Sunday, April 24, 2011

One problem with New Urbanism is its lack of flexibility

by Randy Bright

I have just read a most insightful paper regarding New Urbanism entitled, “Village Vices: The Contradiction of New Urbanism and Sustainability.”
It was written by Ruth Durack, who is now the director for the Urban Design Centre in Western Australia. At the time she wrote the paper in 1998, she lived in the United States and it won second place in the 1998 Chicago Institute for Architecture and Urbanism Award. It was later published in Places Journal, which is produced by the UC Berkeley College of Environmental Design.
The driving force behind New Urbanism is to achieve sustainability by returning people to cities designed to a standard that essentially exemplifies a traditional English village. The classic definition of sustainability assumes that the resources of the earth are finite, and that the present generation must conserve resources for future generations.
But Durack successfully challenged the notion that we must all fit into a New Urbanistic mold to accomplish what needs to be accomplished in order to achieve sustainability.
There may be as many definitions of sustainability as there are people. I would not presume to know what Durack’s political beliefs are, but she gives a definition of sustainability that varies only slightly from the classic definition, but with a key distinction: “sustainability refers to development that satisfies the choices of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to make choices of their own.”

The back of the houses in Vickery - Forsyth County, GA , photo by joeventures

more about New Urbanism:

New Urbanism Now: Catching up with Andrés Duany

Designing Community: The Utopia of New Urbanism

Sustainable Development Ends Suburban Sprawl


  1. I liked the theme of your blog. I'll read some more about the new urbanism. I am a historian researching and urban issues.

  2. Thanks deslocamentos, I will try to post more about New Urbanism.