Arney Fender Katsalidis, London
Density is misunderstood and much maligned. But if done well, density can increase access to housing while enriching a city’s character. Since Dickensian times and before, density has ultimately been associated with poverty, despite the fact that today our most sought-after residential neighborhoods are often our most dense. It is poor design, not density, that creates impoverished places: increased density can enhance the livability of our cities.
For the past six years, Melbourne has been ranked as the most "livable" city in the world. Melbourne achieved this by increasing its density over several decades, successfully introducing residents back into the city center and implementing mixed-use programs across developments. A dense city is the most sustainable construct of habitation, as higher density results in less use of natural resources and shorter commuting times for people. However, to be effective, density needs to be delivered efficiently by both the industry and local government.
Melbourne’s success was accomplished through a focused political campaign that inspired citizens and developers and attracted them to live and build in the city. Those cities that suffer from severe housing shortages (i.e. London) can learn much from the most livable and dense cities of the world, where innovative construction processes, such as the UB system, are implemented to deliver requisite housing in the shortest possible period. Elevated density, combined with thinking differently, can enhance our cities on many levels.