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The new city

Kjell A Nordström, Swedish researcher and economist
Caption: The term “15-minute city” was coined by innovation professor Carlos Moreno at the Sorbonne in Paris. The aim is to make cities more comfortable and smart to live in.

The city centre is on its way to being hollowed out and we are moving further out to suburbs and more rural locations. But cities are not dying. Rather, the logic for urban areas is about to be reshaped, says researcher and economist Kjell A Nordström.

We are undergoing a process with a new direction. While over the last hundred years people have flocked to cities to a degree we had never seen before, nowadays it is the ring around the city that seems to be filling up with people at an ever-increasing rate. At the same time, shops, restaurants and offices in the middle of the city centre are closing as the influx of people loses momentum and the new city takes the form of the classic deep-fried and hollow treat that gives its name to what is known as the “doughnut effect.” The result in the housing market has been sharp price increases in suburbs and holiday spots, while home prices in the central parts of large cities have been more stable.
“The trends actually existed before Covid-19, but the pandemic has really accelerated this development, as restrictions and demands to work from home quickly changed our way of life,” says Swedish researcher and economist Kjell A Nordström, who together with lecturer and former Swedish Foreign Minister Per Schlingmann discussed the new world after the virus, not least regarding changing
cities, in the book Corona Express.

There are no dire predictions of death for the world’s big cities, however. Instead, cities need to reinvent themselves to maintain their attractiveness and defeat pollution, stress and congestion. In Paris, Mayor Anne Hidalgo is pushing the concept of the “15-minute city,” and major cities in Europe are catching on in increasing numbers. The idea is that it should take no more than 15 minutes to get from your home to school, work, shopping and other urban experiences on foot or by bike. You are expected to leave your own “village within the city” only once a week.

A completely different logic will be required in constructing the so-called doughnut city. Offices are becoming more decentralised and there is a need for increased flexibility in transportation systems, with expanded public transport and micro-transport solutions, such as electric scooters. Companies that are enterprising in these areas have great business opportunities. Just think how a property developer can identify and create new, attractive areas, says Kjell A Nordström.

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