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Revolutionizing Urban Living With the 15-Minute City


Find out how neighborhoods and entire cities are being redesigned to improve residents’ quality of life, with real estate developments – like Residencial Ilha de Páscoa, the latest addition to Qriar City‘s portfolio – playing a key role in this trend


Have you ever stopped to consider whether you can access your daily living essentials within a mere 15-minute walk from your doorstep—that is, workplace, educational institutions, healthcare services, shopping options, and recreational and leisure opportunities?

This is the concept of the “15-Minute City” that has emerged as a powerful response to the challenges of rapid urbanization and climate change. The 15-Minute City is a visionary urban concept aimed at creating cities where residents can meet their daily needs at a comfortable distance reached by foot or other active modes, like bicycles. The idea is to minimize problems common to large urban centers, like traffic and pollution, while improving safety and health. 

The 15-Minute City concept represents a contemporary iteration of the “neighborhood units” idea developed by American planner Clarence Perry in the 1920s. Perry’s vision emphasized self-contained neighborhoods where residents could access most of their needs within a short walk. This idea recently re-emerged through Carlos Moreno, a Franco-Colombian urbanist, who amplified and adapted the concept to address modern urban challenges, emphasize sustainability, and promote eco-friendly transportation modes.

Carlos conceived it by reimagining how cities are organized, focusing on developing them to be more human-centered by promoting mixed-use spaces and making neighborhoods less reliant on cars. “The rhythm of the city should follow humans, not cars,” he explained in a TED Talk. This method involves examining both a person’s place of residence and their commonly traveled local destinations to meet individual daily life requirements. 

Among the numerous benefits the 15-Minute City offers for its residents are increased accessibility and air quality, an enhanced sense of community, and improved physical and mental well-being. 

The Blueprint for Urban Transformation

A 15-Minute City is designed around the following fundamental principles:

  • Mixed-Use Zoning: Residential, commercial, and public spaces are strategically placed close to one another, eliminating the need for long commutes. This is complemented by mixed-use buildings, with residences, offices, stores, and public spaces, such as gardens or squares.
  • Walkable and Bike-Friendly Infrastructure: Streets are designed to prioritize pedestrians and cyclists, making it safe and convenient to travel on foot or by other micro-mobility vehicles.
  • Public Transportation: High-quality public transport systems, including buses, trams, and subways, are integrated into the city’s fabric.
  • Local Businesses: Various businesses, from grocery stores to healthcare facilities, are easily reachable.
  • Green Spaces: Parks and recreational areas are accessible and encourage outdoor activities and community engagement.
Source: 15 minutes life circle, Newcastle University 

From Concept to Reality: Global Cases

A paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, which analyzed data from the 418 most populous urban areas in the United States, showed that the average American urban resident completes only 12% of their journeys starting from their homes within a 15-minute walking distance. It also shows that U.S. urban residents typically cover an average distance of seven to nine miles to fulfill their commercial and recreational requirements, considerably exceeding the distances endorsed by advocates of the 15-minute city concept. Meanwhile, in many Brazilian cities, people spend an average of two hours daily stuck in traffic.

These issues highlight that every city faces unique challenges, but the underlying message remains consistent: urban spaces need to be rethought and redesigned to enhance the quality of life for their residents. Consequently, many cities worldwide have embraced the 15-Minute City concept or similar ideas, offering a solution to mitigate these and other issues. The approaches vary: some cities are experimenting on specific neighborhoods, while others are attempting a city-wide transformation.

Paris, France: the 15-Minute City concept started to be implemented in the French capital a few years ago by expanding bicycle lanes and banning cars from certain streets, such as the iconic riverbank road along the Seine. More recently, they adopted the approach of having schools serve as “capitals” within each neighborhood, transforming schoolyards into multi-purpose public spaces and making them accessible for various activities beyond traditional class hours.

Portland, U.S.: The city adopted a “20-minute neighborhood” as a central urban planning concept. To achieve this ambitious goal for 90% of the residents by 2030, the city has taken several steps, including redesigning streets to serve as community spaces, expanding pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure as well as trail networks, fostering the growth of arts and cultural facilities as creative hubs, and promoting affordable housing development in areas already rich in amenities. As a result, Portland witnessed a 20% drop in car traffic, leading to an additional $1.2 billion staying in the local economy

Brasília, Brazil: The capital of Brazil was ahead of its time when it was designed in the 1960s. One of the factors that sets Brasília apart is its innovative approach to urban planning, particularly the use of neighborhood units, which cluster essential services and amenities within a compact area, typically covering every four blocks. 

Residencial Ilha de Páscoa: the latest addition to Qriar City‘s portfolio, located in Samambaia (on the outskirts of Brasília), embodies this tradition. Its prime location provides residents easy access to an array of services within a 450-meter radius, including a supermarket, metro station, notary office, school, police station, permanent street fair, and a public emergency care unit. Additionally, as a mixed-use property, the ground floor of the building is designated for one more commercial establishment intended to cater to the residents’ unique needs. 

By situating their new real estate project amidst so many nearby amenities, Qriar City—a company within 2Future’s portfolio—actively contributes to creating a more people-centric urban environment. In doing so, they wholeheartedly align with the principles of the 15-Minute City, further exemplifying their commitment to fostering more sustainable communities.

These examples underscore the importance of tailoring urban planning to the specific geographic size, needs, and layout. While there is no one-size-fits-all solution, the successful implementation of 15-Minute Cities worldwide demonstrates the feasibility and potential of this transformative concept, offering a pathway towards better and healthier urban living.

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