The 15-minute City
Related Concepts: Inspirations for the Idea

Hari Srinivas
Concept Note Series C-038.

U The idea of a 15-minute city is not new. There have been a number of concepts with similar objectives - such as compact cities, car-free cities etc. More recently, the 15-minute city concept has gained traction as a way to reimagine urban development and create more sustainable, livable, and people-centric cities that prioritize accessibility, well-being, and environmental stewardship.

Here are a few concepts that inspired, and are related to, the 15-minute city idea:

Compact City:
A compact city refers to an urban development model that focuses on efficient land use and encourages high population density. It involves designing cities in a way that minimizes urban sprawl and promotes mixed land-use patterns, allowing residents to have easy access to amenities, services, and employment opportunities within a short distance from their homes.

Tokyo, Japan:
Tokyo is known for its high population density and efficient land use. The city has developed a comprehensive public transportation system, compact neighborhoods, and mixed-use developments that allow residents to access a wide range of amenities within a short distance.
Barcelona, Spain:
Barcelona is recognized for its compact urban design and focus on walkability. The city has implemented urban planning strategies that promote mixed land use, pedestrian-friendly streets, and a well-connected public transit network, making it easier for residents to live, work, and access services within a compact area.
Copenhagen, Denmark:
Copenhagen is renowned for its compact and bike-friendly city design. The city prioritizes cycling infrastructure, and its compact layout allows residents to easily reach amenities, workplaces, and recreational areas. Copenhagen's emphasis on sustainable transportation and compact neighborhoods has made it a model for urban livability.

Car-Free City:
A car-free city is a concept that aims to eliminate or greatly reduce the presence of private automobiles within urban areas. It involves prioritizing pedestrian-friendly infrastructure, promoting public transportation, cycling, and walking as primary modes of transport, and creating car-free zones or restricted areas for vehicles. The goal is to reduce traffic congestion, improve air quality, and create safer and more livable urban spaces.

Vauban, Germany:
Vauban, a neighborhood in Freiburg, Germany, is often cited as a successful car-free community. It has implemented car-restricted policies, prioritized pedestrian and cycling infrastructure, and established an efficient public transportation system. Vauban showcases how a car-free approach can create a more sustainable and livable neighborhood.
Pontevedra, Spain:
Pontevedra is a city in northwest Spain that has implemented a car-free model within its historic city center. The city has heavily restricted vehicle access and prioritized walking, cycling, and public transportation. By creating pedestrian-friendly spaces, Pontevedra has transformed its urban environment and improved the quality of life for its residents.
Ljubljana, Slovenia:
Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, has taken significant steps towards becoming a car-free city. The city center is largely closed to traffic, with an emphasis on pedestrians, cyclists, and electric-powered transportation. Ljubljana's commitment to sustainable mobility and car-free initiatives has gained international recognition.

Superblocks are large-scale urban planning units that typically consist of several city blocks grouped together. They aim to reorganize urban space by prioritizing pedestrians and cyclists over cars. Within a superblock, traffic is redirected along the perimeter, while the interior streets are transformed into pedestrian-friendly spaces, often with green areas, recreational facilities, and community amenities. The goal is to create safer, more livable, and socially connected neighborhoods.

Barcelona, Spain:
Barcelona implemented the "superblock" concept in some of its neighborhoods, such as Poblenou and Sant Antoni. Superblocks in Barcelona involve grouping several city blocks together and transforming them into pedestrian-priority areas. These superblocks have car-free or restricted vehicle zones, promoting walking, cycling, and community engagement within these transformed urban spaces.
Paris, France:
Paris has embraced the concept of superblocks through its "Réinventer Paris" program. The city has identified specific areas where several blocks are transformed into pedestrian-friendly spaces with limited vehicle access. These superblocks prioritize pedestrians, public spaces, and community life, encouraging active mobility and social interaction.
Melbourne, Australia:
Melbourne has implemented superblocks as part of its urban planning initiatives. Areas such as Southbank and Docklands have been transformed into pedestrian-friendly zones with reduced vehicle access and improved walkability. Melbourne's superblocks aim to create vibrant and people-centered neighborhoods within the city.

Walkable Cities:
Walkable Citis, or walkability, is a concept that refers to the degree to which an urban environment is pedestrian-friendly and supports walking as a mode of transportation. It emphasizes creating cities and neighborhoods that are designed and built with the needs and safety of pedestrians in mind, encouraging people to walk as a primary means of getting around.

Barcelona, Spain:
Barcelona is renowned for its walkable streets and vibrant urban life. The city has transformed numerous major roads into pedestrian-friendly boulevards, expanded sidewalks, and implemented a successful bike-sharing program. Barcelona's historic neighborhoods, such as the Gothic Quarter and El Born, are characterized by narrow streets and pedestrian plazas, creating an enjoyable and walkable experience for residents and tourists alike.
Tokyo, Japan:
Despite being a bustling metropolis, Tokyo offers excellent walkability due to its efficient and well-connected public transportation system, pedestrian-friendly streets, and compact urban design. Many neighborhoods feature narrow streets, abundant sidewalks, and vibrant pedestrian areas, allowing residents and visitors to easily navigate the city on foot.
Copenhagen, Denmark:
Copenhagen consistently ranks among the most walkable cities in the world. The city has implemented extensive pedestrian infrastructure, including wide sidewalks, dedicated cycling lanes, and pedestrian-only zones. Its compact design, mixed land use, and emphasis on cycling and pedestrian-friendly policies have created a highly walkable urban environment.

Mixed-Use Development:
Mixed-use development refers to the integration of different land uses within a single building, a group of buildings, or a neighborhood. It combines residential, commercial, institutional, and/or industrial uses in close proximity, allowing residents to live, work, and access amenities and services within the same area. Mixed-use development promotes walkability, reduces travel distances, and creates vibrant, diverse, and economically sustainable urban environments.

New York City, USA:
New York City is renowned for its mixed-use developments, particularly in neighborhoods like Manhattan. The city features a blend of residential, commercial, and cultural spaces within the same area, enabling residents to live, work, and access amenities in close proximity. This integration of land uses contributes to the city's vibrant and diverse urban fabric.
Vancouver, Canada:
Vancouver is known for its successful implementation of mixed-use developments, particularly in neighborhoods such as Yaletown and Coal Harbour. These areas combine residential towers with commercial spaces, restaurants, shops, and parks, creating vibrant and walkable neighborhoods that promote convenience and accessibility.
Amsterdam, Netherlands:
Amsterdam exemplifies mixed-use development with its canal ring area, known as the Grachtengordel. This historic district seamlessly blends residential, commercial, and cultural spaces. The buildings along the canals often have a mix of functions, including ground-floor businesses and upper-level residences, showcasing the city's successful integration of land uses.

Transit-Oriented Development (TOD):
Transit-oriented development focuses on creating compact, mixed-use communities around public transportation hubs. It encourages dense and diverse development near transit stations, making it convenient for residents to access public transportation for commuting and reducing reliance on private cars. TOD aims to promote sustainable transportation options, reduce traffic congestion, and enhance accessibility to amenities and services.

Curitiba, Brazil:
Curitiba is often cited as a model for transit-oriented development. The city has a well-developed bus rapid transit (BRT) system that connects various neighborhoods and promotes accessibility. Curitiba's urban planning strategies prioritize transit-oriented development around BRT stations, with mixed-use developments and pedestrian-friendly infrastructure.
Tokyo, Japan:
Tokyo's extensive and efficient public transportation system makes it a prime example of transit-oriented development. The city has a network of subway lines and commuter trains that provide convenient access to various neighborhoods and destinations. Tokyo's urban planning encourages development around transit hubs, facilitating easy movement and reducing dependence on cars.
Portland, USA:
Portland, Oregon, is recognized for its successful implementation of transit-oriented development. The city has invested in light rail (MAX), streetcar lines, and an extensive network of buses. Transit-oriented development zones have been created around transit stations, promoting dense, mixed-use developments and walkable neighborhoods.

These concepts, along with the 15-minute city, contribute to the broader goals of creating more sustainable, livable, and people-centric urban environments that prioritize accessibility, reduce environmental impact, and enhance the quality of life for residents.

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