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Thanks, Li-Hsuan Hung, for making a post about compact city and mixed-use development! By comparing the urban sprawl in Mumbai, India, and the intensive development of New York, USA, he concluded “Sprawling cities decline quality of life; compact, mixed-use developments yield economic and social benefits.”

In fact, compact cities have various definitions. Mclaren (1992) argued that compact cities should have a high-density population; in 1991, Elkins suggested that compact cities were used to strengthen the use of urban space; while Newman and Kenworthy (1989) declared that compact cities were dense. More importantly, they need  a  mixed land use function. Because they gave full play to the economic activities and high-density benefits of the central area. Burton (2000) considered that compact cities were a mix of opinions, including relatively high-density, mixed-use urban centres, efficient public transportation systems, walking and cycling environments.

The reason why compact cities are supported by policy and academics is the desire to change people’s lifestyles by recognizing them. It is also a reflection of the previous pursuit of suburbanization, pastoralism, and decentralized lifestyles. People are aware of the lifestyles of “suburbanization” and “anti-urbanization”. But both of them are not effective or efficient in terms of energy, land use, social and economic costs. So people should be encouraged to think about “re-urbanization”.

Li-Hsuan also mentioned “Mixed-use development makes a compact city more accessible for people to find restaurants, schools, parks, public facilities, services and housing. Contributing by the accessibility, more and more people will tend to get to a place by foots or bus rather than cars. It could potentially increase the usage of public transportation and complete a good system to improve health, environment, and economy.” But controlling the development of cars and developing public transportation is a comprehensive and complex policies. It cannot be independently solved by urban planning and construction. If public transportation is unable to provide fast, convenient and comfortable transportation services, the growth of private cars is an inevitable trend. In dense cities, urban development and traffic cannot be effectively controlled due to the increased density. The result may be that traffic congestion in urban centres was more serious (Engwicht, 1992). Parking became a headache as well, and the function of urban streets was affected (Williams, 2000). The density of cities increased, but the quality of urban life declined. In addition, in order to reduce the use of energy, we should control its growth and use at the beginning of the development of private cars. Moreover, we need provide an alternative and suitable means of transportation. If cars have been widely used, it is very difficult to let people out of the comfortable lifestyle and restrain the development of private cars (Fulford, 2000).


References:

  1. Burton E., The compact city: just or just compact a preliminary analysis, Urban studies, 2000, 37(11): 1969-2001.
  2. Engwicht D., Towards an eco-city, calming the traffic [M]. Sydney: Envirnbook, 1992.
  3. Fulford C., The compact city and the market: the case of residential development [M]//Jenks M, Burton E, Williams K. The compact city: a sustainable urban form. New York: E & Fn Spon, 2000.
  4. Mclaren D., Compact or dispensed dilution is no solution, Built Environment, 1992, 18 (4): 268-284.
  5. Newman P., Kenworthy J., Cities and automobile dependency. An International Sourcebook, Aldershot: Gower technical, 1989.
  6. Williams K., Burton E., Jenks M., Achieving the compact city: through intensification: an acceptable option, the compact city: a sustainable urban form [M]//Jenks M, Burton E, Williams K. The compact city: a sustainable urban form. New York: E & Fn Spon, 2000.

School of Architecture
Planning and Landscape
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Email: nicola.rutherford@ncl.ac.uk


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