No need to give up on crowded cities – make urban density better

No need to give up on crowded cities – make urban density better

April 6, 2020 0 By Saidul Hoque

For several years we have had the debate about decentralizing the population.

The argument has always been, city life is not pleasant, as it is full of jammed roads, expensive housing, which is far from the quiet and orderly life in the countryside, but there is something to do about it.

What is required

At the moment, what we need is to improve the conditions that make our large cities unaccommodating and not as pleasant as we would wish.

Globally, cities are growing at a massive rate. In Australia, Melbourne, which is the fastest-growing city, added 120,000 new residents between 2017 and 2018. With this enormous growth, what we are likely to associate Melbourne with is vast traffic and crazy rent hikes. However, with proper planning, this does not have to be the case.

In this country, there has been a misconception about the whole concept of density with a majority thinking it means living in high rise apartments.

What makes other cities standout

Shockingly what makes top European cities like Paris and Milan attractive is the same thing that people down here despise about cities. These places are far denser than any of our cities back home.

According to UN stats, Paris has about 213 people per hectare, with Barcelona having about 156. Melbourne, which is our most dense city, only has 38.

What makes these big European cities stand out is the number of people residing in them. To achieve this kind of density, proper planning has to happen. Most of the apartments are usually mid-rise, with the average being six storeys high. They are all located close to social amenities such as shops and other related services as well as public transport.

What can be done to improve crowded cities?

Have better planning

Failing to plan results in cities that have crazy traffic jams, expensive homes, as well as high rents. Without adequate investment in a sound transport system will result in residents scrambling for space in a system that was probably meant to cater for half their numbers.

Car parks need to be locked into

Car parking is usually mandated in most major cities, meaning that homeowners often have to push the cost of putting up more stories for extra parking space back to the tenants. This is what makes most urban apartments expensive.

Reduce the number of cars

By reducing cars in our urban centers, we can have more environmentally friendly cities. Trees and green parks will significantly contribute to improving the environment and the general health of the residents.

To win the hearts and minds of residents opposed to the dense cities, authorities should prove to them, with an efficient public transport system and allocating larger areas to green parks as well as pedestrian-friendly spaces, our cities can be fantastic.

Examples of thriving urban cities in Europe is the likes of Netherlands, where apartments are integrated with trees and almost no vehicles can be seen in the streets, more and more people will begin to realize that urban density is a possibility.

All that is needed to achieve this will be strict policies that put people first. The Netherlands, for instance, started integrating these policies in the 80s and 70s and are now reaping the benefits.


Having seen the benefits that accrue from having dense cities, we are confident that we can achieve the same back here. While this will take many years to implement, we have all it takes to do it. 

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