Wednesday, May 20, 2009

New Urbanism vs. Landscape Urbanism

A reader asked what my bias is between these two schools of thought in regards to city design. Simply put, I find both of them useful but both of them also do not answer certain concerns about life in the city. I'll also discuss New Pedestrianism.

New Pedestrianism and New Urbanism both tend to focus on the walkability of the town or development. They tend to keep parking lots away from the streets instead making buildings and building entrances on the street. Walking to the center of town would take 5 minutes or less(in which there is usually a transit station) and all children should be within walking distance of schools. New Pedestrianism goes further to almost entirely abolish automobiles based on the way cities are designed. Allowing for more walking bicycling and public transportation. Both schools of thought exemplify mixed use and mixed housing types allowing for young people, older people and families to all cohabit with each other.

This allows people to remain in their town. With everything being walkable, money remains in the city, more jobs are placed in the city and pollution is reduced (as cars are gross polluters)

For those things, New Urbanism and New Pedestrianism is powerful and works. Downtown Pomona seems to be on the path of New Urbanist values. It isn't quite there yet especially with the large parking lots, and a lack of investors but it's definitely on it's way and I think it's great. A lack of investors is a blessing in disguise. it keeps investors that come into downtown coming FROM locals. Chains and corporations would suck the life and charm out of the city. For this I think the DPOA can be powerful as well.

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If you look at the map you can see the tight grids and the downtown is in the center of the city which is good. the transit system is however a tad weak and along major arteries such as Garey and Holt parking lots are in the way and there aren't many businesses that I can personally use.

Landscape Urbanism seems to be a bit more theoretical. It is a much newer school of thought and accepts suburban has and is happened and may be difficult to alter. This school of thought focuses more on landscape as organizing a city rather than buildings. Adaptability and change are utilized and expected and instead of a city being static it is understood to be dynamic and ever changing. The city becomes a series of of adaptable systems rather than a series of structures.

What this does, is it allows for ecological habitation. If the landscape organizes the city instead of buildings, the landscape is exemplified. The landscape can then provide for ecological habitats and green space. Phillips Ranch is the closest to this in Pomona but it is not nearly to the scale it should be, but even more so but on much smaller scale the Lyle center for Regenerative Studies at Cal Poly. The Lyle Center is designed according to the forms of the landscape, keeps space open and provides space for ecological habitats. Phillips Ranch provides a fairly long greenway, though somewhat narrow, it is the ravine for the Phillips Ranch area to carry water away. It is also however mostly lawn and the plant palette had very little variety.

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So while New Urbanism and New Pedestrianism provides great solutions for walkability of cities reducing dependence on automobiles and keeping money circulating. That's all it really does.

Landscape Urbanism provides opportunities for change in situations as big as global warming and as small as wildflowers in a park.

One of the most important things that they both don't do is to solve problems with food. Food has not been self contained for a long time. Food grown in public spaces like the Lyle Center and around the Regen Co-ops becomes a problem because it is often harvested prematurely and not shared publicly. It is fine do so and grow food publicly, but one cannot depend on it.

I think a hybrid of New Urbanism and New Pedestrianism with Landscape Urbanism could provide the adaptability needed for cities and ecological habitat (food can even be planted in the public spaces) and reduce dependence on driving as well.

What is missing is private food production. One cannot grow their own food in a highly densified city without land. Vertical green walls could work, but try growing a fruit tree on a wall.

I think a solution could be placing a large center like Downtown Pomona in the middle of the city, with major arteries like Garey, Towne, White and Mission & Holt should be lined with mixed use retail, living, dining and office space (with no parking lots!). Each Corner of the city (NE, NW, SW & SE) should also have smaller centers. The landscape could demarcate where "green" corridors could be placed. IF the land is entirely flat like Chino and In the Midwest, Diagonal axes of large greenbelts could be created going from the NorthEast corner to the SouthWest corner and the SouthEast corner to the NorthWest. Since that diagonal is the longest it would take to walk, a large park that can be walked through to get to the center of the city could be helpful. Yards can remain large for food growth and as residences get closer to city centers they can become smaller and smaller, that would provide different types of housing for a variety of people. That could be the most basic infrastructural framework and nuances could be developed as needed. I don't know that's just my thought. Phillips Ranch could be great if there were more retail space(minus the parking in front), dining and variety of housing types. The retail could be on the opposite of the long phillips ranch park all along village loop and it'd be perfect. (forget the fact that the house designs are basic tracts and have no character that reflect the landscape and the region.)

I wonder if this comes off as a rant but anyone with ideas and input is ALWAYS welcome. I've just grown more and more concerned with the problem of growing food and I see that as a problem with the existing popular schools' of thought.

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