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Evolving Cities / Evolving Use

Cities throughout the world today are facing an unprecedented challenge to provide ‘more’ – more buildings and more infrastructure for more people. The UN World Urbanization Prospects, published in March this year, tells us that there will be 2 billion new urban dwellers in the next 20 years. That’s the equivalent of providing seven new cities of ten million inhabitants each year, or roughly seven Shanghai’s or Jakarta’s or even ten London’s per year - the magnitude and speed of this demand is unprecedented.

Before we can even begin adding ‘more’ to cities and their perceived limits, we need to rethink how we address the specifics of a built environment in today’s fast-paced society, where urban demands are ever pressing and constantly in flux. The increased pressures on our cities create a new urgency about how we plan and organise development, but also in how we design individual buildings.

Amongst various urban factors we have to recognise the planning framework that is set to regulate buildings and their function, and understand how these work with, or work against the future of cities today.  How do strict planning regulations hinder the realisation of vibrant, mixed-used neighbourhoods, and interfere with the regeneration of existing building stock? How does planning encourage or frustrate the natural evolution of our cities?  How do we create a planning structure that allows for buildings that are flexible in use and adaptable over time? And in relation to this, how do we design for buildings that enable this transition?

Header Image: Creative Commons licensed photo by Flickr user bricoleurbanism

Julissa López-Hodoyán is a Senior Urban Designer / Planner based in the London Office and working on master plans in North Africa and the Middle East. She has experience in urban regeneration both in the USA and UK and is a firm believer that the way we experience cities contributes to quality of life. Contact her at julissa_lopez-hodoyan@gensler.com.

Reader Comments (4)

Picturing ten London's per year....gives such an eye-opener perspective on the whole situation!
08.16.2010 | Unregistered CommenterElizabeth
Thank you Julissa for giving us an aerial view of the need of our world's developing cities where young, bright and intelligent minds like architects and urban designers can encompass the needs of the communities and build 'more' into them so that they can be more efficient for its dwellers.
...Never really thought of architecture and its impact on daily lives-Great eye opener. Thanks for the insight.
08.17.2010 | Unregistered CommenterBeatriz Yan
Good scoop for Gensler. Let's make it happen.
08.18.2010 | Unregistered CommenterBeatriz Yan

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