Category Archives: Economics

A few hours in Dusseldorf district 1&3

Dusseldorf is a great city. Like Rotterdam, Dusseldorf was badly bombed in WW2 and has been rebuilt.  Both use architecture and a Mast/Tower to make their city skyline stand out, and both have great inner city parks. Rotterdam has Het Park; Dusseldorf has Hor-garten. What I like about Dusseldorf is that it allows itself to feel more like a city centre than a business centre, with the parks being linked together, like the paths alongside the landscaped canal of the Konigsalle.

Altstadt (Old Town) is a borough in District 1. It lies between Hor-garten, Benrather Str, Breite Str and the Rhine, covering an area of half a square kilometre and has 2,297 inhabitants (2000). The density is 4,594 people per km². Compare this to what the Hamilton Central City Transformation Plan tells us: the Hamilton central area is 1.29 km2, and is home to 3,000 people, giving a density of 2,325 people per km2. Point to note: the safety benefit of a 24-hour ‘eyes on the street’ population in Hamilton central is half that of Altstadt in Dusseldorf.


A second point to note: is the small area near the river’s edge that is commercial (by the Ferris wheel). The Dusseldorf Rhine promenade itself has lots of width, making it a perfect place for walking, biking, hanging out… away from the busy commercial area.


District 3 contains the borough of Hafen, which is also known as Media Port. The borough covers 3.85 km2 and is predominantly commercial and industrial in nature. It has 212 residents (2000), giving a density of 55 people per km2. (City of Industry is very similar with 210 residents). The local tourist book states that 8,500 people work in this Media Port area, giving an employment density of 2,200 jobs per km2, which is similar to the City of Industry at 2,230 employees per km2, and a bit more than the planned Tainui Ruakura project at 1,780 employees per km2.


In total, District 3 covers an area of 24.20 square kilometres and (as of December 2009) has about 110,000 inhabitants, giving a density of 4,543 people per km2 (ppkm2), which is 3 times greater than Hamilton NZ. But this is too basic a way of measuring population density, because District 3 is made up of 8 boroughs with large density variations. There are Friedrichstadt, with 17,177 ppkm2 and Unterbilk with 11,039 ppkm2, which gives the area a big city, high-density look, and there are also Hamm, Volmerswerth and Flehe, with between 908 and 1,204 ppkm2, which no-one really notices. These lower density areas allow people to choice a more rural/village life style, yet still be in the city.

Category: CBD, Demographics, Economics

HK Lamma Island build height

In Thomas More’s Utopia, ‘their houses are three storeys high’. The town of Yung Shue Wan, on Lamma Island, Hong Kong, allows ‘a maximum building height of 3 storeys (9m)’. The town has a population of approximately 6,000 people, living in an area of something like 8 ha (0.08 km2), which gives it a population density of around 7,500 people per km2.

The Hamilton district plan allows a 10m build height throughout the city, and our population density is about 1,500 people per km2. So based on no change to the build height, the Hamilton population could increase 2 to 3 times without needing to open up more land on its edges for housing. Hamilton could have a population of close to half a million, without change to existing height limits. The fact that Hong Kong has the world’s seventh highest life expectancy (New Zealand is 17th) suggests that living in higher density places maybe good for us.

Height limits are important in keeping a city to a human scale. Hong Kong’s cities are big, but Lamma Island allows trees to have an equal place in the landscape. Also, the protection of the green belt plays a major role in keeping the city liveable. On Lamma Island over 330 hectares are zoned as Green Belt. I’ll let notes from their zoning plan (no. s/i-li/9 page 54) explain.

‘The planning intention of this [green belt] zone is primarily for defining the limits of development areas, to preserve existing well-wooded hill slopes and other natural features, as well as to provide passive recreational outlets for the local population and visitors. There is a general presumption against development within this zone. Development within this zone will be strictly controlled and development proposals will be considered on individual merits taking into account the relevant Town Planning Board Guidelines.’

What also keeps the island peaceful is that the main method of getting around is on foot or by bicycle (there are no cars). This makes visiting here very pleasant, especially coming from the busy streets of Hong Kong Island and the drive to Auckland.

Reference: Benchmarking of medium size cities population density