What is New Urbanism?

When we talk about urbanism and cities we mostly think of huge buildings, lot of cars, parking lots, roads for transportation, shopping malls etc. That is what every typical urban area includes. On one hand these urban areas include everything that modern people need, but on the other hand this kind of urban planning is not sustainable, it creates unpleasant, cold, industrial looks and also damages the economy in a long term. To fight against this urban sprawl, New Urbanism has been created.

New Urbanism is an area planning approach which is based on the principles of how cities had been built in the previous centuries. Basically it means creating small neighberhoods that are convenient for the peoples’ needs. Practically it gets as creation of easy walkable neighborhood blocks, tree lined streets, shopping spots in close proximity, job opportunities, parks and green areas, accessible public spaces etc. The main idea is that that there must be a place for everything in the human habitat, but by respecting sustainable principles and healthy living conditions.

New Urbanism started as a movement in the 1980s. This ideology developed as an alternative to traditional post Second World War urban development. Although urban development of this time stimulated the economy, created jobs and created convenient infrastructure, there was a lot of flaws of that such as single use and low density patterns. That caused negative health and environmental impacts on communities, beside this kind of development can’t exist in a long term, because there are no sustainable principles respected.

The New Urbanists are trying to bring back some of the human-scale neighborhoods. They are willing to return originally made neighborhoods and cities. For example, they want to create good pedestrian connections, green areas and independent businesses. They want to focus on the needs of a human not cars and manufactures. New urbanism means that there are diverse communities and everything human need can be reached by walking. Basically it means bringing back the city planning of prewar period, but in modern manner.

Although the main idea is to create convenient planning of the area, New Urbanism also includes architectural changes. It basically consists of traditional neighborhood design of a prewar period. Unlike of traditional urbanism, where newest urban trends are used to create modern, industrial looks. New Urbanism focuses more on traditional houses, small shops, cottage style etc. New Urbanism architecture reminds the architecture of the end of 19th century.

So far New Urbanism ideas are used in new cities of United States and have also been partly integrated in other modern, developed countries, but totally bringing back the previous city planning is almost impossible. Some of the New Urbanism ideas are very popular such as creation of green areas and public places, because they reflect the sustainable ideas, but changes of the whole street planning, transportation system, building arrangement and modern architecture is impossible, so New Urbanism probably won’t gain bigger popularity. Traditional urbanism ideas are still more popular and lot widely used.