Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Ideal and Liveable Cities

Liveable Cities provides direct links to main websites dealing with the concepts and theories of the "liveable city", pedestrian city and village, eco-towns, garden city movement, and creating the quality of life through urban planning and urban design.

Utopia on Trial: http://www.hughpearman.com/articles3/utopia.html

11 Principles of a Water Sensitive City: http://liveablecities.com.au/11-principles-for-a-water-sensitive-city/

Pedestrian City -  Quality of Life: http://www.newurbanism.org/pedestrian.html

What makes an Eco-Town?

Complete Street: http://www.8-80cities.org/Complete_Streets.html

A simple but very powerful concept: 

All streets should be designed , built , operated , and maintained in a way that takes into consideration the needs of all users: pedestrians, cyclists, transit users, and motorists. Safe access must be ensured for all users, regardless of age or physical ability.

Searching for an ideal urbanity


This term has been selected as it refers to the urban condition but also to the rules and behaviors that allow the gathering and co-existence of citizens.


"in Europe, as well as in North and South America, there are a number of visible cities whose shape is owed to the concept of the ideal city. Among them are, above all, princely foundations like the Renaissance cities Sabbioneta and Pienza in Italy, Zamość in Poland, and Baroque city constructions like Potsdam and Vila Real de Santo Antonio in Portugal. While in these cities the clear gridding of the city’s layout and the uniformity of construction have in part survived to this day, the social potential of the ideal city is more palpable in the settlements that arose from the spirit of Utopian Socialism in the 19th century.

Since the renaissance, visual artists have been intensely interested in the concept of the Ideal City, even though most of them remained unrealised, invisible cities. This continues until Constant’s »New Babylon« and the projects of the Archigram group in the 1960s. In the last 25 years, however, this idea no longer played a noteworthy role in artistic discourse although many artists deal with the thematic field of space/house/city in their works. The general absence of utopian thinking in the political realm and society seems to be also manifest in art. The idea of the Ideal City was always closely tied to the question of how a society should best be set up. The physical shape of the city often developed parallel to political-social utopias. The hesitation about the theme of the »Ideal City« is also based in the suspicion of totalitarianism under which utopias in general meanwhile stand.

Following geometrical regularities, usually planned in the form of orthogonal grids, ideal cities were regarded as a sign and expression of rationality. The use of the grid for city layouts often found its continuation in the individual buildings, whose facades and forms varied similar basic modules. Today, the fascination exerted by the idea of the ideal city is primarily aesthetic. But the strict grid and rational structure are not exhausted in the charm of the surface; the utopian spirit beneath it is palpable – including its ominousness. Especially today, when the discourse about form and development of urban space is governed by current themes like the »Megalopolis« or »Shrinking Cities«, it seems necessary to give the concept of the Ideal City a fresh glance while also searching for traces of the many invisible cities."