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Thanks Li-Hsuan, for making a post to discuss the important topics of compact city and mixed-used development. I agree that compact urban form and mixed land use are determinants of liveability and urban sustainability. Although there are many architects and urban planners advocate the concept of compact city and working on the practice of sustainable urban design, their understandings of high density development seem to be different. Massive skyscrapers have been constructed in many Asian cities as a way to respond to the huge pressure of urban population. Malaysian architect Ken Yeang’s idea of green skyscrapers is to achieve sustainable development in such an environment. In contrast, many European cities are good examples to demonstrate that density and compactness do not have to be related to excessive high-rise structures. For instance, Amsterdam has a compact urban form of primarily low-rise buildings at more human scale. Based on a well-designed public transport system, the relatively high residential density with mixed land-uses in Amsterdam provide walkable places that encourage efficient use of infrastructure and less car dependency.


The benefits of compact city have been widely recognised, many European cities have introduced planning strategies to strengthen a tight urban core with significant residential population. Most of the new growth areas are situated adjacent to existing developed areas; and any construction plans outside these designated areas are strictly limited. In addition, the importance of efficient public transport and investments in other infrastructure are stressed. Freiburg in Germany, has prohibited the conversion of existing housing in city centre to offices or other uses; and new urban growth is developing along its tram system to make good use of public transport. Freiburg is a good example to show municipal government’s efforts in promoting urban development and maintaining traditional tight urban form at the same time.


  1. Beatley T, Planning for sustainability in European cities: A Review of Practice in Leading Cities, The City Reader, pp.446-457
  2. Urban Task Force, 1999, Towards an Urban Renaissance, Spon, London

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