Blog Post 5: Built Environment
The Compact City
Phones are growing smaller, televisions are slimming down and most technology is getting mini. Innovation’s always turning out new products that are smaller, so is it any wonder why our cities are not being built compact? In the area of urban planning, the concept of compact cities seeks to bring our cities inward and stop urban sprawl. This concept is a hopeful idea, but many have associated issues with this city plan and its functionality.
High residential density is a cornerstone of compact cities. This “high density housing” promotes building upward, rather than outward, and having residential and business buildings intermingle throughout the city. This is known as mixed land use, which commonly brings up property value as opposed to separating the housing and business community. The compact city seeks to reduce automobile dependency by encouraging and developing efficient public transport, such as walking paths, bicycle paths/rentals/sharing, and train or subway. The large dense population would encourage social interaction which would justify an efficient amount of social infrastructure such as public services. An added effect of this social interaction would be a feeling of safety through an active community relationship. All of these aspects of the compact city seek to lower inefficiency, save energy, increase social stewardship, and decrease urban sprawl and its negative effects. It has also been claimed that compact cities are less vulnerable to climate change. Results have shown that extreme heat indexes are “higher in sprawling [cities] rather than compact metropolitan regions.” Urban sprawl has also been associated with “a wide range of adverse exposures, including ozone exceedances, poor water quality, and adverse health outcomes from obesity to decreased physical activity to fatal road traffic injuries. (Stone)”Although this sounds like a great idea, compact cities have come under a great deal of scrutiny. There is a fear that these centralized cities will eat up just as much energy as urban sprawl and that “spelling out the details of why such policies are cost-effective remains a research challenge. (Gordon)”
Alter, L. (1924, March 11). Big Surprise: People Drive Less In Compact Cities With Good Transit : TreeHugger.TreeHugger. Retrieved September 12, 2011, from http://www.treehugger.com/files/2011/03/big-surprise-people-drive-less-compact-cities.php
Gordon, P., & Richardson, H. (1997). Are compact cities a desirable planning goal.American Planning Association. Journal of the American Planning Association, 63(1), 95.
Jenks, M., Burton, E., & Williams, K. (1996). A Successful, Desirable and Achievable Urban Form?. The Compact city: a sustainable urban form? (pp. 44-54). London, England: E & FN Spon.
Stone, B., Hess, J. J., & Frumkin, H. (2010). Urban form and extreme heat events: are sprawling cities more vulnerable to climate change than compact cities?. Environmental Health Perspectives, 118(10), 1425-1428. doi:10.1289/ehp.0901879