The idea of a 15 minute city has been played around within recent years. Let’s imagine a local area with working spaces, communal green spaces, cafes, sports centres and medical services, incorporated in parallel with residential living spaces. What once were busy London roads are now walk paths covered in benches and greenery, corporations now rent desk spaces scattered throughout the city – work comes to you. Workers can occasionally choose to go into their company’s headquarters for important meetings and more specific tasks.
The concept was popularized by Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo and inspired by French-Colombian scientist and university professor Carlos Moreno (Born 16 April 1959) whose awards include: Knight of The Order of the Legion of Honour (2010), Prospective Medal | French Academy of Architecture (2019), OBEL Award (2021) and International Leadership Award (2021). Known for his reflections and initiatives focused on smart and sustainable cities, Moreno proposed the idea that urban residents should be able to fulfil 6 essential functions within a 15 minute walk or bike ride from their home. Essential functions would include Living, working, commerce, healthcare, education and entertainment. The global COVID pandemic has boosted the influence and popularity of this concept by forcing people back to their neighbourhoods and restricting travel. This has led residents to rediscover their local communities and minimise travel to meet their needs.
The way we work has shifted dramatically and working from home is now highly popular. The 15-minute city concept is, therefore, more viable than ever. Digitalization has been a key component for this model; reducing the need to commute with access to technology such as virtual communications and e-commerce. The question now becomes how do we make this model work for everyone, and how can we include people whose jobs do not fit the remote working lifestyle? Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has said ‘This pandemic hasn’t just reflected the inequalities, it’s amplified them. The problem is only those in managerial positions or with office jobs will have the luxury or choice to work from home. If you’re a manual worker, drive a bus or do social care then you don’t have the choice.’ As we have slowly transitioned back into a sense of ‘normality’, Khan fears a ‘bagel’-type recovery where people avoid the city centre and stick to their surrounding communities, threatening the joy and excitement Central London has to offer.
The 15 minute city concept is not far from our current reality, some may even find themselves living like this already without realising. New developments are on the rise throughout London such as Royal Warwick Square - Kensington, The Auria - Notting Hill, Canary Wharf, Elephant & Castle, Croydon and more. These establishments offer quick access to libraries, healthcare facilities, cinemas, shopping centres, restaurants, gyms and communal open air spaces. Local living is becoming the way forward however, further commitment and transformation of the city is still required to cement this lifestyle.
The pandemic has led us to rediscover the heart of our communities. I am confident the combination of remote working, digitalization and facilities in new developments will strengthen local communities, culture and business which will slowly knit a network of rich and flourishing neighbourhoods across the capital.
Will these factors influence your next property purchase?