The Landscape Guide

1.5 Modern planning

Contents list

In planning, modernism is associated with the endeavour to make cities better, healthier and more functional. This began with nineteenth century public health measures. Engineers were given powers to lay drains and supply fresh water, to prevent infectious diseases. Laws were enacted to get rid of narrow streets because it was thought, incorrectly, that foul air caused the spread of infection. When traffic volumes increased, these laws were used to enable street widening for vehicles. The process of modernizing cities became known as "urban renewal'. Typically, governments purchased huge areas of "substandard' housing, destroyed the old buildings, constructed wide new highways and lined them with modern blocks (Figure 1.3). Every modern city has zones of this type, which are especially loathed by families with children. Moscow, and other cities in the former communist countries, are almost entirely built in this manner. "If it were done,' the modernizers reasoned, "when 'tis done, then 'twere well'. That old king, the European city form, was murdered in his sleep. Only the ghosts survived.

Fig 1.3 A planned new town, in China