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New Urbanism is an urban design movement, which promotes walkable neighborhood that contain a range of housing and job types. It arose in the United States in the early 1980s and continues to reform many aspects of real estate development and urban planning.

New Urbanism is strongly influenced by urban design standards prominent before the rise of the automobile and encompasses principles such as traditional neighborhood design (TND) and transit-oriented development (TOD). It is also closely related to Regionalism and Environmentalism.

The organizing body for New Urbanism is the Congress for the New Urbanism, founded in 1993. Its foundational text is the Charter of the New Urbanism, which says:

New urbanists support regional planning for open space, context-appropriate architecture and planning, and the balanced development of jobs and housing. They believe their strategies can reduce traffic congestion, increase the supply of affordable housing, and rein in urban sprawl. The Charter of the New Urbanism also covers issues such as historic preservation, safe streets, green building, and the redevelopment of brownfield land.


New Urbanism draws from the design of older urban neighborhoods, like this one in Venice, California.
Until the mid 20th century, cities were generally organized into and developed around mixed-use walkable neighborhoods. For most of human history this meant a city that was entirely walkable, although with the development of mass transit the reach of the city extended outward along transit lines, allowing for the growth of new pedestrian communities such as streetcar suburbs. But with the advent of cheap automobiles and favorable government policies, attention began to shift away from cities and towards ways of growth more focused on the needs of the car.

This new system of development, with its rigorous separation of uses, became known as "conventional suburban development" or pejoratively as urban sprawl, arose after World War II. The majority of U.S. citizens now live in suburban communities built in the last fifty years, and automobile use per capita has soared.

Although New Urbanism as an organized movement would only arise later, a number of activists and thinkers soon began to criticize the modernist planning techniques being put into practice. Social philosopher and historian Lewis Mumford criticized the "anti-urban" development of post-war America. The Death and Life of Great American Cities, written by Jane Jacobs in the early 1960s, called for planners to reconsider the single-use housing projects, large car-dependent thoroughfares, and segregated commercial centers that had become the "norm."

Rooted in these early dissenters, New Urbanism emerged in the 1970s and 80s with the urban visions and theoretical models for the reconstruction of the "European" city proposed by architect Leon Krier, and the "pattern language" theories of Christopher Alexander.

In 1991, the Local Government Commission, a private nonprofit group in Sacramento, Californiamarker, invited architects Peter Calthorpe, Michael Corbett, Andrés Duany, Elizabeth Moule, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, Stefanos Polyzoides, and Daniel Solomon to develop a set of community principles for land use planning. Named the Ahwahnee Principles (after Yosemite National Parkmarker's Ahwahnee Hotelmarker), the commission presented the principles to about one hundred government officials in the fall of 1991, at its first Yosemite Conference for Local Elected Officials.

Calthorpe, Duany, Moule, Plater-Zyberk, Polyzoides, and Solomon founded the Chicago-based Congress for the New Urbanism in 1993. The CNU has grown to more than 3,000 members, and is the leading international organization promoting new urbanist design principles. It holds annual Congresses in various U.S. cities.

New Urbanism is a broad movement that spans a number of different disciplines and geographic scales. And while the conventional approach to growth remains dominant, New Urbanist principles have become increasingly influential in the fields of planning, architecture, and public policy.

Defining elements

The husband-wife team of town planners Andrés Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, two of the founders of the Congress for the New Urbanism, met at Princeton Universitymarker. Their beliefs coalesced while at the Yale School of Architecturemarker in New Havenmarker. While living in one of New Haven's Victorian neighborhoods, they observed mixed-use streetscapes with corner shops, front porches, and a diversity of well-crafted housing. According to Duany and Plater-Zyberk, the heart of New Urbanism is in the design of neighborhoods, which can be defined by thirteen elements:

  1. The neighborhood has a discernible center. This is often a square or a green and sometimes a busy or memorable street corner. A transit stop would be located at this center.
  2. Most of the dwellings are within a five-minute walk of the center, an average of roughly 1/4 mile or 1,320 feet (0.4 km).
  3. There are a variety of dwelling types — usually houses, rowhouse, and apartment — so that younger and older people, single, and families, the poor, and the wealthy may find places to live.
  4. At the edge of the neighborhood, there are shops and offices of sufficiently varied types to supply the weekly needs of a household.
  5. A small ancillary building or garage apartment is permitted within the backyard of each house. It may be used as a rental unit or place to work (for example, an office or craft workshop).
  6. An elementary school is close enough so that most children can walk from their home.
  7. There are small playgrounds accessible to every dwelling — not more than a tenth of a mile away.
  8. Streets within the neighborhood form a connected network, which disperses traffic by providing a variety of pedestrian and vehicular routes to any destination.
  9. The streets are relatively narrow and shaded by rows of trees. This slows traffic, creating an environment suitable for pedestrians and bicycles.
  10. Buildings in the neighborhood center are placed close to the street, creating a well-defined outdoor room.
  11. Parking lots and garage doors rarely front the street. Parking is relegated to the rear of buildings, usually accessed by alleys.
  12. Certain prominent sites at the termination of street vistas or in the neighborhood center are reserved for civic buildings. These provide sites for community meetings, education, and religious or cultural activities.
  13. The neighborhood is organized to be self-governing. A formal association debates and decides matters of maintenance, security, and physical change. Taxation is the responsibility of the larger community.


United States

New urbanism is having a growing influence on how and where metropolitan regions choose to grow. At least fourteen large-scale planning initiatives are based on the principles of linking transportation and land-use policies, and using the neighborhood as the fundamental building block of a region. Miami,Florida has adopted the most ambitious new urbanist-based zoning code reform yet undertaken by a major U.S. city.

More than six hundred new towns, villages, and neighborhoods in the U.S. following new urbanism principles are planned or under construction. Hundreds of new, small-scale, urban and suburban infill projects are under way to reestablish walkable streets and blocks. In Maryland and several other states, new urbanist principles are an integral part of "smart growth" legislation.

In the mid-1990s, the U.S.marker Department of Housing and Urban Developmentmarker (HUD) adopted the principles of the new urbanism in its multi-billion dollar program to rebuild public housing projects nationwide. New urbanists have planned and developed hundreds of projects in infill locations. Most were driven by the private sector, but many, including HUD projects, used public money.

The Cotton District

The Cotton District was the first new urbanist development, begun in 1968 long before new urbanism existed. The District is located in Starkville, Mississippi bordering Mississippi State University, and consist mostly of rental units for college students. The Cotton District got its name because it is built in an area near an old cotton mill.


Seaside, Floridamarker, the first fully new urbanist town, began development in 1981 on eighty acres (324,000 m²) of Florida Panhandle coastline. It was featured on the cover of the Atlantic Monthly in 1988, when only a few streets were completed, and has become internationally famous for its architecture, and the quality of its streets and public spaces.

Seaside is now a tourist destination and appeared in the movie The Truman Show. Lots sold for $15,000 in the early 1980s, and slightly over a decade later, the price had escalated to about $200,000. Today, most lots sell for more than a million dollars, and some houses top $5 million.


The site of the former Stapleton International Airportmarker in Denver, Coloradomarker, closed in 1995, is now being redeveloped by Forest City Enterprises is one of the largest new urbanist project in the United Statesmarker. Construction began in 2001. The new community is zoned for residential and commercial development, including office parks and "big box" shopping centers. Stapleton is by far the largest neighborhood in the city of Denver and an eastern portion of the redevelopment site lies in the neighboring city of Auroramarker.

The design emphasizes a pedestrian orientation rather than the automobile-oriented designs found in many other planned developments. Nearly a third of the airport site was set aside for public parks and open space.

Stapleton is the site of the Denver School for Science and Technology, a 451-student public high school (grades 9-12) that is a charter school.

By the end of 2006, about 2,500 houses and more than 300 apartments had been built on the Stapleton site. When complete in about 15 years, it is expected to provide 8,000 houses, 4,000 apartments, 4 schools and 2 million square feet (180,000 m²) of retail space. Up to 30,000 people could live there. Northfield Stapleton, one of the development's major retail centers, recently opened.

All of Stapleton's airport infrastructure has been removed except for the control tower and a parking structure which remain standing as a reminder of the site's former days.

Mesa del Sol

  • Mesa del Sol, in Albuquerquemarker, New Mexicomarker (Massive Masterplanned Community) a 12,900-acre mixed-use is currently being developed by Forest City Enterprises as the largest new urbanist project in the United Statesmarker. Mesa del Sol has currently 3,000 jobs and will have approximately 40,000 jobs created over 35-50 buildout and 18 million square feet of office, industrial and retail space.Mesa del Sol will offer a variety of home-types including town homes, condominiums, apartments, single-family houses and semi-custom homes as well are planning for community centers, schools, family parks and access to jobs.Mesa del Sol will be build on 20 square miles of land and will have 37,500 homes for 100,000 residents build over master plan of 35 to 50 years and will set aside 3,200 acres for parks and open space. The first homes at Mesa del Sol are scheduled for touring late in 2009, with homebuyers moving in as early as 2010, Home prices will reflect a wide range, from approximately $125,000 to $300,000 dollars.Mesa del Sol first town center that will be build in the first phaseselected world-renowned architect Antoine Predock, AIA, of Albuquerque to design a 78,000-square-foot mixed-use town center building. The town center, which began construction in 2008, this will be first the hub for Mesa del Sol and will house a visitor center, business office space and retail businesses. The town center will have The features a curved glass facade and Video clips will be produced by Sony, a Mesa del Sol tenant, as well as aerial images of the town will be projected onto a 60-foot-tall by 280-foot-wide double-walled screen that arcs in a 360-foot radius. This curved silicon glass element is the curtain wall. It mitigates solar gain through a combination of low-e coatings, interior solar shades, and a customized silk-screen ceramic frit pattern derived from a bone’s internal lattice structure.The Architect of will have features a curtain wall whose ceramic frit controls daylight transmission, during the day, and serves as a film project screen at night.The first town center will be a L-shaped structure that has ground-level shops and restaurants with and a two-story covered open-air public zone for meetings and gatherings, in addition four large villages center and a urban center are all plan for local shopping.Mesa del Sol also has 14 schools planned including 3 combine middle through high schools plans plus charter, private schools, colleges, university branch.

Quay Valley Ranch

Quay Valley Ranch- is proposed $25 billion dollars planned community consisting of about 13,172 acres acres or 20 square mile for 150,000 residents with 45,000 jobs and 50,000 homes thatt would be built in Fivephases over 25 years in unincorporated Kings County, Californiamarker, located approximately halfway between or 2.5 hours to Los Angelesmarker and 2.5 hours to San Franciscomarker, It will be a model town for the 21st Century — a self-sustaining community that seamlessly melds the best qualities of "New Urbanism" with the traditions of the San Joaquin Valley's small rural towns, while carefully preserving the natural surroundings of the area. The community would include a water park, resort hotels and a convention center. There would be a university research campus, a trucking hub, a driving school for novices and race car drivers, manmade rivers and canals, restored wetlands, set aside land permanently for organic agriculture, Amusement and theme park, a 50,000 seat racetrack, an auto mall, Regional retail centers, town center with river walk, 30,000,000 feet of commercial, industrial land, farms, houses, schools and a medical centers.The planned community is being organized by over 250 Planning Team Members by Kings County Ventures, LLC, a limited liability company incorporated and registered in Californiamarker that has put project on hold.

Here the video of town to be:

Haile Plantation

Haile Plantation, Floridamarker, is a 2,600 household (1,700 acre) development of regional impact southwest of the City of Gainesville, within Alachua County. Haile Village Center is a traditional neighborhood center within the development. It was originally started in 1978 and completed in 2007. In addition to the 2,600 homes the neighborhood consists of two merchant centers (one a New England narrow street village and the other a chain grocery strip mall). There are also two public elementary schools and an 18-hole golf course.

Disney's Celebration, Florida

In June 1996, the Walt Disney Company unveiled its 5,000 acre (20 km²) town of Celebrationmarker, near Orlando, Florida. Celebration opened its downtown in October, 1996, while Seaside's downtown was still mostly unbuilt. It has since eclipsed Seaside as the best-known new urbanist community, but Disney shuns the label, calling Celebration simply a "town." Disney has been criticized for insipid nostalgia, and heavy-handed rules and management.

Other countries

New Urbanism is closely related to the Urban village movement in Europe. They both occurred at similar times and share many of the same principles although urban villages has an emphasis on traditional city planning. In Europe many brown-field sites have been redeveloped since the 1980s following the models of the traditional city neighbourhoods rather than Modernist models. One well-publicized example is Poundburymarker in Englandmarker, a suburban extension to the town of Dorchester, which was built on land owned by the Duchy of Cornwall under the overview of Prince Charles. The original masterplan was designed by Leon Krier. A report carried out after the first phase of construction found a high degree of satisfaction by residents, although the aspirations to reduce car dependency had not been successful. Rising house prices and a perceived premium have made the open market housing unaffordable for many local people.

The Council for European Urbanism (C.E.U.), formed in 2003, shares many of the same aims as the US New Urbanists. C.E.U.'s Charter is a development of the Congress for the New Urbanism Charter revised and reorganised to relate better to European conditions. An Australian organisation, Australian Council for New Urbanism has since 2001 run conferences and events to promote new urbanism in that country. A New Zealand Urban Design Protocol was created by the Ministry for the Environment in 2005.

There are many developments around the world that follow New Urbanist principles to a greater or lesser extent:

There are several such developments in South Africa. The most notable is Melrose Arch in Johannesburg. The first development in the Eastern Cape, one of the lesser known provinces in the country, is located in East London. The development, announced in 2007, comprises 30 hectares. It is made up of three apartment complexes together with over 30 residential site as well as 20,000 sqm of residential and office space. The development is valued at over R2-billion ($250 million).

New Urbanist Organizations

The primary organization promoting the New Urbanism in the United States is the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU). The Congress has met annually since 1993 when they held their first meeting in Alexandria, VA with approximately 100 attendees. By 2008 the Congress was drawing 2,000 to 3,000 attendees to the annual meetings. The Congress began forming local and regional chapters circa 2004 with the founding of the New England and Florida Chapters. By 2009 there were 12 official chapters and interest groups for 11 more.

While the CNU has international participation, sister organizations have been formed in other areas of the world including the Council for European Urbanism (CEU), the Movement for Israeli Urbanism (MIU) and the Australian Council for the New Urbanism.

By 2002 student chapters referring to themselves as Students for the New Urbanism began appearing at universities including the University of Georgiamarker, Notre Dame Universitymarker, and the University of Miamimarker. In 2003, a group of younger professionals and students met at the 11th Congress in Washington, D.C. and began developing a "Manifesto of the Next Generation of New Urbanists". The Next Generation of New Urbanists held their first major session the following year at the 12th meeting of the CNU in Chicago in 2004. The group has continued meeting annually as of 2009 with a focus on young professionals, students, new member issues, and ensuring the flow of fresh ideas and diverse viewpoints within the New Urbanism and the CNU. Spin off projects of the New Generation of the New Urbanists include the Living Urbanism publication first published in 2008.

The CNU has spawned publications and research groups. Publications include the New Urban News and the New Town Paper. Research groups have formed independent nonprofits to research individual topics such as the Form-Based Codes Institute, The National Charrette Institute and the Center for Applied Transect Studies.

In the United Kingdommarker New Urbanist and European urbanism principles are practiced and taught by the The Prince's Foundation for the Built Environment. Other organisations promote New Urbanism as part of their remit, such as INTBAU, A Vision of Europe, and others.

The CNU and other national organizations have also formed partnerships with like-minded groups. Organizations under the banner of Smart Growth also often work with the Congress for the New Urbanism. In addition the CNU has formed partnerships on specific projects such as working with the [United States Green Building Council] and the National Resources Defense Council to develop the LEED for Neighborhood Development standards and with the Institute of Transportation Engineers to develop a Context Sensitive Solutions (CSS) Design manual.

New Urbanism in film

The 1998 fantasy comedy-drama film The Truman Show uses the real life New Urbanist town of Seaside, Floridamarker as the setting for a perfect, fictional town constructed as a set for a television show. The 2004 documentary The End of Suburbia: Oil Depletion and the Collapse of the American Dream argues that the depletion of oil will result in the demise of the sprawl-type development. New Urban Cowboy: Toward a New Pedestrianism, a feature length 2008 documentary about urban designer Michael E. Arth, explains the principles of his New Pedestrianism, a more ecological and pedestrian-oriented version of New Urbanism. The film also gives a brief history of New Urbanism, and chronicles the rebuilding of an inner city slum into a model of New Urbanism.


New urbanism has drawn both praise and criticism from all quarters of the political spectrum. Some libertarians and fiscal conservatives view new urbanism as a collectivist plot designed to rob Americans of their civil freedoms, property rights, and free-flowing traffic.

Perhaps the most frequent criticism of the movement is that the most famous and highest-profile projects most associated with the movement (primarily Celebration, Kentlands, and Seaside) are all greenfield projects built on what was previously open space and therefore are just another form of sprawl. (The city of Herculesmarker on the other hand is developing its New Urbanism communities on brownfields.) Other projects like Stapleton (Denver), the Pearl Districtmarker (Portland) and Glenwood Park (Atlanta) are all newer brownfield projects that are all begining to undermine this long standing criticism. Critics react to this as a controlled sprawl that assumes that social situations can and should also be controlled, such that preconceived rules of what a town need be are first worked out on paper and then acted out in real space. Often the results are elitist and exclusionary, and are almost always conservative in nature.

Although the current use of non-mixed ghettoed social housing projects have been a dismal failure, critics claim that the effectiveness of the New Urbanist solution of mixed income developments lacks statistical evidence. However, numerous studies by independent think tanks provide support to the basis for addressing poverty through mixed-income developments, because these developments facilitate the bridging of social capital, and thus provide for a higher shared quality of life across socioeconomic cleavages.

A stream of thought in sustainable development maintains that sustainability is based primarily on the combination of high density and transit service. Critics claim many new urbanist developments fall short of being truly sustainable, to the extent that they rely on automobile transport, and serve the detached single family housing market. Many new urbanists claim that this is an incentive that prepares people in transition from conventional suburban living to going back to downtown living.

The New Urbanist preference for 'permeable' street grids has been criticised on the grounds that it gives private motor vehicles an advantage over walking, cycling and public transport. The transport performance of some New Urbanist developments, such as Poundburymarker has been disappointing, with surveys revealing high levels of car use The alternative view, termed 'filtered permeability' (see Permeability ) is that to give pedestrians and cyclists a time and convenience advantage, they need to be separated from motor vehicles in places.

A forthcoming rating system for neighborhood environmental design, LEED-ND, being developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Congress for the New Urbanism [24147], should help to quantify the sustainability of New Urbanist neighborhood design. New Urbanist and board member of CNU, Doug Farr has taken a step further and coined Sustainable Urbanism, which combines New Urbanism and LEED-ND to create walkable, transit-served urbanism with high performance buildings and infrastructure. While New Urbanism seeks to create walkable communities, it lacks an emphasis on requiring these communities to participate in the green building movement.

See also

Architects and urbanists

Transportation Planners and Engineers





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  5. Miami Reforms
  6. DSST Web site
  7. Stapleton Web Site
  8. USA Today
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  10. link to official website
  11. Teri Pruden, "The New Urban Cowboy: Michael E. Arth transforms Cracktown into Historic Garden District in DeLand” DeLand Magazine, Jan-Feb, 2008. Pages 8, 9.
  12. New Urban Cowboy review in Carbusters Magazine, issue #32, Winter 2007/2008, page 26.
  13. "Plan Obsolescence," Reason, June 1998
  14. Goetz, Edward G. (2003) Clearing the Way: Deconcentrating the Poor in Urban America, The Urban Institute Press: Washington, DC
  15. Chaskin, R.J., Joseph, M.L., Webber, H.S. (2007) The Theoretical Basis for Addressing Poverty Through Mixed-Income Development. Urban Affairs Review 42 (3): 369-409.
  16. "Neighbourhoods Should be Made Permeable for Walking and Cycling but not for Cars", Steve Melia, Local Transport Today, January 23, 2008


  • Arth, Michael E., The Labors of Hercules: Modern Solutions to 12 Herculean Problems. 2007 Online edition. Labor IX: Urbanism Link to book
  • Brooke, Steven (1995). Seaside. Gretna, La.: Pelican Publishing Company. ISBN 0-88289-997-X
  • Calthorpe, Peter (1993). The Next American Metropolis: Ecology, Community, and the American Dream. New York: Princeton Architectural Press. ISBN 1-878271-68-7
  • Calthorpe, Peter and William Fulton (2001). The Regional City: Planning for the End of Sprawl. Washington, DC: Island Press. ISBN 1-55963-784-6
  • Dutton, John A. (2001). New American Urbanism: Re-forming the Suburban Metropolis. Milano: Skira editore. ISBN 88-8118-741-8
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  • Katz, Peter (1994). The New Urbanism: Toward an Architecture of Community. New York: McGraw-Hill. ISBN 0-07-033889-2
  • Kunstler, James Howard (1994). Geography Of Nowhere: The Rise And Decline of America's Man-Made Landscape. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-671-88825-0
  • Waugh, David. 2004 Buying New Urbanism: A Study of New Urban Characteristics that Residents Value. Applied Research Project. Texas State University.

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