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Neighbourhood Design

The principles of neighbourhood design, such as walking distance (400m), a clear centre, identifiable edges, mixture of people and land use, and street pattern (small blocks 80 by 200 m max), are directed to design liveable neighbourhoods.062

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Origins of the Idea

There were three trends shaping the 20th century: Anti-urbanism (suburbs), Urbanism (large cities, modernism), and Micro-urbanism (Garden cities, New towns, New urbanism, Urban villages, Eco-towns). The Micro-urbanism, also called New Town Movement, originated  from polluted, overcrowded, and poor living conditions in growing Victorian cities. And peole started to search for ideal cities and take experiments in model settlements. Beside that, the ideal of living in the countryside, and railways and suburban sprawl are another origins of this movement.061

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Garden Cities

In the end of 19th century, there are problems of polluted, overcrowded, unhealthy in big cities. Howard thus put forward “ the town- country magnet” ideal which called “Garden City”. “The town magnet” attracts people to immigrate to over-crowded cities and it would lead to countries depleted.

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Human society and natural beauty can be enjoyed together in this model: a town is built 6000 acres from the centre and covers 1000 acres. Six 120 feet wide boulevards divides the city to six equal parts. A well-watered garden surrounded by public buildings at the centre become a central park. The “Crystal Palace” runs around the park, and then it stands a ring of Fifth Avenue, excellent houses  and a 420 feet wide avenue occupied by public schools and churches. On the outer ring are factories, warehouses, dairies, markets, coal yards, timber yards, which face to the circle railway.

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Postwar New Towns

After the World War II, it was a generation of the New Towns and decentralization was the key thing of it. In London, during the first generation (1946-50),  the ideal model includes small new towns (30,000 population), balanced and self-contained, suburban character, overspill of large city populations, limited mobility, neighbourhood units, cul-de-sacs, and modernist design.06

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Then the second generation (1960s) is larger towns, more mobility and choice, and more modern. Here is an example of Washington, which is a car-based design city. Villages are around the road network.063%e5%89%af%e6%9c%ac

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New Urbanism

New Urbanism is a model in America, which includes two versions: Traditional Neighbourhood Development (TND)  and Transit-Oriented Development (TOD).

In this model, the centre of each neighbourhood should be defined by a public space and activated by locally oriented civic and commercial facilities; each neighbourhood should accommodate a range of household types and land uses; cars should be kept in perspective; and architecture should respond to the surrounding buildings and spaces and to local traditions.

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Future of the Idea
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Governments have taken different planning approaches to pursuit the ideal cities around the world. The example of Tianfu New District, acts  as a new Garden City in China.

After fast economic development in China, the problems of population and ill-health have become serious. It holds the second largest number of vehicle (about 3.89 millions in 2016) and  high PM2.5 index.The government considers to apply a sustainable way of the past to manage the city.

Tianfu New District response the problems of urban sprawl by considering improved air quality, less traffic and better health for residents. Here, the proposed garden city is located on the outskirts of Chengdu, China’s fourth-biggest city and home to 14 million people. “Clusters of skyscrapers emerge from leafy avenues, and a monorail swoops through trees. The sheer scale of the development is striking, with 13 new residential zones, specialist employment areas covering everything from electronics to modern agriculture, and major infrastructure projects, including a central park inspired by New York.”

This area will be completed in 2030. We look forward to its well applying the Garden City model.

Reference list:

  1. Ames, D., Taking Letchworth to Chengdu: can garden cities work in China? Available at:  https://www.theguardian.com/housing-network/2014/dec/02/garden-cities-china-chengdu-letchworth
  2. Howard, E., Author’s Introduction and The Town-Country Magnet, in The City Reader.
  3. “New Urbanism”. En.wikipedia.org. N.p., 2017. Web. 23 Jan. 2017.
  4. Osborn, F., & Whittick, A. (1963). The new towns : The answer to megalopolis. London: L. Hill.

Image resource:

  1. Figure 1: Walkability and Public Transport, taken from: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-sogE2ckyrLo/UOo4c86d5jI/AAAAAAAADMk/tJk5PE8FtSg/s1600/LNCS4.JPG
  2. Figure 2: taken from: Neighbourhood Design, 2016. Lecture
  3. Figure 3: Garden City concept, taken from: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/3/3d/Garden_City_Concept_by_Howard.jpg/1280px-Garden_City_Concept_by_Howard.jpg
  4. Figure 4: Three magnets, taken from: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/0f/Lorategi-hiriaren_diagrama_1902.jpg
  5. Figure 5:  Washington villages around a road network, taken from: Neighbourhood Design, 2016. Lecture
  6. Figure 6: taken from: Neighbourhood Design, 2016. Lecture
  7. Figure 7:  An artist’s impression of Tianfu New Area, taken from: https://i.guim.co.uk/img/static/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2014/11/24/1416853905296/An-artists-impression-of–012.jpg

School of Architecture
Planning and Landscape
Newcastle upon Tyne
Tyne and Wear, NE1 7RU

Tel: 0191 208 6509

Email: nicola.rutherford@ncl.ac.uk


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