The fundamentals of urban planning have changed over time to meet the demands and difficulties of communities. Urban planning previously prioritised developing practical and effective areas for industrialisation and transit. Due to this, sprawling, car-centric cities were built with little thought for the climate or social justice. Urban planning now focuses on building livable, sustainable, and fair communities. Mixed-use development, transit-oriented architecture, and green infrastructure prioritise community well-being and environmental sustainability. Urban planners are also becoming more aware of the value of stakeholder interaction and community involvement in influencing the built environment.

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The envisioned paris plan that never came true _©httpswww.messynessychic.com20220218the-paris-of-tomorrow-that-thankfully-never-was

Cerda’s Barcelona: The Emergence Of Modern Urban Planning In Spain

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Barcelona walls from the fifteenth century with the present city behind them and the original mediaeval walls in the foreground _©httpswww.vox.comenergy-and-environment20194818266760barcelona-sp

In the middle of the 19th century, Barcelona confronted a serious problem: excessive crowding. The mediaeval metropolis needed help keeping up with its growing population of over 200,000. Ildefons Cerda, a visionary urban planner, was sought out by the city and presented a radical new plan for Barcelona to transform it into a contemporary, livable city. The Eixample, Cerda’s visionary urban design, deviated from the conventional grid system of the ancient city. Instead, a new, octagonal grid was suggested, allowing for better traffic movement, ventilation, and sunlight. At the points where the octagons converged, there were big, open squares that would act as community gathering places.

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Barcelona’s failed architecture _©httpsfailedarchitecture.comwp-contentuploads201401eixample_header.jpg

However, Cerda’s strategy went beyond purely pragmatic factors. It also showed a fresh approach to urban planning that prioritised residents’ welfare. Cerda thought that a city’s layout directly affected the well-being and health of its citizens. His design incorporated elements intended to support a healthy and pleasant urban environment, such as broad, tree-lined avenues, numerous public parks, and lots of natural light and fresh air. The focus on social equality in Cerda’s strategy was one of its most novel features. The Eixample was intended to be a mixed-use neighbourhood that would house residents of all classes, unlike the ancient city, which was divided into distinct quarters for the wealthy and the poor.

In addition to numerous public facilities like markets, schools, and hospitals, the plan featured a variety of housing options, from enormous mansions to modest apartments. Cerda’s plan was imaginative, but city officials did not instantly accept it. Cerda and his supporters had to lobby and advocate for the Eixample for years before the city finally agreed to implement it. But when it was ultimately accepted in the 1850s, the effects were profound and immediate. The Eixample became a benchmark for contemporary urban planning, and numerous cities would subsequently implement comparable ideas.

Louis Kahn’s Philadelphia: A Manifestation Of Modernist Architecture In The United States

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Louis Kahn looking at a model of the never-built City Tower, a tower that was planned for Center City_©httpswww.inquirer.comphillycolumnistsinga_saffronlouis-kahn-retrospective-philadelphia-fabr

Khan’s efforts at Philadelphia City Hall were especially noteworthy because they showed his aptitude for fusing modernist architectural features with pre-existing historic buildings. To renovate and expand the historic building for the City Hall project, He created a modernist tower that complemented the original structure while giving the city a distinctive new character. Kahn thought the building should serve a deeper meaning and purpose and be purely functional. He believed buildings could inspire and elevate people because he saw them as vehicles for expressing human values. The University of Pennsylvania‘s Richards Medical Research Building is one of Kahn’s most well-known structures in Philadelphia.

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University of Pennsylvania’s Richards Medical Research Building _©httppaheritage.wpengine.comarticlelouis-kahn-midcentury-modern-philadelphia

With laboratories and other facilities arranged to encourage collaboration and communication among researchers, the building was created to address the requirements of medical research specifically. With a striking geometric facade and skillfully designed internal spaces that inspire awe and wonder, it was also intended to be a place of beauty and inspiration. The city of Philadelphia was included in Kahn’s concept for Philadelphia, not just specific structures. According to him, the city should be planned with public areas that are both useful and attractive to meet the requirements of its inhabitants. He supported the development of a system of parks and green areas throughout the city and protected old homes and areas.

Le Corbusier’s Paris Plan: The Vision Of A Radiant City

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Le Corbusier’s functionalist plan _©https99percentinvisible.orgarticleville-radieuse-le-corbusiers-functionalist-plan-utopian-radiant-city

The Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier presented his visionary urban plan for the city of Paris in 1925. It is also known as the Ville Radieuse or Radiant City. The design represented a revolutionary shift from the time’s prevalent urban planning methods, prioritising winding, narrow streets, tightly packed structures, and an ad hoc mix of residential, commercial, and industrial uses. The city envisioned by Le Corbusier would have wide boulevards, lots of green areas, and tall, modernist apartment structures. The design called for a grid of high-rise apartment buildings linked by a network of elevated walkways and roads, each block surrounded by greenery.

The Radiant city was designed to be an idealistic picture of the future—a sanitised, effective metropolis where people could live more happily. The plan was criticised from the start, with detractors claiming that it would ruin Paris’ historic structure and produce a lifeless, sterile environment. The Paris Plan was heavily criticised for destroying much of Paris’s historic buildings. Le Corbusier suggested demolishing significant portions of the city’s core, such as the Marais and the Île de la Cité, to construct a grid-like system of tall structures and public areas. In the opinion of many Parisians, this would destroy the city’s distinctive personality and cultural legacy.

The Paris Plan was also called out because it would have forced many people to relocate. Le Corbusier suggested relocating people to brand-new, high-rise apartment buildings on the city’s outskirts, away from the city’s crowded central areas. Critics claimed that doing so would have uprooted residents from their houses and disrupted established communities. The Paris Plan has been condemned by many for its excessive emphasis on functionalism and efficiency at the expense of beauty and the requirements of people. The “Radiant City,” a utopian concept in which high-rise buildings were arranged in a grid plan with green areas and amenities interspersed between them, inspired Le Corbusier’s vision of the city.

Many believed this strategy was too stubborn and ignored the requirements and preferences of people and communities. Despite being divisive, the Radiant City concept significantly impacted contemporary urban design and architecture. Generations of architects and urban planners would be inspired by its focus on functionalism, efficiency, and modern technology. Its legacy can be seen in the high-rise apartment complexes and modernist office buildings that predominate many cities today.

Barcelona, Philadelphia, And Paris: A Comparative Analysis Of Urban Planning

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A Comparative Analysis of Urban Planning_©httpswww.vox.comenergy-and-environment20194818266760barcelona-spain-urban-planning-history _©httpsarchswc.cooper.eduDetailobjects1073_ ©httpstwitter.coma

While Kahn’s plan sought to revitalise the city’s economic core, Cerda’s plan concentrated on enhancing living circumstances for locals. The main goals of Le Corbusier’s design were the separation of various modes of transportation and the modernisation of the city. However, the execution of all three schemes drew criticism. The green spaces and public squares envisioned in Cerda’s design were only partially realised. Residents of the city, who were averse to demolishing historic structures, opposed Kahn’s proposal. Due to its disregard for the city’s historical and cultural heritage, Le Corbusier’s design drew criticism.

The Legacy Of Cerda, Kahn, And Le Corbusier: Lessons For Contemporary Urban Planning

The legacy of urban planning_© Galerie Georges-Philippe & Nathalie Vallois, Paris.

Numerous principles can be learned from Cerda, Kahn, and Le Corbusier’s work. The need for urban planning that puts the requirements of city dwellers first is the most crucial. To achieve this, open and green spaces must be developed, as well as practical yet attractive structures, public areas, and effective yet easily accessible transportation systems. Recognising the value of community and the need for urban planning that encourages a feeling of connection and belonging among residents is also necessary. Modern urban planners can design beautiful and practical cities that satisfy the inhabitants’ requirements by learning from the contributions of these great urban planners.


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Aibar, E. and Bijker, W. (1997) [PDF] constructing a city: The Cerdà Plan for the extension of Barcelona: Semantic scholar, Science, Technology & Human Values. Available at: (Accessed: April 3, 2023). 

Louis Kahn and Midcentury modern Philadelphia (2020) Pennsylvania Heritage Magazine. Available at: (Accessed: April 3, 2023). 

Koloski, B.T. and Koloski, T. (2021) A look at the unbuilt city tower by Louis Kahn in Center City, Philadelphia YIMBY. Available at: (Accessed: April 3, 2023). 

1, Le Corbusier’s plan Voisin for Paris. Le Corbusier, from urbanisme … (no date). Available at: (Accessed: April 3, 2023). 

Russell, M. (2022) The Paris of Tomorrow that thankfully never was, Messy Nessy Chic. Available at: (Accessed: April 3, 2023).