Articles on Urban design

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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Sidewalk Labs CEO Dan Doctoroff launch Sidewalk Toronto, a high-tech urban development project. Mark Blinch/Reuters

Can a tech company build a city? Ask Google

Toronto has entered a joint venture with a Google sister company to create a high-tech urban development area. The goal is to 're-imagine cities from the internet up' – Google's internet, of course.
Lots of parking: the extraordinary amount of valuable land used to park cars in most cities could soon be freed up for other uses. Antonio Gravante/Shutterstock

Freeing up the huge areas set aside for parking can transform our cities

Cities around the world are starting to rethink the vast areas of land set aside for parking. The convergence of several trends likely will mean this space becomes available for other uses.
Staying physically active can play a big part in ageing well – and a well-designed neighbourhood helps with that. Maylat/shutterstock

Eight simple changes to our neighbourhoods can help us age well

Our ageing population presents several social and economic challenges, particularly for the health sector. Physical activity can tackle many of these.
An outstanding example of sustainable residential building, Breathe Architecture’s The Commons apartments in Melbourne won a 2014 National Architecture Award. Image courtesy of Australian Institute of Architects

Sustainable cities? Australia’s building and planning rules stand in the way of getting there

New South Wales is the only state that has made meaningful progress on legislation and enforcement of standards capable of creating a sustainable built environment.
Generic plotting of ‘green space’ on an urban plan does not target mental wellbeing unless it is designed to engage us with the sights, sounds and smells of nature. Zoe Myers

Green for wellbeing – science tells us how to design urban spaces that heal us

Successful parks and urban green spaces encourage us to linger, to rest, to walk for longer. That, in turn, provides the time to maximise the restorative mental benefits.
Green space, easily accessible to everyone no matter what their income, should be a priority in designing high-density residential areas. Marcus Jaaske from www.shutterstock.com

What’s equity got to do with health in a higher-density city?

Being crowded into poor-quality high-density units harms residents' health, but design features that are known to promote wellbeing can make a big difference to the lives of low-income households.
Due to a fear of being harassed or assaulted, many women go out of their way to avoid travelling through parts of the city where sexual entertainment venues are concentrated. Blemished Paradise/flickr

No harm done? ‘Sexual entertainment districts’ make the city a more threatening place for women

Despite the rise of feminism, strip clubs and other 'sexual entertainment' businesses have proliferated in our cities. And women are feeling the harmful impacts of the industry's presence.
Melbourne’s ambitions to be a ‘20-minute city’ aren’t likely to be achieved by its recently updated planning strategy. Nils Versemann / shutterstock.com

A 20-minute city sounds good, but becoming one is a huge challenge

While many talk about 30-minute cities, some aim for residents to be able to get to most services within 20 minutes. But cities like Melbourne have an awful lot of work to do to achieve their goal.
Night-time lighting – seen here in Chongqing, China – is one of many aspects of city living that can make us more stressed. Jason Byrne

Planners know depressingly little about a city’s impacts on our mental health

Research shows planners and built environment professionals have surprisingly poor knowledge about how cities might harm mental health. The good news is that simple steps can make a big difference.

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