Commentary

Inclusive, cooler cities: A different take on liveability

Inclusive, cooler cities: A different take on liveability
One way of combating heat in cities is enhancing urban infrastructure such as planting trees to increase shaded areas. TODAY file photo
Published: 4:02 AM, May 30, 2013
Updated: 6:50 PM, May 30, 2013
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In a discussion following the announcement here of the Green City Index Asia two years ago, it was suggested that Singapore could possibly top the list because it is very wealthy.

The response by Mr Khoo Teng Chye, Executive Director of the Centre for Liveable Cities (CLC), impressed me greatly — after a slight pause, he answered: “I think it is the other way around. Singapore is wealthy because it is environmentally conscious.” In this regard, I think Singapore has solved the chicken and egg conundrum in a rather convincing manner.

Planners have successfully ensured that Singapore is one of the world’s most liveable cities. Still, apart from achieving liveability, it is equally important to ensure that this liveability is sustainable.

PRINCIPLES FOR LIVEABLE CITIES

I teach a course on Future Cities by the Singapore-ETH Centre for Global Environmental Sustainability; students who attend this open online course are from several countries. For one of the assignments, they had to identify three cities they felt were most liveable — independent of the existing rankings. They also had to provide their definitions of liveability.

The result was astounding: Safety, mobility, openness and quality educational institutes were at the top of the list. More than 80 per cent of the cities students chose happened to be in countries with a low Gini coefficient.

The CLC recently partnered the Urban Land Institute to introduce 10 principles for liveable, high-density cities. A lot of the factors listed coincide with the criteria stated by the students of the Future Cities course.

However, there is more than one way to look at some of these criteria.

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