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Reviving the 'urban village' for a more resilient future

I wrote this latest article for Newsroom, drawing on a book I am currently working on, and it was the most-read article on Newsroom over the weekend!

In 1912, Lottie and Howard moved into their new family home in Mount Albert, which Howard, a handy kind of fellow, had finished building just in time for the birth of their third child, my grandmother. Like most inner suburbs of the time, Mount Albert was effectively an urban village – a self-contained community with most services and amenities within walking distance. Like most householders at the time, Lottie and Howard grew their own vegetables and fruit, and preserved or exchanged the surplus with neighbours.
For their other needs, the Mount Albert shops were just a 10-minute walk away from their home, and included a green grocer, butcher, haberdashery, a barber, a dentist and nearby, a doctor. For longer trips elsewhere in Auckland, a tram ran along nearby New North Road into central Auckland, and from there almost any suburban destination could be reached by combination of tram ride and foot. By 1938, the city was serviced by an extensive network of electric trams that ran along most of the city’s major roads, totalling 71km in length.

I go on to argue that,

Urban villages can be created by better planning of our inner city suburbs: so that they have a mix of retail and hospitality, commercial services, health, education and social services, parks, community gardens and public realm spaces amidst a mix of housing types – single-person apartments through to larger terraced homes, at a range of affordability and tenure type. Transport is critical: to function as urban villages, communities need to be close to public transit – reliable train or bus services – and have streets and pathways that are safe to walk, cycle or use other forms of active mobility for the young, old, and those with disabilities.

Click here to read the full article on Newsroom.


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