15-Minute City: Decomposing the New Urban Planning Eutopia

This article examines the concept of “15-minute city” which is generally described as a city “whereby most residents can fulfil their daily needs and activities within 15 min of walking or cycling” (p. 3).

Date added 17 August 2021
Last updated 17 August 2021

This article examines the concept of “15-minute city” based on case studies from three cities that have adopted this new model of visioning their city. The concept is generally described as a city “whereby most residents can fulfil their daily needs and activities within 15 min of walking or cycling” (p. 3). As a model, it aims to reconnect people with their local areas and neighbourhoods. Therefore, in physical planning, 15-minute cities are based on factors that are crucial to urban design such as accessibility, walkability, density, land use mix and design diversity.

Methodologically, the paper bases its evaluation framework on three key factors; inclusion, safety and health as the authors argue these attributes strengthen the concept of neighbourhoods as a ‘place’. It is emphasised in the paper that:

  • Inclusion relates to non-inclusiveness, usually in contexts of gentrification, ghettoization and socio-spatial segregation phenomena, and the “right to the city”.
  • Safety relates to the safety of urban environments, but in COVID-19 terms, also to something more than the fight against crime, such as safety in mobility which is also vital in urban planning policies.
  • Health relates to the social and spatial health of urban environments. “The World Health Organization’s definition of a healthy city refers to ‘the city that continuously creates and improves the natural and social environments and expands the social resources, which enable people to support each other in carrying out all the functions of life and to develop their potential to the maximum’” (p. 5).

The article found that the “15-minute city” concept is not a radical idea, however, and does not work as a ‘one size fits all’ solution. It promotes bottom-up approaches to citizen wellbeing and proposes an alternative way of maximising local resources and the allocation of these. The article concludes that the concept implies a shift in planning for proximity rather than accessibility.