The Ideal City: Exploring Urban Futures
Photo — Anne-Sophie Rosenvinge
We have teamed up with gestalten to create a book that gathers world-renowned experts to explore a better urban future for all of humanity.
Our shared home
What kind of cities do we want to live in? What do we believe is important for a good life? And what makes a good home for all of us? Joining forces with gestalten, we explore these questions in The Ideal City, our book of recipes for how to better design, build, inhabit and share our cities.
In this book, we travel to 53 cities in 30 different countries, speaking with experts across architecture, design, technology and governance about a better way forward for our shared home: the city. We celebrate the countless projects, designs and initiatives that create better cities for all — some as big as an entire neighbourhood, others as small as an app on your phone. Our aim is to showcase inspiring solutions for a better everyday life for both more people and the planet.
The Ideal City is published by gestalten and can be ordered here.
Video — Barkas
We need to meet the greatest challenge of our lives with stubborn optimism. And imagining is the first step. Are you ready to imagine?
Why ‘the ideal city’?
Our cities are at a crossroads. We are facing an accelerating climate crisis, growing inequality, lack of access to affordable homes, lack of equal opportunities for all — and a pandemic that brings existing challenges into stark relief. We can continue in this direction — or we can look for a new way forward.
Cities are right at the heart of the problem, and therefore also at the heart of the solution.
We have created The Ideal City to inspire and help reimagine the cities of tomorrow. We hope to give our readers a vision for cities that are greener, healthier, more sustainable, inclusive and safe. Cities that boost our quality of life, ensure more fulfilling ways of living together, and provide more opportunities for a bigger range of people. Cities that are more resilient and economically productive, while tackling the climate crisis head-on.
The Ideal City features experts ranging from legendary urban designer Jan Gehl to transportation entrepreneur Robin Chase; from starchitect Bjarke Ingels to the interdisciplinary design studio Urban-Think Tank; and from the largest intergovernmental organisation, the United Nations, to a community-led alternative policing program in the Kwanlin Dün First Nation in Canada.
We showcase projects that range in size, approach and context — but are all united by the core principles we believe lead to a happier urban life.
Today, cities are not meeting the essential needs of a big portion of the people living there. Simultaneously, urban areas are the biggest driver of the climate crisis. The challenges are extensive, but so are the opportunities. We wanted to scour the world for inspiring chefs and ingredients, and bring them together in an aspirational cookbook for cities — stuffed with recipes on how to create a better home for humanity, while taking care of our planet.
Five guiding principles
We do not believe in a one-size-fits-all approach. There is no single ideal city. Instead, our vision for the cities of tomorrow is built around five guiding principles. Together, we believe these are the building blocks for creating cities that feel better for more people.
In short, we believe that the ideal city is:
A resourceful city manages to be both ecologically and economically sustainable. It is welcoming not only to human beings, but also to other sentient beings on our planet. It prioritises circular principles, meaning fully closed water, nutrition, material, and energy loops. It builds sustainably and uses waste as a resource.
An accessible city is built for diversity, inclusion, and equality — regardless of age, ability, gender, religion, financial stability, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or political views. It ensures fair and equal access to urban amenities, employment, healthcare, education, services, business, culture, leisure, heritage, sport and nature. Finally, a truly accessible city provides affordable housing and access to home ownership, inclusive decision-making with transparent governance, and fosters community involvement and empowerment.
A shared city fosters a sense of community, collaboration, and togetherness. It is designed for social interactions through shared facilities, public spaces, co-working and living spaces, and transportation. It enables pooling intangible resources too, like skill-share, shared mobility technologies, or initiatives that encourage meaningful social connections.
Resilience to climate change, extreme weather events, and floods is imperative for the safe city. It promotes a feeling of safety by providing protection for all, with an emphasis on crime prevention and rehabilitation. Going beyond, a safe city ensures a healthy environment to live in while providing access to resources such as food, water, shelter, and care, and fosters physical and mental wellbeing through access to healthcare and green spaces.
A desirable city is one that is a pleasure to be in. It is designed on a human scale, making everything accessible within a 15-minute walk. It is a city that encourages the playful side of humans by promoting curiosity, wonder, and discovery. It nurtures a vibrant public life, with access to culture, art, and activities, and appealing public spaces for relaxation, wellbeing, and learning.
gestalten is an international publishing house collaborating and engaging with creatives around the world to explore in the fields of architecture, visual culture, design & fashion, escapism, food & beverages, and travel.
- Concept: SPACE10 and gestalten
- Design: gestalten
- Editors: Robert Klanten and Elli Stuhler, with SPACE10
- Foreword: Bjarke Ingels
- Texts: Steph Wade, David Michon, Anna Southgate and SPACE10
- Last word: Xiye Bastida
- Research: Jamiee Williams, Kristoffer Lindhardt Weiss, Monique Schröder and SPACE10
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