Old Challenges, New Approaches

Can urban planning, effective municipal management and the correct application of technological innovation enable cities to handle growing and increasingly unhappy populations?

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Despite advances in human civilization and technology, people in cities around the world are increasingly unhappy. Disunity is growing as urbanists still struggle with how best to balance the needs of the economy with individual wellbeing. This challenge is further compounded by the expansion of cities around the world. 

Can urban planning, effective municipal management and the correct application of technological innovation enable cities to handle growing and increasingly unhappy populations? Through their informed imagination, can urbanists make society better, foster closer communities, and produce happier individuals? This report is the result of a thorough review of the current, multifaceted conversation around urbanism as expressed in mainstream publications and scholarly work. We found that the answer to the above questions depend on where you sit, but urbanists are increasingly convinced that a human-centric approach is the best way forward. By placing residents and their needs at the centre of urbanism, cities can improve society, make people happier, and organize human society in a more perfect manner. 

This push towards human-centric urbanism is not confined solely to the West but is also taking root and gathering momentum in the emerging world. The definition of human-centric urbanism eludes one simple sentence. Human-centric urbanism places the relationship between the individual 
and the city at the centre of urban design and planning. By understanding the individual’s needs, urban planners can seek to build a better environment that encourages growth, community, health, and productivity.[1]

From Medellin to Dubai and Taiwan, emerging cities are experimenting with revolutionary concepts to make cities more liveable, happy, and productive. While the field of urbanism was born 
in the West and Western cities continue to make invaluable contributions to the field, the emerging world is fast becoming the space of real innovation 
in human-centric urbanism.


[1] Willsher, Kim. “Haussmann rips up Paris– and divides France to this day.” The Guardian, 31/03/2016, 
https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2016/mar/31/story-cities-12-paris-baron-haussmann-france-urban-planner-napoleon.