How about not spending several hours every day commuting to and from work, driving children to extracurricular activities and doing shopping? And how about not driving tens of kilometers on the weekend looking for a place to rest outside the city? Utopia? Not necessarily. 15-minute cities are a solution.
A year and eight months over the entire professional life, over 415 hours a year, nearly 35 hours a month and over 8 hours a week – this is how much time the inhabitants of Warsaw spend on average in their cars commuting to work 5 days a week. The situation is just slightly better in other big cities, such as Cracow, Poznan or Wroclaw. It is no surprise that during the COVID-19 pandemic, when most companies decided to switch to remote work, not having to commute to offices, which are often located in districts far away from a place of residence, every single day, many people felt a huge relief and appreciated the time they saved for themselves and their relatives. However, it is not a solution to congested agglomerations in the long term. This is why the concept of 15-minute cities has been increasingly popular, particularly recently.
History of the concept
What is the idea of a 15-minute city actually about – where does it originate and is it possible to implement it under any conditions?
For the first time, it was presented in 2016 by Professor Carlos Moreno from Columbia who works at Paris-Sorbonne University. Initially, it referred to Paris, more specifically, freeing the banks of the Seine from motor traffic. Although nearly all urban planners and people designing and planning space and investments in cities, including in Poland, have managed to familiarize themselves with the concept since then, it has become much more popular over the last two years when the world, due to the pandemic, started to pay considerably more attention to lifestyle and a way of living, work-life balance as well as the possibility of ensuring safety of city inhabitants by providing them with access to extended networks of bicycle paths or more extensive green areas.
The main assumption of the 15-minute city concept is that everything that a human being needs for everyday activities:
- service points,
- medical facilities,
- schools and preschools,
- sports facilities,
should be located in the immediate vicinity, preferably within a distance from a house or an apartment that can be covered in a quarter on foot or by bike, not by car. This project is not easy to implement, particularly in the case of the existing urban fabric of many European cities. In order to be able to implement the idea of a 15-minute city, it is necessary to remodel urban infrastructure and create multifunctional housing developments or entire districts. This means resigning from the model that is so common in many cities, where some districts serve as the so-called “bedroom” where inhabitants only sleep after many hours at work, other districts are business hubs where new high-rise office buildings are popping up like mushrooms, while some other districts, most often those located in the suburbs or behind the borders of the agglomeration, are industrial hubs with numerous warehouses or manufacturing facilities.
A city within a city
Difficult to implement does not have to mean impossible. The first examples of investments which fit the idea of a 15-minute city perfectly are appearing in Poland as well. It is also a reply to the needs of the young generation which does not want to spend their life in traffic jam while commuting to work, but wants to take advantage of the urban infrastructure instead – in the form of bicycle paths, public transportation as well as attractive green areas enabling them to spend time with their families, human friends or four-legged friends in various ways. People who are in their 20s and 30s now like to have a wide range of entertainment, cultural and gastronomy offerings – they just like to have a choice. Such opportunities are provided by living in Resi4Rent housing developments. Projects by the largest entity offering subscription apartments in the Polish PRS market are implemented in city centers or in districts with a well-developed commercial and services infrastructure. Subscription apartments from Resi4Rent guarantee the comfort of living in a completed fully-equipped apartment. Moreover, Resi4Rent residents have a unique opportunity to participate in many additional events and attractions free of charge, which the company organizes with a view to creating an integrated community in its neighborhoods. Speaking of projects for residents that have already been implemented, we should mention yoga classes, workshops with a dog behaviorist, celebrating the Neighbors’ Day when all residents could taste delicious coffee, spring bicycle maintenance, a collection for homeless animals or, more recently, planting trees together on the International Day of Peace. And this is just the beginning. Do you want to know what other plans we have? Start living in Resi4Rent.