Residents of several high density housing developments in London talk about their homes in a new film highlighting research by LSE Cities and LSE London.
Historically, London has been a low-rise city of Victorian terrace houses. But most of the city’s new homes are flats in blocks and towers, often built at very high densities – which means at least 100 dwellings per hectare.
However, if the city is to accommodate a rapidly growing population without – as Mayor Sadiq Khan has promised – impinging on the Green Belt, new developments will have to incorporate more housing units per plot of land.
Despite dense new towers, courtyard blocks and riverside homes popping up across London, there has been little research asking residents themselves what works and what doesn’t.
Since 2016 a team of LSE researchers has been investigating how residents experience living in high density housing in 14 developments in London.
Using online surveys, interviews and focus groups, the researchers asked residents what it is like to live in these developments physically, practically and socially. They also looked at who lives in these developments, why they are living there, residents’ day-to-day lives and how they feel about their communities and wider neighbourhoods.
The researchers are working with the GLA, residents, and built environment professionals to think about how their findings can be translated into specific recommendations for policy and practice.
Metropolis has launched a new online database of 58 metropolitan territories around the globe based on LSE Cities research. This research was presented by Nuno F. da Cruz, the LSE Cities’ lead of the Metropolitan Indicators project, at an international seminar entitled ‘Metropolitan Policies and Indicators of Social Cohesion’ in Barcelona, on 27 June 2019.
Developed in partnership with Metropolis and the Metropolitan Area of Barcelona (AMB), the project established a set of 38 metropolitan indicators – including new and existing metrics – and a methodology to collect the corresponding data for members of the Metropolis network. LSE Cities will soon publish a working paper that summarises the research and discusses the ‘metropolitan scale’.
Following the event, LSE Cities will publish a working paper that summarises the research and discusses the ‘metropolitan scale’ and Metropolis will launch an online open database featuring all data collected for the Metropolitan Indicators project.
Rapid urbanisation raises huge questions for policymakers about housing new urban dwellers. Delivering Housing for All was one of the eight sessions at the Urban Age Conference, Developing Urban Futures, jointly organised by LSE Cities at the London School of Economics and the Alfred Herrhausen Gesellschaft that took place in Addis Ababa in November 2018.
The session explored national housing programmes in Mexico, South Africa, India, Pakistan and Singapore that have delivered mass housing in recent decades and asked what lessons can be drawn in terms of funding, planning and participatory design for African cities rushing to deliver much-needed shelter?
URBAN AGE VIDEOS
Mass Housing Models
URBAN AGE ESSAYS
AGENCY OF INFORMALITY
byDavid Satterthwaite | November 2018 Upgrading is a term given to government measures to improve housing and community-related infrastructure and services (such as piped water, sewers, drains, household waste collection and healthcare) to settlements considered (or officially designated as) ‘slums’ or illegally developed. Many include measures to provide inhabitants with secure tenure. Some also support improvements to housing. READ FULL ARTICLE
ON HOLD IN JAKARTA
byAbdouMaliq Simone| November 2018 Every afternoon two dozen middle-aged men huddle at one of the several coffee shops in the underground mall of one of the most infamous vertical housing developments in Jakarta, Kalibata City. A pervasive air of melancholy is punctured only by passing security guards, or when everyone proceeds to the outdoor smoking area a few metres away. READ FULL ARTICLE
REQUIEM FOR ARAT KILO
byMarco Di Nunzio | November 2018 We arrived late at the lekso (funeral) and everybody was there. The cemetery was on a small hill facing the blocks of the Summit condominium site on the eastern outskirts of Addis Ababa. Jonas1 helped me find our spot. There were hundreds of people. ‘Trust me,’ Jonas said, gesturing at the crowd, ‘this is not just because this old man was respected. It is because of Arat Kilo.’ Arat Kilo was among the oldest neighbourhoods in the heart of Addis. READ THE FULL ARTICLE
by Yeraswork Admassie | November 2018 Having followed a historical trajectory different from that of developed and some developing countries, Ethiopia’s urban growth has acquired a number of peculiar characteristics. One of these characteristics is the mixed distribution of its population, activities and services. READ FULL ARTICLE
LSE Cities launches new paper
at International Transport Forum Summit in Leipzig – but urban accessibility
and bigger challenges of environmental sustainability remain largely absent
from the high-level discussions.
By Catarina Heeckt, Policy Fellow at LSE Cities
Last month we formally launched our new paper , ‘National Transport Policy and Cities: Key policy interventions to drive compact and connected urban growth’ at the International Transport Forum Summit in Leipzig, Germany. The paper, written for the Coalition for Urban Transitions, highlights the five priority transport policy interventions that national governments can implement to make cities more accessible – either by leapfrogging car-centric development pathways, or by transitioning towards a more compact and connected future. While the event provided us with a fantastic platform to discuss our research on the key actions national governments should take to foster more low-carbon, compact and connected cities, it also highlighted that accessibility as an indispensable precondition for sustainable urban development has still not arrived in the ‘mainstream’ of national transport policy-making.
The International Transport Forum (ITF) Summit brings together government ministers from around the world to share policy perspectives with the private sector, the media, heads of international organisations, and thought leaders from civil society and academia. While calling it “the Davos of Transport” may be slightly hyperbolic, the event is nevertheless one of the largest gatherings of transport ministers globally. This year, around forty ministers along with more than 1000 delegates from 70 countries gathered in Leipzig to discuss how better transport connectivity can help integrate regions while enabling the achievement of economic, social, and environmental goals.
Creating dialogue between academia and policy-makers
Ahead of the formal launch event, I was invited to discuss the findings of our new paper at the ITF Pre-Summit Research Day during a panel on Sustainable Transport Solutions. The objective of the Pre-Summit Research Day is to create dialogue between researchers and practitioners and ensure that important new findings in academia shape the policy debates taking place at the Summit. Researchers from around the world presented work ranging from the economic viability of electrifying old diesel buses in Latvia to the use of blockchain technology in new Mobility-as-a-Service offerings in Korea.
the intention of linking research findings into high-level policy dialogues is
laudable, I am not sure to what extent the conversations from that first day carried
over into the main Summit. There were certainly some interested policy-makers
that attended the event but I didn’t hear the more interesting or controversial
debates from the pre-Summit Research Day resurface in a meaningful way during
the events I attended during the main Summit.
Connectivity for economic prosperity – but at what cost?
three days of the official Summit consisted of more than 80 events around a
wide range of topics linking to the official theme ‘Transport Connectivity for
Regional Integration’. Alongside the public programme of panel discussions and
presentations there were also many closed-door ministerial meetings and
roundtables. Most of the more high-level public events, where transport
ministers and other national officials took to the stage, were unsurprisingly
dominated by soundbites and pre-prepared statements, although even these can at
times be very telling. During the opening Plenary, for example, China’s
Transport Minister Xiaopeng Li concluded that, “if you want to get rich, you
need to build roads, and other types of infrastructure first.”
Throughout the Summit, the idea of connectivity as a key driver of economic prosperity was very much at the forefront of discussions, with wider questions of environmental sustainability often seemingly an afterthought. Even in dedicated sessions on decarbonising the transport sector, which accounts for a staggering 23% of global energy-related greenhouse gas emissions, techno-optimism prevailed. This contrasted starkly with the findings in the new ITF Transport Outlook Report launched at the Summit, which warned that transport CO2 emissions are projected to increase 60% by 2050 and only a dramatic shift to shared mobility will be able to curb this trend in urban areas.
electrification, fleet optimisation, automation and other ‘tech-fixes’
dominated the conversation, with only occasional acknowledgements that these
advances may be too little too late. In this context it was refreshing to hear
voices such as Chilean Transport Minister Gloria Hutt Hesse reminding the
audience and her fellow panellists that on a planet soon approaching 10 billion
people, we have no choice but to reduce our use of space and learn to share –
in transport and beyond.
Watch the Launch of “Better Cities: The Role of National Transport Policy”
Urban mobility still not a clear national priority
The other theme that was conspicuously underrepresented in the main programme was a focus on issues around urban mobility, which was only tackled centrally in a handful of sessions. Tellingly, the official Ministerial Declaration published at the end of the Summit, does not explicitly mention urban mobility and in fact the word ‘city’ and ‘urban’ only appear once in the entire document, even though the negative consequences of excessive movement are felt most acutely in urban areas. This aligns with a finding from our paper which shows that of the 189 transport policy interventions reviewed more than half are merely ‘urban-influencing’, meaning they do not specifically consider the unique context and needs of urban areas (e.g. fuel subsidies, national highway codes etc.). It also confirms yet again that despite much talk about the importance of integrated decision-making and a focus on national urban policies, the remit of most transport ministries remains very narrow and may inadvertently lead to policy choices that actually reduce accessibility in cities.
One session that did very concretely tackle the challenges of urban mobility was ‘Improving Access in Cities: findings from Europe and Latin America’ where Philipp Rode, Executive Director of LSE Cities, joined a panel to discuss the importance of establishing accessibility metrics as a central criterion in the decision-making processes around urban transport.
Urban mobility challenges were also enthusiastically discussed during a range of engaging presentations at the Open Stage Café, which ran alongside the official programme and provided an opportunity for slightly more informal and innovative discussion and presentation formats. It was in this space that Philipp Rode and I formally launched our new paper on Thursday, 23 May.
Watch the panel on Improving access in cities Findings from Europe and Latin America
Confronting an inconvenient truth
remained untouched throughout the Summit were the increasingly urgent questions
around the viability of our prevailing economic model of endless growth;
excessive resource consumption on a finite planet; and the glamorising of
hypermobility as the ultimate symbol of advanced societies, all of which are
fuelling the dramatic increase in freight and passenger transport demand we are
witnessing around the world. Perhaps these tough conversations were inevitably going
to be a tall order for the ‘Davos of Transport’. Nevertheless, a much stronger
acknowledgment that the climate and ecological crisis we are confronting
requires a complete rethink of transport policy and a frank acknowledgement of
the price we pay for connectivity would have been welcome and timely.
As informative and engaging as the ITF Summit was in many respects, it still feels demoralising to attend an event of this calibre, and discover that the most pressing challenges are routinely sidestepped by global transport leaders. During the opening plenary, Young Tae Kim, Secretary-General of the ITF, stressed that “connecting people with each other is important for prosperity and peace.” It’s a basic premise that is hard to argue with, and yet such statements ring a bit hollow given the existential threat climate change poses to both of these desirable global goods.
Online #ITF19 Conversations
Delighted to be at #ITF19 Pre -Summit Research Day to present findings from our new paper on national transport policy and cities. Read it here: https://t.co/rMJGeBwHE2
A really informative paper. Thanks you. Had hoped the “top instruments” would be based not only on expert feedback but also on empirical testing of city performance where instruments feature heavily. Experts tend to show bias towards some, and not always based on evidence.
“During a presentation by LSE Cities, an international center at the London School of Economics and Political Science, researchers Philipp Rode and Catarina Heeckt provided examples of how great disparities in integration – or access – can be in major cities. Maps of Atlanta and Berlin showed that less than 10 % of Atlanta’s residents take public transport, walk or cycle compared to more than 70 % of Berlin’s residents.
The findings were from a new paper launched at the summit that aims to provide a foundation for conversations about actions that cities can take to make them more accessible.”
“So in some ways, it can roll out policies, or national policies that from the beginning are open policies. Most states really need to differentiate between urban policies, and then policies that concern their wider territory,” he [Dr. Philipp Rode] explained. The LSE Cities paper presented by Rode and Heeckt proposes that a smart transport policy plays a vital role to play in laying the foundation for better urban structures, boosting public transport use, making it safe and easy to walk or cycle, and discouraging private car use.
Transportation and technology was a main theme at the Urban Age Developing Urban Futures conference, in Addis Ababa, from 29 – 30 November 2018. With the help of over 60 experts and policymakers from 26 cities in Africa, Asia, Europe, South and North America, the Urban Age conference in Addis Ababa was designed to create common ground to take the debate about Developing Urban Futures further. The Urban Age brings together essays that provide context and perspective on the challenges faced by developing countries, with comparative data and evidence collected by LSE Cities on contemporary urbanisation.
URBAN AGE CONFERENCE VIDEOS
Across Africa, high-capacity transit systems are complemented by popular transit and taxi services enabled by digital technology. How can new policy measures and investments ensure that the smart mobility transition is aligned with broader strategic goals of urban development?
URBAN AGE ESSAYS
VISUALISING POPULAR TRANSPORT
by Jacqueline M. Klopp | November 2018 From Cape Town to Cairo most people rely on walking, motorcycles, bicycles and minibuses to get around. These forms of popular transport move large numbers of people and goods and employ a plethora of workers. While imperfect, this makes urban life possible and productive. READ FULL ARTICLE
ETHIOPIA’S RAILWAY REVOLUTION
by Philipp Rode | November 2018 The office of Ethiopia’s Minister for Urban Development displays a beautiful artwork. The woodcarving captures the country’s transformation, depicting a farmer surrounded by new industries, urban housing estates and roads. Prominently situated, a twenty-first-century high-speed train emerges out of a tunnel, offering a glimpse of the importance and powerful symbolism of railways as a catalyst for the country’s urbanisation.READ FULL ARTICLE
URBAN AGE DATA
Public Transport has become a major policy agenda for established and emerging cities worldwide. The need for greater access to employment, reduced commuting times and congestion and better control of carbon emissions has informed the ways in which cities have either consolidated or initiated investment in high-capacity transport.
A mix of informal, semi-formal and regulated popular transit systems exist in cities across the world, increasing accessibility to jobs, services and amenities where mass transit systems don’t reach. Popular transport networks often includes a mix of modes, including formalised buses, shared minibuses, taxis and motorcycle taxis, with many providers – often operating fleets of fewer than three vehicles – leading to fragmented routes and schedules. Through advances in digital technology, popular transit information has been collected and distributed to make routes more transparent and accessible.
On 12 June, Ricky Burdett, Director of LSE Cities and Urban Age, will join the event, Behind the Prize: Jurying the Mies Crown Hall Americas Prize, a panel discussion on his experience jurying the most recent Mies Crown Hall Americas Prize (MCHAP). MCHAP was founded by Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) College of Architecture to honor architectural excellence in the Americas and the panel will discuss how the judges decide who wins the award. The panel discussion with members of the 2018 MCHAP jury, will take place 12 June, 7:00 p.m at The Great Hall, Cooper Union, New York.
Ricky Burdett, Director of LSE Cities and Urban Age, will be giving a lecture on ‘Shaping Cities in an Urban Age’ for the Triennale Milano Arch Week from May 21 – 26. Milano Arch Week is a week of lectures, conversations, workshops, and itineraries on the main challenges of contemporary urban transformations. Burdett’s lecture will be on 25 May from 19:30- 20:30 held in Triennale Milano / Palco Giardino, and will be introduced by Lorenza Baroncelli.
On 12 May, Ricky Burdett, Director of LSE Cities and Urban Age, was featured in the Spanish newspaper El País Semanal in their Special Cities section. The interview focuses on Burdett’s personal story, his experience in international urban planning and his outlook for the future of cities.
Philipp Rode and Catarina Heeckt will launch their new paper ‘National Transport Policy and Cities: Key policy interventions to drive compact and connected urban growth’ at the International Transport Forum (ITF) Summit in Leipzig, Germany. The launch event will take place at the ITF World Stage Café starting at 9:30 on Thursday, 23 May 2019.
The paper is part of LSE Cities’ contribution to the Coalition for Urban Transitions and provides a foundation for national transport policy-makers to begin pragmatic but ambitious conversations about actions they can take to make cities more accessible – either by leapfrogging car-centric development pathways, or by transitioning towards a more compact and connected future. It provides a global review of 189 national transport interventions and then presents results from a survey of experts that narrows down the top five most impactful policy interventions.
Prior to the official launch event, Catarina Heeckt will be presenting the research findings at the ITF Pre-Summit Research Day on Tuesday, 21 May 2019 at 11:40 during a panel discussion on ‘Sustainable Transport Solutions’.