Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Urban density and land utilization

In the context of Edward Glaeser's advocacy of skyscrapers, Richard Green has an excellent post where he argues that more efficient utilization of land space too can achieve densification.

His comparison of the different ways in which Manhattan and Paris have achieved density is illuminating,

"Notice how at this scale you can see the minor streets of Manhattan pretty clearly, but not the minor streets of Paris? Paris actually uses its land very efficiently--it does not waste space on streets or setbacks. As a consequence, while it can be livable (if not affordable) with 3/4 of the denisity of Manhattan and a small fraction of the number of tall buildings of Manhattan."

Paris from 50000 ft above

Manhattan from 50000 ft above

How does Mumbai compare. Here are two shots of Mumbai from the same height.

The layouts in both looks a lot similar to Manhattan. The first image too is closer to Manhattan in its road visibility. Also notice the large ash-colored patches, especially in the second image, which form the major slums. Mumbai is as inefficient as Manhattan in road utilization without being efficient with vertical growth driven land use density. The low FSI and large share of land area occupied by slums prevents it from effective utilization of land too.

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