Sustainable urban design is an indispensable facet of global efforts to create more livable, resilient, and equitable cities. As urban populations surge, ensuring that cities and human settlements are inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable has become a paramount concern, reflected in the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 11. This goal is directly linked to sustainable urban design, a discipline that holistically integrates urban planning, architecture, transportation, and environmental stewardship.
The focus of sustainable urban design is to ensure that cities are built and renovated in ways that make efficient use of resources, reduce waste and pollution, and support a high quality of life for all residents. This is manifested in various ways: from green buildings that minimize energy consumption and incorporate renewable resources, to transportation systems that prioritize public transit, cycling, and walking over automobile-centric solutions, to the creation of public spaces that foster community and cultural vibrancy. Such practices not only contribute to reducing environmental degradation but also play a pivotal role in addressing social inequalities. For instance, green urban spaces can reduce the heat island effect and provide recreational areas, while affordable, efficient public transport can enhance access to opportunities for marginalized groups. Furthermore, the connection between sustainable urban design and other SDGs is profound. The establishment of green infrastructure and wastewater management systems aids in clean water and sanitation (SDG 6).
Sustainable transportation addresses industry, innovation, and infrastructure (SDG 9). Urban agricultural initiatives promote zero hunger (SDG 2) and contribute to good health and well-being (SDG 3). By promoting sustainable urban design, cities can become catalysts in the achievement of the broader 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This synergy highlights the interconnectedness of global challenges and underscores the importance of a holistic approach in urban settings. It is worth noting that the pursuit of sustainable urban design doesn't just revolve around infrastructure and systems but also encompasses community engagement and policy-making.
For truly sustainable urban solutions to emerge, a bottom-up approach that involves local communities and stakeholders is essential. Thus, city leaders, urban planners, architects, and community members all share the responsibility to reimagine and reshape urban environments in alignment with the SDGs. Sustainable urban design is both a vision and a strategic approach, offering cities a path towards a future that harmonizes with the planet and its inhabitants.
Artificial Intelligence in Urban Planning and Design, Technologies, Implementation, and Impacts, 2022, Pages 121-138
Sustainable Cities and Society, Volume 66, March 2021
The climate emergency and population growth are challenging water security and sustainable urban design in cities worldwide. Sustainable urban development is crucial to minimise pressures on the natural environment and on existing urban infrastructure systems, including water, energy, and land. These pressures are particularly evident in London, which is considered highly vulnerable to water shortages and floods and where there has been a historical shortage of housing. However, the impacts of urban growth on environmental management and protection are complex and difficult to evaluate.
Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, Volume 34, October 2018, Pages 48-53.
Approaches to Water Sensitive Urban Design: Potential, Design, Ecological Health, Urban Greening, Economics, Policies, and Community Perceptions, Volume , 1 January 2018
Landscape and Urban Planning, Volume 125, May 2014
Recent research and professional interest in planning for sustainable and resilient cities emphasizes the assessment of a broad spectrum of urban ecosystem services. While such assessments are useful to establish specific benchmarks, and for measuring progress toward sustainability and resilience goals, they do not motivate, or support the innovations required to provide specific ecosystem services as an intentional part of routine urban and infrastructure development activity by municipalities and professionals.