Greg Clark and Tim Moonen are co-authors of a new study of density and urban change in collaboration with the Urban Land Institute and TH Real Estate. The report examines the experience and innovations of six European cities – Birmingham, Dresden, Istanbul, London, Stockholm and Warsaw. It argues that many cities—especially those in Europe—have little choice but to densify if they are to avoid becoming locked in to models of development that are inflexible, unattractive, unsustainable, and ultimately uncompetitive. Density is now a critical tool to realise advantage and to avoid decline.
The report is the second piece of work in ULI’s density initiative, which seeks to increase knowledge of density in the real estate industry and beyond; to address the social, economic, and environmental benefits of investing in density; and to promote density as a priority for public and private leaders.
This report examines the impact of different urban tools and tactics on densification efforts, and looks at how density can play a role in building strategies for future cycles. It shows that for cities to make progress they need to:
· Get the fundamentals right
In order to increase density successfully, a city first needs leaders to develop a story and vision for its future evolution that can galvanise attention and support from residents, workers and investors alike. It must create a robust growth plan that provides a guiding framework within which development can proceed. These are fundamentals without which progress on density can only be partial and fragmented.
· Prioritise execution arrangements
In order to operationalise the vision of a denser city, leaders then need tactics about where and how to densify. They need to achieve a critical mass of redevelopment and to promote a scale of urban adaptation that creates genuinely new dimensions to a city. They also need durable systems of investment and enhanced legal, land-use, and asset management tools to shape development fully.
· Build and maintain momentum
In order to maintain momentum across political and economic cycles, cities also need to foster demand for new urban space, and focus on the positive psychology of vibrant urban lifestyles and locations.