Posts Tagged ‘Urban design’

The New Orthodoxy?

New Urbanism is an urban design movement, which promotes walkable neighborhoods that contain a range of housing and job types. It arose in the United States in the early 1980s and continues to reform many aspects of real estate development and urban planning.

While new urbanism covers issues such as historic preservation, safe streets, green building, and redeveloping brownfield land.  If the movement were to be boiled down to a single concept, it would be creating walkable neighborhoods. New urbanist developments are more walkable, offer a more diverse range of housing options, encourage a richer mix of uses and provide more welcoming public spaces than traditional suburban developments.

Although many well-known new urbanist projects are “master planned communities” its ideas are also incorporated into existing city cores and even in suburban and exurban neighborhoods. These neighborhoods can include measures such as traffic calming, pedestrian improvements, parking management, and commercial and residential infill.

New urbanism has also inspired a new approach to building codes, called form-based codes. These codes are an important tool for implementing urban enhancements. Rather than dictating  the uses of land parcels, form based codes provide guidelines that define the types of development desired in a particular area. This provides greater design flexibility and coordination than conventional, land use based codes.

While once on the fringe of the urban planning field, new urbanism has risen in prominence in recent years, with new urbanist related initiatives like LEED and Smart Growth becoming common staples in the arsenals of urban planners and developers alike. This has led Andres Duany—one of the founders of the Congress for the New Urbanism—to label it a ‘new orthodoxy’ and calling for a ‘jolt’ to renew the movement to face the challenges of the next century.

Check out the full ABC’s of Urbanism in this handy e-book!

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Informal Urbanism: Invention Born out of Frustration

Informal urbanism focuses on communities’ ability to absorb, recycle, offer services, set up networks, celebrate, work and play outside the structures imposed by formalized rules. It stems from the need or want to correct or compensate for the shortcomings in existing (or formal) urban plans, whether it be expressed as a worn shortcut through a park that is off the paved path, food trucks, or shanty towns in Caracas.

Whereas traditional urban planning tends to follow a formal, top-down approach, informal urbanism is about invention born out of frustration with the status quo. It views the city not as a grand vision to be imposed but as gradual adjustments to be revealed based on need. As a result, informal urbanism creates environments that are versatile and flexible—and usually more robust that their formal counterparts.

Instead of viewing informal urban interventions as conditions that needs fixing, they should be viewed as learning opportunities. Urban leaders can embrace their robustness by looking, not at what ‘should work’, but at what is actually occurring from day-to-day and season to season around their city. The informal patterns that emerge from such observations will often lead to more sustainable urban interventions.

 

Check out the full ABC’s of Urbanism in this handy e-book!

Adaptive Urbanism: A Process of Perpetual Engagement

For many urban observers, and especially urban planners, the design of the city as an ‘end state—a vision to be first created and then fulfilled.

Adaptive urbanism takes a contrary position. It looks at urban design as a process of perpetual engagement and reiteration. In an adaptive approach, cities are dynamic ecologies that take immersion and collaboration to re-shape, not from outside or above, but from within. The concept of adaptive urbanism is often attributed to New York urbanist Brian McGrath.

McGrath’s approach is a significant shift from how we current plan and manage cities. It is important to consider though, especially in our current economic and social upheaval. If cities develop the flexibility and capacity to respond to shifting demands and external pressures, they will be better able to deal with future economic, environmental or political crises.

 

Check out the full ABC’s of Urbanism in this handy e-book!

The ABC’s of Urbanism

One of the pervasive trends in contemporary urban studies is the dramatic growth in terms ending with ‘urbanism.’ It seems like every urban thinker has come up with his or her own urbanism. Indeed, Jason King at landscape+urbanism has described this phenomenon as [Fill in the Blank] Urbanism and come up with his own lengthy list of urbanisms gleaned from a single Google search.

Some of the urbanisms are fanciful and esoteric; others are basic and rudimentary. But all have been seriously considered by at least one person. Indeed, if a term or concept is even remotely connected to a city, simply add ‘urbanism to the end and you’ll have a new theoretical construct to explore.

Over the next 26 posts, I will be exploring an urbanism associated with each letter of the alphabet. 26 posts covering 26 urban constructs. At the end of each post I will list other urbanisms associated with the letter in question.

 

Check out the full ABC’s of Urbanism in this handy e-book!