Urban vitality


Urban vitality is the quality of those spaces in cities that are capable of attracting heterogeneous people for different types of activities throughout varied time schedules.[1] The areas of the city with high vitality are perceived as alive, lively or vibrant and they tend to attract people to carry out their activities, stroll or stay. However, the areas of low vitality repel people and can be perceived as unsafe.[2][3]

The Plaça Reial of Barcelona has a high vitality, with pedestrian spaces and a variety of establishments in its vicinity.
Comparatively, Plaça dels Països Catalans has a low vitality, surrounded by large streets that make pedestrian movements difficult and with few shops around it.

The urban vitality index is a measure of this quality and in recent years it has become a fundamental tool for planning urban policies, especially for the intervention of spaces with low vitality.[4] In addition, it is used for proper management of spaces with high vitality, as the success of certain areas can lead to processes of gentrification and touristification that, paradoxically, end up reducing the vitality that made them popular.[5]

The concept of urban vitality is based on the contributions of Jane Jacobs, especially those of her most influential work, The Death and Life of Great American Cities. Jacobs criticized in the 1960s the modern and rationalist architecture defended by Robert Moses or Le Corbusier whose protagonist was the private car. She argued that these types of urban planning overlooked and oversimplified the complexity of human life in diverse communities. She opposed large-scale urban renewal programs that affected entire neighborhoods and built freeways through inner cities. Instead, she advocated for dense mixed-use development and walkable streets, with “eyes on the street” of passers-by helping to maintain public order.[6]

Currently, the concept of urban vitality is revaluing Mediterranean urbanism and its history, in which public space, pedestrianity and squares are of great importance as centers of interaction and social cohesion, in opposition to the Anglo-Saxon urbanism of large urban infrastructures, long distances and car-centric.[2][3][7]

Conditions for high urban vitalityEdit

Urban vitality can be quantified thanks to the analysis of the elements that determine it. Among them are:[8]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Built environment, urban vitality and social cohesion: Do vibrant neighborhoods foster strong communities?". Landscape and Urban Planning. December 2020.
  2. ^ a b Índice de vitalidad urbana. La aventura del saber. RTVE. 7 February 2019.
  3. ^ a b Jane Jacobs y la vitalidad urbana en Barcelona. TEDxBarcelona. 8 September 2021.
  4. ^ "La importancia de la vitalidad urbana". Ciudades. November 2017.
  5. ^ "Looking at Barcelona through Jane Jacobs's eyes: Mapping the basic conditions for urban vitality in a Mediterranean conurbation". Land Use Policy. June 2018.
  6. ^ Jane Jacobs. The Death and Life of Great American Cities.
  7. ^ "The urban vitality conditions of Jane Jacobs in Barcelona: Residential and smartphone-based tracking measurements of the built environment in a Mediterranean metropolis". Cities. March 2019.
  8. ^ "Jane Jacobs en Barcelona: las condiciones para la vitalidad urbana y su relación con la movilidad cotidiana". Documents d'Anàlisi Geogràfica. January 2021.