30 / 09 / 22 - 6 minute read
How long does it take you to get to the nearest grocery store? Can you easily walk your kids to school or cycle to the local park? What about accessing public transport or the local doctor?
These are just some of the amenities that are fundamental to everyday life. The problem is, too many city-dwellers must travel too far to reach too many of them.
Some urban planners believe it’s time for a rethink. Perhaps the most well-known among them is Carlos Moreno, a professor at Paris’ Sorbonne university and creator of the ‘15-minute city’ concept. According to Moreno, most of our daily urban necessities should be within a 15-minute walk or cycle ride. “Cities should converge life into a human-sized space rather than fracturing it into inhuman ‘bigness’ and then forcing us to adapt,” Moreno said in a 2020 TED Talk.
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Providing city-livers with easy access to a variety of amenities would reduce the time they need to travel – benefiting the environment and boosting the standard of living. This is why PATRIZIA has adopted the principles of the 15-minute approach to create an innovative way of assessing the quality of life at any given city location.
PATRIZIA Amenities Magnet 15 Minutes is the latest function to be added to the company’s Amenities Magnet tool. By analysing a database of more than 25 million ‘points of interest,’ the Magnet uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to rank geographical regions based on their surrounding amenities. Already able to track the development of amenities over time, the tool can now be used to assess how well a location meets the tenants’ specific needs.
“Cities are large and incredibly varied. The well-being of our tenants is not always a function of what a city as a whole can provide – it might be more specific to a certain area,” says PATRIZIA’s Head of
Data Intelligence, Dr Marcelo Cajias. “With this tool, we can rapidly obtain a clear, objective picture of the quality of life at a specific location.”
To create Amenities Magnet 15 Minutes, Cajias and his team divided common amenities into seven quality groups, such as commuting and living (see below). The tool then runs seven algorithms, one for each quality group, to produce a picture of how well a location may fulfil a tenant’s demand based on the amenities within a 15-minute radius – the time it takes to walk approximately a kilometre or cycle five kilometres.
As Cajias explains, Amenities Magnet 15 Minutes can now be used to support PATRIZIA in its investment decisions by providing a snapshot of the current level of amenities in a certain location. “It complements our existing knowledge and corroborates what we see in the market.”
1. Commuting (tram stops, fuel stations, etc.)
2. Living (parks, grocery stores, etc.)
3. Caring (healthcare, veterinary surgeons, etc.)
4. Working (hotels, supermarkets, etc.)
5. Educating (schools, museums, etc.)
6. Supplying (clothes stores, supermarkets, etc.)
7. Enjoying (bars, sports facilities, etc.)
To create the Amenities Magnet 15 Minutes, Cajias and his team divided common amenities into seven quality groups, such as commuting and living (see breakout box). The tool then runs seven algorithms, one for each quality group, to produce a picture of how well a location may fulfil a tenant’s demand based on the amenities within a 15-minute radius – the time it takes to walk approximately a kilometre or cycle five kilometres.
As Cajias explains, the Amenities Magnet 15 Minutes can now be used to support PATRIZIA in its investment decisions by providing a snapshot of the current level of amenities in a certain location. “It complements our existing knowledge and corroborates what we see in the market.”
The timing of this new tool is no accident. Moreno first published his 15-minute-city concept in 2016, but it wasn’t until four years later that his ideas truly captured the public’s attention. In February 2020, Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo made the 15-minute city, or ville du quart d’heure, a crucial part of her re-election campaign with the aim of reducing pollution and creating socially and economically mixed districts to improve the overall quality of life. She even appointed Moreno her ‘special envoy for smart cities.’
Shortly after, COVID-19 hit and as lockdowns were introduced, urban residents around the world suddenly had little choice but to stay in their immediate neighbourhoods – creating countless 15-minute cities.
This drew attention to the fact that 20th-century urban planning has carved up many cities - especially new ones - into zones, often separating residential areas from business, retail, industry and entertainment. Before this, walkable neighbourhoods were the norm until cars and large-scale public transport took over.
Timo Hämäläinen, an urban policy advisor from Helsinki, says this isn’t a new revelation. “The four ideals of ecology, proximity, solidarity and participation in Moreno’s 15-minute-city concept have been promoted by many urbanists in a variety of ways.” He cites Jane Jacobs’s influential 1961 book The Death and Life of Great American Cities as a notable example, which advocated for mixed-use development and walkable streets.
However, the pandemic highlighted this on a previously unseen scale, says Hämäläinen, particularly the lack of urban recreational amenities. “As many people continue with a more flexible working lifestyle, we have to ask ourselves: What kind of places do we want to spend our more localised lives in?”
The answer, it seems, is cities that increasingly fit the 15-minute ethos. In 2020, the C40 network of almost 100 world-leading cities championed the 15-minute city as a way to “build back better” after the pandemic. “It describes an aspiration for more vibrant, convenient, connected and equitable neighbourhoods,” the group said.
Under Anne Hidalgo’s mayorship, Paris has led the way, pledging more than €300 million to pedestrianise many parts of the city and improve cycle infrastructure. But it is far from the only example. Around the world, other cities are beginning to implement their own take on the 15-minute model, from the ‘human-scale city’ in Buenos Aires (ciudad a escala humana) to ‘20-minute neighbourhoods’ in Melbourne and ‘superblocks’ in Barcelona. Hämäläinen’s hometown of Helsinki is also striving to become a 15-minute city.
As well as creating cleaner and more easily navigable cities, a crucial part of making urban environments ‘15-minute friendly’ is greater use of multi-purpose spaces.
“Every square meter that’s already built should be used for different things,” says Moreno, such as repurposing school buildings to become sports hubs or cultural spaces in the evenings and weekends.
The goal isn’t to cram as much as possible into every possible 15-minute area or to discourage people from travelling, adds Hämäläinen. “It’s about having multiple layers of things close together and encouraging proximity to shape a rich and dynamic city full of interaction.”
Cajias explains that AI provides investors with an incredibly powerful new tool. “Using it, we can measure all of the strengths, risks and potential of an area with far greater insights than ever before,” says Cajias. “The final judgement relating to an investment location is a function of our local experience and our ability to interpret all the data available.”