Time to beef up Sydney – lessons from Hong Kong

I heard an interesting fact over the weekend – over 3 million people live above the 14th floor in Hong Kong. Wow, that’s almost 2/3rds of the population of Sydney living above the 14th floor.

It got me thinking, how does Sydney compare to Hong Kong.

Hong Kong has a population density of 6,100 people / km2, by comparison Sydney has a population density of 1,200 people / km2. That’s less than 20% of Hong Kong’s density.

Now I know that some people will think that Hong Kong’s density is too high but Sydney can be so much smaller in area than it needs to be or house many more people without needing the urban sprawl. For a frame of reference, Mumbai has a density of 29,650 people per km2.

One of the main sustainability benefits of increased density is the reduction in the use of private cars for commuting, the image below says it all.

Many years ago I came across a piece of research that established the optimum urban density finding the balance between quality of life and reduction of our environmental impact. I will dig it out and post it up later this week, but the interesting one was that I remember it being about the density of the southbank of Paris. And Paris has a density of 3,550 people / km2.

Time to beef up Sydney I think.

2 Comments on “Time to beef up Sydney – lessons from Hong Kong”

  1. I’m a bit surprised that Melbourne has a lower population density than Sydney, but it seems to have been falling steadily since the 1950s (23.4 to 14.0). I wonder if this trend is reversing in Melbourne, as evidenced by growing public transport patronage.

    • Hi Errol. I think the trend is reversing in Melbourne and Sydney as more single dwellings are being replaced by multi-unit residential close to public transport hubs. The sprawl is still happening on the fringes of our cities which pushes affordability to the outer suburbs where the use of private cars for transportation increases our vulnerability to rising fuel prices. Increasing density needs political will to overcome some of the NIMBYism around.

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