Why do people want to live in the city?

Monday 16 October 2017

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Why do people want to live in the city?

Why do we want to live in the city? Where does that almost mythical attraction come from? The city beckons. But the city is also too busy, too expensive and too small. And yet, despite all the inconveniences, we want to live in the city. Why?

Living in the city means waiting a year for a parking permit. Running the risk of being run over by groups of tourists on bicycles without any knowledge of the traffic rules and without even knowing how a bicycle really works. And yet, that same city is where it’s all happening; where people live and work can be found. And where you can still order sushi at 3:00 a.m.

More and more people in the city, but there are fewer homes in the city centre
Seventy percent of the world population is expected to live in the city by 2050. The four major cities in the Netherlands are also continuing to grow. While an increasing number of people are moving to the big cities, fewer and fewer people live in the city centre. This is due to the high prices in the city centre, poor accessibility and increasing tourism. And, moreover, because the inner city is increasingly becoming the location for offices and shops. All in all, the atmosphere in the inner city is changing and housing is being pushed more and more to the outskirts. With gentrification as a result: only well-off residents and users still have access to the centre. The inner cities are becoming less colourful and more of the same.

Give the city back to its users
A vibrant inner city is an inner city where different functions are united. A city that changes colour during the day. More and more cities are separated in different ‘islands’ which defines the atmosphere. Take the office district, for example. It’s busy and dynamic between 9 and 5, but deserted in the evening. That is why we have to get rid of those islands. We should be committed to dynamic neighbourhoods where working, living, shopping and relaxing come together. Where an office is used in the evening as a yoga studio, for example. That versatility immediately brings humanity. It creates social meeting places. Places where you can get together with people who would never come to your island otherwise. Let’s give the city back to its users and bring the inner city back to life.

What does this mean for Amsterdam?
Living, shopping, working and relaxing are also fragmented in Amsterdam. Living in IJburg, working on the Zuidas and shopping and relaxing in the centre. Why not live on the Zuidas, bring the children to day care, and go to work in one of the offices? And do everything by bike! That way, you solve the mobility problems in one go and the neighbourhood becomes a nice place to stay after 5. As a result, the whole area becomes more attractive and prevents vacancy. The plans are there. Approximately 2,000 people now live there, hoping that it will increase to 13,000 bv 2030. But to make the area more attractive, more is needed than the development of beautiful newly built homes. A better outdoor space, for example, with more green. But also good shopping areas with a focus on the daily needs of the residents and vibrant catering concepts as well. In short, to really enjoy life in the city we need to return to generalist urban districts instead of specialised fragmentation.


Jasmijn Prinssen for InAmsterdam


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