A city’s planning plays a crucial role in the way people live. Since all the major activities and links between them take place in a particular area, it is imperative to plan well if we want everything to run smoothly. Many cities have been planned haphazardly and people have suffered from several issues as a result of it. Large-scale planning involves many aspects such as infrastructure, transit, zone-land uses, public spaces, basic facilities, as well as considerations for future expansion. Looking at how master plan concepts work and what urban elements are significant in terms of city design in the respective capital cities, here is a glimpse of how they work.
1. Brasilia, Brazil
An airplane plan form concept by Lucio Costa symbolized a new future. A large part of the different zones is segregated by two main axes: monumental and residential. In the monumental axis front, the central linear park adjoins the public buildings designed by Oscar Niemeyer, including the parliament, cathedral, courthouse, ministries, and museums. There are two wings of superquadra housing along with local facilities located on the residential axis. A crucial aspect of the design is the separation between vehicular and pedestrian circulation, and a focus on “building within a landscape” rather than on creating streets.
2. Copenhagen, Denmark
Five-finger planning gives Copenhagen city its unique identity and illustrates its high living quality. A slender finger of urbanization is visible in this plan, along with the railways and green spaces between. “Green wedges” (agriculture, parks, and recreational areas) are intended to develop between the fingers, whereas suburbanization is like pearls on a string. People’s accessibility is taken into account in this densely populated central urban fabric. People are also more likely to be happy in a cycle-friendly sustainable city.
3. Paris, France
Known as the city of dreams, Paris developed in a radial form. The planning of the city was done by George-Eugene Haussmann. During the rebuilding of Paris into a modern city, many aspects were included. It seems that the roads in this city are organized symmetrically, and the main roads pass through several major buildings and monuments. In addition to an underground sewer system, portable water and wastewater are separated. Buildings in the vicinity were reconstructed in neoclassical style with shops on the ground floor. In urban design, the placement of famous buildings (Place Vendome, Place de la Concorde, Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame de Paris, etc.) creates a narrative and also attracts tourists to a particular city.
4. New Delhi, India
The city was planned by Edwin Lutyens and was influenced by nature. The combination of a strong straight axis in the middle with an avenue of trees at either end enhances the blend of modern and classical design. In Old Delhi, streets are narrow, crowded, and winding, whereas, in New Delhi,they are straight and diagonal patterns that provide a large amount of green space and an attractive view.
5. Washington D.C., United States
One of the most notable features of this city is its unique street design, which was designed by Pierre Charles L’enfant. The city is divided into four quadrants, Northwest, Northeast, Southwest, and Southwest, along with three major streets, North Capitol, East Capitol, and South Capitol. The streets have a strong geometric essence with number and letter names in the north-south direction and east-west direction respectively. The diagonal streets create great vistas that lead to public spaces and focal points, while the grid forms interesting streetscapes by creating triangles, trapezoidal lots, and beautiful parks. The building height is restricted to maintain the horizontal cityscape. Washington’s architecture plays a vital role in the aesthetics of the city.
6. Canberra, Australia
The original concept for the city design was influenced by the movements “City Beautiful” and “English Garden City”. The geometrical concept plan designed by Walter Burley Griffin is similar to that of Washington, D.C. In addition to distributing land for residences, the ‘Y’ shape concept creates a consolidated system of parkways and decentralizes population growth from its central areas. The major highways and route networks were built to connect the residential areas to the city centers.
Singapore is known as the global financial hub and initially designed by the Stamford Raffles. Besides its infrastructure, the city is also known for its efficient public transport and Marina Bay Skyline, which is one of its most striking features. It was designed to guide Singapore‘s physical development through the strategic use of land and transportation. The consideration of the high-quality living environment remains the same even in the formation of extended planning.
9. Abuja, Nigeria
The master plan of Abuja acknowledges the significance of the central portion. Interestingly the central portion, which is the heart of the government capital of Nigeria, contains the most government buildings, devout buildings, and workplaces for the foreign discretionary community. The residential zone expanded from two sides of the center. This is also a good example of an orderly developed city.
10. Zürich, Switzerland
A transit-oriented city like Zürich is the most liveable city because of characteristics like the design of the green areas, the facade, the bus shelters, as well as the lighting and construction of the roads and railway lines.
11. Islamabad, Pakistan
Greek designer Constantinos Apostolou Doxiadis designed Islamabad on a grid-iron design. The fundamental grid of 2000 x 2000 meters separates the city into 84 divisions. The other is the ‘natural’ framework created by gorges streaming through the complete location zone. Each segment has five sub-sectors – four private and one commercial, which are encircled by auto routes with pedestrian networks within the sector. Each of the divisions would be low-slung and fundamentally comprised of single-family homes which is based on an American suburban model.
- My favorite plan-Brasilia Master Plan (2020)_Meredith Evans, Available at:
- Paul Cahasan & Arielle Farina Clark_Copenhagen, Denmark, Available at:
- Shayma Bawatneh(2017)_Planning of Paris City(1853-1870) case study, Available at:
- Margaret L Gaw(2018) _Lutyens’ Delhi and City Planning, Available at:
- Washington, D.C. City Layout_Britannica, Available at:
- Chew, Valerie(2009)_Urban Planning Framework in Singapore, Available at:
- Bunnarith Meng (2002)_URBAN PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL TERRITORY, CANBERRA : A CRITICAL REVIEW, Available at :
- AS+P Projects_Review of the Master Plan for Abuja Central Area
- DSLRwalaybhai (2020)_ THE ISLAMABAD MASTER PLAN, Available at:
01_Master plan of Brasilia_redd.it
02_Brasilia aerial view_googlrapis.com
03_Brasilia night view_wallpaperaccess.com
04_Copenhagen finger plan_iaacblog.com
07_Paris aerial view_Jeffrey Milstein_artitledcontemporary.com
08_Paris aerial view light night_fubiz.net
09_Aerial view from Eiffel tower_Stefan Rotter_fineartamerica.com
10_Central Axis Delhi_theyakboard.com
13_Washington, DC Mater plan_wikipedia.org
14_Canberra Aerial View_businessevents.australia.com
15_Canberra Master plan_flckr.com
16_Singapore Aerial view_Willium ch0_flickr.com
19_Zurich rail yard_dreamstime.com.jpeg