Jigsaw Cities?

March 19, 2007

An interesting article in The Guardian last week on Sprawling Cities – presenting the findings of a new book by Anne Power and John Houghton entitled Jigsaw Cities – raises some issues for our discussions about sprawl. The authors point to some “alarming examples” of badly connected, largely private estates, suggesting that the best way to plan for sustainable increase in housing numbers is intensification within the urban growth boundary. They call this “smart growth”, whereby improvement is made by small scale revitalisation of buildings and local facilities, such as parks. They emphasise the importance of reusing existing buildings and nurturing small businesses. Altogether this is meant to make a neighbourhood successful and liveable, creating a “sense of community”. This sense of community is said to come from the buzz that comes from variety of “condensed, worn-in spaces”. The article goes on to mention the variety of environmental considerations that need to be accounted for in this process.

What is most relevant to our discussion is that although this is mainly about housing, this research demonstrates the importance of combining spatial integration, local intensification of activity and small businesses for community vitality. It is hoped that our study will contribute some findings to support these ideas.

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