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The 5 Guiding Principles for an Ideal City

The 5 Guiding Principles for an Ideal City

The world is constantly changing, and our built environment is continuously evolving and adapting. As we find ourselves immersed with challenges, experts and thinkers are re-examining the approaches humanity has adopted so far, in order to set new ideas for a better tomorrow. 

Cities are at the heart of the problem, and therefore also at the heart of the solution." Space 10, a research and design lab centered on people and the planet, has just released its latest publication, The Ideal City, in collaboration with gestalten. Gathering insights from around the globe, the book rethinks cities, investigating how to create spaces that support the well-being of the residents and contribute to a better world. Compiling projects and expert opinions, it highlights 5 main pillars that help in shaping the future of the urban realm.

 EVA Studio – Photo by Gianluca Stefani . Image Courtesy of Space 10- The Ideal CityAtelier Masomi — Photo by Maurice Ascani. Image Courtesy of Space 10- The Ideal CityBETA — Photo by Ossip Van Duivenbode . Image Courtesy of Space 10- The Ideal CityPhoto by Iwan Baan. Image Courtesy of Space 10- The Ideal City+ 12

According to the book, an ideal city should be resourceful, accessible, shared, safe, and desirable. Considering these principles as foundations, the metropolises of the future are perceived as greener, healthier, more sustainable, and inclusive. Attracting more people to live in, this vision of a “shared home” will boost the quality of life of the individual and the collective while providing better opportunities for all. In addition, the 5 guiding values will help structure a more resilient and economically productive entity.


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Read on to discover the 5 main pillars to consider in order to achieve an ideal city, with descriptions from the book and examples from around the world.

What kind of home do we want to create for humanity? What kind of cities do we want to live in?

1- Resourceful

A resourceful city manages to be both ecologically and economically sustainable. It is welcoming not only to human beings but also to other sentient beings on our planet. It prioritizes circular principles, meaningfully closed water, nutrition, material, and energy loops. It builds sustainably and uses waste as resource. In other words, a city should ideally be self-sufficient and circular.

Climate Tile: Sidewalks that can water the plants/ Tredje Natur

Photo by Tredje Natur . Image Courtesy of Space 10- The Ideal City
Photo by Tredje Natur . Image Courtesy of Space 10- The Ideal City
Photo by Tredje Natur . Image Courtesy of Space 10- The Ideal City
Photo by Tredje Natur . Image Courtesy of Space 10- The Ideal City

CopenHill Energy Plant and Urban Recreation Center / BIG

Photo by Rasmus Hjortshoj . Image Courtesy of Space 10- The Ideal City
Photo by Rasmus Hjortshoj . Image Courtesy of Space 10- The Ideal City

Avasara Academy / Case Design

Case Design — Photo by Ariel Huber . Image Courtesy of Space 10- The Ideal City
Case Design — Photo by Ariel Huber . Image Courtesy of Space 10- The Ideal City

2- Accessible

An accessible city is built for diversity, inclusion, and equality- regardless of age, ability, religion, financial stability, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, or political views. It ensures fair and equal access to urban amenities, employment, healthcare, education, services, culture, business, leisure, heritage, sport, and nature. Finally, a truly accessible city provides affordable housing and access to homeownership, inclusive decision-making with transparent governance, and fosters community involvement and empowerment.

Grotao Community Center in São Paulo/ Urban-Think Tank

Photo Urban Think Tank. Image Courtesy of Space 10- The Ideal City
Photo Urban Think Tank. Image Courtesy of Space 10- The Ideal City

3- Shared

A shared city encourages a sense of community, collaboration, and togetherness. It is designed for social interactions through shared facilities, public spaces, coworking and co-living spaces, and transportation. It enables pooling intangible resources too, like skill-share, shared mobility technologies, or initiatives that encourage meaningful social connections.  

Three Generation House/ BETA office for architecture and the city

BETA — Photo by Ossip Van Duivenbode . Image Courtesy of Space 10- The Ideal City
BETA — Photo by Ossip Van Duivenbode . Image Courtesy of Space 10- The Ideal City

4- Safe

Resilience to climate change, extreme weather events, and flooding is imperative for a safe city. It promotes a feeling of safety by providing protection for all, with an emphasis on crime prevention and rehabilitation. Beyond that, a safe city ensures a healthy environment to live in while providing access to resources such as food, water, shelter, and care, and foster physical and mental well-being through access to health care and green spaces.

Tapis Rouge public space in an informal neighborhood in Haiti / EVA Studios

 EVA Studio – Photo by Gianluca Stefani . Image Courtesy of Space 10- The Ideal City
EVA Studio – Photo by Gianluca Stefani . Image Courtesy of Space 10- The Ideal City

5- Desirable

A desirable city is one that is a pleasure to be in. It is designed on a human scale, making everything accessible within a 15-minute walk. It is a city that encourages the playful side of humans by promoting curiosity, wonder, and discovery. It nurtures a vibrant public life, with access to culture, art, and activities, as well as appealing public spaces for relaxation, well-being, and learning. 

Dandaji Daily Market / atelier masōmī

Atelier Masomi — Photo by Maurice Ascani. Image Courtesy of Space 10- The Ideal City
Atelier Masomi — Photo by Maurice Ascani. Image Courtesy of Space 10- The Ideal City

The Urban Village Project/ SPACE10 and Effekt

SPACE10 and EFFEKT Architects . Image Courtesy of Space 10- The Ideal City
SPACE10 and EFFEKT Architects . Image Courtesy of Space 10- The Ideal City

Park ‘n’ Play / JAJA Architects

JAJA Architects — Photo by Rasmus Hjortshoj . Image Courtesy of Space 10- The Ideal City
JAJA Architects — Photo by Rasmus Hjortshoj . Image Courtesy of Space 10- The Ideal City

This article is part of the ArchDaily Topic: Green. Every month we explore a topic in-depth through articles, interviews, news, and projects. Learn more about our monthly topics. As always, at ArchDaily we welcome the contributions of our readers; if you want to submit an article or project, contact us.


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Cite: Christele Harrouk. "The 5 Guiding Principles for an Ideal City" 17 Feb 2021. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/957073/the-5-guiding-principles-for-an-ideal-city> ISSN 0719-8884
SPACE10 and EFFEKT Architects . Image Courtesy of Space 10- The Ideal City

理想城市的五项设计守则

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