Richard Florida Interviews Solly Angel

+ Brandon Fuller

To reach sustainable levels, densities in Dhaka will have to decline.
To reach sustainable levels, densities in Dhaka will have to decline.

Richard Florida, Director of the Martin Prosperity Institute and Editor at Large for The Atlantic Cities blog, recently caught up with Urbanization Project scholar Solly Angel to talk about Solly’s new book, Planet of Cities. Here’s an excerpt from the interview, which is well worth reading in full.

RF: I am intrigued by your “sustainable densities proposition,” which states that the density of some cities is too high and should decrease, some are sustainable, and some are too low and should increase. Thus, a denser city is not necessarily better. Can you explain how this proposition works?SA: Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, is an example … It is overcrowded and there is not enough living and working space per person. It needs to expand and suburbanize so that its densities can be reduced.Cities in most developing countries (and in some European countries) are in the sustainable range. They allow for adequate living and working space, and yet are dense enough to support public transport, so as to limit energy use and carbon emissions.A large number of cities in the U.S., Australia, and Canada contain vast areas where densities are too low to support public transport … These densities can be said to be unsustainable: they use more than a fair share of energy and they generate more than a fair share of carbon emissions. I use the expression ‘fair share’ here in the sense that if everyone used that much energy and generated that much carbon, the planet would not be sustainable.

Image by United Nations Photo.

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