New Urbanism refers to the architectural philosophy that was adopted after the end of the Second World War. It sought to implement a paradigm shift in traditional town planning (Gordon, 150). The main aim of the new type of city planning was to reduce overreliance on automobiles by planning city buildings in such a way that residential areas were close to shops, workplaces, and other social amenity areas. When homes are located near social places, it eases down the movement of people from one point to another. As a result, automobiles are used limitedly.
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Criticism (Talen 88)
The concept behind New Urbanism has been lauded and negatively criticized by different quarters. To begin with, some opponents of the New Urbanism ideology argue that the philosophy is not fair because it goes against the free will of consumers. A case in point is the strong opposition from Professor Peter Gordon (Deitrick and Ellis 150). He asserts that modern markets are largely liberal. Therefore, any attempt to institute strict architectural standards in urban planning goes against the expectation of the entire market. The University of Southern California professor affirms that the tastes and preferences of consumers should be the main driving forces of the contemporary markets due to the high degree of liberalized economies. He adds that car-oriented development in city planning is a misplaced priority. Urban planning should never be based on what people desire. However, all forms of city planning ought to adhere to strict professional and sustainable standards.
In addition, New Urbanism has been dismissed as a visionless attempt to repackage modern towns and cities into organized urban settlements. For instance, it is possible to aggravate the state of urban sprawl when social amenities, places of work, and residential areas are crowded in one spot. Minimal usage of vehicles to transport people from one point to another should not be equated to the devastating impacts of overcrowding and the subsequent emergence of informal settlements. Alex Marshall negatively criticized New Urbanism by claiming that it is a form of gross fraud. According to the journalist, New Urbanism derails individual aspirations to develop settlements based on personal planning.
Negative critiques of New Urbanism also observe that the alleged gains of the city planning philosophy do not have any feasible evidence. In other words, there are no practically visible merits of New Urbanism ever since the ideology was embraced. Proponents of New Urbanism are of the opinion that mixed-income development is one of the core benefits of this type of planning. Although mixed-income development has been supported by a number of studies as a crucial solution towards urban poverty, critics do not think the same (Deitrick and Ellis 150).
The permeable street grids adopted in New Urbanism are also perceived as an attempt to discriminate against other road users. For example, people who use public transport, cyclists, and pedestrians are disadvantaged by private motor vehicles. Structures constructed using the New Urbanism concept are also bound to be less effective in terms of barring crime. Critics lament that the conventional suburban neighborhoods are quite easy to manage and monitor owing to minimal overcrowding. Hence, property crime is exacerbated in the New Urbanism.
Worse still, there are cases of intense use of vehicles in New Urbanist developments. As much as the main objective of New Urbanism is to reduce the level of using automobiles, the goal is hardly met in some jurisdictions. For example, there are a number of human activities that demand the use of cars over short distances. As it stands now, the actual quantification of New Urbanism is yet to be done, even though the design aspect may be greatly beneficial to modern city planning.
Large scale development, coupled with central planning are two main attributes of New Urbanism. Critics of this planning system hold the opinion that it is upon final consumers to decide on their design and planning preferences. Hence, New Urbanism tends to ignore the priorities set by the local conditions.
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In spite of the above criticisms of New Urbanism, this concept of city planning can indeed solve the social problems confronting metropolitan regions, as discussed in the class book. First, Gottdiener and Hutchison posit that most contemporary metropolitan regions are bedeviled with a host of challenges (212). For instance, insecurity is a major challenge facing modern metropolitans. When settlements are positioned close together, it makes it easy to monitor the security status of the neighborhood. Homelessness can also be significantly reduced (Gottdiener and Hutchison 227)
When the urban population is concentrated within a common neighborhood, basic and vital social services such as water supply, electricity, and healthcare can be availed with a lot of ease. It is costly to offer basic amenities to scattered populations in distant neighborhoods (Bodzin 14).
On a final note, New Urbanist development can minimize pollution that emanates from excessive use of motor vehicles. Both sound and air pollution can be reduced when New Urbanism is effectively put in place in city planning.
Bodzin, Steven. “New Urbanism Philosophy Promotes Integration.” Multi – Housing News 36.6 (2001): 14. Print.
Deitrick, Sabina and Cliff, Ellis. “New Urbanism in the Inner City: A Case Study of Pittsburgh.” American Planning Association. Journal of the American Planning Association 70.4 (2004): 426-442. Print.
Gordon, Gordon. “Charter of the New Urbanism.” Journal of Real Estate Literature 10.1 (2002): 147-152. Print.
Gottdiener, Mark and Ray, Hutchison. The New Urban Sociology. New York: Westview Press, 2010. Print.
Talen, Emily. “Connecting New Urbanism and American Planning: An Historical Interpretation.” Urban Design International 11.2 (2006): 83-98. Print.