For as long as urban sprawl has been an issue, there’s been a countermovement to make city centers more compact, walkable and accessible.
In more recent years, a new twist on this movement has been the “15-minute city.” This concept emphasizes having everything a resident might need — such as housing, shops, parks and cultural venues — within a 15-minute walk or bike ride. In a 15-minute city, each neighborhood should fulfill six core functions: living, working, supplying, caring, learning and enjoying.
The idea was already growing in popularity before the outbreak of COVID-19, and the pandemic has only helped reinforce the importance of walkable and livable communities with people spending more time at home. Designers have even taken the concept one step further by developing “one-minute cities” that invite residents of a given block to actively shape their shared space together.
It’s a fascinating concept, and I think there’s a lesson here for mobility leaders. When we look at our programs and the benefits we offer, are we providing everything a relocating employee might need? Or are things out of reach, in the same way that urban sprawl makes amenities hard to access?
Urban designers are thinking outside of the box when it comes to city centers — a designer involved with the one-minute city concept said their collaborative “street furniture” can be used for bird feeders, greenhouses and a host of other unique designs — because it enhances the experience for residents. In the same way, mobility leaders should think outside the box and reimagine what’s possible within their programs.
The concept is to improve quality of life by creating cities where everything a resident needs can be reached within a quarter of an hour by foot or bike. The 15-minute city requires minimal travel among housing, offices, restaurants, parks, hospitals and cultural venues. Each neighbourhood should fulfil six social functions: living, working, supplying, caring, learning and enjoying.