Total Urban Design

Total Urban Design

Total urban design is really a combination of large (in geographical area or number of buildings) architecture and landscape architecture. It involves the design of both the public realm and the buildings that frame it. A team of people working as an individual unit holds total development and design control. The infrastructure and buildings are designed as a unit by the team. Much of the detail of the design is then completed by transportation engineers, architects and landscape architects who form part of the team. The debate about ends and means takes place within the team. In many people Total Urban Design’s minds, total urban design is seen as the norm of urban design practice. It seldom is.

There have been some major urban design projects around the world that sit comfortably in this category of total urban design. They vary in scale from new cities to precincts of cities to the design of plazas and other urban open spaces. Brasнlia, as described in Chapter 7, is perhaps, the best known of such city designs (see Figure 2.3). Many of the new towns built in the Soviet Union between 1950 and 1980 are similar in character and the myriad of company towns around the world Total Urban Design are other examples of total urban design. Company towns are all ‘administered communities’ at the outset although they may evolve into ones in which controls are in the hands of the inhabitants themselves rather than being dictated by a single authority – the company (Gottschalk, 1975). Administered communities are totalitarian in nature even when located in the most democratic of countries.

Most total urban designs deal with precincts of cities rather than cities as a whole. Two of the best known are the capital complex (see Chapter 7) and the city centre superblock in Chandigarh (see Figure 2.4). Le Corbusier was given a free Total Urban Design hand in their design. Over the past 50 years there have been many precincts of cities that have been designed and developed by one organization but the developments are seldom more than three or four traditional city blocks in size. In contrast, there are many large developer-initiated suburban estates around the world that are total urban designs. In many countries with socialist governments they were developed, designed and built by Public Works Departments or their equivalents but in capitalist countries they have also been privately developed. Some total developments have been vast in size, covering many square kilometres. Often Total Urban Design they have ended up being visually and behaviourally boring! Caution is needed in thinking of total urban designs as really totally under the control of a single auspice. Within the market economy of democratic societies the development team seldom has a completely free hand to do as they wish. Almost all projects are embedded within geographical areas whose population imposes some control over what can take place, either through having elected representatives to act on their behalf or by direct community action. In addition, the project has to be carried out within the laws of a country. There are Total Urban Design, however, many examples of the laws being relaxed for political reasons. Raleigh Park in Sydney is an example (see Chapter 7).

In totalitarian societies the situation is different. In redeveloping Bucharest during the 1970s, President Nicole Ceausescu did what he wanted to do (see Chapter 7). After his demise market forces have ruled. A totalitarian ruler was also responsible for the development of Yamoussoukro, the new capital of the Ivory Coast. The future of that city is open to question. By all reports it stands empty, unused and unloved. Perhaps, in the future it will come to life.


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