Density has long been an essential consideration for architects and urban planners, yet its importance has only increased as the world’s urban population skyrockets and cities become denser and denser. For much of the history of urban planning, this term has been plagued with negative associations: overcrowding, poverty, lack of safety, and so-called ‘slums.’ The garden city movement, initiated by Ebenezer Howard in 1898, sought to remedy these ills by advocating for greenbelts and anti-density planning. Le Corbusier’s Radiant City is one of the most well-known urban plans building from these ideals. Yet in the 1960’s, sociologist Jane Jacobs famously overturned these long influential urban planning concepts: she pointed out that density of buildings was not identical to overcrowding of people; suggested that some highly dense urban areas, like her neighborhood in Greenwich Village, were safer and more attractive than nearby garden city projects; and highlighted how America’s conception of ‘slums’ were often rooted in anti-immigrant and anti-Black ideologies. Density is not inherently bad, she suggested, but it has to be done well. Today, we continue to grapple with the question of how to design for our increasingly dense cities – how do we keep them open, but simultaneously private? Free, but controlled when necessary? In particular, how do we keep them safe – both from crime and, in the age of COVID-19, disease?
Density: The Latest Architecture and News
This article was originally published on Common Edge.
In recent weeks, we’ve seen an explosion of internet speculation about the “future of cities.” Apparently, they are either doomed—or destined to prevail. The office is dead (obviously), the office tower (especially tall ones) clearly a building type in need of a proper funeral. All kinds of chatter have subsequently ensued (we have time on our hands) about the dire outlook for public space, the impending collapse of public transportation, the inevitable return to the suburbs, even the (gasp!) demise of the luxury cruise ship. We’ll see; we’re still wandering around in the dark here and might be for some time. With that somber thought in mind, I reached out to Paul Goldberger, Pulitzer Prize-winning architecture critic and urbanist, for what I felt certain would be a nuanced and measured take on our presently fraught moment. (A note: we spoke prior to the protests, which have erupted in American cities in response to the murder of George Floyd.) For the most part, we resisted the urge to make sweeping and almost certainly premature predictions about our urban future.
As the world is slowly reopening, easing lockdown measures, everyone is adapting to new realities. Imposing drastic adjustments to our lives, the coronavirus has introduced a new “normal”, changing our perceptions and altering our priorities. Driven towards questioning and evaluating our environment, we are constantly reacting and anticipating a relatively unknown future.
A casual conversation between two editors at ArchDaily generated this collaborative piece that seeks to investigate the current trends, predict the future, and offer insights to everyone/everything related to the architectural field. Tackling the evolution of the profession, the firms, and the individuals, especially young adults and students, this article, produced by Christele Harrouk and Eric Baldwin, aims to reveal what is happening in the architecture scene.
International architecture non-profit Shelter Global has just announced the winners of its third annual Dencity Competition, highlighting innovative solutions that will improve living conditions for over 1 billion slum dwellers worldwide. The goal of the competition is to foster new ideas on how to spread awareness and handle the growing density of unplanned cities .
HOME•LY / ASA international ideas competition 2017
Home is the domain of architecture that is most intimate to all of us. Beyond its everyday function as a physical shelter for people and their activities, Home is also an embodiment of family. It is an altar of family values, traditions, rituals as well as memories.
A report released earlier this month by Smart Growth America investigates the topic of urban sprawl in cities in the USA. Analysing 221 US Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) and Metropolitan Divisions with a population of at least 200,000, they have ranked cities from most dense to most sprawling.
They also used this data to find a number of correlations between sprawl and poor quality of life, finding that people living in sprawling cities have higher living costs, shorter life expectancies, increased risk of obesity and diabetes, and lower economic mobility than those in dense cities.
Read on after the break to see the list of the 10 most dense and 10 most sprawling US cities
In a compelling opinion piece on the Guardian, Lloyd Alter argues that our current obsession with increasing the density of our cities - mostly by building ever-taller skyscrapers - might be severely misguided. Alter believes that, without tall buildings, cities can achieve a "Goldilocks Density" - just dense enough to support lively streets, but not so dense that they become inhabitable. You can read the full article here.
As most New Yorkers know, people are willing to shell out a hefty sum to live in a place where work and play are right around the corner from each other. But as the article by Ken Layne in The Awl points out, the west coast is a somewhat different place. UNLIKE New York City, which is crowded with restaurants, bars, and entertainment, as well as offices, design firms and businesses; Silicon Valley, which caters to programmers and tech companies that hire at $100k a year, offers few of the amenities that a nearby town like San Francisco does. So, Layne concludes, residents are willing to spend hours of their day making their way into the fortressed office parks of Silicon Valley, flanked by parking lots and boulevards, just to have a cultural reprieve to call home.
What would the world’s landscape look like if it were concentrated into one megalopolis? This graphic analysis illustrates the amount of land required to accommodate all 6.9 billion people based on the densities of cities across the globe. The differences illuminate the adverse affects of suburban sprawl.