Introductory Discussion

Last week we focused on ways to maintain and capitalize on the unique aspects of a city’s past, through creating historic districts and designating historic buildings, and re-using and sometimes repurposing older structures. Preservation has cultural importance, as well as contributing to the identity of a city. This week we turn to the opportunities to create new portions of cities and new places. One longstanding proving ground for new ideas about designing cities has been the process of creating new towns. After our introduction, the first module this week is on new towns. It comes in two parts, because there is so much to say about this aspect of urban design. Then we turn our attention to how to think about the task of designing smaller new urban places. How can the special natural features of sites be reflected in what is built? How important is compatibility in the new additions to a city? These issues often preoccupy urban designers and those reviewing plans. In the final module of the week, we discuss the subject of how to create walkable neighborhoods. Many of the older neighborhoods of cities are walkable, and much loved for it, while many of the modernist areas of cities are difficult to navigate on foot, and are organized to make driving almost a necessity. What constitutes walkability, and how can it be designed into communities? Foot power is the oldest form of locomotion, and may be the most relevant for a future where we seek to minimize energy usage and carbon levels. We also begin the final assignment this week. It is an opportunity to apply the ideas you have seen and thought about over the past several weeks to an issue or area of your city that you could imagine being better designed. Think expansively, and see what you can come up with!

Université de Pennsylvanie
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