For the past 30 years a movement called New Urbanism has dominated the urban planning and development world. Yet, this darling of many planning aficionados has been challenged in the past few years by the up-and-coming (relatively speaking, it’s been around for about a decade), but very fervent, Landscape Urbanism movement.
Considering that cities continue to grow, and change is ever-present, there is much at stake. The student planners of today will make the decisions of tomorrow and will have great influence on the look and feel of our future cities. The outcome may ascribe to one of these movements.
Staff writer, Leon Neyfakh of the Boston Globe recently wrote an article detailing this tug-of-war. In it, he details the rapid rise of Landscape Urbanism,
Its proponents are ascending to prominent positions at architecture schools, its practitioners have won significant commissions around the world, and respected publications like ArchitectureBoston and the European journal Topos have recently devoted nearly entire issues to their ideas. MIT has launched a program called Landscape+Urbanism; Northeastern University will soon offer an undergraduate degree in urban landscape. “This whole thing is hot stuff at the moment,” said Phyllis Andersen, a landscape historian at the Landscape Institute of the Boston Architectural College.
Landscape Urbanism is a planning-centric idea that values the natural environment. Design and functionality of new cities and communities take into consideration what came before, often focusing on resource protection. This viewpoint accepts spacious suburbs and does not necessarily demand density and the elimination of one’s automobile. It takes a world view that sees the built environment coexisting with the natural world, a hybrid if you will. Conversely, New Urbanism proponents have fired back, suggesting Landscape Urbanism is a misguided proponent of sprawl. New Urbanism is more of a traditionalist point of view that envisions denser, diverse communities, that are walkable. While these movements are far more detailed than what has been outlined, a dramatic shift is underway in philosophy. The new kids on the block, Landscape Urbanists, are threatening New Urbanism’s long standing thunder. Well known leader of the New Urbanism movement, Andreas Duany is aware, but confident,
What you’re seeing is the New Urbanism about to swallow the landscape urbanists, [the plan] is to systematically “assimilate” the language and strategies that have made [my] opponents such a white-hot brand. We’re trying to upgrade ourselves.
What side are you on?