About New Urbanism

How towns around the world are downplaying the hustle and bustle of urban living

New Urbanism is an urban planning movement that advocates walkable, mixed-use communities. Its design principles are based on the villages and small towns that existed before cars, when people lived within close walking distance of shops and workplaces and shared resources like parks.

Features of new urban communities

New Urbanism is characterized by a variety of specific features. These include a recognizable central area, such as a plaza, park or concentration of frequented shops, within close walking distance for residents. Housing types are mixed together, integrating residents of different incomes and backgrounds. Schools are also walking-distance from most houses, and buildings front the street directly instead of being set back behind parking lots. Most streets are narrow and are landscaped with trees. A neighborhood association governs the community.

Benefits of walkable communities

Living within walking distance of shops, schools and workplaces brings a number of advantages. People get more exercise by walking or cycling, and streets are safer for children. Residents get more acquainted with their neighbors and are more likely to get invested in the community. People can save money on gas, and there's the added benefit of reducing unsightly urban sprawl.

New Urbanism and the environment

New Urbanism is associated with a smaller carbon footprint because of the reduced need for car transportation. New Urbanism also promotes the use of sustainable construction materials and local plants for landscaping, as well as other environmentally friendly urban planning practices.

The Congress for New Urbanism

The Congress for New Urbanism, or CNU, is the main organization advocating New Urbanism community developments. It hosts events, provides resources, advocates for new communities based on the New Urbanism model and hosts annual conferences regularly attended by government officials, health professionals, planners and academics. It was founded in 1993 in Chicago, and now has a number of regional chapters.

Examples of New Urbanism

Examples of New Urbanism projects in the U.S. include Seaside, Florida; the Cotton District in Starkville, Mississippi; Stapleton, Colo.; Mesa Del Sol, New Mexico; Oakwood Shores, Illinois; and Baldwin Park, Florida. Examples elsewhere in the world include Sankt Erik, Sweden; Orchid Bay, Belize; McKenzie Towne, Calgary, Canada; Alta de Lisbona, Lisbon, Portugal; and Jakriborg, Sweden. The main organization advocating for New Urbanism in Europe is the C.E.U., or Council for European Urbanism.

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