Our future on earth is an urbanised one. The population is growing and will increasingly be living in cities. To make city life pleasant, companies as Siemens and Ikea and urban planning commissions are working hard to get a grip on city growth.

Screenshot taken from uitzendinggemist.nl.

Click to watch program “Tegenlicht: Making Cities” (in Dutch).

This program gives an overview of the initiatives from the perspectives of:

  • technology – how much control will people accept? (in monitoring programs to minimise energy use, Siemens – Masdar City)
  • commerce – how to set up ideal neighbourhoods? (ready-made social living areas according to the IKEA philosophy, LandProp – Strand East in London)
  • sociology – what is the potential of immigrants? (immigrant neighbourhoods as social and economic catalyst, Doug Saunders – Arrival City)
  • biology – what are the rules of growth? (cities grow organically to achieve a balance, top-down plans have not much influence (Geoffrey West)

The conclusion is that cities grow organically to produce areas with a high population density in which social cohesion is best. Successful areas are the ones in which residents are able to set up their own businesses. Urban planners should leave room for these initiatives and expect their designed urban areas to be subject to change. “Nobody wants to live in IKEA.”