New Urbanism is an urban design movement which promotes environmentally friendly habits by creating walkable neighborhoods containing a wide range of housing and job types. It arose in the United States in the early 1980s, and has gradually influenced many aspects of real estate development, urban planning, and municipal land-use strategies.
New Urbanism is strongly influenced by urban design practices that were prominent until the rise of the automobile prior to World War II; it encompasses ten basic principles such as traditional neighborhood design (TND) and transit-oriented development (TOD). These ideas can all be circled back to two concepts: building a sense of community and the development of ecological practices.
The organizing body for New Urbanism is the Congress for the New Urbanism, founded in 1993. Its foundational text is the Charter of the New Urbanism, which begins:
We advocate the restructuring of public policy and development practices to support the following principles: neighborhoods should be diverse in use and population; communities should be designed for the pedestrian and transit as well as the car; cities and towns should be shaped by physically defined and universally accessible public spaces and community institutions; urban places should be framed by architecture and landscape design that celebrate local history, climate, ecology, and building practice.
New Urbanists support: regional planning for open space; context-appropriate architecture and planning; adequate provision of infrastructure such as sporting facilities, libraries and community centres; and the balanced development of jobs and housing. They believe their strategies can reduce traffic congestion by encouraging the population to ride bikes, walk, or take the train. They also hope that this set up will increase the supply of affordable housing and rein in suburban sprawl. The Charter of the New Urbanism also covers issues such as historic preservation, safe streets, green building, and the re-development of brownfield land. The ten Principles of Intelligent Urbanism also phrase guidelines for new urbanist approaches.
Architecturally, new urbanist developments are often accompanied by New Classical, postmodern, or vernacular styles, although that is not always the case.
Until the mid 20th century, cities were generally organized into and developed around mixed-use walkable neighborhoods. For most of human history this meant a city that was entirely walkable, although with the development of mass transit the reach of the city extended outward along transit lines, allowing for the growth of new pedestrian communities such as streetcar suburbs. But with the advent of cheap automobiles and favorable government policies, attention began to shift away from cities and towards ways of growth more focused on the needs of the car. Specifically, after World War II urban planning largely centered around the use of municipal zoning ordinances to segregate residential from commercial and industrial development, and focused on the construction of low-density single-family detached houses as the preferred housing format for the growing middle class. The physical separation of where people live from where they work, shop and frequently spend their recreational time, together with low housing density, which often drastically reduced population density relative to historical norms, made automobiles indispensable for practical transportation and contributed to the emergence of a culture of automobile dependency.
This new system of development, with its rigorous separation of uses, arose after World War II and became known as “conventional suburban development” or pejoratively as urban sprawl. The majority of U.S. citizens now live in suburban communities built in the last fifty years, and automobile use per capita has soared.
Although New Urbanism as an organized movement would only arise later, a number of activists and thinkers soon began to criticize the modernist planning techniques being put into practice. Social philosopher and historian Lewis Mumford criticized the “anti-urban” development of post-war America. The Death and Life of Great American Cities, written by Jane Jacobs in the early 1960s, called for planners to reconsider the single-use housing projects, large car-dependent thoroughfares, and segregated commercial centers that had become the “norm”. The French architect François Spoerry has developed in the 60’s the concept of “soft architecture” that he applied to Port Grimaud, a new marina in south of France. The success of this project had a considerable influence and led to many new projects of soft architecture like Port Liberté in New Jersey or Le Plessis Robisson in France.
Rooted in these early dissenters, the ideas behind New Urbanism began to solidify in the 1970s and 80s with the urban visions and theoretical models for the reconstruction of the “European” city proposed by architect Leon Krier, and the pattern language theories of Christopher Alexander. The term “new urbanism” itself started being used in this context in the mid-1980s, but it wasn’t until the early 1990s that it was commonly written as a proper noun capitalized.
In 1991, the Local Government Commission, a private nonprofit group in Sacramento, California, invited architects Peter Calthorpe, Michael Corbett, Andrés Duany, Elizabeth Moule, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, Stefanos Polyzoides, and Daniel Solomon to develop a set of community principles for land use planning. Named the Ahwahnee Principles (after Yosemite National Park’s Ahwahnee Hotel), the commission presented the principles to about one hundred government officials in the fall of 1991, at its first Yosemite Conference for Local Elected Officials.
Calthorpe, Duany, Moule, Plater-Zyberk, Polyzoides, and Solomon founded the Chicago-based Congress for the New Urbanism in 1993. The CNU has grown to more than three thousand members, and is the leading international organization promoting New Urbanist design principles. It holds annual Congresses in various U.S. cities.
In 2009, co-founders Elizabeth Moule, Hank Dittmar, and Stefanos Polyzoides authored the Canons of Sustainable Architecture and Urbanism to clarify and detail the relationship between New Urbanism and sustainability. The Canons are “a set of operating principles for human settlement that reestablish the relationship between the art of building, the making of community, and the conservation of our natural world”. They promote the use of passive heating and cooling solutions, the use of locally obtained materials, and in general, a “culture of permanence”.
New Urbanism is a broad movement that spans a number of different disciplines and geographic scales. And while the conventional approach to growth remains dominant, New Urbanist principles have become increasingly influential in the fields of planning, architecture, and public policy.
Andrés Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, two of the founders of the Congress for the New Urbanism, observed mixed-use streetscapes with corner shops, front porches, and a diversity of well-crafted housing while living in one of the Victorian neighborhoods of New Haven, Connecticut. They and their colleagues observed patterns including the following:
The neighborhood has a discernible center. This is often a square or a green and sometimes a busy or memorable street corner. A transit stop would be located at this center.
Most of the dwellings are within a five-minute walk of the center, an average of roughly 0.25 miles (0.40 km).
There are a variety of dwelling types — usually houses, rowhouses, and apartments — so that younger and older people, singles and families, the poor and the wealthy may find places to live.
At the edge of the neighborhood, there are shops and offices of sufficiently varied types to supply the weekly needs of a household.
A small ancillary building or garage apartment is permitted within the backyard of each house. It may be used as a rental unit or place to work (for example, an office or craft workshop).
An elementary school is close enough so that most children can walk from their home.
There are small playgrounds accessible to every dwelling — not more than a tenth of a mile away.
Streets within the neighborhood form a connected network, which disperses traffic by providing a variety of pedestrian and vehicular routes to any destination.
The streets are relatively narrow and shaded by rows of trees. This slows traffic, creating an environment suitable for pedestrians and bicycles.
Buildings in the neighborhood center are placed close to the street, creating a well-defined outdoor room.
Parking lots and garage doors rarely front the street. Parking is relegated to the rear of buildings, usually accessed by alleys.
Certain prominent sites at the termination of street vistas or in the neighborhood center are reserved for civic buildings. These provide sites for community meetings, education, and religious or cultural activities.
Several terms are viewed either as synonymous, included in, or overlapping with the New Urbanism. The terms Neotraditional Development or Traditional Neighborhood Development are often associated with the New Urbanism. These terms generally refer to complete New Towns or new neighborhoods, often built in traditional architectural styles, as opposed to smaller infill and redevelopment projects. The term Traditional Urbanism has also been used to describe the New Urbanism by those who object to the “new” moniker. The term “Walkable Urbanism” was proposed as an alternative term by developer and professor Christopher Leinberger. Many debate whether Smart Growth and the New Urbanism are the same or whether substantive differences exist between the two; overlap exists in membership and content between the two movements. Placemaking is another term that is often used to signify New Urbanist efforts or those of like-minded groups. The term Transit-Oriented Development is sometimes cited as being coined by prominent New Urbanist Peter Calthorpe and is heavily promoted by New Urbanists. The term Sustainable development is sometimes associated with the New Urbanism as there has been an increasing focus on the environmental benefits of New Urbanism associated with the rise of the term sustainability in the 2000s, however, this has caused some confusion as the term is also used by the United Nations and Agenda 21 to include human development issues (e.g., developing country) that exceed the scope of land development intended to be addressed by the New Urbanism or Sustainable Urbanism. The term “livability” or “livable communities” was popular under the Obama administration, though it dates back at least to the mid-1990s when the term was used by the Local Government Commission.
Planning magazine discussed the proliferation of “urbanisms” in an article in 2011 titled “A Short Guide to 60 of the Newest Urbanisms”. Several New Urbanists have popularized terminology under the umbrella of the New Urbanism including Sustainable Urbanism and Tactical Urbanism (of which Guerrilla Urbanism can be viewed as a subset). The term Tactical Urbanism was coined by Frenchman Michel de Certau in 1968 and revived in 2011 by New Urbanist Mike Lydon and the co-authors of the Tactical Urbanism Guide. In 2011 Andres Duany authored a book that used the term Agrarian Urbanism to describe an agriculturally-focused subset of New Urbanist town design. In 2013 a group of New Urbanists led by CNU co-founder Andres Duany began a research project under the banner of Lean Urbanism which purported to provide a bridge between Tactical Urbanism and the New Urbanism.
Other terms have surfaced in reaction to the New Urbanism intended to provide a contrast, alternative to, or a refinement of the New Urbanism. Some of these terms include Everyday Urbanism by Harvard Professor Margaret Crawford, John Chase, and John Kaliski, Ecological Urbanism, and True Urbanism by architect Bernard Zyscovich. Landscape urbanism was popularized by Charles Waldheim who explicitly defined it as in opposition to the New Urbanism in his lectures at Harvard University. Landscape Urbanism and its Discontents, edited by Andres Duany and Emily Talen, specifically addressed the tension between these two views of urbanism. Michael E. Arth promotes what he describes as a variant of the New Urbanism called the New Pedestrianism, which is intended to be more pedestrian-oriented and traces its origins to a 1929 planned community in Radburn, New Jersey.
The basic principles of the new urbanism – the rejection of the “suburban” (English suburban ) lifestyle. Cities and districts built in accordance with the principles of new urbanism are small, compact, all services necessary for residents (shops, personal services, etc.) are located at a walking distance from housing. New urbanism prefers bike and walking, rather than a car.
New urbanism is a democratic movement. We involve in the life of the city of women, children, old people, provincials – all those to whom the modern city is unfriendly. The city should be accessible to all. We return the city to its inhabitants.
– Stefanos Polizoids, one of the founders of the new urbanism
As a rule, the architecture of a new urbanism is based on the architectural traditions of the region where construction is underway. Therefore, the town built in accordance with the principles of new urbanism in the western United States will resemble a town from films about the wild west, and in Europe a medieval European city.
Ten Principles of New Urbanism
There are 10 principles that should guide the new urbanism.
most of the facilities are within a 10-minute walk from home and work;
pedestrian-friendly streets: the buildings are located close to the street and open onto it by windows and entrances; trees are planted along the street; parking in the street; hidden parking spaces; garages in the back alleys; narrow low-speed streets.
a network of interconnected streets provides a redistribution of transport and facilitates movement on foot;
hierarchy of streets: narrow streets, boulevards, avenues;
The high quality of the pedestrian network and public spaces makes walks attractive.
Mixed use (versatility) and diversity
mixing of shops, offices, individual housing of apartments in one place; mixed use within a microdistrict (neighborhood), within a quarter and within a building;
mixing people of different ages, income levels, cultures and races.
A variety of buildings
variety of types, sizes, price level of houses located nearby.
The quality of architecture and urban planning
emphasis on beauty, aesthetics, comfort of the urban environment, the creation of a “sense of place”; accommodation of public spaces within the community; the human scale of the architecture and the beautiful surroundings supporting the humanistic spirit.
Traditional Neighborhood Structure
the difference between the center and the periphery;
public spaces in the center;
quality of public spaces;
the main objects used on a daily basis must be within 10 minutes walking distance;
the highest density of buildings in the city center; building becomes less dense with distance from it;
buildings, residences, shops and service establishments are located closer to each other to facilitate pedestrian accessibility, more efficient use of resources and services and create a more comfortable and pleasant living environment
The principles of new urbanism are applied in the entire range of densities from townships to large cities.
a high-quality transport network connecting cities, towns and neighborhoods together;
pedestrian-friendly design that makes extensive use of bicycles, rollerblades, scooters and walking for daily movements.
minimal environmental impact of the building and its use;
clean technologies, respect for the environment and awareness of the value of natural systems;
reduced use of non-renewable energy sources;
increased local production;
walk more, drive less.
Quality of life
Together, these principles increase the high quality of life and allow you to create places that enrich, elevate and inspire the human spirit.
The primary organization promoting the New Urbanism in the United States is the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU). The Congress for the New Urbanism is the leading organization promoting walkable, mixed-use neighborhood development, sustainable communities and healthier living conditions. CNU members promote the principles of CNU’s Charter and the hallmarks of New Urbanism, including:
Livable streets arranged in compact, walkable blocks.
A range of housing choices to serve people of diverse ages and income levels.
Schools, stores and other nearby destinations reachable by walking, bicycling or transit service.
An affirming, human-scaled public realm where appropriately designed buildings define and enliven streets and other public spaces.
The CNU has met annually since 1993 when they held their first general meeting in Alexandria, Virginia, with approximately one hundred attendees. By 2008 the Congress was drawing two to three thousand attendees to the annual meetings.
The CNU began forming local and regional chapters circa 2004 with the founding of the New England and Florida Chapters. By 2011 there were 16 official chapters and interest groups for 7 more. As of 2013, Canada hosts two full CNU Chapters, one in Ontario (CNU Ontario), and one in British Columbia (Cascadia) which also includes a portion of the north-west US states.
While the CNU has international participation in Canada, sister organizations have been formed in other areas of the world including the Council for European Urbanism (CEU), the Movement for Israeli Urbanism (MIU) and the Australian Council for the New Urbanism.
By 2002 chapters of Students for the New Urbanism began appearing at universities including the Savannah College of Art and Design, University of Georgia, University of Notre Dame, and the University of Miami. In 2003, a group of younger professionals and students met at the 11th Congress in Washington, D.C. and began developing a “Manifesto of the Next Generation of New Urbanists”. The Next Generation of New Urbanists held their first major session the following year at the 12th meeting of the CNU in Chicago in 2004. The group has continued meeting annually as of 2014 with a focus on young professionals, students, new member issues, and ensuring the flow of fresh ideas and diverse viewpoints within the New Urbanism and the CNU. Spinoff projects of the Next Generation of the New Urbanists include the Living Urbanism publication first published in 2008 and the first Tactical Urbanism Guide.
The CNU has spawned publications and research groups. Publications include the New Urban News and the New Town Paper. Research groups have formed independent nonprofits to research individual topics such as the Form-Based Codes Institute, The National Charrette Institute and the Center for Applied Transect Studies.
In the United Kingdom New Urbanist and European urbanism principles are practised and taught by The Prince’s Foundation for the Built Environment. Other organisations promote New Urbanism as part of their remit, such as INTBAU, A Vision of Europe, and others.
The CNU and other national organizations have also formed partnerships with like-minded groups. Organizations under the banner of Smart Growth also often work with the Congress for the New Urbanism. In addition the CNU has formed partnerships on specific projects such as working with the United States Green Building Council and the Natural Resources Defense Council to develop the LEED for Neighborhood Development standards, and with the Institute of Transportation Engineers to develop a Context Sensitive Solutions (CSS) Design manual.
The New Urbanism Film Festival was held in 2013 and 2014 in Los Angeles to highlight films and short films about the New Urbanism and related topics. The 2011 film Urbanized by Gary Hustwit featured then CNU Board Chair Ellen Dunham-Jones and other urban thinkers on the international story of urbanization including the New Urbanist efforts in the United States.
The 2004 documentary The End of Suburbia: Oil Depletion and the Collapse of the American Dream argues that the depletion of oil will result in the demise of the sprawl-type development. New Urban Cowboy: Toward a New Pedestrianism, a feature length 2008 documentary about urban designer Michael E. Arth, explains the principles of his New Pedestrianism, a more ecological and pedestrian-oriented version of New Urbanism. The film also gives a brief history of New Urbanism, and chronicles the rebuilding of an inner city slum into a model of New Pedestrianism and New Urbanism called The Garden District.
New Urbanism has drawn both praise and criticism from all parts of the political spectrum. It has been criticized both for being a social engineering scheme and for failing to address social equity and for both restricting private enterprise and for being a deregulatory force in support of private sector developers.
Journalist Alex Marshall has decried New Urbanism as essentially a marketing scheme that repackages conventional suburban sprawl behind a façade of nostalgic imagery and empty, aspirational slogans. In a 1996 article in Metropolis Magazine, Marshall denounced New Urbanism as “a grand fraud”. The attack continued in numerous articles, including an opinion column in the Washington Post in September of the same year, and in Marshall’s first book, How Cities Work: Suburbs, Sprawl, and the Roads Not Taken
Critics have asserted that the effectiveness claimed for the New Urbanist solution of mixed income developments lacks statistical evidence. Independent studies have supported the idea of addressing poverty through mixed-income developments, but the argument that New Urbanism produces such diversity has been challenged from findings from one community in Canada.
Some parties have criticized the New Urbanism for being too accommodating of motor vehicles and not going far enough to promote walking, cycling, and public transport. The Charter of the New Urbanism states that “communities should be designed for the pedestrian and transit as well as the car”. Some critics suggest that communities should exclude the car altogether in favor of car-free developments. Michael E Arth proposes new pedestrianism as a way to further elevate the status of pedestrians by focusing on pedestrian-only paths. Steve Melia proposes the idea of “filtered permeability” (see Permeability (spatial and transport planning)) which increases the connectivity of the pedestrian and cycling network resulting in a time and convenience advantage over drivers while still limiting the connectivity of the vehicular network and thus maintaining the safety benefits of cul de sacs and horseshoe loops in resistance to property crime.
In response to critiques of a lack of evidence for the New Urbanism’s claimed environmental benefits, a rating system for neighborhood environmental design, LEED-ND, was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Congress for the New Urbanism, to quantify the sustainability of New Urbanist neighborhood design. New Urbanist and board member of CNU, Doug Farr has taken a step further and coined Sustainable Urbanism, which combines New Urbanism and LEED-ND to create walkable, transit-served urbanism with high performance buildings and infrastructure.
New Urbanism has been criticized for being a form of centrally planned, large-scale development, “instead of allowing the initiative for construction to be taken by the final users themselves”. It has been criticized for asserting universal principles of design instead of attending to local conditions.
Source from Wikipedia