Themes for sustainable urban design have become more widespread in recent years. For this paper I will focus on three points of sustainable urban design.

  1. Building pedestrian cities, expanding the public realm

Car-oriented cities have many problems. The exhaust gas form vehicles are damaging the environment. People spend too much time on their way to work because of traffic jam. Moreover, the health problem coursed by sedentary lifestyle always ignored by people. Building pedestrian cities means there are more opportunities for people to doing exercises. Without a number of cars on the roads, more fresh air would be provided and less traffic jam in the cities (Gehl, 2010). Creating the integrated public transport systems is the other way for sustainable urban design. Cycling is also a good choice for people’s travel. For the social aspect, pedestrian cities are providing the good places for citizens’ social activities.


  1. Greening the urban environment

Green spaces are the important organ for the cities. They are carrying the self cleaning capacity of the citizens, as well as the aesthetics requirement. Extensive greenbelt and regional open space structure are the premise of the livable cities. Cities such as Helsinki and Copenhagen are spatially structured so that large wedges of green nearly penetrate the center for these cities. For instance, Helsinki’s large Keskuspuisto central park extends in an almost unbroken wedge from the center to an area of old growth forest to the north of city. It is 1000 hectares is size and 11 km long. (Beatley, 2010) Except the natural green, manual green spaces are also key issues for urban environment. More and more green rooftops are being built for the ecological systems of cities.


  1. Renewable energy and closed-loop cities

The traditional metabolism for cities is linear way. They inputs food, energy, goods and water and outputs organic waste, emissions, inorganic waste and water waste. It is not a sustainable way for cities’ development. For the closed-loop cities, they inputs food, renewable energy, goods and water; because of the self cleaning capacity, they can recycled the organic and inorganic waste and make zero emission for the environment (Schik, 2011). Energy is the key point for cities. To establish the sustainable energy systems, we should reduce the dependency of fossil fuel and develop alternative renewable energy. Solar and biological energy are the more extensive renewable energy in the future.

Cities, 28 (2011) 536-544. doi:10.1016/j.cities.2011.07.001


Beatley, T. (2010) “Planning for Sustainability in European Cities: A Review of Practice in Leading Cities”, The Urban Design Reader, 2nd Edition, pp.446‐457.

Gehl, J. (2010) Cities for People. London, Island Express.

Schik, W. (2011) “A next step for sustainable urban design in the Netherlands”, Cities, 2011(28), pp.536-544.