“New Urbanism” is the contemporary version of the small towns of days gone by. It’s a trend that takes the best attributes of small towns and gives them a modern-day makeover. Old-fashioned elements, like the sense of community that comes from knowing your neighbours, are combined with the latest technology and eco-friendly ways of organising and operating the places where people live, work and spend their downtime. Technologically advanced and environmentally sustainable, these developments are usually commercially viable too.
New Urbanism has come about in response to urban sprawl and suburban life, the long and laborious daily commute, and the fact that these factors have chipped away at our quality of life.
These precincts all have the same basic building blocks of urban planning:
- A balance between social and economic development
- Purposeful, thoughtful land use
- Responsible resource management and environmental protection
In terms of design and layout, there are two types of spaces that are integral to New Urbanism – civic spaces and what is known as the “Third Space”.
The creation of great civic spaces is a high priority in terms of New Urbanist thinking. But space in cities is in increasingly short supply due to alarming rates of population growth. Consequently, urban planners have to be very clever about how they use the available space. They must work within the parameters of what they have, while still delivering maximum enjoyment to the people who spend time there and improving their quality of life.
There is another type of space that is woven into the fabric of New Urbanism – the “Third Space”. It’s a buzzword that simply refers to the social settings outside of home (First Space) and work (Second Space). Think of places like coffee shops, cafés, bars and restaurants, retail stores, markets, hair and beauty salons, health clubs, parks and more. So the Third Space is basically the backdrops to our daily lives outside the places where we work and live.
Given how time-constrained our lives have become, convenience is a highly sought-after commodity. In a New Urban area, you can expect all your needs to be catered for within a radius small enough to walk wherever you need to be. This includes everything from grocery shopping, exercising or eating out, to finding an outfit for a special occasion. You also have the option of working remotely, thanks to blanket wi-fi coverage and fast, reliable fibre optics.
New Urban principles are used to create cities by design. Careful consideration is given to how people live, work and relax, so that the places that the layout and design will bring balance to their lives. The aim is a healthy environment within a city, where people can soak up natural light and sunlight, walk everywhere, sit outside over lunch or dine al fresco at night. In its simplest form, it’s the freedom to live, work, relax and connect when and where you like, with people who matter to you and whose company you enjoy.