Density Doesn't Measure the Success of Cities

Using density as a metric of urban quality is misleading and inadequate, according to an article on CityLab.
October 28, 2016, 6am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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La Citta Vita

"One thing that many planners, economists, and urban reformers agree on these days is that density is a good thing," begins an article by Garret Nelson.

But Nelson writes to debunk the prevailing wisdom, identifying a deep deception inherent to density: "Far from being a straightforward statistical measurement, it’s actually difficult to define and easy to manipulate."

Thus, Nelson encourages us to "better articulate what it is about density that we actually value," rather than just assuming density as the desirable outcome. Among the potential desirable outcomes of density, Nelson discusses reduced commutes, increased happiness, and agglomeration effects, among others, but also calls for more intensive studies of the spatial structure of cities.

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Published on Thursday, October 27, 2016 in CityLab
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