- New Urbanism: Substance or Image? Illustrate your essay wi...
New Urbanism: Substance or Image? Illustrate your essay with specific examples.
Having to face the outfall of Modernist utopian dreams that
ended up as bland, dystopian housing estates as well as
Postmodernist celebration of eclectic individualism, New Urbanists
are struggling to find a way to realise the social aspirations of
Modernist town planners in the context of a capitalist society.
With particular reference to the American organisation Congress for
the New Urbanism (CNU) this thesis analyses whether it is possible
for an architectural movement to change urban neighbourhoods for
the better in a market-driven economy.
In the twentieth century not one but two movements with town
planning at their heart came to prominence in the architectural
communities of the Western World. At the beginning of the century
the Modern Urbanists, organised as the Congrès Internationaux
d'Architecture Moderne developed out of the Modern Movement, while
towards the turn of the millennium the New Urbanists formed.
While the modernist manifesto of urbanism responded to the
social needs of the time, its vision did not succeed. This failure
was not due to the aesthetic rendered by the removal of traditional
ornamentation, the efficient use of new materials or the industrial
standardisation, but the zoned sprawl, which might have worked on
the drawing board but in reality created anti-humanistic
environments. The New Urbanists have returned to the belief that
the built environment is part of the solution of contemporary
social problems. They are, in principle, quite aware that this is
not necessarily a matter of aesthetics, though. Unfortunately it
often gets identified as of a particular style, as people not
familiar with New Urbanist principles mix it up with
Neotraditionlism, complete with its nostalgia which appeals to a
lot of homebuyers, as it markets itself as the dream of life in
small-town America. However, New Urbanism is not a matter of image,
of aesthetics or style. It is more than that. The concept is based
on substance, on principles formulated out of urban patterns
developed over centuries.
At the end of the day, however, it will be time that will
determine whether new urbanist townscapes were successful in
providing a social, environmental and culturally sustainable
framework that made urban design relevant again.