experiment with a mission statement

My mission is to optimise the mode of optimum benefit to our health, wealth and planet, and to dismantle the hegemony of car-centric planning that does more to hurt walking and public transport. The centrepiece of my enterprise is a new architectural and town planning paradigm, comparable in scope to Howard’s Garden Cities or Le Corbusier’s Ville Radieuse—only mine has taken more people and time to refine. Universities, 100+ senior students, peer reviewers, museums, large property developers and government agencies from around the world have contributed to our model with support, ideas and critique. This is not about setting unreachable targets, but imagining an ideal from which to work backward and forward—which is how urban design has always been practiced.

The ages of the pedestrian, then the train, and most recently the car, all gave rise to unique building types and particular models of land subdivision. The building types and models of land subdivision that we have devised would be particular to an age of bike transport and a major step toward circular economy cities.

At the same time the model serves the selfishly rich. They would be even richer if their cities were faster. City centres where cycling now dominates (Groningen in the Netherlands for example) provide the fastest door-to-door trip times relative to population. Our modelling shows how this speed advantage can be carried through to cities of up to six million. Density and a permeable ground plane are only the start. Streets will need to be contoured and covered for cyclists, and the buildings designed for our bikes to come with us—just like our shoes.

It may be a grand scheme but it can occur in real cities—albeit in an emulsive fashion at first. But isn’t that the way pedestrian, train and car-centric models manifest themselves too? They’re not fully blended. They’re marbled.

The ideal testbeds for a bicycle urbanism are brownfields and greyfields. They are large, flat and can be easily linked to each other with greenways.

The protagonist of this vision is a mother who needs to go shopping while her baby is sleeping. That would be awkward in a district designed around driving, train travel or walking. But in a city designed around bakfietsen (box bikes) she could shop any time and get exercise in the process. Her routes would be covered from rain. Store layouts would allow her to manoeuvre her bike like a trolley. Apartment blocks would have spiralling floor plates and aerial streets that lead to the ground. If she lived in a district from the age of the bike, she would have time in her day to relax, or be more productive than she already is.

I’m a theorist/practitioner with over 40 scholarly publications including 3 books and a practice career that has seen him be the architect in charge of 4 public housing estates and a 2.4 hectare park in Singapore. The architectural propositions on this website are more than just concepts. They comply with Australia’s building code and the highest standards of low energy building. Based on current discussions we hope soon to announce our first projects: early instalments in the purpose-built bicycle city.

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