Giving the streets back to the people

Urbanization strategies that create liveable cities

Urbanization strategies

Today, 55% of the world’s population resides in urban areas – by 2050, 2 in 3 people will live in a city.* Grappling with this reality, urban planners, developers and policy makers across the globe are asking the same question: how can we create smart, integrated and liveable urbanization strategies that ensure our cities, and our citizens, thrive?

It’s a question we think is best directed at those who have the greatest stake in the game – citizens. What do they need to live, work and play successfully in their city? By giving the streets back to the people and re-thinking what they need, we can create a more engaging, lively, and human centric approach to urbanization.

Arcadis works with the KNHM Foundation, a network of voluntary professional advisers who help citizens improve their living environment. We share their belief that active citizens, encouraged by enthusiastic professionals, can bring their ideas and plans to life, and create a city that works for them.

A human centric approach

Barcelona and Amsterdam are two metropolitan areas adopting a human-centric approach to urbanization, with great results.

Since 2015, Barcelona has been redesigning its grid structure to create Super Blocks, areas where through traffic is re-directed and local traffic is restricted to 10 miles per hour. The result is lower carbon emissions, reduced noise pollution, safer streets, increased footfall in local stores and an overall improved quality of life. The initial concept was so well received, the plan has been extended across the city.

Designing with citizens in mind

Beach Island, a project Arcadis is co-designing with Deloitte and Posad Maxwan, is a new extension of the IJburg archipelago in Amsterdam. It is an urban development plan with an ambition: to organize mobility hubs and use space in a smart way, bringing quality of life to an urban setting - where placemaking encourages community engagement, where walking, cycling, public transport and electric vehicles are the norm and the impact of parking and use of (traditional) cars is limited.

Mobility hubs allow different modes of travel to seamlessly converge. The key is location. Walking distances, public transport quality and travel time (all part of customer journey) to the real hub (in this case Amsterdam Central) need to be attractive enough to let the hub compete with a car. Our research has shown that when these hubs are located within neighbourhoods, the idea of leaving your car and walking or cycling to your front door is more feasible.

The hubs are more than a parking lot – they adopt the character of the community. When they include a community center, shops, restaurants – as determined by residents – we can start to build more cohesive neighbourhoods, where people meet each other and create social networks.

And, when these hubs are equipped with EV charging points, it makes owning an electric car more attractive.

The business case

We know that using data effectively can provide insight into how citizens behave, which can improve strategic decision-making to create a better user experience. If we design with citizens in mind, thinking of the various personas that inhabit the city, we can address their specific issues, and implement intelligent and sustainable solutions that will make cities successful and improve quality of life for all.

* World Urbanization Prospects: The 2018 Revision

Cécile Cluitmans

Managing Director Buildings +31 (0)6 2706 0267 Ask me a question
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