Some capital cities are increasingly returning to their roots by offering their residents all the amenities they need for their development, easily available within a 15-minute walk or 5-minute bike ride. This is the new urban strategy to be adopted by Paris, a heterogeneous city with heavy traffic and poor accessibility.
Paris wants to become a city of proximity, where each of its inhabitants would have access to six essential social functions in a quarter of an hour top time: housing, work, access to healthcare, shopping, learning and personal development (sports, leisure). In 15 minutes, every Parisian would have access to everything essential to his or her daily life.
“The quarter-hour city is not a magic wand; it has to be adapted to the local conditions of each city. Paris is both a world city and a city with imbalances between east and west, north and south. We need to redress the balance, particularly in terms of the economy, housing and work.”
As Carlos Moreno attests, it’s not a question of building new infrastructures to give everyone access to amenities, but rather of initiating a structural change in different places. Instead of hosting a single social function, each location should be able to integrate several functions required by the neighborhood. This structural change revolves around 3 main themes: school, culture and democracy.
The school would become the capital of the neighborhood, offering recreational, sporting and cultural activities to all residents outside school hours. The desire to bring culture and residents closer together: the birth of “artistic platforms” to bring artists and residents together, a mix of professionals and amateurs. And finally, a participatory democracy where citizens can meet and help each other in “citizen kiosks”.
This new urban vision, already adopted by cities such as Ottawa, Copenhagen and Melbourne, sounds like a step back in time, when means of transport were not yet as developed and social networks didn’t allow citizens to escape physical encounters. Today, urbanization no longer seems to be focused on technology and speed (faster, more efficient metros, etc.), but on the well-being of citizens and limiting emissions: a green, car-free city where residents meet and act locally.
Do you think such a strategy would be appropriate in Brussels? As a forward-looking real estate developer, Singerbird is committed to adapting an urban vision that benefits current and future residents, and to being part of the change.