New Urbanism is first and foremost an urban design movement – meaning it is a style (a way of thinking) or prevailing inclination in urban design that upholds a rigid ideal or philosophy and is promoted and followed or practised by specific individuals and/or groups.
At the end of World War II, urban planning mostly centred around the use of municipal zoning to isolate residential from commercial and industrial expansion; focused on the production of low-density single-family detached dwellings as the favoured housing model for the emergent middle class. The physical parting of where people live, work, shop and spend leisure time, together with low housing density made vehicles indispensable for everyday transportation and aided hugely to the rise of a culture of vehicular dependency.
New Urbanism originated in the early 1980’s as a way of alternative thinking for future urban planning, architecture and movement (of all modes) by reinvesting in design, community and place. New Urbanism fought predominant development patterns which fixated more on building dispersed housing far from traditional city centres and key roads as well as outdated urban renewal tactics that ruined the fabric of historic neighbourhoods and secluded once-stable communities.
These outdated ways of development are collectively known as “city ‘sprawling'”
New Urbanism is intensely influenced by urban design principles and practices such as the environmental movement, TOD (transit-oriented development) and TND (traditional neighbourhood design). These notions can be bound into two concepts: building a sense of community and the progress of ecological practices.
Since its inception, New Urbanism has influenced many characteristics of urban planning, municipal land-use schemes and real-estate development. The movement has altered the conversation, from debating the alternative forms of development to discussing how best to preserve, develop, reinstate and design our neighbourhoods, cities and regions. New Urbanism is also regarded as the primary catalyst to, now common, updated (modern) development approaches and configurations, including, mixed-use developments; TND; TOD; affordable housing integrated with design standards; the expansion and design of complete and attractive streets.
New Urbanism’s ideals can be set in central principles or characteristics in order to identify the movement and way of thinking. Some of these characteristics are:
• The neighbourhood has a noticeable centre. This is often a square of grass or vegetation and sometimes an eventful or notable street corner. A transport stop (bus/train/metro/tramways) would be situated at this centre.
• Most of the residences are within a five-minute stroll of the centre, an average of approximately four-hundred meters (400 m).
• There are a diversity of residential types so that young and old, singles and families, the poor and affluent may find dwellings to live in.
• At the brink of the neighbourhood there are workplaces and shops of adequately varied sorts to source the weekly essentials of a household.
• An elementary school is near enough so that most children can walk from their home.
• There are lesser playgrounds available to every residence – not more than 150m away.
• Streets within the neighbourhood form a linked network, which dissolves traffic by offering a selection of pedestrian and vehicular routes to any destination.
• The streets are fairly narrow and sheltered with rows of trees. This reduces traffic, creating an appropriate atmosphere for bicycles and pedestrians.
• Certain prominent sites at the termination of street vistas or in the neighbourhood centre are reserved for civic buildings. These provide sites for community meetings, education, and religious or cultural activities.
New Urbanism also has fundamental approaches with guidelines, as phrased by “The Philosophies/Principles of Intelligent Urbanism” (PIU) prepared by Prof. Christopher Charles Benninger. The PIU is a philosophy of urban development poised of a set of ten (10) ‘laws’ intended to guide the preparation of city plans and urban design. These guidelines/’laws’ intend to reunite and incorporate various urban development and management concerns.
According to Prof. C.C. Benninger, some of these ‘laws’ are: