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Are we shaping cities for our children?

posted in: Lifestyle 5

The way we shape our cities today will play a vital role in how our children live their lives.

I’ve always been a believer in urban living. I’ve always hated the idea of a long commute. When I leave work, I like to be home as fast as possible. Up until early this year, my desire to get home was always one of convenience – basically, I didn’t like sitting in traffic.But, when our daughter was born, the importance of living close to work really got emphasized.

My current commute to work is about 18 minutes, perfect amount of time to listen to a Planet Money podcast. This means that before I leave for work I have time to play with our daughter and feed her. After work I have time to get home and take our daughter for a walk in the Belt Line, or over to our local butcher for some fresh food for dinner, play with her for a bit, bathe her and put her to sleep. This is a luxury that most people don’t have. I have friends and staff who leave for the office before their children wake up, and get home with only enough time to put their children to sleep – if they are lucky.

I am spending 36 minutes commuting per day, and I wouldn’t want it to be a minute longer – in fact, I’d love to get that number down to 10 minutes each way.

Last night my company – BuzzBuzzHome – was the sponsor of an event called “Toronto of the Future”.

Toronto of the Future

At this event, Toronto’s Chief Planner Jennifer Keesmaat gave an excellent speech, focusing on building livable and dense cities, where people can walk or bike to work, and live in urban settings. One thing she said that really caught my attention was, “The old city embraced cars, but the new city recognizes new ways to move people.” Keesmaat then went on to talk about an interview she did with Adrian Crook from Vancouver who lives in a ~1,000 square foot condo with his 5 children, and how incredible of a live he has built for his children. She obviously gets it.

I spent most of my evening chatting about urban design with the Principal of Audax Architecture, Gianpiero Pugliese. He coined the phrase “Medieval Modern”, which basically describes taking a look at the built form of medieval cities, and bringing those densities and patterns into the modern world. We talked about the joys of walking out of your front door, and immediately being able to get your household necessities, groceries, fresh food, and a vibrant life. It’s more than just building dense in the core, like CityPlace – it is about the lifestyle. He gets it.

Overview of the layout in Siena Italy
Pugliese then inserted modern architecture into the black-line of the medieval city, thus creating the feel for Modern Medieval

But, do builders and developers, the people who are literally building the future, “get it”? I think some do, especially with regards to mid-rise buildings. But, I also think that most are missing the mark, and just building for revenue today.

Hopefully, for our children, the ideologies of people like Jennifer Keesmaat and Gianpiero Pugliese will spread, and our children and our children’s children and our children’s children’s children, will have the ability to live in incredible and vibrant spaces with incredible public realms.

Know of anyone who you think is working towards such a future? Share them in the comments below.

5 Responses

  1. Arno m
    | Reply

    I sure am.

    • iSlutsky
      | Reply

      What do you do?

  2. Andrea
    | Reply

    We are working toward it. Absolutely a must! We are however, only part of the puzzle. Happy to share we are working with city of Toronto on their Growing Up initiative – studying how vertical communities can adapt to families with children. Our Islington Terrace community is part of this initiative. Love the adadable idea!

    • iSlutsky
      | Reply

      Yes! I’d love to hear more about it. This is more than just vertical communities, but how the building interacts at grade with the local environment, and how we work to build more vibrancy and life at grade.

  3. Mark
    | Reply

    Lanescape is working towards this by bringing laneway housing to Toronto on a massive, city wide scale.
    Check our the great success we’ve already had with City Hall at http://www.lanescape.ca

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