I am intrigued by your point which states that we could implement the ‘compact city’ concept (Vilojen and Howe, 2005) to increase green infrastructure to ensure the success of our cities. I would therefore like to explore whether the concept of compact cities is merely an outdated ideology in today’s society, and therefore cannot contribute to sustainable development.

Auclair states that “as the rapid growth of world population and its concentration in cities around the globe takes place, sustainable urban development has constituted a crucial element affecting the long-term outlook of humanity”, (1997 as cited by Chen et al 2008). Jose explains however that the concept of modern urban economies is to improve productivity by “concentrating markets for labour, goods and capital” (2013, pg. 139).

In terms of food production, Childe states that in the past a surplus of food was seen as a tradable commodity as it allows people to participate in activities other than food production or agricultural practices (1951 as cited by Jose et al, 2013). It therefore assumes that food production is perhaps out of fashion and deemed historical compared to the modern practices of today.

Gordon and Richardson comment that “many planners (and policymakers) advocate ‘compact cities’ as an ideal, in contrast to the reality of increasingly spread-out metropolitan development” (1997, pg. 95). Taking this point is it therefore not fair to assume that the compact city, like Ebenezer Howard’s New Town’s or Garden City movement   is merely an ideology, not a reality for solving the problems found in society today.

Indeed it would appear that in today’s society, which is dominated by large corporations and businesses, that productivity and competitiveness in the global market are essential for the success of our cities, not the ability to grow our own food. In today’s society, is sustainability not about the ability to participate in the global markets to ensure employment and economic growth?

Finally, there is also the issue of perhaps adopting a blanket approach to compact cities, Jose et al say “not all cities are alike, they do not confront the same challenges, nor do they pose the same threat to the environment (2013, pg. 140). Can we therefore assume that one concept, mirrored across the world would reap the same results? Or should we in fact be looking at a solution which incorporates the modern cities values and is assessed on a city by city or country by country basis?


Chen, H., Jia, B., Lau, S.S.Y. (2008), ‘Sustainable urban form for Chinese compact cities: Challenges of a rapid urbanized economy, Habitat International, Vol. 32, pp. 28–40

Gordon, P & Richardson, H. (1997), ‘Are compact cities a desirable planning goal?’, Journal of the American Planning Association, Vol. 63, No. 1, pp. 95-106

Jose, A. de Oliveira, P., Doll, C.N.H, Balaban, O.,  Jiang, P., Dreyfus, M., Suwa, A., Moreno-Peñaranda, R, Dirgahayani, P. (2013), ‘Green economy and governance in cities: assessing good governance in key urban economic processes’, Journal of Cleaner Production, Vol. 58, pp. 138- 152

Viljoen,A. & Howe, J. (2005), ‘Continuous Productive Urban Landscapes: Designing Urban Agriculture for Sustainable Cities’ , Routledge, London