Charles Landry – Making Great Cities

” There is no ideal city, but many have proposed ideals from the Renaissance City in the past – the Garden City, the Radiant City and more recently the Green City or New Urbanism. Yet every city can be better than it is and strong principles can help it along the way. People’s expectations depend on their stage in life, their personal preferences, the opportunities they have, need or desire, their lifestyle and their ambitions. This is why some love and take pride in very large cities and others in smaller, more intimate ones. Every city can be great in its own way.

Great places embody seven elements. They are places of anchorage, they feel like home, there is with a sense of stability, tradition and distinctiveness. They are places of possibility, ‘can do’, stimulation and buzz. They are places of communication and networking, where it is easy connect, interact and move around, the outside world is accessible, and you feel you are part of a bigger, extensive web. They are places to self-improve, learn and reflect. They are places of inspiration. Culture is alive and, finally, a great city is well put together through design.

The best places are diverse and provide a rich register of experiences some of which can be profound. They have choices: many numerous work opportunities, housing at different price points, varied amenities, wide ranging facilities. The physical fabric and public realm is well designed. The conditions for life for all kinds of moods and interests are well catered for. They are emotionally pleasing.

Great places have a good balance. They are alive and vibrant, yet provide spaces for calm and tranquillity. They are dense and encourage mixing, yet also create room for separateness and privacy. Much in them is ordinary, yet interspersed with some extraordinary features. Some vast cities are wonderful and liveable, others are depressing. Some smaller cities are a delight and convenient. Others are small minded and claustrophobic. The great city has a clarity of purpose and it knows where it is going. It is a blend of hardware (its physical fabric like streets buildings and parks), software (its activity base like its enterprise, its cultural life or its shopping experiences), and ‘orgware’ (how it is organized, managed and governed). ”

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