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New Urbanism is an urban design movement which promotes walkable neighborhoods containing a range of housing and job types. It arose in the United States in the early 1980s, and has gradually informed many aspects of real estate development, urban planning, and municipal land-use strategies.
New Urbanism is strongly influenced by urban design standards that were prominent until the rise of theautomobile in the mid-20th century; it encompasses principles such as traditional neighborhood design (TND) and transit-oriented development (TOD). It is also closely related to regionalism, environmentalism and the broader concept of smart growth. The movement also includes a more pedestrian-oriented variant known as New Pedestrianism, which has its origins in a 1929 planned community in Radburn, New Jersey.
The organizing body for New Urbanism is the Congress for the New Urbanism, founded in 1993. Its foundational text is the Charter of the New Urbanism, which says:
We advocate the restructuring of public policy and development practices to support the following principles: neighborhoods should be diverse in use and population; communities should be designed for the pedestrian and transit as well as the car; cities and towns should be shaped by physically defined and universally accessible public spaces and community institutions; urban places should be framed by architecture and landscape design that celebrate local history, climate, ecology, and building practice.
New Urbanists support regional planning for open space, context-appropriate architecture and planning, and the balanced development of jobs and housing. They believe their strategies can reduce traffic congestion, increase the supply of affordable housing, and rein in suburban sprawl. The Charter of the New Urbanism also covers issues such as historic preservation, safe streets, green building, and the re-development of brownfield land. The ten Principles of Intelligent Urbanism also phrase guidelines for new urbanist approaches.
New Urbanism has drawn both praise and criticism from all parts of the political spectrum. In an interview in Reason, a right-libertarian magazine, professor Peter Gordon, a professor of Urban Planning from University of Southern California, spoke out in favor of suburbanization and criticized New Urbanism as ignoring consumer preference and the free market claiming that cities have moved towards car-oriented development because that is what people want.
New Urbanism has been criticized for being a form of centrally planned, large-scale development, “instead of allowing the initiative for construction to be taken by the final users themselves”. It has been criticized for asserting universal principles of design instead of attending to local conditions.
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In the mid-1990s, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) adopted the principles of the New Urbanism in its multi-billion dollar program to rebuild public housing projects nationwide. New Urbanists have planned and developed hundreds of projects in infill locations. Most were driven by the private sector, but many, including HUD projects, used public money.
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Andrés Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, two of the founders of the Congress for the New Urbanism, observed mixed-use streetscapes with corner shops, front porches, and a diversity of well-crafted housing while living in one ofNew Haven‘s Victorian neighborhoods.
- The neighborhood has a discernible center. This is often a square or a green and sometimes a busy or memorable street corner. A transit stop would be located at this center.
- Most of the dwellings are within a five-minute walk of the center, an average of roughly 0.25 miles (1,300 ft; 0.40 km).
- There are a variety of dwelling types — usually houses, rowhouses, and apartments — so that younger and older people, singles and families, the poor and the wealthy may find places to live.
- At the edge of the neighborhood, there are shops and offices of sufficiently varied types to supply the weekly needs of a household.
- A small ancillary building or garage apartment is permitted within the backyard of each house. It may be used as a rental unit or place to work (for example, an office or craft workshop).
- An elementary school is close enough so that most children can walk from their home.
- There are small playgrounds accessible to every dwelling — not more than a tenth of a mile away.
- Streets within the neighborhood form a connected network, which disperses traffic by providing a variety of pedestrian and vehicular routes to any destination.
- The streets are relatively narrow and shaded by rows of trees. This slows traffic, creating an environment suitable for pedestrians and bicycles.
- Buildings in the neighborhood center are placed close to the street, creating a well-defined outdoor room.
- Parking lots and garage doors rarely front the street. Parking is relegated to the rear of buildings, usually accessed by alleys.
- Certain prominent sites at the termination of street vistas or in the neighborhood center are reserved for civic buildings. These provide sites for community meetings, education, and religious or cultural activities.
- The neighborhood is organized to be self-governing. A formal association debates and decides matters of maintenance, security, and physical change. Taxation is the responsibility of the larger community.