A truly liveable and sustainable urban future that places each global citizen at the heart of their own city. This is the goal of the 15-minute city, an urban model, which was chosen by the jury to win the third ever OBEL AWARD.

The idea behind the 15-minute city is that cities should be (re)designed, so that all residents are able to access their daily needs (housing, work, food, health, education, and culture and leisure) within the distance of a 15-minute walk or bike ride. This greatly reduces car traffic and CO2 emissions and increases the health and well-being of residents.

The model, which can be adjusted to local culture, conditions, and needs, has already been implemented with great success in cities like Paris, Chengdu, and Melbourne, generating a global movement.

“The 15-minute city is a real step towards the future – a bold and needed perspective.”

According to the jury, the 15-minute city is a beautiful and intuitive vision that has the potential to vastly improve the lives of hundreds of millions of people worldwide and to help create a healthier planet.

Martha Schwartz, Chairperson of the Jury, says:

“Like the two previous OBEL AWARD winners, this year’s winner is about protecting the environment and making life better for people. We are living in a time of urgency to make a change and live more efficiently. The 15-minute city addresses the need for us to rethink how our cities can be reimagined, redesigned, and regenerated for the primary benefit of people and the environment. The 15-minute city is a real step towards the future – a bold and needed perspective.”

On receiving the award, Carlos Moreno says:

I want to thank the jury for giving me this award. In my opinion, it is in fact a triple recognition: On the one hand, it is a recognition of my academic work, but secondly, it is a recognition of the international movement generated by the 15-minute city. And thirdly, it is a recognition of the commitment by different mayors around the world in embracing the 15-minute city.”

The award ceremony will take place on 21 October in Paris at the Salle des Fêtes of the Hôtel de Ville of Paris.


Motivation of the jury

Life on earth is at risk. Climate change causes colossal damage worldwide. At the same time, the increase of traffic and pollution continuously decreases the quality of life in big cities.

In the face of these growing worries and threats, a new urban strategy has been proposed: the 15-minute city.

The 15-minute city, as developed by Professor Carlos Moreno and his team, is an ambitious and complex urban strategy – but also a refreshingly pragmatic approach.

The model, which can be adjusted to local culture, conditions, and needs, places each global citizen at the heart of their own city, enabling them to thrive and to live the full urban experience within a short walk or bike ride of their home.

The 15-minute city is an intuitive concept and has the capacity to deliver tangible change in people’s lives. For these reasons, it has proven easy to translate into political programmes and policies that transform cities. The 15-minute city model has already created real, positive change in cities as geographically and culturally diverse as Paris, Chengdu, Melbourne, and Bogotá.

The jury recognizes that the challenge of transforming our cities and our built environment requires interdisciplinary action. We hope that this year’s winner will inspire architects, other professionals, politicians, and local citizens alike to work together towards a better urban future for people and for the planet.

Hence, the jury is convinced that the 15-minute city is the right project at the right moment in time to win the 2021 OBEL AWARD.


Watch: Carlos Moreno on the 15-minute city

Carlos Moreno

Carlos Moreno is French of Colombian origin. He is a Senior University Professor, a driving force behind Paris’s 15-minute city plan, and a Knight of the French Legion of Honour.

Carlos Moreno is scientific director of the ETI Chair « Entrepreneurship – Territory – Innovation » and Associate Professor at the IAE Paris – Panthéon Sorbonne University (France).

The outstanding career of Carlos Moreno is marked by an interest in people and a passion for cities and their complexity. Deeply committed to science, progress and creativity, Carlos Moreno embraces new technology for the common good, promotes cross-disciplinary collaboration between scientific disciplines and professionals in the innovation ecosystem, and participates in debates, working groups, and media interviews to discuss and disseminate new knowledge.

Carlos Moreno started his career with an interest in robotics. In 1983, he became a researcher and lecturer at the IUT in Cachan at the Université de Paris Sud, working in the computer science and robotics laboratory (LIMRO). In 1990, he began working at the Université d’Evry, where he became a Senior Professor, and in 1998, he created his own start-up, Sinovia, which centered on the intelligent control of complex systems with an emphasis on infrastructure. In 2006, Moreno turned his attention to cities – a complex system par excellence – and developed the concept of the ‘sustainable digital city’ as a viable platform from which to provide the services needed to ensure the well-being of a city’s inhabitants. In 2019, Carlos Moreno received the Foresight Medal by the French Academy of Architecture. In 2020, he was a scientific advisor to the Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, during her re-election campaign.

He also authored the books “Urban life and proximity at the time of Covid-19” and “Droit de cité. De la ville-monde à la ville du quart d’heure”, published by Editions de l’Observatoire in 2020.