Chiara Lissandrello, Sébastien Bruyère
August 21, 2022
What makes a city liveable?
More than half the world’s population dwells in urban areas today, rising to 6 billion people by 2041. Our liveability experts explain why nature, culture, and human welfare are all needed to make cities liveable.
1. How do you define a liveable city?
Chiara Lissandrello – Lead consultant (Rome): A liveable city is founded on balancing society, environment, economy, and culture. It’s the actual implementation of sustainability at the urban level. While the exact combination will always vary, and economic elements are constant, a strategy for liveable cities should always seek a sustainable balance of all these components.
Sébastien Bruyère – Senior consultant (Marseille): The liveability of a place depends on the people within it, a bit like a weighted formula in mathematics. Professionally, I localise urban solutions to meet the liveability needs of specific communities. Personally, for liveability, I need a city to provide a variety of diverse opportunities.
2. How does nature influence the liveability of a city?
Chiara: Liveable cities give priority to natural capital. Liveable cities provide both organic and well-maintained green areas to help mitigate or reverse climate change risks and impacts, as well as to promote the psychophysical well-being of their citizens.
Leonard: Traditionally, cities are developed using grey infrastructure while turning away from the natural environment. We know now, to improve liveability, we must be inspired by natural ecosystems when designing urban spaces. It is hard to imagine people enjoying a community void of nature.
“We must stop seeing nature and open space as luxuries — everyone deserves access to nature and open space.”
3. How do social services affect the liveability of cities?
"Cities are in a great position to help fight social inequalities by providing access to housing and infrastructure, equal rights, and participation, as well as jobs and opportunities."
4. How does culture affect the liveability of communities?
Chiara: Cities, like Rome, are world-renowned as cultural capitals. Such cities’ cultural values often outweigh their unsustainable aspects. However, a liveable city should not rely solely on its history but keep seeking continuous improvements to guarantee a high-quality life for all its current and future citizens.
Sébastien: My favourite liveability feature of a city must be culture. Marseille, for example, has always been known to not follow traditional country values. Being seen as somewhat of a reject, however, shaped and strengthened the community’s identity. Now inhabitants feel very much part of that misfit identity. Even with the city’s large scale, this identity makes everyone feel at home. The culture is what helps me, and other residents, to stay patient about the slow development of other liveability dimensions.
"Its unquestionable that cities around the world are overwhelmed with cars. A liveable city is first a city with no cars!"
5. How does access to transport options affect liveability?
Chiara: Its unquestionable that cities around the world are overwhelmed with cars. A liveable city is first a city with no cars! De-focusing on cars supports a positive urban transformation in the medium- and long-term, with the possibility to rethink more human-centred spaces like parks, playgrounds, pedestrian routes, and bike lanes.
Leonard: Transportation was, is, and always will be a community service. But for a city to develop to be more liveable, it should offer digital, clean, intelligent, autonomous, and intermodal mobility options, with more walking and cycling spaces.
To contact the editor of this article, email: Mercedes Beaudoin, Senior Copywriter, Ramboll
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