Issue 44 Accommodating Growth Through Mix


We live in a rapidly urbanising world that is undergoing extensive change and impacting on every part of our lives.

Our cities globally are characterised by a growing population that is more ethnically and socially diverse and older.  Changes in technology are transforming the way we communicate and relate to one another, as well as the way we manage resources, shop and travel. Changes in technology are also changing the way we work, where and when. Our ecological systems and climate are changing. Over the next 50 years the rate of change is likely to accelerate.

Reflecting on changes already taking place, Intencity sought to explore how we can accommodate growth through maximising the opportunity for more of us to engage in more diverse activities, in more places in the city.

Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios joined forces with Useful ProjectsExpeditionSocial Life and Grant Associates for the IntenCity salons, to explore whether a visionary and innovative response to current trends allows for an increase in urban intensity and density – ultimately accommodating growth while delivering both a positive social and economic agenda?

The partners hosted three Salons that brought together the private and public sector, cross-disciplinary professionals, academics, developers and planners. Through discussion based around loose themes of social interactions in cities, environmental infrastructure and urban design, a set of principles emerged. The Salons and these principles are captured on the recently launched website:

Intensification is not the same as densification. Throughout the Salons, the emphasis was strongly on social and environmental sustainability. How can we create communities and neighbourhoods that retain a distinctive identity and that people feel they belong in? There was consensus that neighbourhoods must accommodate a broad cross section of society, and evolve with them as the requirements of their lives change over time. In an intensified city this goal becomes even more challenging than it is today. The need to create neighbourhoods that can provide appropriate housing, services, workplaces and social spaces , from green spaces to pubs, gyms, places of worship and community hubs, is accentuated alongside the need for them to be economically viable for the landowners, be they local authority, private or developer led. Finally, there was considerable discussion around the need to review existing policy to understand how it can effect sustainable growth of communities.

In order to deliver high quality, intense, low carbon development in growing cities it is critical the right people are working together. Ultimately, policymakers and the commissioners of development, both private and public sector must be convinced it is advantageous to explore new building and block types, as well as new delivery and governance models. The challenge is to demonstrate not only what the critical principles of an intensified city are and how they are applied, but also why.

Kathryn Firth