The Cities Of Tomorrow: Kent Larson On Adapting To An Expanding Population
One of the biggest challenges associated with densely populated city centers is efficient transportation. Larson has argued in favor of designing the streets to be more people-friendly, and has suggested using other means of commuting than the private automobile. The shared-use vehicle system is one such alternative. "If we can create pathways or streets designed for multiple modes, then alternatives to the private car can be used by more people," he argues in the article. "We need to have a whole ecosystem of shared vehicles ranging from conventional bicycles to three-wheel electric bike lane vehicles that expands the demographics of people who can use them to efficient two-passenger cars like our CityCar." If we design our streets and transportation systems to focus on other transportation modes than the car, maneuvering through downtown can be much more efficient. And, he says, more fun.
Transportation isn't the only infrastructure concern Larson researches. As he told Lavin in a phone interview, higher populations create rising housing prices—making it exceedingly difficult for the young, creative class to afford to live downtown. Or, if they can, they are often residing in teeny tiny apartments with little functionality. He has been researching how to turn small apartments (250- to 300-square-feet) into functional, affordable, and comfortable dwellings. "We're doing a 300-square-foot apartment with a king size bed, dining table for eight, fully-equipped kitchen, handicap accessible bathroom and party space that would accommodate about 10 people." he says. While you can't do all of these things at once, Larson is devising furniture and amenities that shift up and down and operate on a one-by-one basis. In his forward-thinking keynotes (check out his TED Talk, embedded above), Larson envisions a new type of city—one where we can recapture an intimate relationship with the places we live without feeling crowded or overwhelmed by all the people around us.