Groningen is growing fast. In the next fifteen years the city will grow by more than 20 %, possibly to 250.000 inhabitants. In our urban planning we want to stay both liveable and compact. The goal to absorb this growth in the existing city is a challenge in itself. Densification means we have to do all this in a scarce public space.
Therefore, we have to balance different functions, interests and wishes. There has to be room for green parks and safe roads, for kids and elderly, students and families. For pedestrians, bikes and cars, for private and public space. We have to integrate all these functions and make choices between them.
In our growing, compact and dense city, social inclusiveness, well-being and happiness are the key. Groningen is a lively and vibrant city, where people tend to be happy with their lives. The main question of tonight is how to keep it that way and preserve this state of happiness. How can urban planning, public space and architecture help to make people happy? How can we embed happiness in the built environment?
V.l.n.r. Birgitte Bundesen Svarre, Peter vanden Abeele, Paty Rios
To answer these questions, we invited three leading international experts on public space, happiness and urban planning: Birgitte Bundesen Svarre, of the Danish bureau Gehl Architects, Peter vanden Abeele, city architect of Gent in Belgium and Paty Rios, a Mexican expert on Happy Cities. We’ve guided them around the city and explored Groningen: what is working well and what could be improved? They’ll present their findings Friday evening in Grand Theatre.