Ever wondered what an ideal neighbourhood would look like? What would it feel like living there? Definitely, a neighbourhood is a mix of many activities and not a stand-alone typology. It includes a range of public spaces, commercial activities to private residential units, and many more. The success of any neighbourhood can be determined based upon how these multiple typologies respond and impact each other on a daily basis. 

Here are 10 creative neighbourhoods of the world you should know:

1. The market cities

Collectively formed by a number of neighbourhoods, the market city is a concept empowering social sustainability and economic development. The markets being an unavoidable topic of our routine, it caters to the opportunities of interaction and communication. 

One of such planned networks of neighbourhoods, gives rise to a well-functional city of Barcelona. The city is an ideal modern-day market city. It is a cluster linked with 43 permanent markets within 73 neighbourhoods. These markets lift the local economy of their neighbourhoods, as well as help in community formations.10 Creative Neighborhoods of the World - Sheet1

2. Measure-test-refine process: Neighbourhoods to shift Youth Diet

Gehl Architects along with EAT Foundation, the City of Copenhagen, City University London, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, and the World Resources Institute, have collaborated for a 3-year project which would help in shifting the urban diets towards healthier choices. 

The project mainly worked in stages consisting of mapping, testing and refining approach, which helped in analysing the existing foodscape of the neighbourhood. The neighbourhood Nørrebro and Vesterbro were selected as the study area for mapping. The sample size was limited to young people aged between 12-16 years old. 

The mapping highlighted that the youth spend most of the time at supermarkets and fast food kiosks in close proximity to the school. Based on many such results, the pilot projects were carried out in the neighbourhoods, providing easy access to healthy and climate-friendly food. The project was designed in a modular fashion in order to ease the replication process of the same.

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A checklist for food place quality_httpsgehlpeople.comwp-contentuploads202003200129_Quality-Criteria-web.jpg

3. 15-20 minute neighbourhoods

The concept of the 20-minute neighbourhood was first implemented in Portland, Oregon, in 2010. The concept focuses on having routine activities such as schools, rapid transits, markets and parks, in the proximity of 20 minutes. This was altered for the betterment and a new similar model of a 15-minute neighbourhood. 

As suggested by strongtows.org, there were a total of 7 standards set for the 15-minute neighbourhood model, as follows:

  • Bring back the neighbourhood school.
  • Make sure food and basic necessities are available locally.
  • Third Places come in all shapes and sizes.
  • House enough people, and all kinds of people.
  • Density isn’t enough.
  • Sweat the small stuff for true walkability.
  • Know when to get out of the way. (Herriges, 2019)

The future of 15-minute cities depends in part on the pilot neighbourhoods in Paris, Portland, Seattle, Ottawa, and countless others across the globe. What makes the study and implementation of this idea so important is that what works for one neighbourhood may be entirely wrong for another, even if they’re geographically located in the same area. (Borneman, 2010)

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20 minute neighbourhoods_City of Portland

4. Neighbourhood in grids

Grids are not a new concept for cities that we live in but definitely were out of the limelight for quite some time. With higher levels of grids, the decline in the use of the vehicle is seen. The densely interconnected networks not only provide pedestrian activities/ movement opportunities but also help in moving a step further towards a greener environment. 

The grids are not restricted to a set dimension of blocks but work much better when allowed to follow the character of the existing structures. One such project can be seen for the neighbourhoods of Bastrop, responding to the cultural and environmental aspects of the region, as well as responding well to the local codes and guidelines. 

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Bastrop Block models_Simplecity Design.

5. Mixed-used neighbourhoods

Creating mixed-used neighbourhoods is one of the practices to create safer, diverse, and vibrant neighbourhoods. A similar case can be seen for the project of Providence, Huntsville, Alabama. Completed in the year 2014, the area was divided amongst 600 residential units, hotels, street nosiness and 100,000 sq. ft retail and offices. 

A neighbourhood planned to include all types of activities was set in place, giving the space a new value and essence. With a growing demand for mixed-use areas, the originally planned two-storey village centre was later converted to a five-storey development. 

The neighbourhood was also planned with an easily accessible school, which allowed children to opt for walking rather than relying upon mechanical means of transport. Along with these amenities, a variety of housing typologies can be seen, from estate homes to apartments, allowing a good social mix. 

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Providence Overview_httpswww.cnu.orgwhat-we-dobuild-great-placesvillage-providence-0

6. Small apartments

With the growing population, it is becoming much more necessary to utilise the space available optimally and correctly. A live example of this can be seen in the neighbourhoods of Minneapolis, where the planners have designed a four-unit apartment building to be fitted in all neighbourhoods to accommodate single-family. 

These are not only space-saving but also help in correctly increasing the density of the given neighbourhoods. 

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7. The ‘ADDification’ 

The concept revolves around the idea of adding affordable housing and amenities to neighbourhoods with new buildings. A project designed by Torti Gallas + Partners in Deanwood, plans for around 500 low-income affordable living spaces, along with amenities such as educational institutes and retails. 

The most recent one of the projects is seen in the neighbourhood town centre. These models help in promoting social mix within the neighbourhood. “Incorporating low-income housing as a core of the development program, the City and their development partners preserved existing affordable units and allowed legacy residents to remain in the neighbourhood and benefit from its resurgence.” (Steuteville, 2019)

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Urban Farming_Food Tank

8. Agricultural Urbanism 

As the term suggests, the concept is to integrate agriculture and urbanism at all possible levels. A 538-acre tract near Vancouver, British Columbia was planned to accommodate 2000 housing units along with areas reserved for food-producing activities. 

Designed on similar lines, Southlands was developed not only for purely agricultural use but such allied activities such as community gardens and farmers’ markets. 

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residence at Hayes_httpswww.cnu.orgpublicsquare20190702neighborhood-additions-work-against-displacement

9. From the parking lot to the neighbourhood

As a new upcoming neighbourhood, the main design driver for the project is to respond to the daily human experience. Hence, the neighbourhood focuses on creating gathering spaces and a mixed-use environment. 

By creating places to gather, explore, relax and play, the project will put the site on the mental map of San Francisco, making it a destination for the people of the city with lots of ‘reasons to go’. (Architects, Gehl, 2015) This would not only activate the overall space but also generate a welcoming cityscape. 

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San Francisco Giants_Gehl Architects

 10. Heart of San Francisco’s Mission district

With unsafe spaces within the neighbourhood, the weekly marketplace was used as an agent to activate the underutilised streets of the area. The Mission Community Market is a Thursday evening market and the heart of the neighbourhood. The public engagement and visioning process generated a sense of shared ownership of a safe gathering place local people helped to create, incorporating the elements they identified as a high priority, like protection from the sun and wind, seating and trees. 

The shared goal was to create a public marketplace and flexible city space that could host large gatherings, as well as smaller neighbourhood activities and play (Gehl Architects, 2012). This collective vision helped to create safer spaces for locals, allowed for opportunities for a mix of various communities, and helped to revive the heart of the neighbourhood.

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San Francisco Market_Gehl Architects

There are many such neighbourhoods around the world, which have adopted several creative ways for the overall betterment of it. Each of the solutions applied for each neighbourhood tends to be unique, which serves a specific set of issues faced, which may or may not be applicable for any other case. 

In the end, that’s all that neighbourhoods are about, creating, collaborating, communicating, and testing many ways for the betterment and sticking to the one which suits best for it.


Sanjana is a young architect with keen interest in place making and urban theories. It's the stories of the spaces and it's expressions, which got her exploring the field of journalism.