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Urbanism Redux: People Centered Cities

January 9, 2024

The threat of strikes in London underscores the vulnerability of our urban infrastructure. In times like this, the already un-loved commute to work becomes a daunting task and we are reminded of the risk that even the slightest disturbance carries to both businesses and hardworking individuals. Architects have always been contemplating innovative solutions to reshape our urban landscapes, but maybe it is time to think about how to put these ideas into practice for a more resilient and sustainable future.

Traditional transport systems are proving to not have the resilience needed to cope with everything from strikes, changing climate and global crises. At PLP Labs, we have been exploring alternative approaches to urban mobility. Some of our evolving ideas centre around concepts of automated urban mobility and promoting walkable cities as a viable solution to the current challenges.

One part of our vision involves embracing self-driving cars controlled by advanced AI. These vehicles help us to reduce the dependency on people management, allowing for a more efficient and adaptable transportation network. While this shift may necessitate the re-skilling of certain people, their expertise can be redirected towards the many new opportunities that will come out of this widespread adoption of new technology.

The real crux of these ideas, however, revolves around the concept of walkable cities. Portland, Oregon, for example, set a goal in 2009 for people to live, work, and shop within a 20-minute walking radius. This restructured urban framework minimises the need for lengthy commutes, making them reserved for special circumstances rather than a daily ordeal. A shift like this not only enhances the quality of life for individuals but also fosters a sense of community and ecological well-being.

By embracing the lessons learned from examples and ideas such as these, we can begin to create a better connected, more accessible and adaptable urban environment that enhances the well-being of everyone in our cities.

Abhinav Chaudhary, Associate Partner, PLP Labs & PLP Architecture