Compact Urban form, density and sustainability: correlations and holistic approaches
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Density and urban form are complex and challenging issues, affecting the liveability and resource-efficiency of cities in many parts of the world from Asian cities to Australian and North American suburbs to European towns and cities. In most rapidly developing cities, economic demands are pulling the population back into the city core or pushing them out to the city fringes, causing great strain on infrastructure and living environments. Owing to the high cost of living space in the city centre and inner districts, and frequently poor design, many people are forced to live further out and commute increasingly long distances. In some cities, reliance on cars has caused suburban sprawl to extend 50 kilometres or more outwards from the city core, causing great strain on time, transport systems and energy resources, leading to even larger carbon footprints, coupled with poorer quality of living. It is worthwhile to consider different models for different geographic locations and varying climates, from low-density Australian or North American suburbs to high-density Asian cities, for instance. Whilst the benefits of transit-oriented development models are well researched and discussed (including more reliance on light railway, cycling and walking), the book explores whether there are other possible models by asking: Are there any viable models of mid-rise or high-rise high density urban villages with high levels of community and security, successful greening and comfortable living environments combined with almost no usage of air-conditioning or cars? This introductory chapter formulates a framework for various key correlations of diverse factors and strategies of planning and designing for compact cities, density and sustainability by promoting a more holistic approach. It introduces the various chapters from recognized scholars and practitioners included in this book discussing theoretical and practical work on density, urban form and sustainability at various levels, from city planning and urban design to public space and architectural design. The question is not whether or not to densify, but rather how.
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