The urban planning of cities has been markers of the physical histories of cities, shaping the lives of man since time immemorial – cities of the Indus Valley civilizations are the first evidence of meticulous and effective town planning known to man. The modern city and its planning have followed a process of evolutionary learning and created newer avenues to explore, understand and enhance the experience of man inhabiting space. Urban Planning allows the city and its systems such as transport, housing, residences and environment to collectively better the quality of life for its citizens.
These eight cities across the world have implemented these strategies and have become models for cities of the future for urban design and planning.
1. Copenhagen, Denmark
The urban plan of Copenhagen, Denmark was conceived as a ‘Five Finger Plan’ to build an integrated network of urban infrastructure, transport and green spaces. The key element of the planning is the location of people and their movement through the plan. The development is condensed along these lines to encourage the use of public transit networks. The emphasis on sustainability, the high quality of public life, a sensitive approach to development is testament to the success of the urban planning and execution in Copenhagen.
2. Chandigarh, India
The planned city of Chandigarh post the Indian Independence in 1947 was a modernist symbol of a new India. The Master Plan by Le Corbusier organizes the city in an orthogonal grid dividing it into sectors. Each sector is a self-sufficient component with residential, commercial, educational and healthcare facilities. The commercial street between sectors is linked to form a continuous ribbon of commercial activity. Fast-moving traffic roads form the division between sectors. The city of Chandigarh was envisioned as a Garden city and restricted vertical development to suit the living conditions of its residents.
3. Amsterdam, Netherlands
Amsterdam, the capital city of the Netherlands is planned along the four concentric canal rings initiated in the 17th century. These canals have given the city a definite structure whereas the housing is built in clusters to lend lateral support. Public housing in the city is designed to clearly define the urban character, with special attention paid to the façade design that is now the image of the city. The excellence of Dutch planning is reflected in the emphasis on connectivity, well designed public spaces for a higher standard of public life.
4. Washington D.C, USA
The urban plan of Washington D.C is known as the L’Enfant Plan named after Pierre Charles L’Enfant, the original urban planner for the city. The city is regulated with north-south and east-west running streets intersected by broader ‘avenues’ that would create rectangles within the grid for memorials and open spaces. The plan also establishes the National Mall – a landscaped public park, the extents marked by the United States Capitol and Lincoln Memorial on each end.
5. Dusseldorf, Germany
Dusseldorf saw great destruction due to heavy bombing during World War II. The rapid reconstruction of the city post-war brought huge economic growth. The rejuvenation of the harbor town was an objective of the redevelopment of buildings along the harbor. Dusseldorf is home to striking architecture by pioneers such as Frank Gehry. The city’s infrastructure also supports mobility via public transport as it is well connected by multiple rail networks.
6. Brasilia, Brazil
Brasilia’s urban plan developed by Lucio Costa is famously known as a ‘Pilot Plan’ owing to its plan that is defined by two intersecting axes. The monumental long axis is the location of all the government buildings, whereas the residences of the government employees are located along the cross axis. These residences are within areas known as the ‘super-quadra’ that also has amenities such as shops, hospitals and schools. However, Brasilia was envisioned largely as a city for automobiles and does not consider pedestrian mobility.
Image caption – Master Plan of Singapore
Image Source – ©Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), Singapore
The city-state of Singapore has seen rapid economic development and high quality of public life owing to an efficient government and city planning strategy. Divided into a series of partially self-sufficient precincts, each precinct is governed by four regional centers other than the central government. These planning strategies have been successful in creating quality affordable housing, integrating green spaces, enhancement of mobility and transport services while sustaining a flourishing economy.
8. Putrajaya, Malaysia
Putrajaya was envisioned as a ‘garden city’, a theme to befit the new federal administrative centre of the Malaysian Government. The city planning is intelligent and efficient and includes planned features such as large designated green areas, water bodies and waterfronts, peripheral residential precincts and a large central boulevard that acts as a spine to the city. The master-plan also successfully weaves in commercial activity as a part of the planning.