questioning what makes for good cities

I have a Master degree in the Science of Planning. Yet, if I were to gather all the things I learned in grad school about urban planning and apply it, none of it would lead to great cities. 

Over 10 years later, I’m on a personal crusade to discover for myself what actually makes for good cities. I find myself looking backwards in time more than forwards, because the cities we love the most were all built in a different time. A time where no technology like the car existed that would stretch and shred our cities into the thin, brittle fabric that much of it is today. 

Those older cities are gorgeous, but on the flip side, I also don’t think that successful cities must be mid-sized in population, with only mid-rise, brick and timber built construction. We need criteria for success that will accept contemporary cities too, meeting them where they are now.

But beyond learning from old cities, I’m questioning what essential part cities play in human existence. We are certain that it is essential. But how? If we were to hit the reset button on earth and all we had was 7 billion people and an Earth untouched by human activity, how would we go on about rebuilding our human settlements?

(I’m not sure if that thought experiment is useful at all. However, my mission to figure out what makes for good cities still stands.)

Originally published on Substack

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