Beyond Megacities: Rethinking Density
May 5 | 9am PDT | 12pm EDT
Location, location, location. Repeat twice daily to justify some of the most troubling trends in modern urban development. We use location – and the idea that there's a scarcity of lively, walkable, employment-rich city centers – to champion density as simply good urbanism, while rarely stopping to consider what “density” really means. The pandemic has revealed the stark contrast between density sheltering affluent residents in locations with an abundance of amenities, and crowding designed to trap forgotten residents on the peripheries of cities — density that’s deadly.
Future-proofing our cities after COVID-19 demands a more nuanced conversation than heralding the triumph of the mega-city. Grappling with the densities of banlieues, favelas, slums, and legacy cities requires understanding how these places actually work, acknowledging what they lack — adequate housing and healthcare, both contributors to the spread of disease — and helping residents help themselves.
On this episode of The Big Rethink, we explore density’s role in the pandemic and how to better protect marginalized residents on the edges — the ones who were out of sight and out of mind until they started dying. We’ll discuss what constitutes good urban density, how to prioritize vulnerable populations, and whether COVID-19 could mark a turning point toward more polycentric urban development.