New Urbanism

Updated: Jun 29, 2019

The biggest challenge that the late 20th century planning faced was lack of physical connectivity with the cities (Marshall, 2001). This was a result of globalisation period, where people were still distant to their specific neighbourhoods, family, friends and socio-economic ties (Marshall, 2011). Also, the development of the suburbs and modern transportation modes such as cars and buses were running on newly built transport routes and highways (Marshall, 2011). With the advancement of the technology and these newly built transport routes, the cities and the societies were fragmented generating different land-uses such as commerce, businesses, industries and residences etc. (Marshall, 2011).  This resulted in divestment in the central cities and the spread of urban sprawl, socio-economic and environmental degradation with loss of agriculture land and the erosion of community’s built environment (Elliott, 2010). Therefore, there was a need to address these issues and the solution demanded compact walkable, mixed use and healthy community development, independent of automobiles (Passell, 2013).

In early 21st century planning there was a new concept evolved known as ‘New Urbanism’ which gave emphasis on community planning which involved, public participation in shaping the built environment in cities. There was a paradigm shift from national level planning to more local or neighbourhood level planning. Thus, planning policies were derived from ‘bottom up’ rather than ‘top down’ taking into consideration the local culture and expression of individual freedom. ‘New Urbanism’ theory concentrates around issues of community planning, organic analogies and built form (Grant, 2005). The concept has originated from the realisation of ‘planning for the people’. It creates an opportunity for constructive social interactions in time and space (Grant, 2005). It takes in to consideration the aspects of spatial planning such as proximity to local spaces such as shops, educational institutes, playgrounds, offices and residential areas with nostalgic settings of compact and self-sustained local communities. (Grant, 2005). The planners are now committed to re-establish the relationship between built environment and formation of the local community in their ‘New Urbanism’ (Elliott, 2010). Both these factors of planning are interrelated and single existence of one factor does not make sense. Thus, it is open to the idea of minimal change in built environment and to build a constructive community (Elliott, 2010).

This approach was more concentrated towards social angle of planning and was emphasising human interaction in building self – sustained community. Such nature of planning rejected the old ideas of grand functionalist perspectives and was more pragmatic in nature because of its size and simplicity. ‘New Urbanism’ is more liberal in nature giving emphasis on individual choices which makes it capitalist approach at small scale. However, one is bit lost in a bigger picture of a social setup.

Grant, J (2005) Planning the Good Community: New Urbanism in Theory and Practice [online]. London: Taylor and Francis. [Accessed 10 February 2018].

Marshall, A. (2001) How Cities Work: Suburbs, Sprawl, and the Roads Not Taken [online]. Austin: University of Texas Press. [Accessed 10 February 2018].

Elliott, B. (2010) Constructing Community: Configurations of the Social in Contemporary Philosophy and Urbanism [online]. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books [Accessed 10 February 2018].

Passell, A. (2013) Building the New Urbanism: Places, Professions, and Profits in the American Metropolitan Landscape [online]. London and New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis group. [Accessed 11 February 2018].

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