhagen transformed its main market into a pedestrian-only street. The idea became wildly popular with densely populated cities across the United States, and New Urbanism began in the 1980s.

Paris is one of the most prominent newcomers to this trend. The French capital plans to transform into a 15-minute city with the help of researchers in complex systems and innovation. The project is focused on active transit, which is not dependent on cars, but on physical movement, including walking and cycling. The city has added hundreds of kilometres of bike routes, closed the quays of the Seine to motorised vehicles, and completely redesigned other areas to give priority to pedestrians and cyclists.

In Barcelona, Spain, the idea has been modified to fit the city, which now adopts the neighbourhood superblock model. Aerial photography shows Barcelona as a collection of nearly identical superblocks lined up neatly, each representing a neighbourhood that provides its residents with their basic needs.

Between these neighbourhoods stretches a network of major roads, where people can use cars and buses. However, vehicle numbers are declining day by day in favour of active transport. The next step is to turn 1 out of 3 streets in the city into green streets by 2030, with more greenery and recreational areas.

In Australia, the government has been more patient, and perhaps more realistic. It has chosen to turn its most populous city, Sydney, to a 30-minute city, as part of a 40-year plan. The aim is that residents of the city can reach one of three important regional centres in less than a half-hour by walking, biking, or public transport.

While Sydney has its own plan that suits it particularly, authorities in Melbourne, for instance, are looking to achieve the 20-minute city title by 2050, so that each resident can walk 800 metres each way to meet their day-to-day needs.

To promote the idea, the government has been educating residents about features of their neighbourhoods and securing infrastructure for human powered transit and public transport, while supporting local economies and access to housing.

The C40 network is working on studies to develop this concept, and has launched a new Green and Thriving Neighbourhoods programme, which aims to develop integrated climate actions at the neighbourhood scale.

Though the concept of ‘minute cities’ may seem convienient, it has been criticised by many who believe that it may impede major economic opportunities at city and country levels. They say it can lead to artificial divides and false business competitions, exacerbating socioeconomic inequalities between different neighbourhoods.

Moreover, this concept may not be applicable everywhere, as it requires a high population density and a specific social structure. It is difficult to implement in a country where most of the population live in sprawling suburbs, such as the United States. Many cities might only make the 15-minute cut-off if it could be done in a car, as active transit would certainly take much longer.

Also, trips to certain vital points, such as universities, museums, theatres, and other landmarks, definitely require more than just a few minutes, and some experiences are well worth the distance.

However, experts and researchers worldwide are working to upgrade the concept and address its challenges, given its desirability and multiple benefits for many cities. It promises to reduce the need for unnecessary travel, strengthen a sense of community, and improve sustainability and liveability.

References:

https://www.gensler.com/blog/the-future-of-the-20-minute-city

https://ww3.rics.org/uk/en/modus/built-environment/urbanisation/Can-the-15-minute-city-conquer-America.html

https://imoveaustralia.com/thoughtpiece/30-minute-city/#:~:text=In%20Australia%2C%20the%20'30%2D,%2C%20biking%2C%20or%20public%20transport.

https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20201214-how-15-minute-cities-will-change-the-way-we-socialise

https://www.fastcompany.com/90732811/how-barcelonas-superblocks-could-work-in-other-cities

https://www.polisnetwork.eu/news/steps-ahead-the-future-of-barcelonas-superblock/
https://www.c40.org/news/c40-nrep-collaborate-15-minute-city/

https://www.mdpi.com/2624-6511/4/1/6

https://www.planning.vic.gov.au/policy-and-strategy/planning-for-melbourne/plan-melbourne/20-minute-neighbourhood/all-about-20-minute-neighbourhoods

https://www.forbes.com/sites/lauriewinkless/2022/09/30/the-15-minute-city-what-they-are-and-how-to-build-them/?sh=235747e96bdd

Subscribe to Ibtekr to stay updated on the latest government initiatives, courses, tools and innovations
Register Now
Subscribe to the Ibtekr's mailing list | every week
Innovators Mailing List
We share with more than 20,000 innovators weekly newsletter that monitors global innovations from all over the world
Subscription Form (en)
More from Ibtekr

Managing Water Crisis: Lessons from Cape Town's Drought Experience

Extensive efforts are made by big cities to plan and invest in ensuring the provision of the most crucial natural resource, which is water, especially in the face of climate change challenges that can adversely affect the availability of water in urban areas in two ways. It exacerbates water scarcity and contributes to accelerating population growth in cities due to the increasing migration of rural residents to cities, as environmental conditions suitable for agriculture decline in certain areas. In this context, Cape Town stands as a prominent case worthy of study in facing this challenge.

 · · 8 May 2024

Innovative Tools to Safeguard Public Health Against Heatwaves Worldwide

Due to climate change, the intensity and frequency of extreme heatwaves have increased in recent years, becoming a serious threat to public health and ecosystems, in addition to their negative repercussions on various aspects of life and the economy. In response to this challenge, authorities in Australia, the United States, and Hong Kong have launched innovative initiatives to mitigate the effects of extreme heat. These solutions focus on enhancing resilience in dealing with high temperatures through various measures that combine technology and practical tools, including proactive measures, readiness, real-time data, and effective public communication.

 · · 21 April 2024

Seoul Aspires to Become the Global Hub for Robotics

In the face of the population aging phenomenon and the shrinking workforce, the government of the South Korean capital, Seoul, is turning to robots to bridge the supply and demand gap in the local economy. They have started employing robots to provide services, support local developers' projects, and established a specialized research center. In doing so, they aim to harness technology to overcome serious challenges in their human capital.

 · · 21 April 2024

France Introduces National Label to Combat Food Waste

Driven by environmental commitment and social responsibility, the French government seeks to find solutions for food waste by educating consumers, considering them as the key to solving the equation. Laws have been enacted obligating institutions to donate surplus food, and a national label has been awarded to entities demonstrating greater dedication in the journey against waste.

 · · 21 April 2024

Barcelona’s Superblocks Inspires Cities to Enhance Citizens’ Wellbeing

There is a growing effort in many cities to change the way urban spaces are designed and planned. Instead of prioritizing and organizing cities around cars and their needs, there's a movement to prioritize the well-being and needs of people who live in these cities. Among those efforts are examples of pioneering cities, such as: […]

 · · 20 March 2024
1 2 3 79
magnifiercrossmenuchevron-down