'People-first' focus make urban spaces liveable

'People-first' focus make urban spaces liveable

SINGAPORE - Innovative planning, design and development practices that emphasize a "people-first" focus can help ensure that rapid urbanisation does not compromise liveability and sustainability, according to a new publication by the Urban Land Institute (ULI) and Singapore's Centre for Liveable Cities (CLC).

10 Principles for Liveable High Density Cities: Lessons from Singapore draws upon Singapore's successful urbanisation experience - despite its population density, the city-state has consistently ranked favorably in various surveys measuring the liveability and sustainability of cities around the globe.

The ten principles in the publication were developed during two workshops hosted in 2012 by the CLC and ULI Asia Pacific, bringing together 62 thought leaders, experts and practitioners from different disciplines related to urban planning and development.

Discussions at the first workshop centred around the four case study districts in Singapore that both organisations consider to be both densely populated and highly liveable: the mixed-use downtown district of Marina Bay; the commercial corridor of Orchard Road, and two new public housing developments in Toa Payoh and Tampines.

The ideas and principles so generated were further developed, corroborated, and condensed into ten principles. The electronic version can be accessed online at http://www.clc.gov.sg/Publications/booksandreports.htm

In the foreword to the publication, Mr Khaw Boon Wan, Singapore's Minister for National Development, points to the lasting benefits of building cities for people.

"The inexorable trend of urban population growth in modern times is not likely to stop. Even for countries with no shortage of land, the growth of their urban populations has confronted their cities with constant challenges to the quality of their living environment…For Singapore, these challenges have been compounded by the limitations of its size as a small island," he said. "Maintaining a good quality, liveable high-density urban landscape in which all Singaporeans can find and make a home is crucial to the survival of the Singapore nation."

"Expansive, rapid urbanization is adding challenges to the business of building cities that are prosperous, liveable, and able to withstand time and change," notes ULI Chief Executive Officer Patrick L. Phillips.

"Through our work with the CLC, we are aiming to demonstrate how well-planned design and development is the foundation for a physical environment that is conducive to a competitive economy, sustainable environment and a high quality of life. Ultimately, cities are about what's best for people, not buildings or cars. The places that are built to reflect this reality will have a competitive edge in our globalized economy."

"Singapore is seen as a high density, high liveability development model. We saw some relevance of Singapore's experience to others, particularly emerging cities, many of whom are high density and want to raise the quality of life for their people. We hope this joint publication will contribute in some way towards people having a more optimistic view of living in high density cities," said Khoo Teng Chye, Executive Director, CLC.

Each of the 10 principles in the publication reflects Singapore's integrated model of planning and development, which weaves together the physical, economic, social and environmental aspects of urban living.

The ten principles are:

- Plan for long-term growth and renewal -A highly dense city usually does not have much choice but to make efficient use of every square inch of its scarce land. Yet city planners need to do this in a way that does not make the city feel cramped and unliveable.A combination of long-term planning, responsive land policies, development control and good design has enabled Singapore to have dense developments that do not feel overly crowded, and, in fact, are both functional and aesthetically pleasing.

- Embrace diversity, foster inclusiveness - There is a need to ensure that diversity is not divisive, particularly in densely populated cities where people live in close proximity to one another. Density and diversity work in Singapore because there has always been a concurrent focus on creating a sense of inclusiveness through encouraging greater interaction.

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