15-minute cities and what FMs have to do with them

FM newsroom – trends, facility management. By fostering proximity to amenities, services, and workplaces, the 15-minute city seeks to create more efficient, interconnected, and liveable urban environments. For FMs, adaptation to changing urban trends like this is imperative.


The 15-minute city is a revolutionary urban planning concept centred around creating self-sufficient neighbourhoods where residents can access their daily needs within a 15-minute walk or bike ride from their homes. This transformative approach aims to reduce reliance on personal vehicles, enhance local community engagement, and promote sustainability – writes William Poole-Wilson, Founder and Managing Director, of WILL+PARTNERS for FMJ.


Of course, there are supporters and also detractors of the idea. Some for example see the focus on keeping it local as a form of “climate lockdown”, adversely affecting personal freedoms.


Not as revolutionary as it may seem

Throughout Europe, there are practical illustrations of this idea, where smaller districts of large cities embody the principles of 15-minute communities. In densely urbanised areas the necessity for driving has already diminished as more people opt for local choices, whether it’s their morning coffee or grocery shopping, Poole-Wilson points out, adding that Madrid is a good example. In 2018, the Spanish capital introduced its “Madrid Central” plan, which aims to reduce air pollution and create a more livable city by reducing car traffic in the city centre.


Urban lifestyles have undergone significant changes in recent years prompting discussions about work-life balance and overall quality of life. The 15-minute city concept aligns directly with the current wellbeing-conscious world.


What FMs have to do with it?

Facilities managers who are seeking to optimise their building operations must remain open to the idea of 15-minute cities because it enhances operational efficiency and places a spotlight on tenant satisfaction. By fostering a closer connection to local amenities, facilities managers can tailor their building services to accommodate the convenience and accessibility which is emphasised by the 15-minute city lifestyle.


Transportation and parking planning take centre stage in this paradigm shift. With a reduced reliance on personal vehicles, facilities managers can rethink their parking space requirements and invest in alternative transportation options and bike-friendly infrastructure.


FMs will play an increasingly significant role in aligning building operations with the environmental goals of 15-minute cities by promoting eco-friendly living, implementing green initiatives, and contributing to a more resilient urban environment while engaging with local businesses. This will improve the building’s role within the larger urban context but also establish it as a vital component of the interconnected area.


According to Poole-Wilson, this idea isn’t a trend or a fad. It’s a real, strategic approach for facilities managers to successfully navigate the future of urban living.


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