British New Towns represent not a single homogeneous set of experiences, but lessons learned derive as much from their differences as their similarities. The chapter…
British New Towns represent not a single homogeneous set of experiences, but lessons learned derive as much from their differences as their similarities. The chapter studies two British New Towns– Harlow and Thamesmead – identifying the main features of their master plans and analysing their trajectories and outcomes as actually built.
Harlow could be regarded as a typical British New Town. Designated in 1947, it is one of the first New Towns built around London, following design principles of the first (Mark I) generation. In contrast, Thamesmead was built within the city limits of London, but could be included in the second generation of the New Towns.
The towns’ plans have a number of commonalities, in the provision of green areas, employment, commercial areas and services for their population; but their locations, urban structure, land use and physical relation to their surroundings are quite different as they followed different concepts and evolving planning ideas. Even more striking contrast may be found in the way that these towns have grown and matured in different ways. This chapter therefore scrutinises the two towns’ plans, and what was actually built, drawing lessons for New Towns more generally.
As the 75th anniversary of the British New Towns programme approaches, this chapter assesses the contribution that London New Towns have made to accommodating population…
As the 75th anniversary of the British New Towns programme approaches, this chapter assesses the contribution that London New Towns have made to accommodating population growth in south-east England and examines the extent to which the original New Town principles have left a distinctive legacy in terms of social composition and self-containment. According to the evidence presented in this chapter, the London New Towns have tended to become less distinctive compared to their regional context, but at the same time they retain elements of the features that marked them out as different 40 years ago.
This chapter analyses the interaction between two important movements in Britain in the second half of the twentieth century, the international contribution to urban…
This chapter analyses the interaction between two important movements in Britain in the second half of the twentieth century, the international contribution to urban planning through the New Towns programme and the particular contribution of British artists to public art and how these two parallel movements intertwine. The chapter begins by considering the definition of public art and the marked changes to the work purchased and commissioned in the immediate post-war period. The chapter then considers how the development of post-war New Towns has created new opportunities for contemporary artists, whose work had previously been confined to the gallery. In some cases the public art is integral to the architecture, and this opportunity has since become a threat to the future of many of these artworks. The optimism that defined post-war planning gave way to more negative perceptions of some New Towns as sites of boredom, monotony and even decay, from a failure to deliver on their initial promises of good jobs; a clean, modern environment; and supportive welfare state. In the second half of the chapter are examples of current public art activity in New Towns, and the challenges to sustain these in a time of public sector austerity. Finally, the chapter looks forward, and at the potential to sustain and reinvigorate public art in New Towns into the future.
New towns deserve renewed attention as today's urban megaprojects in the developing world. They are increasingly built amid governments’ attempts to connect their rapidly…
New towns deserve renewed attention as today's urban megaprojects in the developing world. They are increasingly built amid governments’ attempts to connect their rapidly growing metropolises to the global economy and to promote them as world cities. This chapter revisits Korea's Bundang and Ilsan new town projects on the outskirts of Seoul. Their fast and lucrative development outcomes established an ill-founded expectation of Korea's new towns being profitable projects and even inspired emulation by other developing countries. To comprehend why the two city-scale new towns differed from those in the West, which often faced difficulties of long timeframe, financial risks, and uncertain outcomes, the chapter examines both their development causes and processes, considering Korea's political, economic, and housing situations of the late 1980s. Rather than long-term planning goals, Bundang and Ilsan served short-term political motives of Korea's first democratic regime, which saw in them a quick fix for some of its political and economic challenges. This determination bore fruit – but with two important prerequisites: (1) Korea's institutional order, marked by state involvement and control over housing development; and (2) Seoul's unique housing market conditions at the time, especially for new apartment units. Planners and policymakers, whether in Korea or elsewhere, should understand the major contributors to Bundang and Ilsan's success before attempting to replicate an experience of fast and profitable development that may no longer be attainable.
David Fée contrasts the revival of the New Towns principles under various forms in the UK over the last 20 years with the absence of debate in France. He first reviews the…
David Fée contrasts the revival of the New Towns principles under various forms in the UK over the last 20 years with the absence of debate in France. He first reviews the history of the creation of the New Towns and their iconic status in the new French Fifth Republic born in 1958. Then, he examines the housing situation today which on the face of it would warrant the development of new settlements to meet the housing needs of the country. This paradox is then accounted for by referring to a different demographic context to the 1960s and 1970s and to the transfer of planning powers from the 1980s on from central to local government. These are deemed to be incompatible with a new top-down planning experiment on the size of New Towns. He then moves on to the issue of contemporary official planning principles that emphasise sustainability and densification that are thought to run against the possibility of building on green fields. This is compounded by the decision of many councils to accommodate new housing in the shape of ecoquartiers (eco-neighbourhoods) or environmentally sensitive urban extensions built by private and public developers in keeping with the local development plan. Finally, the question of public opinion and New Towns is raised and he argues that their association in the public’s mind with post-war high-rise urban extensions makes it difficult to repeat the experiment.
The new town concept originated from the ideal city model of Ebenezer Howard and expanded from Europe to America in the 1900s. It has reemerged as a site for accommodating…
The new town concept originated from the ideal city model of Ebenezer Howard and expanded from Europe to America in the 1900s. It has reemerged as a site for accommodating population from highly dense urban centers of China and India since the early twenty-first century. The massive infusion of public and private investments has enabled the emergence of new towns in China and India as planned centers of world-class residential, commercial, and work spaces. The rational goal of de-densifying the crowded central cities can lead to a more balanced distribution and use of resources across the metropolitan regions with more spacious housing for the growing middle class in China and India. Yet it is a relatively small number of the wealthy and mobile people who have turned out to be beneficiaries of the mostly high-end housing and well-developed transport infrastructure that evokes social and economic polarizations and political contestations. In this chapter, we will examine: (1) how these top-down planned and developed new towns have reshaped the urbanization process of the megacities in India and China, (2) the socio-spatial influence of these settlements on the central city as well as the surrounding rural areas, and (3) the expected and actual spatial users (both old and new residents) of the new towns? We address these questions by organizing two pairs of cases in a systematic framework: Anting New Town and Thames Town in Shanghai, China and Rajarhat New Town and the Kolkata West International City (KWIC) near Kolkata, India.
New Towns were exemplars of Utopian social and economic visions allied to Modernist ideas of design and architecture. Initially hailed as the answer to the ailments of the…
New Towns were exemplars of Utopian social and economic visions allied to Modernist ideas of design and architecture. Initially hailed as the answer to the ailments of the historic European city and the urgent need for housing after the War, they came under considerable scrutiny when the ideas of New Urbanism on design, density and community became one of the most vocal critics on Modernist town planning.
The UK Arts and Humanities Research Council recently funded a New Town Heritage Research Network Project. Drawing on case studies from the network, this chapter will refer to the original questions posed by the above-mentioned network project: How are the Utopian social and economic visions which accompanied the New Town Movement embodied in the masterplanning, urban design and architecture of the New Towns? How can the New Town architectural and urban design heritage be evaluated? How can future planning for these towns accommodate and build on this heritage in a meaningful way, and be integrated into regeneration and growth? How can key stakeholders in New Towns create an identity and pride for their town as well as a sense of belonging, by building cultural capital through their heritage, including architecture, public art and cultural activities?
This chapter will analyse how New Towns and their associated Modernist Heritage have been perceived by different audiences and are positioned in the overall heritage discourse including the question of a shared European Heritage.
This chapter exposes the official view that seems to portray New Towns in the UK as unbalanced communities built on the premise of a failed statist policy but it does not…
This chapter exposes the official view that seems to portray New Towns in the UK as unbalanced communities built on the premise of a failed statist policy but it does not accept these views as fact. A principal critique is that the historiography of New Towns has been predominantly written by experts (academics and otherwise), providing a limited interpretation of the legacy of (living in) New Towns. This chapter uses a selection of key experts and helicopter specialists who contribute to its legacy through academic writing, policy reports and professional advice in their role as planners and architects (including the author/myself a chartered British architect). Experts and helicopter specialists were instrumental in writing and disseminating a specific understanding of the New Towns programme to unpack the stereotypes that were constructed around New Towns, which have (as a result) contributed to their so-called decline. This chapter also questions whether certain issues are due to a biased misrepresentation of the New Towns narrative, and if an alternative perspective is available.
The characterisation of New Towns as communities doomed for failure in their ideological pursuit of balance has been thematically classified as belonging to five stereotypes and each is discussed in a separate section: New Towns represent a statist approach to planning; A case of New Town Blues or suburban dystopia? Design driven stereotypes of New Towns as mostly Modernist projects; New Towns are nothing more than large council estates; Land-banking over Compulsory Purchase Orders.
Presenting the data in such a way permits a deconstruction of ‘balance’ as a lofty abstraction into five clear example-based observations that assist the evaluation of the traditional historiography and writings of British New Towns (Fig. 3.1).
Discussions on the implications of power relations among the state, market, and society in urban plans and planning processes are usually centered on urban issues. Studies…
Discussions on the implications of power relations among the state, market, and society in urban plans and planning processes are usually centered on urban issues. Studies on suburbanization generally look at suburbs and satellite towns as “spillovers” of high density in the cities, deteriorating conditions of the innercity – particularly in the case of the United States – as well as the longing for living closer to nature. During the twentieth century, both the garden suburb and garden city movements in Britain influenced the planning of new communities overseas. The garden city movement of Ebenezer Howard, emphasizing new and attractive planned towns with their own socialisitic administration, employment, and local facilities, has strong echoes in Singapore's new towns, although the adaptation of the concept in Singapore is more towards the physical landscapes and built greeneries rather than embracing the whole idea of the garden city.