Design for diversity: Evaluating the context of socially mixed neighbourhoods

Emily Talen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


It is argued that if planners are to recognize and support socially diverse neighbourhoods, it is important that they become better acquainted with both the form of diverse places, as well as the evaluation of that form. Thinking in these terms may also help planners adopt a particular language about diversity that is sensitive to the unique requirements of diverse places. A framework for evaluating the socially diverse neighbourhood from a design standpoint is suggested. Two sources are used: Urban and community design that is specifically meant to create places that support social diversity; and ecological principles that are meant to improve the relationship between habitat and species diversity. This framework is applied to an evaluation of diverse areas in the city of Chicago and its surrounding suburbs. A multi-dimensional definition of diversity that includes income, race/ ethnicity, age and family type is used. Forty-nine block groups satisfied the condition of being highly diverse in all four categories. It was found that these areas were mostly inner-ring, 'blue-collar' suburbs, often having the physical characteristics of strong edges, grids with commercial corridors and mixed housing types.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-32
Number of pages32
JournalJournal of Urban Design
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Urban Studies


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