6 characteristics of an urban village

Urban design plays a vital role in community building and promoting horizontal community engagement. This video and an associated report, New London Villages: Creating community, (Scanlon, Sagor, Whitehead and Mossa, 2016) explore the concept of villages within the city of London.

In it they identify six characteristics which might define a village within a larger city:

1. Small and intimate

  • The area can comfortably be covered on foot
  • The scale of the buildings and spaces is suitable and comfortable
  • The residential density can sustain a range of key services

2. Unique

Spatial identity

  • The area has defined boundaries and an identifiable centre
  • The area has its own atmosphere and sense of place
  • There are community landmarks

Traditions and collective memory

  • There are regular community events and festivals
  • Residents create collective memory

3. Designed for social interaction

  • There is ample public and green space, which is used in many ways
  • Facilities are provided for community events and everyday activities
  • The central hub generates social interaction, and there is a network of walkable routes

4. Locally driven and locally responsive

  • Residents are involved in managing the life of the village
  • There is a long-term vision that residents support
  • Leaders represent the community and reflect its concerns

5. Functional

  • The community is well served by both public and private transport
  • Core services are available locally
  • There is a mix of uses

6. A mixed community

  • There is a mix of ages, backgrounds, incomes and housing tenures
  • Residents know and trust each other
  • There are long-term residents who provide continuity. (Scanlon, Sagor, Whitehead and Mossa, 2016, p. 13)

Calling something a village can just be a marketing ploy but the above characteristics encourage design that can promote, not only a sense of community, but also diversity and environmental sustainability.

The video and report also discuss the six characteristics in the context of Kimbrooke Village, the redevelopment of a housing estate in London.

Thanks to Emma Molton from Camargue for passing these on to me.

Reference

Scanlon, K., Sagor, E., Whitehead, C., & Mossa, A. (2016 ). New London Villages: Creating community. London: The London School of Economics and Political Science. Available from http://www.lse.ac.uk/geographyAndEnvironment/research/london/docs/FINAL-Villages-report-28.06.2016.pdf

If you liked this post please follow my blog (top right-hand corner of the blog), and you might like to look at:

  1. A story of two communities
  2. What is asset-based community-driven development (ABCD)?
  3. What is community capacity building?
  4. How painting can transform communities
  5. Encouraging cycling
  6. Angela Blanchard – Building on the strengths of communities

About Graeme Stuart

Lecturer (Family Action Centre, Newcastle Uni), blogger (Sustaining Community), environmentalist, Alternatives to Violence Project facilitator, father. Passionate about families, community development, peace & sustainability.
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