By Eddie Kennedy,2014-04-12 06:39
37 views 0


    ARTICLE: The Evolution of Modern Urban Planning

    It’s very difficult to give a definition to modern urban planning, from origin to today, modern urban planning is more like an evolving and changing process, and it will continue evolving and changing. Originally, modern urban planning was emerged to resolve the problems brought by Industrial Revolution; it was physical and technical with focus on land-use. Then with the economic, social, political and technical development for over one hundred years, today’s city is a complex system which contains many elements that are related to each other. And urban planning is not only required to concern with the build environment, but also relate more to economic, social and political conditions. In human history, Industrial Revolution is always viewed as a turning point because it brought tremendous changes to the world. At the beginning, it was just like a myth because machine could produce manufactured goods more quickly than the human hand. Following that, a large number of factories appeared and a large amount of people left their agriculture land to the factories. This process is called industrialization. It brought with the rapid economic growth, the expansion of city and the immigration of population. Large scale population growth in city and without any planning caused many problems, especially in the living condition —— the industrial cities became drab, polluted, unsafe and unhealthy. With social reform movement, early modern urban planning was concentrated on dealing with the problems of housing, sanitation and infrastructure, and the spread of cholera and other waterborne diseases. During that period, the idea of planning was to create a pleasant, self-contained environment providing for work, settlement, and leisure, through careful and expert design. A famous example is Howard’s Garden City; it planned a beautiful city, which was divided into many districts including the center of city, industrial areas, residential areas, schools and greenbelt to allow people to live together in “harmonyhealth and

    happiness”. The theory contributed a lot to the practice of early modern urban planning in European. In a nutshell, the beginning of modern urban planning was more like blueprint approach; it was seen as essentially “a technical process of design and drawing, unrelated in its operation to economic or political process”. Along with the urbanization, zoning was begun, and housing, subdivision, and public health codes were created.

    The development of modern urban planning depends largely on the development of social policy, economy and scientific technique.

    Facing with the urgent need of post-war reconstruction, 1950s’urban planning showed a

    pattern oriented toward recovery and economic development. Planning became primarily concerned with industrial development, job creation and housing provision. However, planners with no background of economic and social training couldn’t be sensitive to the wider economic, political and social complexities of urban planning. So planning still emphasized more on physical land-use but to respond the demand of post-war reconstruction.

    Going through the post-war reconstruction, 1960s came with rapidly growing economy and advancing technology. Urban planners were aware to the complex urban system of political, economic, technical and environmental problems. As a result, planning started to provide development strategies on socio-economic aspect and environmental protection. Regional Planning and National Planning were rapidly developed to provide general policies and strategies, such as large-scale economic framework, population distribution, infrastructure growth, housing development, etc. to guide local planning. Because of the introduction of computers to urban planning process, there occurred planning models. Then urban planning became more scientific. Furthermore, due to the rapidly growing number of cars, the transportation planning became a more important part of planning. At the same time, environmentalist, by awareness of urban pollution and uncontrolled redevelopment,


    advocated that planning should pay more attention on environmental protection and urban conservation. Furthermore, public participation was introduced to the planning process because they realized that urban planning was related to their benefits.

    1970’s capitalist economy began to recess, Traditional values were challenged and planning profession encountered crisis. “Planning had not been able to fulfill its promise of balancing growth across the country and spreading its benefits widely with society”. During this period, planning was combined to implementation, not just design and reform. And planning was not just following the policy made by officials, but take part in policy-making, so planning was vested political implication. Most of radical planners wanted a redefinition of planning that would include the goals of social justice, equality, and redistribution of wealth and power. Planning was no longer a design process completed by expertise, but a political process that involved citizens of every class to take part in. Related policies or ordinance were established to form an open and equal planning process. Thus, apart from the original land use allocation and socio-economic strategies, planning processincluding

    planning-making, application and enforcement, was integrated into planning system. When times came to 1980s, with the global economic restructuring, business played a vital role in economic system and planning encountered forgetting. Some people thought that market could allocate the resources and balance the demand and require in a more rational way, but planning restricted market. Actually, resources are limit, and city is composed of political, economic, cultural and environmental issues, market is not able to balance them all. Then 1990s is the resurgence of planning. Today’s urban planning is a comprehensive planning with concerns about the sustainable development of politics, economy and environment. It contains socio-economic development strategy, policies, regulations, decision-making process, environmental conservation as well as land-use planning, urban design and landscape. In addition, along with the economic globalization, planning is going beyond the traditionally boundary of nation state. Planning cooperation in regions and all over the world is searched for a better socio-economic circumstance and a sustainable environment. Today’s planning is required to put the city in world context, and then figures out promising strategies for its future development.

    FURTHER READING (1): The Definition of Modern Urban Planning Planning, or Town and Country Planning to use its full name, is the system we have for managing changes to our environment.

    Through planning we can identify what changes we need to make: new homes, places to work, transport and community facilities etc; and where these should be located. These changes are called development.

    Planning seeks to ensure that we achieve a balance between our need for new development while conserving what we value about our environment such as green spaces, wildlife, historic buildings and places etc.

    Planning can make positive changes to our environment and communities. It can create places such as cities, towns and villages that we treasure; want to live in, work in, visit and enjoy.

    Planning is about our future. It aims to balance our current need for development against the needs of our children and future generations. This is called sustainable development.


    FURTHER READING (2): Trends in Modern Urban Planning of US

    Urban planning in the United States is quite different than elsewhere. Since they are a federal democracy, they do not have the centralized national planning that provides the framework into which local planning must fit. It has not been popular to suggest this centralized approach since most Americans abhor big government. Thus, the 50 states emerge as the highest levels for planning, and sometimes they are subdivided into regional planning areas.

    Urban planning occurs at the city and regional level today. Many functions, such as transportation, water supply, sewage treatment, pollution abatement, and economic development, occur at the regional level, although no true general-purpose regional governments have been created. Instead, planning at the regional level tends to be advisory to the already established general-purpose governments at the state, county, and municipal levels. These levels have their own planning processes, which are often linked with regional plans.

    Urban planning will most likely remain a regional and local process for the foreseeable future. It is a continuous process that does not end with the creation of a plan but proceeds through the decision-making and monitoring and evaluation phases of government. And it has become established to the extent that it can be considered institutionalized. It has gone beyond the need to establish its legitimacy and has become an inherent part of government and business. The next phase in the evolution of planning will be implementation —— that is,

    ensuring that good planning will be carried out by both the public and the private sectors. This means that planning, while largely concerned with the built environment, will have to relate better to economic, social, and political conditions.

    Urban planning can make no claim to solving all of society 's problems, but it can be an effective and efficient process for building cities and their regions in the best way possible. Here, planning must be a subtle process that is open, participatory, and flexible. It requires both technical skills and the arts of compromise, negotiation, and consensus. Urban planners in the modern world must be part reformer, visionary designer, and politician. From this evolution of urban planning there have arisen several long-term trends. Growth Control, and Decline Management

    Growth control is found most commonly in Sunbelt cities, resorts, coastal areas, mountainous regions, and other environmentally and climatically appealing places. A common situation is when long-term residents and recent in-migrants decide that growth is occurring too rapidly and destroying the quality of life that attracted development. They ask urban planners to control growth in order to preserve that quality of life as well as to relieve the pressures on the infrastructure, public services, and public costs created by new development. Urban planners use mechanisms that can slow, ameliorate, or redirect growth. While the practice remains controversial in legal terms, many court decisions have upheld the right of state and local governments to plan and control the tempo, location, and extent of development.

    Decline management is relatively new to urban planners, because the present redistribution of people, jobs, and development is without precedent in the United States. Until recently, urban planners did not have to deal with declining urban populations. Many cities in the Snowbelt and Rustbelt, most heavy industrial centers that are obsolete, old transportation centers, and other areas subject to difficult climates and changing economic trends are experiencing declines. This does not mean decay necessarily, since some places have redeveloped and improved their quality of life with fewer people living there. It does mean a far more difficult and risky approach to urban planning. This approach involves elements of preserving what is good about these cities while encouraging change and innovation for things that do not seem to be viable any longer. It essentially means that urban planners can no longer rely upon principles and standards that evolved from planning practice during


    times of unlimited growth. Now planners must use methods that seek to improve cities while managing their decline.

    Historic Preservation and Adaptive Reuse

    In both the decline management and growth control contexts, the preservation of significant historic areas and buildings is a major trend in urban planning. There has been a lamentable insensitivity to historic preservation until fairly recent times, when Americans came to realize that historic areas and buildings were being destroyed and that a heritage was being lost forever, Most cities and states now have vital preservation programs that seek to preserve what is truly significant. A great number of programs and incentives have arisen to control demolition and encourage conservation.

    An especially interesting part of this trend is the adaptive reuse of older buildings. This concept holds that attractive, sound; historically significant buildings that may have outlived their original functions can be reused for new purposes. Thus, urban planners might assist in reusing an abandoned schoolhouse for a technology office, in transforming an old mansion into a cultural center, in turning an abandoned jail into a bar, and even in giving an unused gas station new life as a quality restaurant. In fact, these are real examples of recent projects that have been made possible by urban planning and the use of incentives for adaptive reuse.

    Neighborhood Planning

    Closely related to the historic preservation and adaptive reuse trend in older cities is neighborhood planning. Planning assistance is provided to neighborhood groups —— that

    are organized to preserve their neighborhoods and prevent decline. A planning department often supplies special staff and financial assistance to such groups. In some cases, planners themselves may actually be involved in organizing such neighborhood groups. Even in growing cities, there is a trend toward neighborhood planning. This has resulted both from neighborhood demands and from recognition by planners that the modern city is an organism composed of individual cells, or neighborhoods. The neighborhood offers an ideal unit in which to concentrate planning programs, which are especially effective when there is an overall urban planning strategy.


    The trend now is to incorporate the principles of urban design more fully into urban planning. This trend evolved in recent years when it became apparent that urban planning had been ignoring the appearance, design, and beauty of the built environment While few if any planners would argue that design can solve social and economic problems by itself, most would concur that the way cities look is vitally important.

    The San Francisco zoning regulations of the mid-1980s were a benchmark for the new trend to incorporate design into urban planning. These regulations not only dealt with the land use, height, bulk, and density of buildings, but also went beyond them to establish design standards. They thus went much further than the New York City ordinances of the 1920s, for they dealt with the spatial envelopes and design styles that give form to new buildings. This meant that zoning and other planning controls could be used to require certain design configurations for building construction and for built areas, and it greatly increased the attention to design in urban planning.


    For many years urban planning played a regulatory role since it dealt with ways to ensure conformity to public master plans and zoning ordinances. This regulatory function often resulted in litigation when property owners objected to these requirements. There was little in the way of compromise, negotiation, and arbitration. During the 1980s, the trend to use


    negotiation as an alternative to litigation and as a way to reach agreements on regulatory aspects of planning began to take hold.

    The negotiation approach for resolving conflicts in urban planning is an interesting trend because it arose primarily from universities, research centers, and private foundations and was then transferred to practice. This is unusual, because trends in urban planning usually start in practice and then take on a theoretical and intellectual format. The breadth and depth of the use of negotiation in planning have not been tapped. It can be expected that the formal negotiation models and their applied variants will be found increasingly effective for the future of urban planning.


    Urban planning has undergone a long evolution from ancient times and is taking on new directions and following interesting trends. While still evolving, it is a well-established process. And in future it will go beyond the planning level to include implementation-the complete and effective carrying out of the plans by the public and private sectors. As urban planning becomes increasingly concerned with implementation within the context of a federated, democratic system, the greater successes are expected. Implementation is now the cutting edge for advances in urban planning, and it will serve as the area for the most interesting new developments in the years ahead. Urban planners are moving beyond planning to implementation with the support and encouragement of both business and government. These are exciting times for urban planning.

Discipline: urban planning; urban design; landscape

    City development: Industrial Revolution; industrialization; urbanization; economic,

    social, political, and technical development, global economic

    restructuring; globalization

    Function and housing; residential; sanitation; infrastructure; settlement ; greenbelt ;

    environment: transportation ; water supply; sewage ; living condition; the built


    Urban planning: National Planning; Regional Planning; Zoning ; land use planning;

    transportation planning; neighborhood planning, urban conservation;

    historical preservation

    Planning process: public participation; application ; implementation ;enforcement ;

    evaluation ; monitor ; compromise; negotiation


Report this document

For any questions or suggestions please email