In her 1961 book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, urban sociologist Jane Jacobs proposed four conditions essential to vibrant city life, ideas which were both influential and controversial. Recently, researcher Marco De Nadai and his team at the University of Trento designed a way to test those conditions by mining databases and cell phone records in six Italian cities.RELATED STORIES“Urban Metabolism” Could Beat “Sustainability” in a Buzzword ContestMexico City’s Secret Planning Weapon? Building BridgesNew Big Data Tool to Show How and Why We Move Around CitiesWho Is Designing the 21st-Century City?Spoiler alert: They found her ideas to be spot on.“Our results suggest that Jacobs’s four conditions for maintaining a vital urban life hold for Italian cities,” concludes the report. “Active Italian districts have dense concentrations of office workers, third places at walking distance, small streets, and historical buildings.”Jacobs argued that vibrancy is a product of a diverse physical environment. That diversity rests on four pillars: First, city districts must serve more than one function, in order to attract people at different times of the day and night. Second, city blocks must be small and have dense intersections that encourage interaction between pedestrians. Third, buildings must be diverse in age and form in order to support a mixture of low- and high-rent tenants. Fourth, urban districts must have a sufficient density of people and buildings.
Jane Jacobs Was Put to the Test in 6 Italian Cities – Next City