Precincts

Most urban designs do not deal with new towns but with precincts - smaller areas of cities and new, predominantly residential, areas on the edge of cities. They may

Figure 3.1 New town design. (a) Central Las Colinas proposal, 1986 and (b) Sonshang Lake, Guangdong proposal, 2004.

Figure 3.1 New town design. (a) Central Las Colinas proposal, 1986 and (b) Sonshang Lake, Guangdong proposal, 2004.

be designed de novo or be the subject of renewal. The precincts in cities may be for commercial, residential, or for entertainment uses, but many are now mixed types. Some have been built as total designs; others have been all-of-a-piece designs.

There are a number of new precincts of cities that have been called 'new towns'. The use of this term can be a little misleading. The new towns of the citystate of Singapore, although they contain many of the amenities of a city and are also employment centres, have little industry and the heart of Singapore remains the cultural centre of the city. These new towns are, given the terms used in this

Figure 3.2 Roosevelt Island, New York in 1993.

book, major precincts of the larger Singapore metropolitan area. There are other similar examples.

During the 1970s the term 'new-town-in-town' was used to describe large mixed-use urban design projects on cleared brown-field sites. In New York City, for instance, Roosevelt Island (see Figure 3.2), formerly Welfare Island, and Battery Park City were referred to as such. Welfare Island, the home to a number of aging hospitals and other obsolete institutions has been transformed into a residential precinct with the retail and other institutional facilities required to support it. Surrounded by water, it is indeed a clear entity. So is Battery Park City with the Hudson on one side and the West Side Highway on the other. Neither was considered to be a self-contained entity.

Much urban design in cities consists of relatively small enclaves of like use buildings. They may be commercial or institutional types. Penn Center in Philadelphia, a relatively small enclave of commercial buildings related to a railway station and the new CBD for Beijing, are examples of commercial precincts (see Figure 3.3a). Lincoln Center in New York is an example of a cultural complex (see Figure 7.7). One of the great urban debates is over whether such facilities should indeed be agglomerated into a single unit or distributed throughout the city. This question was also raised about the decision to assemble so many of the facilities that were required for the highly successful 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia into a single precinct (see Figure 3.3b).

Campuses are a special type of precinct - a unified set of buildings set in a predominantly park-like environment and separated by distance (by the use of a park or roadway) or fences from the remainder of the city or countryside. The university campus is typical. While some universities are merged into the surrounding city: the Sorbonne, Stellenbosch and the University of the District of Columbia, many others, especially recent ones, are separate entities. The same urban design idea appears in the layout of office and business parks. The Denver Technological Center on the periphery of that city clearly falls into this category and it is, in many ways, the city's new downtown (see Chapter 8).

Figure 3.3 Precinct design. (a) The plan of the 2000 Olympic games site, Sydney and (b) a model of the proposed CBD for Beijing, 2004.

Figure 3.3 Precinct design. (a) The plan of the 2000 Olympic games site, Sydney and (b) a model of the proposed CBD for Beijing, 2004.

In cities throughout the world the considerable expansion has taken place at the periphery. While the population of the metropolitan Philadelphia continues to grow, the population of the core city itself declined from over two million in 1950 to a little over a million in 2000. The major growth has been suburban. Vast tracts of housing and accompanying commercial and retail facilities have been built in the suburbs. In countries, such as India, the major developers of such urban designs have been the Public Works Departments of the Central and State governments. In the United States, it has been the private developer who has been responsible for almost all the development although much has been made possible by the federally funded highway system and other federal government subsidies. At best these suburbs have been thoughtfully designed in terms of providing the amenities to enable all segments of the population to lead full lives. At worst, they are simply dormitories.

The new suburbs have generally been built along one of two different lines of thought: the Bauhaus/Le Corbusian model or the Garden City model. The outskirts of many cities in Europe (such as Paris and Madrid) and Latin American cities (such as Caracas; see Figure 3.4) have major developments of tower or slab blocks of housing set in park-like areas on their peripheries. They have been influenced by Le Corbusier. Most of the suburban development in countries such as the United States and Australia have followed the Garden City ideal and still do. More recently the New Urbanist ideology, a Neo-Traditionalist approach to urban design, has had a wide degree of support.

Many precincts do not have clear edges but have strong cores such as a square or a street. The design of streets and squares is generally the purview of landscape architecture but it can be urban design. It is landscape architecture if only the open space is designed; it is urban design if the enclosing elements are included in the design. In the latter case they form a precinct.

Urban renewal

Urban renewal, as its name suggests, refers to the process of rebuilding areas of cities that have become obsolete and abandoned, or are in a state of considerable decay. Unless cities become economically static urban renewal projects will continue to be undertaken. Over the last half of the twentieth century much has been learnt about how best they can be conducted. The field of urban design as a professional endeavour has grown with the experience of building total or all-of-a-piece urban renewal projects.

Sometimes, urban renewal has involved slum clearance and the total rebuilding of environments but more usually now it has involved selective demolition and the integration of the old and the new in their design (e.g. Charles Center, Baltimore; see Chapter 5). Often the urban renewal occurs in a laissez faire manner without any overall cooperative intention. It would not be regarded as urban design here (although some projects might be regarded as piece-by-piece urban design). Some urban design projects have involved the retooling of existing areas by upgrading their physical infrastructure and the provision of new uses for existing buildings

Figure 3.4 The 23 de enero (originally 2 de deciembre) housing development, Caracas in 1998. (a) Massing diagram and (b) a view of one housing block.

Figure 3.4 The 23 de enero (originally 2 de deciembre) housing development, Caracas in 1998. (a) Massing diagram and (b) a view of one housing block.

(e.g. Ghirardelli Square, San Francisco and Clarke Quay, Singapore, both described later in this book). Others have retained the original mix.

After the devastation of World War II in Europe, vast segments of cities were rebuilt sometimes replicating the past (e.g. Warsaw), but more frequently they were modernized. Cities such as Coventry and Rotterdam acquired new hearts. In European and the North American cities, major slum clearance and new housing estate projects have been carried out. They have had mixed results because the highly physically deteriorated world they replaced was often socially viable. The new products were unable to provide an environment for the re-creation of that social stability. Many of them have been demolished and rebuilt too. In some cases, such as the Paternoster Square precinct north of St Paul's cathedral in London, areas were rebuilt only to be later demolished and rebuilt anew (see Chapter 8).

A new type of urban renewal project began to appear during the last two decades of the twentieth century. As the demographic characteristics of suburban areas changed so the demand for new facilities in their shopping centres occurred. What have appeared are new suburban downtowns rather like the traditional cores of cities. Sometimes this process has been abetted by the building of a new rail link (e.g. Bethesda, Maryland; see Figure 2.8). At other times it has happened because the suburbs have strategic locations on major traffic routes between major cities (Garreau, 1991). What has generally occurred has been that two- or three-storey high precincts have been replaced by high-rise commercial and residential developments. This process has often taken place willy-nilly but there are many examples where the redevelopment has involved a concerted urban design effort (e.g. Glendale, see Chapter 8 and Bellevue, Washington, see Chapter 9).

Homeowners Guide To Landscaping

Homeowners Guide To Landscaping

How would you like to save a ton of money and increase the value of your home by as much as thirty percent! If your homes landscape is designed properly it will be a source of enjoyment for your entire family, it will enhance your community and add to the resale value of your property. Landscape design involves much more than placing trees, shrubs and other plants on the property. It is an art which deals with conscious arrangement or organization of outdoor space for human satisfaction and enjoyment.

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