IN 1800 there were one billion people in the world and 2% lived in cities.
It took until 1930 to hit two billion, but by 1960 it was three billion.
In 2014 there are now seven billion people and 50% live in cities, which represents 1.5 million people being urbanised every week.
By 2025 there could be nearly 40 cities each with a population over 10 million and by 2050 the urbanisation is predicted to be up to 75% and the population up to 11 billion.
Why are these staggering numbers important?
Because cities occupy half a per cent of the land surface of the planet but consume 75% of the resources so they affect the environmental quality of all people.
What’s worse is that cities have grown with efficiency for industry and cars and least of all people.
When we lose our villages and street corners and parks we also lose opportunities for the social fabric and cohesion of our communities.
It is a dubious argument to say that we can potentially know lots more people over the internet or television, because learning facts about a person is fundamentally different to human interaction where there is a whole lot more going on.
Likewise, the built environment spaces we create are experiential for all of us and can be used to generate other shared actions and memories.
Major cities around the world are reclaiming their urban environments for their people and a great example of this is the rejuvenation of Melbourne’s laneways, which started 20 years ago. These issues are discussed in a documentary called The Human Scale, by Andreas Dalsgaard.
Turning cities back into environments for people is a hot topic at the moment and reinforces the importance of making our proposed new central business activity centre in Maroochydore, appropriate for our community.