(First in a series)
Climate change continues to be the single, most important long term global concern, even as we all face the current pandemic. This week, world leaders convened a climate summit to pledge new targets and reinforce existing ones to reduce their emissions. This was in preparation for the next world summit in November.
Our roles as architects and planners to provide system-wide and comprehensive solutions to not just mitigate but also improve our built environment become increasingly important in the world we live in. How do we develop our human environment? How can we make this world we live in a more suitable and beneficial habitat for homo sapiens and our web of interrelated species?
Beyond my personal musings and internal hypothesizing, we’re currently exploring some of these ideas in the work we’re doing. They range from the immediate to the societal, from human to environmental concerns.
A sense of belonging
While we constantly strive to design for our five senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch, we also need to design spaces that enhance our sense of belonging. It is a sense that we have developed over hundreds of thousands of years even before the first extant member of our species. This is the sense that has allowed us to develop our culture and civilization and spread to almost all regions of the world.
Our sense of belonging constantly makes us search for channels to connect with one another. We require communal experiences that bond us together and look for the presence of other people in our living spaces. We congregate and mingle even for no reason, and we fear or avoid empty and bare spaces. We feel anxious in empty halls and corridors, empty and dead streets.
As we strive for the development of 15-minute cities, we must be aware of how we can make pocket neighborhoods communal and conducive to personal movement and exploration. Expand points of gathering beyond nodes and centralities towards corridors of activity that spread out and activate our streetscapes. Our streets are not just channels for movement but part of a web that can be stimulated and livened by human activity.