Is the purpose of cities to create human well-being?

It never occured to me to wonder if a city could have a goal.

And yet in retrospect, it seems the obvious first question to consider if one were to approach the design of urban environments. It should have been obvious to me anyway, given that my background in interaction design is grounded in a method called goal-directed design, a method that seeks to first to identify the goals of any artifact or system to be designed. And yet it was an eye-opener to me to read this piece on Daily Good about the revitalization of Bogata, Colombia.

Enrique Peñalosa, the Mayor of Bogota, speaking on the subject of the urban revitalization projects that he’s undertaken during his term, is quoted as saying,

“If we in the Third World measure our success or failure as a society in terms of income, we would have to classify ourselves as losers until the end of time,” declares Peñalosa. “So with our limited resources, we have to invent other ways to measure success. This might mean that all kids have access to sports facilities, libraries, parks, schools, nurseries.”

Extending that idea later in the piece, the analyst David Burwell of  Project for Public Spaces describes Peñalosa’s perspective: “He views cities as being planned for a purpose—to create human well-being.”

Full article here: Can We Design Cities For Happiness?

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