• Sandra Treija Riga Technical University
  • Alisa Koroļova Riga Technical University
  • Uģis Bratuškins Riga Technical University
  • Andrew Sonta École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne
  • Stefanie Rößler Leibniz Institute of Ecological Urban and Regional Development
  • Robert Hecht Leibniz Institute of Ecological Urban and Regional Development
  • Melinda Benkő Budapest University of Technology and Economics
  • Thomas Verbeek Delft University of Technology
  • Elena Dimitrova University of Architecture, Civil Engineering and Geodesy


15-minute city, large housing estates, mobility behaviour




The transition towards sustainability is requiring changes in almost every aspect of our lives – from the operation of globalised supply chains to the behaviour of individual citizens. The transport system is one of the areas where major change still needs to happen. Sustainable mobility intends to reduce the need to travel (particularly by car), encourage greater use of public transport, walking, and cycling, improve the accessibility of transportation, and reduce travel distances. The key here is to provide quality, with easy access to local services and facilities, so that people do not need to travel long distances. A set of parameters that characterise a sustainable city have been determined in studies of sustainable cities: population (over 50 thousand), average density (over 40 people per hectare), land-use type (mixed-use construction), mobility mode (public transport), etc. (Banister, 2008). The contemporary 15-minute city concept advocates that residents will be able to enjoy a higher quality of life in which they will be able to effectively fulfil the six essential social functions of the city. These include (a) residence, (b) work, (c) commerce, (d) health care, (e) education, and (f) entertainment (Moreno et al., 2021). Similar ideas have not only been put forward but have also been implemented before. Clarence Perry’s neighbourhood unit, Le Corbusier’s Ville Radieuse, or the micro-district in social city planning, inspired extensive urban development in the second half of the 20th century. In European cities they form vast built-up areas, i.e. large housing estates (LHE), where a large part of the urban population lives - and in Eastern and Northern Europe often even the majority. These mass housing districts were originally planned so that residents are provided with everything they need for everyday life within easy reach on foot (Hess et al., 2018). However, the location of these districts in the city (often on the outskirts ), their insufficient provision of convenient and efficient public transport, the limited variety and quality of local infrastructure, the gradual loss of local facilities due to viability challenges, as well as the residents' wide choice of options for ensuring their daily needs have created a situation where the original idea of LHEs is increasingly failing (Wassenberg, 2004). Considering the specific urban pattern of the modern LHE’s environment, our research project 15minESTATES has just started, focusing on relations between the ’15-minute city’ concept and the socialist or modernist city concept implemented in LHEs. Through selected case studies in five European cities, the aim is to understand whether the six essential urban social functions of a ’15-minute city’ are present in the urban pattern of LHEs and whether the amount and proximity to these specific services would help in saving time wasted in traffic, thus promoting sustainable mobility. A combination of qualitative and quantitative methods will be adopted for the case studies, among which are mapping, spatial analysis, surveys and interviews. In this paper, we will present the first results of a pilot survey on inhabitants’ mobility behaviour to investigate which functions are connected to the car-dependent behaviour of residents in the selected case studies. The pilot survey will look at the interrelation between the use of sustainable mobility modes (walking, cycling, bike sharing, scooter sharing, etc.), certain functions, and their proximity.


Banister, D. (2008) 'The sustainable mobility paradigm', Transp. Policy, 15(2), pp. 73–80. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tranpol.2007.10.005

Hess, D. B., Tammaru, T., & van Ham, M. (Eds.). (2018) Housing Estates in Europe: Poverty, Ethnic Segregation and Policy Challenges. Cham, Switzerland: Springer. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-92813-5 (Accessed: 10 January 2024).

Moreno, C., Allam, Z., Chabaud, D., Gall, C., Pratlong, F. (2021) ‘Introducing the “15-Minute City”: Sustainability, resilience and place identity in future post-pandemic cities’, Smart Cities, 4(1), pp. 93–111. Available at: https://doi.org/10.3390/smartcities4010006

Wassenberg, F. (2004) ‘Large social housing estates: From stigma to demolition?’, Journal of Housing and the Built Environment, 19, pp. 223–232, Available at: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10901-004-0691-2