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Humanizing Urban cities

Humanizing Urban cities

Fig 1. Tatiana Bilbao’s Botaniqo Residential complex

Throughout history, humans have continuously crafted buildings and environments. Along the way, however, our focus shifted towards constructing grandiose, cost-driven urban landscapes, losing sight of the essence of design. Originally, structures and outdoor areas were tailored to human requirements. Thus, it’s critical to prioritize people’s needs, extending beyond mere shelter or indoor comfort.

Living in lockdown confronted dwellers around the world with living in confined domestic environment. It reminded the benefit of well designed and accessible public realm. As people started stepping out, the importance of having well designed public spaces, both indoors and outdoors got visible. Certain factors like mixed used developments, efficient public transport connecting far off areas, good community spaces. proper green spaces, and pedestrian circulation became more important.

Fig 2. Community space for peace in Venezuela – Espacios de paz

Importance of Mixed used development

Integrating a blend of residential, commercial, and recreational spaces within neighbourhoods fosters dynamic communities where residents can stroll, engage, and socialize. The traditional approach of designing distinct residential, commercial, and recreational zones is no longer practical. Prioritizing the creation of environments that offer inhabitants a sense of comfort and well-being is paramount.

Fig 3. Building Illustration – Re-humanizing boring structures

Inclusive Urban spaces

The importance of designing urban spaces that are accessible  and user friendly for everyone, including people with disabilities, seniors, children, and other marginalized groups must be emphasized. Adopting universal design principles can enhance accessibility, safety, and usability for all residents and visitors, promoting social inclusion.

There are many strategies  for implementing Universal design:

  • Barrier free access to buildings, public transport, and outdoor spaces.
  • Incorporating signage, tactile paving to assist people with visual impairments.
  • Providing seating at regular intervals to accommodate people with mobility limitation.
  • Designing streets with wide sidewalks, curb cuts, and ramps to facilitate pedestrian movement.
  • Installing accessible public toilets and amenities.
  • Creating inclusive playgrounds and recreational spaces that cater to children of all abilities.

Fig 4. Green Urban space + Learning

Wildlife in the city

The cities can support and enhance urban biodiversity by including wildlife habitats amidst urban development.  It is not only significant to ecosystem health, but also human wellbeing and urban resilience. Urban areas can provide habitats for a wide range of plants and animals, contributing to ecological balance.

Strategies for Wildlife friendly cities:

  • Incorporate parks, green spaces, and wildlife corridors to provide habitat connectivity.
  • Implement wildlife friendly design principles, such as green roofs, rain gardens, and native plants.
  • Engage local communities and stake holders in conservation efforts.
  • Adopt wildlife friendly policies and regulations.

Fig 5. Cities can be Wildlife Havens

Environmental preservation

Sustainable urban development drives economic growth through innovation, job creation, and enhance competitiveness. These cities are better equipped to withstand and recover from various risks and crises. Communities that promote it experience better lifestyles, clean air and access to healthcare services.

One of Beatley’s notable quotes from the book is “Sustainable neighborhoods are not just about being green, they are about the kinds of places we want to live and raise our children in.” This captures the essence of his argument, highlighting the connection of environmental sustainability with human well-being and community livability.

Fig 6. Towards sustainable spaces

 

To summarize, Re-humanizing cities with the aim of promoting human connection involves approaches which are rooted in urban design principles.

By prioritizing human centered approaches and integrating principles of inclusivity, biodiversity, and sustainable activity, cities can be transformed into vibrant, resilient and social community spaces.

Fig 7. Happy streets, by Francesca Sacco

 

One response to “Humanizing Urban cities”

  1. I appreciate this blog which explores the intriguing topic that emphasizes humanizing urban cities and involves designing and developing urban environments that prioritize the well-being, comfort, and engagement of their inhabitants. This approach focuses on creating public spaces that are accessible, inclusive, and conducive to social interaction. Integrating parks, gardens, and green corridors to provide residents with natural, relaxing environments within the urban setting. Creating plazas, squares, and community centres that serve as gathering places for social interaction, cultural events, and civic engagement. Implementing eco-friendly practices and infrastructure to enhance environmental sustainability and quality of life. By focusing on these elements, urban planners and developers can create cities that are not only functional but also enriching and enjoyable for all residents. Inclusive design aims to remove the barriers that create undue effort and separation. It enables everyone to participate equally, confidently and independently in everyday activities. An inclusive approach to design offers new insights into the way we interact with the built environment. It creates new opportunities to deploy creative and problem-solving skills. Urban public squares, within the context of public spaces, are essential components of cities because they provide spaces for social interaction. This helps sustain the humanization of society through gathering, lingering wandering through, and engaging together in various human activities and can make significant contributions to the cultural development of communities. The concept of public space has been redefined within the context of urban space development leading to socio-spatial developments like social polarization and spatial fragmentation. Accordingly, new places like shopping malls, parking lots, and heavy-traffic roads have replaced traditional public spaces such as squares, plazas and neighbourhood streets. These alternative public spaces, in many instances, are provided without taking into consideration the human aspects. The poetic and ethnographic sensibility went hand-in-hand with a modernist architectural reimagination: alongside the grid, the architects presented urban designs in which housing blocks were multiplied to create a megastructure connected by what they called “streets-in-the-air”—spacious, publicly accessible galleries giving access to the apartments. The public lighting of facades, monuments, trees, light displays, street signs, and shop windows, all contributed, in their eyes, to “the wonderful, the unreal and the poetic” elements of the urban landscape. The Urbanism of the Grands Ensembles new types of collective facilities to novel urban forms, these measures sought to bring newly built neighbourhoods to life.

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  1. I appreciate this blog which explores the intriguing topic that emphasizes humanizing urban cities and involves designing and developing urban environments that prioritize the well-being, comfort, and engagement of their inhabitants. This approach focuses on creating public spaces that are accessible, inclusive, and conducive to social interaction. Integrating parks, gardens, and green corridors to provide residents with natural, relaxing environments within the urban setting. Creating plazas, squares, and community centres that serve as gathering places for social interaction, cultural events, and civic engagement. Implementing eco-friendly practices and infrastructure to enhance environmental sustainability and quality of life. By focusing on these elements, urban planners and developers can create cities that are not only functional but also enriching and enjoyable for all residents. Inclusive design aims to remove the barriers that create undue effort and separation. It enables everyone to participate equally, confidently and independently in everyday activities. An inclusive approach to design offers new insights into the way we interact with the built environment. It creates new opportunities to deploy creative and problem-solving skills. Urban public squares, within the context of public spaces, are essential components of cities because they provide spaces for social interaction. This helps sustain the humanization of society through gathering, lingering wandering through, and engaging together in various human activities and can make significant contributions to the cultural development of communities. The concept of public space has been redefined within the context of urban space development leading to socio-spatial developments like social polarization and spatial fragmentation. Accordingly, new places like shopping malls, parking lots, and heavy-traffic roads have replaced traditional public spaces such as squares, plazas and neighbourhood streets. These alternative public spaces, in many instances, are provided without taking into consideration the human aspects. The poetic and ethnographic sensibility went hand-in-hand with a modernist architectural reimagination: alongside the grid, the architects presented urban designs in which housing blocks were multiplied to create a megastructure connected by what they called “streets-in-the-air”—spacious, publicly accessible galleries giving access to the apartments. The public lighting of facades, monuments, trees, light displays, street signs, and shop windows, all contributed, in their eyes, to “the wonderful, the unreal and the poetic” elements of the urban landscape. The Urbanism of the Grands Ensembles new types of collective facilities to novel urban forms, these measures sought to bring newly built neighbourhoods to life.

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School of Architecture
Planning and Landscape
Newcastle upon Tyne
Tyne and Wear, NE1 7RU

Telephone: 0191 208 6509

Email: nicola.rutherford@ncl.ac.uk