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Housing the Coming Billions in Cities | Anthony Flint

“It’s really about growing urban populations,” says Anthony Flint. “It’s about making our cities world wide the best and highest form of civilization that they can be.”

The world’s population is expanding at an astounding rate. More than ever, especially in the developing world, people are flocking to urban centers in search of a better life. “It is important for us to look beyond our own cities and communities and think about the big cities, the mega cities, primarily in the developing world, where urban planning is just absolutely critical.”

Using the architect Le Corbusier as an example, Flint explains how we can learn from the past what it will take to create stronger, more sustainable cities. An innovator who was ahead of his time, Le Corbusier was not afraid to break from tradition. In anticipation of the coming growth of urban populations, he developed schemes to house large numbers of people. The public housing high-rises inspired by him have been disastrous, and it is critical to learn from the mistakes of the past, Flint says. But it’s also important, he says, to retrieve more positive guidance for the 21st century city — Le Corbusier’s appreciation of scale, and his design innovations in efficient housing and density.

The changing demographics of today’s world are causing a shift towards smaller, more efficient living areas. Just as New York planned and built a grid in the 1800s in response to a growing population, it is crucial today to think ahead. “There is an urgent need to create efficiency and density in housing while creating satisfying places to live,” Flint explains.

Planning and implementing successful urban spaces will require collaboration between politicians, business leaders and creative designers. Policy makers must work with designers and stakeholders to avoid the pitfalls of the past and build our collective future. Flint is optimistic, but realistic. “This is very much in real time and on the fly,” he says. “It will take flexibility, a little bit of creativity and innovation and experimentation.”

And a lot hangs in the balance. “What’s at stake really is the future of the planet,” says Flint.

Learn more about Anthony Flint’s work HERE.