How to Build a Better City

Every day for the next 35 years, an average of 170,000 people will move to, or be born in, cities.


Every day for the next 35 years, an average
of 170,000 people will move to, or be born in, cities in the developing world, mostly
in fast-growing areas in Asia and Africa. And there’s a lot to love about cities:
they’re chock-full of jobs, art, jobs, community, a small fortune in coins tossed into public
fountains — and jobs! Cities can be good for the planet, too – their compact nature
means that water, power, transportation, building materials, and land can be used super-efficiently. Except cities aren’t always the supercompact
islands of utopian awesome we sometimes imagine. That’s because they’re usually made up
of urban cores surrounded by less dense residential, commercial, and industrial zones that sprawl
on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on… Many of us may think of the suburbs as leafy-green
lanes lined with picket fences and giant slobbery dogs, but suburbia comes in many forms. And
people in suburbs of all types gobble up more energy, water and other resources and emit
more pollutants than those in taller, denser urban neighborhoods. They travel further to
work and school, have more cars and drive them further, heat and cool bigger homes,
and tend bigger yards, negating the compact efficiency of the dense urban cores they surround. So suburb-ringed cities with low overall densities
are much less efficient than those that are tightly-packed. And unfortunately, cities
around the world are expanding twice as fast in area as they are in population, using up
more land and energy and stuff per person. We could reverse this trend by getting rid
of resource-hungry suburban sprawl altogether. But that just isn’t how cities tend to develop
organically. In reality, wide highways and cheap gas tend to encourage more cars and
commuters, and height limits on buildings and separate zoning of homes and businesses
push growth outward. So policies allow us to influence the shape
of our cities, for bad or good. Investing in mass transit and boosting gas prices encourages
people to ditch their cars and live closer to each other, while mixed zoning laws allow
them to work and play closer to home. And when people live densely, they use resources
less intensely. In cities – as in life – we have a choice:
sprawl or grow tall.

100 thoughts on “How to Build a Better City”

  1. Mexico City has the opposite problem imo. Like, i hate suburbia altogether, but ffs, building taller and taller buildings on top of what used to be a lake in an area that is prone to earthqueakes doesn't seem much better.

  2. Skyscrapers, asphalt and less then 2 square meters per person does not sound appealing. I have a counter proposal to living like pickles in a pickle jar: less people.

    People who can't afford a large number of babies, should not make a large number of babies, thus population is reduced, thus less resources are used, there is less strain on the planet, a chance for a better future and a better life for everyone around.

  3. Idk if I live in the suburbs or the city. My town kinda has like alot of houses, but it's also around a college, and it has alot of apartments, and alot of shops.

  4. What about nature? We make a city, we need to destroy nature for the city and pollute the animals and waste

  5. No thanks. I don't wanna live in a concrete cage. I would rather left my job and leave city rather than living in appartement

  6. I hate how in many 'cities' in North America, you can't even walk to places. You're especially screwed if you're living in a suburb, better hope you have a car.

  7. That idea is actually making the world worse if we were have the option to sprawl or grow tall I would choose sprawl because that idea is terrible future technology advances if we don’t do that

  8. I do agree with most of the commentors here, that the compact and tightly sealed areas could be depressing and sad, and that most of us would rather live in a spacious suburb to be happy,

    but we all gotta remember, we didn't start building high up if we didn't need to.
    If it comes the time we all gotta move and we don't have a choice, we're all gonna be left picky and choosy.

  9. But I want a yard where I can have a pool or something like this, and in dense urban cores, there is no space for that!

  10. I choose sprawl. Every time. I'm not just a number that needs to be shoved in a corner and transported on a city officials transportation schedule, and fed the food the city decides and work the job the government dictates. I hate hearing the noise of the city and I can't stand when the neighbors are ridiculous. I need room to breathe, these cities are too crowded already.

  11. Boooh booh sorry it’s just if this change will happen I’ll be greatly scared because it bad to live in cities because there’s more homeless and dangers and people in cities and pollution

  12. This is Singapore.Lesser suburbs and more apartments..They’re also balancing the infrastructure and the plants.

  13. If only the cost of rent in the "tall" areas are actually affordable. A lot of people can't move closer to the city center because of greedy developers and a lack of rent regulation, so they have to pay the price with long commutes. Not everyone wants to live in the suburb.

  14. In Hong Kong its so densely populated that people pay 116 euros a month to live in a cage
    also I would prefer to live in a two story house with my own yard rather than in crowded apartment

    your brain is really messed up

  15. Ha not in Toronto it’s the opposite for pollution with almost no schools in downtown and oh a crap ton of pollution

  16. I live in a small place in the state of Tennessee. It’s not a suburb, but it’s pretty small. There aren’t many tall buildings, but we live in pretty tightly packed neighborhoods. So I don’t know what to think. I’m kinda in the middle.

  17. I'm from Hong Kong, and all we have here are tall buildings, taller buildings, and even taller buildings. There are some houses, but those are mostly for the rich people.

  18. Reading the comments makes me mad on how many people still want to live in suburbs and pollute the environment. Hasn'r the US heard of the word 'climate change'?

  19. mixed-use zones are really the key here. Stores and houses and workplaces do not NEED to be in totally different parts. These categories are arbitrary and it was old architectural ideas that ingrained that tradition into us so that we now have to drive EVERYWHERE. Seriously, that Target and Walmart and Costco don't all need to be right next to each other. Nobody is really benefiting. When I need to buy just some toilet paper or just an ingredient I forgot, I am willing to just go to the nearest store, rather than driving an extra half hour so I could choose between the 3 stores

  20. But I’m in year 5 and I know that If u live next to a sea and u have very tall buildings it can make rising sea levels.

  21. I dont think the idea of forcing people to move in citys is the way to go. I think the solutions to these problems shouldn't be "just hope people start to do it this way instead of this way".

  22. 1. MinuteEarth does not understand that we need to use our created energy needs to be used because then people will remove the energy factories then we would die

  23. Increasing gas prices works out to a tax that hits the poor hardest in practice. In California especially we can’t afford to live near where we work and would sure like to drive less distance per day. Adding further cost to our personal budgets would help only those rich enough to not care in the first place.

  24. Unfortunately if you build any denser than townhouses everything tends to gets more expensive. so pushing for city growth it'll increase poverty.

  25. 7 things bad about this video:
    1.they saying that they love citys
    2.too much jobs (there are more jobs outside the city)
    3.citys waste more energy then single houses
    4.citys aren't utopias
    5.most peple dislike living in towns
    6.gas is not cheep in most contrys
    7.higer dosen't always means its beter

  26. I feel that this video is a great source of information for children and adults who are looking to rediscover the main principles of a city both urban and suburban. Thank You ! I support your cause MinuteEarth

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