The city of the future and World Population Day

Our population is growing, and along with it, urbanization is picking up pace. 70% of us are estimated to live in cities by 2050. In 1989, the UN made the 11th of July a day for the billions of us living here. World Population Day is an opportunity to pause, a day to consider our direction, responsibilities, and actions. It is a day to rethink, redesign, and redefine our future. What would a future with inclusive communities in sustainable cities on a healthy planet look like?

Pandemic health crisis, worldwide recession, and social inequality

Currently, our cities are at the center of a pandemic, a health crisis that has threatened the wellbeing and way of life for everyone. We are facing a worldwide recession, while at the same time being forced to consider culture’s definition of justice and equality.

Many cities are seeing trust deteriorate, rising loneliness, more conflicts, and a vanishing sense of community. At Vestre, we have seen first hand that design can be a solution. With design as a tool for change, we can strengthen communities and shape culture by improving our surroundings.

Fighting crime with bright colors and edible plants

Like in Brixton, London, where the public space outside Southwyck House, had been overtaken by street drinkers. Was it still labeled as an anti-social environment by residents and local businesses after the addition of plants and colorful seating?

The neighborhood saw a significant reduction in crime after making caring meeting places and planting beds with edible plants. Having attractive places in the cities where people can meet, talk, and better understand each other, makes safer neighborhoods and better communities.

Culture and environments design human beings

Studies have come to the same conclusion about the importance of our environment. Together with the culture we live in, it has a greater impact on our health and wellbeing than lifestyle, behaviors, and genetics.

The studies highlight the importance of access to green spaces, places to sit, noise levels, and air pollution. Other impacts are from culture and the social environment, such as loneliness, crime, and social inequalities.

Human beings design culture and environments

As soon as we build something, as soon as we make changes to our environment, as soon as we connect, as soon as we interact; we are participating in establishing culture.

When we decide what our cities should look like, when we give someone more or less access, when we make a design that includes or excludes, when we allocate budgets; we make choices for the kind of people our cities produce, the people we will become.

Opportunity cost with exclusive environments and hostile design

Vestre frequently gets requests for spikes to keep homeless away, to design furniture that exclude entire groups of people. Vestre always rejects those who request hostile design. Now more than ever, we believe equal access to seating is a human right, and it sends a signal that you are in a friendly city, an environment where you are safe, welcome, and included.

Because when culture and cities exclude somebody, when we keep someone away from the chance to contribute, we lose the benefit of their contribution. A contribution that could make things better. A breakthrough innovation. A person's care, kindness, and generosity.

Vestre makes democratic furniture for social sustainability

At Vestre, our desire and purpose is to create caring meeting places. Social and inclusive spaces where people can come together – transcending social, cultural, and economic differences. When people come together, trust and community spirit arise.

When we design solutions for our cities, we design them to be better for the environment and for the lives of the people who inhabit them. To make design available for everyone is our way to contribute to socially sustainable cities and communities.

How will you contribute to a better future?

11th of July is an exceptional opportunity to rethink the organization of our society, what our cities should look like, and consider how we wish to do things differently in the future.

So, how will you contribute? How do you envision our future? What is the one thing you could do today to help our cities become hubs for wellbeing, equality, and inclusion?

Seize World Population Day to make choices and take action for a better future for us and generations to come.