The city of the future is facing major social challenges. Demographic change, the pluralization of cultures and lifestyles, and a growing social inequality manifested through spatial fragmentation are transforming urban society. By 2050, when the world’s population is predicted to peak at 9 billion, it’s expected that 75 percent of all humans will live in cities. In addition to having a profound impact on the planet’s ecological balance, the form that this new wave of urban construction takes will shape the human conditions for billions of people growing up and growing old in cities.
City leaders have an opportunity to make a difference, building on the spatial and social DNA of their cities. A well-run and designed city represents the nexus of good planning, architecture and local politics. The rediscovering of the fragile thread that links physical order to human behaviour will be the main task of enlightened leadership in the future.
Richard Burdett is Professor of Urban Studies, and director of LSE Cities (London School of Economics) and the Urban Age Programme. His research interests focus on the interactions between the physical and social worlds in the contemporary city and how urbanisation affects social and environmental sustainability. Professor Burdett was Global Distinguished Professor at New York University from 2010 – 2014. He has been involved in regeneration projects across Europe and was Chief Adviser on Architecture and Urbanism for the London 2012 Olympics. He is co-editor of “The Endless City” (2007),” Living in the Endless City” (2011) and “Transforming Urban Economies” (2013).