“The way we build new cities will be at the heart of so much that matters, from climate change to economic vitality to our very well-being and sense of connectedness.” – TED, 2017

Today we live in a conurbation, which is going under continuous ceaseless changes and conversions due to external factors like environmental concerns, pollution, rising needs for resources, increasing density… the list goes on and on. Nowadays, everyone attempts to adapt to the times and aspires for a chance at a better lifestyle. Today, around two-thirds of the world’s population resides in urban environments and cities, and these figures are set to rise by a whopping 2.5 billion by 2050. This would push the limits of existing cities, giving rise to the building of new cities or advancement of the current cities to a level that would serve every individual’s needs and wants.

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Peter Calthorpe_©www.bloomberg.com

Peter Calthorpe is a San-Francisco-based architect, urban designer, and urban planner. He also is one of the founding members of the Congress for New Urbanism, an advocacy group that promotes the notion of sustainable building practices. In 2017, Peter Calthorpe via TED promoted the idea of sustainable development with increased community interaction through a speech “7 principles for building better cities”. Through this speech, he tried to promote seven universal principles for solving urban complexities and building smarter and more sustainable cities. In addition to his lectures, Peter Calthorpe has disseminated the notion of new urbanism, a framework for implementing the sustainable practice, and sentient environments.

Transit-Oriented Development | Peter Calthorpe

In the late 1980s, Peter Calthorpe formalized the theory of Transit-Oriented Development (TOD), and later in 1993, he published the book “The New American Metropolis”, which promoted his theory as a staple of contemporary planning. TOD, or Transit-Oriented Development, was a combined development that promoted individuals to live near public transit facilities and reduced their reliance on private automobiles. Calthorpe envisioned it as a neo-traditional approach to community building that is both sustainable and economical. It was an urban regeneration theory that purported to address a slew of social concerns in addition to its concept of architectural design.

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TOD as conceptualized by Peter Calthorpe_©Rutul Joshi via. www.researchgate.net

“These Transit-oriented developments have the potential to provide residents with improved quality of life and reduced household transportation expenses while providing the region with stable mixed-income neighborhoods that reduce environmental impacts and provide real alternatives to traffic congestion.” – Peter Calthorpe 

TOD was devised by Calthorpe to address community ecology. He also considered TOD as a comprehensible and understandable strategy for strategic regional development. It addressed the necessity for alternate funding sources for transit administrations. It was also a logical progression from several well-known community design prototypes.

The City of Tomorrow 

Since the 1970s, Peter Calthorpe has preached about the advantages of urbanization. Calthorpe has developed an integrated design and planning ideology that aims not only at curtailing urban sprawl and reducing traffic congestion, but also at establishing more pedestrian-friendly and ecologically sustainable cities, and environments that enhance a sense of connectedness and place, as one of the leading proponents of New Urbanism or Neo-traditionalism. According to Calthorpe, a well-designed city is the one that promotes walkability, it’s a socially engaging environment that makes you feel like walking is much more than a means of getting from point A to point B.  

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The city of tomorrow_©techcrunch.com/
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The city of tomorrow_©www.hdrinc.com/

“Because cities are so complex and so interconnected in all of their dimensions, looking at multiple outcomes simultaneously is the healthiest and the best way to think about possible outcomes,” – Peter Calthorpe.

Calthorpe further explains how cities today follow the disposable-society strategy, meaning, we are establishing lower-density suburban communities on the outskirts of cities. He stresses on the extremity where we’re not reverting into older inner-city neighborhoods, or even older suburbs, to restore and repurpose the buildings. It’s a progressive approach. However, we must acknowledge the fact that we are no longer frontier innovators, we need to adapt to the forthcoming changes with not just innovations, but also develop strategies that serve the city we live in today.

The New Urbanism

In 2010, Peter Calthorpe published a book under the title of “Urbanism in the age of climate change”, which broadly talked about the most fundamental and foresightful embodiments of contemporary urbanism. Calthorpe offers a comprehensive portrayal of a pragmatic, non-utopian culture and civilization that can respond effectively to climate change, economy, the standard of living, and the forthcoming transformations of modern cities. He additionally argues that urbanization is frequently underestimated when it comes to climate initiatives, but to mitigate climate change, we must go beyond green technologies and analyze where we dwell and how we structure our societies. 

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Single Family Large-Lot Homes, Eden Prairie, Florida_©www.asla.org/ContentDetail.aspx?id=30566
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Urbanism in the age of climate change, a book by Peter Calthorpe that initiated the idea of the New Urbanism_©www.amazon.ca

Human scale can persist in extremely dense cities, such as Manhattan, as well as in relatively low-density urban settings, such as the historic hubs of outlying towns. While there is a significant discrepancy, they are all walkable and pedestrian in nature, with an urban ambiance. Calthorpe’s ideology holds that there can be no meaningful urbanism without a walkable environment, thriving streets, and diversified populations. Today, both technology and design are used in urban remedies. An example explained by Peter Calthorpe states that we will need to substantially cut back on the amount of distance we travel and also develop automobiles that are less carbon demanding. It will include living and working in buildings, which use far fewer resources, and are powered by renewable energy sources.

Overall, this book offers a strategy for rebuilding our cities and towns into low-carbon hubs. Calthorpe’s intriguing and captivating work is based on his ideology that, of how the preceding fifty years witnessed a dramatic shift in our culture, economy, and environment, and the next fifty years would see even more substantial improvements.  

7 Principles for Building Better Cities | Peter Calthorpe

Through this lecture at TED Conference, Calthorpe attempts at making one understand the principal factors that shape our cities today like environmental considerations, social well-being, economic vitality, sense of community, and connectedness. Throughout his various lectures, at various events, he explicates how we live today as one of the most critical reasons why there is a sudden rise in complications regarding urbanism. Sprawl, today is identified as one of the biggest issues that restrict interactions and promote the idea of isolation. What further accelerates the despondency is that sprawls can be formed anywhere with any possible density, leading to increasing segregation and separation of people into economic ghettos, which further dissociates people from nature.  

Seven principles of building better cities is an online TED Talk by Peter Calthorpe that talks about how cities planned in near future would survive on different external and environmental factors_©www.ted.com/talks/peter_calthorpe_7_principles_for_building_better_cities

References and citations: 


  1. Scott L., The City of Tomorrow: An interview with Peter Calthorpe (2002), Interview, Conducted by Scott.London via. CRiT Architecture Journal, Available at: https://scott.london/interviews/calthorpe.html [Accessed: 3rd January 2022] 
  2. Green J., News: Interview with Peter Calthorpe, Interview, Conducted by Jared Green via. American Society of Landscape Architects, Available at: https://www.asla.org/ContentDetail.aspx?id=30566 [Accessed: 3rd January 2022]
  3. Goodyear S., Peter Calthorpe on why urbanism is the cheapest, smartest way to fight climate change (2011), Interview, Conducted by Sarah Goodyear via. Grist, Available at: https://grist.org/urbanism/2011-02-16-peter-calthorpe-on-why-urbanism-is-the-cheapest-smartest-way-to/  [Accessed: 3rd January 2022]
  4. Carlton I., Histories of transit-oriented development: perspectives on the development off the TOD concept (2009), Available at: https://escholarship.org/uc/item/7wm9t8r6  [Accessed: 3rd January 2022]
  5. Shieber J., Taking a page from SimCity, UrbanFootprint pitches new tools for urban development (February 2020), Tech Crunch, available at: https://techcrunch.com/2020/02/12/taking-a-page-from-simcity-urbanfootprint-pitches-new-tools-for-developers-and-urban-planners/ [Accessed: 3rd January 2022] 


  1. TED (31 August 2017). 7 Principles for building better cities | Peter Calthorpe [YouTube Video], Available at: https://youtu.be/IFjD3NMv6Kw [Accessed: 3rd January 2022] 


  1. Calthorpe, Peter, Urbanism in the age of climate change, Washington, Island Press, Washington, DC, 2011. 
  2. Calthorpe, Peter; “The Next American metropolis: Ecology, community, and the American Dream”; Princeton Architectural Press; 1993. 

Janvi is a fourth year architecture student from BSSA, NMIMS. Research and details is what she believes in apart from travelling and capturing the ‘raw’. She is fond of discovering the undiscovered, be it in the form of an artwork or an old Irani cafe blocked between buildings from vintage.