New Urbanism- Principles and Examples in Planning and Architecture

Since the dawn of time, humans have craved the sense of community that binds them to the numerous relationships they form. This factor may have contributed to the development of the Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa civilizations, the two most precisely planned ancient communities that may have started the dawn of new urbanism. Because of the global population growth that has occurred throughout the ages, New Urbanism appears to have lost some of its original meaning.

It is crucial to bring back neighbourhood planning, transit-oriented development, and cultural aspects of life that have been declining as a result of the uneven expansion. While the purpose of new urbanism is to create livable communities, aspects such as ease of living and solutions for a high quality of life draw people to utilise them for their own benefit. The concept of having walkable neighbourhoods with broad walkways, public parks for recreation, and open spaces for cultural events has always been valued and celebrated.

The emergence of New Urbanism is a response to the spreading out of cities
The emergence of New Urbanism is a response to the spreading out of cities

The foundation behind the creation of cities since the olden days has always been about walkable blocks and streets, homes and businesses situated near to one another, and accessible public spaces—form the cornerstone of the "New Urbanism" construction and planning ideology.

Principles of New Urbanism:

  1. Walkability
  2. Connectivity
  3. Mixed Use and Diversity
  4. Mixed Housing
  5. Quality Architecture and Urban design
  6. Traditional Neighborhood Structure
  7. Increased Density
  8. Smart Transportation
  9. Sustainability
  10. Quality of Life
A Public Space in Columbia Heights, Washington DC
A Public Space in Columbia Heights, Washington DC

1. Walkability: 

  • In sustainable cities, walking is one of the main forms of transportation.
  • Given that it is more environmentally and socially responsible than other modes of transportation, walking should be safe, convenient, and enjoyable for walkers.
  • In the past, cities' streets served as their public spaces, a place for the people. They were not set up for cars or transit.
  • The logic behind this is that public areas like streets and plazas may be used for community engagement.

2. Connectivity:

  • A crucial factor creating the foundation of new urbanism.
  • The principal of walkable neighbourhoods forms the very idea of new urbanism due to which connectivity between street networks and the city fabric is essential.
  • Apart from just walkable cities, connectivity plays an equal role in  promoting businesses and providing job opportunities all the while strengthening the economic activities.

3. Mixed use and Diversity:  

  • A variety of individuals, businesses, buildings, homes for sale, and apartments often showcases a well knit city fabric.
  • A diverse population in a community is highly treasured.
  • This places a strong focus on cities promoting racial harmony and the blending of people from different backgrounds and ages.

4. Mixed Housing:  

  • The construction of homes in a wide range of styles, scales, and price levels, including both huge and modest dwellings is not something that should be looked over while planning. 
  • The emphasis on the aesthetic value and enrichment of the town's estate and amenities is one of the basic pillars as it allows communities as well as individuals to make a place their home.

5. Quality Architecture and Urban Design: 

  • New urbanists believe that both the design and purpose of these spaces should better reflect the communities they serve and foster community participation. 
  • The structures should place a significant focus on comfort, aesthetics, aesthetics, and a sense of neighborhood. 

6. Traditional Neighbourhood Structure:  

  • The basic principle is that residents must be able to go on foot to nearby destinations without relying on a vehicle.
  • This indicates that the town's core is located in the center, a ten-minute walk from the edges.

7. Increased Density:  

  • The New Urbanism community has a high density of residents since it is necessary for a neighbourhood to flourish for the entire town to be walkable.
  •  All institutions, businesses, etc areas are reachable on foot.
  • Only if the community is constrained to a small area that has a high density of population is this achievable.

8. Smart Transportation: 

  • Utilizing lesser fuel oil and more bicycles, public transit, and a dense network is another New Urbanism principle.
  • In order to ensure that public transportation is regularly used and can compete with vehicles on shorter journeys,
  • Transit-oriented development involves the construction of new structures within a ten-minute walking distance.

9. Sustainability:  

  • The main goal of new urbanism is to raise community and neighbourhood dwellers' standards of living. 
  • Future city planning will be heavily influenced by the promotion of sustainable urban expansion and environmental preservation.

10. Quality of life: 

  • By including spaces that enrich the spirit, the design aims to guarantee that people lead happy lives.

New urbanism is attainable. Several case studies of cities serve as proof of concept. Cities like:

1. Harbour Town, Tennessee, USA

• Previously unutilized land was transformed into a residential project. 

• Envisioned a densely inhabited, human-scaled, and formally planned neighbourhood that assisted in the development of the neighbourhood and encouraged calm village life.

• This development pattern increases walkability, and accessibility, and creates opportunities for organic community engagement. 

• Within walking distance are small-scale retail businesses, a school, grocery, amenities, sports facilities, eateries, etc.

Harbour Town, USA
Harbour Town, USA

2. Cornell, Markham, Canada 

• Was planned to be a crowded, mostly pedestrianised, and well-connected residential community.

• This includes structuring roads around with a pattern, as opposed to the curving, cul-de-sac layouts typical of suburban neighbourhoods.

• Townhouses and detached houses are lined up in rows situated within small lots with front porches and balconies. 

• These boost the neighbourhood's accessibility and walkability by providing a diversity of dwelling types buffered by large walkways and porous brick constructions.

Cornell, Canada
Cornell, Canada

3. Navi Mumbai, India

• Mumbai's city planning has historically been haphazardly organic, with clustering zones significantly affecting how much land is utilised and how much is left undeveloped.

• Mumbai's present congested fabrics make the deployment of new urbanism principles difficult and ineffective there.

• The planning authorities in Mumbai took a number of ideas into account, including walkability and transit alternatives, diversity, and spatial planning, in order to embrace this characteristic in certain parts of the city.

• Diversity is a key element of the new development since it fosters chances for engagement and society spatial zones.

Navi Mumbai, India
Navi Mumbai, India

An Ideal Urban Neighborhood Design

  • A centre and an edge to link and isolate are necessary components of a perfect neighbouring unit.
  • A quarter-mile radial radius from the centre of the reduced dimensions
  • A healthy mix of hobbies, employment, shopping, education, leisure, and religion.
  • Sophisticated framework for regulating traffic, allocating buildings, and interconnecting the streets.
  • Design of public areas and thoughtful building placement in cities are accorded top priority

Along with new urbanism, there are other ideologies that affect how cities grow. A related concept is the Guggenheim Effect, which states that when a focal point for a place of attraction is established, a city or neighbourhood starts to flourish. Although new urbanism has a lot of potential, the way these communities are designed in terms of density has lately been posing some challenges.

Given the neighbourhood's density, how will residents be able to maintain a certain amount of privacy?  considering that they are integral to town planning, human-centred design, pedestrian-oriented, engagement, and sustainability themes still require further study and development if New Urbanism is to genuinely create adaptability in our neighbourhoods, even if it does so on a smaller scale. More local authorities will start adopting rules that encourage small, walkable development.

New Urbanism- Principles and Examples in Planning and Architecture