urban development
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In contrast with the first industrial revolution, when Britain’s pastoral idylls were transformed by dark, satanic mills and mass migration to cities, today’s civic evolution is driving a return to nature.

The trend for populations moving from rural to urban areas continues to rise, with multiple socioeconomic factors contributing to a huge shift in lifestyles. From job opportunities, lower commuting costs and proximity to amenities, to marketplace competition, housing and education, more than 50% of the world’s population has been drawn to centralised wealth and services.

However, despite the huge advantages on offer, city dwellers face difficulties including higher cost of living, alienation, crowding and often higher crime rates. Presenting significant disadvantages in terms of overall prosperity, these issues are increasingly linked with mental, emotional and physical health challenges, such as a 39% higher incidence of mood disorders and a 21% peak in anxiety-related illnesses.

The sacrifice of green space to urban sprawl furthermore causes air pollution, which contributes to tens of thousands of early UK deaths, with fewer trees available to absorb CO2 and other harmful toxins from the environment. In fact, these areas account for more than 70% of fossil fuel-based carbon emissions, posing a greater risk of heart disease, obesity and asthma.

For the construction industry, this poses both challenges and opportunities for sustainable, wellness-oriented redevelopment, balancing the complex infrastructural needs of a bustling metropolis with human welfare and environmental consciousness. Leading infrastructure provider, blu-3, believes that the key to achieving these disparate demands is collaboration across industries, with multiple areas of private and public sectors coming together to enhance conditions.

According to Jim Southworth, Managing Director at blu-3: “Green spaces and quality of life are emerging as top priorities for urban renewal, as the public becomes more concerned with the environment and wellbeing. This is urging a movement for eco and people-friendly design, encouraging healthier behaviours with greater access to quality food and water while improving air quality and pedestrian viability.

“Delivering this however is easier said than done. Better transportation links with lower congestion are important for cutting commuting time and carbon emissions, but at the same time open spaces are necessary to create a desirable environment.

“It’s a delicate balancing act, but the industry is making excellent strides in sustainable, mindful city construction through a thorough revision of community planning.”

Clean City Targets

Major global centres are now setting targets for reducing energy consumption, protecting both human health and the planet by cutting emissions. For example, Copenhagen aims to become the world’s first carbon neutral city by 2025 via strategies including connecting most households to an energy efficient district heating system and enabling 45% of its residents to commute by bike with super cycle highways.

Vancouver has likewise announced ambitious environmental goals, committing to using renewable sources for 100% of its energy across electricity, cooling, heating and transportation. With the lowest greenhouse gas emissions per person of any North American city, it provides kerbside electric vehicle charging, a 9km greenway for walking and cycling and a host of green buildings.

By dedicating resources and investment to sustainable progress, global metropolises are future-proofing themselves against the impact of climate change while offering citizens a cleaner environment for fitter, healthier lifestyles.

Green Buildings

Referred to as a ‘vertical forest’, Milan’s Bosco Verticale residential towers set the international standard for wellness-centric, eco-friendly urban development. Covered with 800 trees and thousands of plants, the structures rely on a screen of vegetation for filtering sunlight and creating a suitable microclimate, using leaves rather than traditional materials for external walls.

In addition to increasing biodiversity and helping to repopulate Milan’s flora and fauna, this revolutionary technique protects against radiation, produces oxygen, absorbs CO2 and filters other fine particles, improving air quality and lowering residents’ risk of pollution-related disease. At the same time, the vertical forest promotes emotional contentment by reducing noise pollution and presenting the therapeutic benefit of green, natural surroundings.

Bosco Verticale’s success is attributable to innovative architecture and collaborative working, with multiple government bodies, contractors and environment agencies behind its planning and maintenance. Its enormous benefits have inspired almost 30 other cities to implement a new generation of tree and plant-covered high-rise buildings, uniting the demands for urban expansion with human and environmental needs.

Southworth added: “The future of cities depends on an alert construction industry providing sustainable solutions, in partnership with the wider municipal community. As one of the UK’s most forward-thinking infrastructure companies, blu-3 is leading the way in wellbeing-focussed development and helping to give citizens the best of both worlds.

“Whether engaging with authorities, clients and the supply chain to promote the use of recyclable and reusable materials or delivering green spaces optimised for emotional health, blu-3 has a wealth of experience and capabilities in enhancing urban welfare.”

For more information on blu-3 please visit

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