Tuesday, October 19, 2010

neo-traditional development: a post modern way in urban design

May 1, 2010 

Neo-Traditional Development (NTD) or Neo-Traditional Town Planning is an urban design trend which has drawn the attention of planners and architects during the past two decades. This post modern flow is focused on creating well-planned, mixed-use, compact cities.
Density has an important role in NTDs. Neo-Traditionalists try to plan communities with dense fabric as well as promoting pedestrian and bicycle amenities. This is a reaction to the recent criticisms of urban sprawl. Critics of urban sprawl believe that sprawling urban areas and suburbs cause low sense of community, high construction costs, high automobile dependency, high environmental pollutions, low public health, etc.

The Different Forms of Neo-Traditional Developments

There are no definite categories for NTD. But some scholars have classified some planning trends as types of NTD. For example, in 1994 Alexander Christoforidis categorized NTD into five main approaches:
  1. Traditional Neighborhood Development (TND) or the New Urbanism
  2. Transit Oriented Development (TOD)
  3. Hamlets
  4. Metropolitan purlieus
  5. Revitalization of the existing traditional towns.
Later in 2006, Yosef Rafeq Jabareen defined the following 3 traditional types of planning as the most important NTDs:
  1. New Urbanism
  2. Transit Oriented Development (TOD)
  3. The Urban Village

The Characteristics of Neo-Traditional Developments

The planners of the NTDs usually try to locate most of the following aspects in their plans:
Mixed use neighborhoods, civic centers, sense of community, public open spaces, connected network of streets, strong public transit, etc.

The gird-like network of streets usually helps people easily reach their destinations. Therefore there is a high connectivity in such urban fabrics. This connectivity is for pedestrians, bikers, and the cars. So it is obvious that the neo-traditionalist planners do not intend to omit the cars from the streets, but their aim is to lower the necessity of using car as a daily mode of transport.
This is done through designing and building special public, pedestrian and biking amenities like pedestrian routes, bicycle routes, and of course public transit. In Transit-Oriented Development, public transport is the base of the plans.
Another aspect of the neo-traditional plans is the features that are designed to promote socialization among the residents of the neighborhoods. For example the neighborhood centers and public spaces are of these features. They are often used in plans related to New Urbanism and Urban Village. Mixed land-use is effective in creating better social relations and diversity. In the meantime, it causes the proximity of houses and work places. So the daily trips to work can be shorter.
Prospect new town in Longmont, Colorado: designed based on New Urbanism principles

Generally, neo-traditional planning aims at providing better quality of life. It is tried to be done by means of traditional values which were used in the old neighborhoods and towns.
  • Christoforidis, A. (1994), “New Alternatives to the Suburb: Neo Traditional Developments”, Journal of Planning Literature 1994; 8; 429.
  • Jabareen, Y. R. (2006), “Sustainable Urban Forms: Their Typologies, Models, and Concepts” Journal of Planning Education and Research 2006; 26; 38
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