Galvin Architects Charlottesville Charlottesville Architecture

NEW URBANISM AND URBAN DESIGN

What is “New Urbanism?” To the ancient Greeks, the “polis” (i.e. city,) was fundamental to the pursuit of “the good life.” Many of America's historic cities, neighborhoods, towns and villages function well as places in the classic sense of the word, “polis.” They provide livelihoods, culture and opportunities for human engagement and discourse in public parks, markets and government chambers. As with the “Old World” model, the geographic extent of these places was circumscribed by the dominant mode of transportation (i.e. by foot, horse, train or street car) and they were inherently “mixed-use.” Places remained compact and distinct from the surrounding landscape while the countryside still provided food for cities and towns. This symbiotic relationship and “disciplined” settlement pattern was destroyed by the automobile. “New Urbanism” is a body of thought and practice that strives to create a new “discipline” of settlement pattern; one that draws both its inspiration and principles from historic precedent and the underlying structure of the earth.

Urban Design (also known as place-making) is the practice and “art of shaping the interaction between people and places, environment and urban form, nature and built fabric, and influencing the processes which lead to successful villages, towns and cities.” (Kevin Cambell and Robert Cowan in Planning-12 Feb 1999).