Special Issue "Rethinking Urban Population Density and Sustainable Cities"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Urban and Rural Development".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 November 2021.

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Victoria A. Beard
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of City and Regional Planning, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA, 14850 and World Resources Institute, Washington, DC 20002, USA
Interests: comparative urbanization; inequality and poverty; informality; community-based planning; collective action; sustainable cities; water and sanitation infrastructure
Prof. Dr. Edgar Pieterse
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
African Centre for Cities, University of Cape Town, Bremner Building, Lower Campus, Lovers Walk, Rondebosch, Cape Town 7700, South Africa
Interests: radical social economies; sustainable infrastructure; adaptive urban governance; speculative urban experiments; urban innovation systems

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The COVID-19 pandemic underscores the tenuousness of our understanding of what constitutes sustainable, healthy, and livable cities. It makes us question statements like, “The argument has been proven, the data is clear: compact and connected cities are better for people and the environment” (https://blog.nationalgeographic.org/2016/03/31/compact-and-connected-cities-are-better-for-people-and-the-environment/). Compact city advocates argue in favor of increased urban population density on the basis of two powerful arguments: (1) climate change mitigation and energy efficiency gains, and (2) greater productivity and innovation derived from urban agglomeration. It has long been accepted that patterns of urban sprawl that characterize cities in the global North are unsustainable and to be avoided. It is equally well understood in the global South that urban population densities do not necessarily equate to healthy and livable cities. These different perspectives are further complicated when officials mandate “social distancing” to protect public health. Simply put, contextual (landscape, environment, and spatial economies) and qualitative (historical, cultural, social) dimensions of cities, urban living, and urban form matter. This Special Issue comprises papers that drill down, problematize, and rethink compactness and urban density as incontrovertible planning and design principles of sustainable cities.

Prof. Dr. Victoria A. Beard
Prof. Dr. Edgar Pieterse
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1900 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • compact cities
  • urban sustainability
  • livable cities
  • healthy cities
  • informality
  • climate change
  • urban planning
  • population density
  • rapid urbanization
  • urban expansion
  • urban infrastructure and services
  • housing

Published Papers (3 papers)

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Research

Article
Crowded Cities: New Methodology in COVID-19 Risk Assessment
Sustainability 2021, 13(13), 7167; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13137167 - 25 Jun 2021
Viewed by 394
Abstract
In this paper, we provide a novel approach to distinguish livable urban densities from crowded cities and describe how this distinction has proved to be critical in predicting COVID-19 contagion hotspots in cities in low- and middle-income country. Urban population density—considered as the [...] Read more.
In this paper, we provide a novel approach to distinguish livable urban densities from crowded cities and describe how this distinction has proved to be critical in predicting COVID-19 contagion hotspots in cities in low- and middle-income country. Urban population density—considered as the ratio of population to land area, without reference to floor space consumption or other measures of livability—can have large drawbacks. To address this drawback and distinguish between density and crowding, it is important to adjust for measures of floor space as well as open space and neighborhood amenities. We use a dataset on building heights, representative of cities worldwide, to measure densities based on floor area consumption per person as well as apply this measure to develop a COVID-19 hotspot predictive tool to help city leaders prioritize civic and medical resources during the pandemic. We conclude by outlining priority interventions that could enable city leaders and local governments to transform crowded cities into livable places. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Rethinking Urban Population Density and Sustainable Cities)
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Article
Densify and Expand: A Global Analysis of Recent Urban Growth
Sustainability 2021, 13(7), 3835; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13073835 - 31 Mar 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1011
Abstract
Serious concerns with accelerating global warming have been translated into urgent calls for increasing urban densities: higher densities are associated with lower greenhouse gas emissions, especially those related to vehicle kilometers traveled (VKT). In order to densify meaningfully in the coming decades, cities [...] Read more.
Serious concerns with accelerating global warming have been translated into urgent calls for increasing urban densities: higher densities are associated with lower greenhouse gas emissions, especially those related to vehicle kilometers traveled (VKT). In order to densify meaningfully in the coming decades, cities need to make room within their existing footprints to accommodate more people. In the absence of adequate room within their existing footprints, cities create more room through outward expansion, typically resulting in lower overall densities. We introduce a quantitative dimension to this process, focusing on the population added to a global stratified sample of 200 cities between 1990 and 2014. In three-quarters of the cities we studied, the areas built before 1990 gained population and thus densified significantly. On average, however, only one-quarter of the total population added to the 200 cities in the sample in the 1990–2014 period were accommodated within their 1990 urban footprints, while three-quarters were accommodated within their newly built expansion areas. That resulted in an overall decline in average urban densities during the 1990–2014 period despite the near-global, decades-old and rarely questioned consensus that urban expansion must be contained. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Rethinking Urban Population Density and Sustainable Cities)
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Article
The Impact Assessment of Increasing Population Density on Jeddah Road Transportation Using Spatial-Temporal Analysis
Sustainability 2021, 13(3), 1455; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13031455 - 30 Jan 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 665
Abstract
This paper aimed to measure and analyze the impact of temporal population density changes on transportation in Jeddah, a fast-growing city in Saudi Arabia. Local cooperative interpretation is first used to quantify the temporal population density and transportation changes for three sample districts [...] Read more.
This paper aimed to measure and analyze the impact of temporal population density changes on transportation in Jeddah, a fast-growing city in Saudi Arabia. Local cooperative interpretation is first used to quantify the temporal population density and transportation changes for three sample districts in Jeddah from 2007 to 2014. Three temporal indicators were developed to measure the impact of increasing population density on transportation: (1) District Road Density Index (DRDI); (2) District Parking Index (DPI); and (3) District Trip Index (DTI). Then, a statistical analysis was conducted to examine the temporal relationship between population density and transportation for the years 2007 and 2014, by performing a Pearson correlation analysis, a paired t-test and a bootstrap for paired samples test. The results of temporal indicators revealed a significant change in population density in Jeddah from 2007 to 2014, which seems to indicate intensified demand for transportation infrastructure. The Pearson correlation analysis indicated a strong positive relationship between population density variables and temporal impact indicators. Both a paired t-test and a bootstrap for paired samples test results indicated the effect of population density changes on transportation changes in Jeddah as a result of population density regulation changes in Jeddah from 2007 to 2014. This study presents sophisticated tools to study the impact of temporal population density change on transportation in a fast-growing city, which will facilitate the measurement and evaluation of urban sustainability. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Rethinking Urban Population Density and Sustainable Cities)
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