Urban Planning

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city planning

city planning, process of planning for the improvement of urban centers in order to provide healthy and safe living conditions, efficient transport and communication, adequate public facilities, and aesthetic surroundings. Planning that also includes outlying communities and highways is termed regional planning.

Early City Planning

Many ancient cities were built from definite plans. The fundamental feature of the plans of Babylon, Nineveh, and the cities of ancient Greece and of China was a geographical pattern of main streets running north and south and east and west, with a public square or forum in the center. Such a gridiron plan was used in the ancient Peruvian city of Chan Chan. It was also followed by the Romans, as in Lincoln and Chester in England; in all their towns the Romans emphasized drainage and water supply and practiced zoning. In medieval cities, built with military security in mind, the only relief from the extremely narrow streets was the space formed by municipal and church squares. The living conditions of the poorer citizens were given little attention.

With the Renaissance came the truly monumental views—wide avenues and long approaches creating vistas of handsome buildings. The new aim is seen first in special sections of a city, such as Michelangelo's grouping on the Capitoline at Rome and Bernini's piazza of St. Peter's. In most European cities through the 17th and 18th cent. there was fragmentary replanning of medieval streets. After the fire of 1666 in London, Sir Christopher Wren devised a superb plan for a complete rebuilding of the city, but the plan unfortunately was not carried out. In the 18th cent., Mannheim and Karlsruhe, Germany, were laid out geometrically; Emmanuel Héré planned Nancy, France; John Wood produced grand architectural streets and squares at Bath; and the new part of Edinburgh was laid out. In the early 19th cent. John Nash planned certain sections of London; central Vienna was improved; and Baron Haussmann remodeled Paris to produce the celebrated boulevard system with its spokes-and-hub design.

Legislation that enabled cities to make and carry out planning designs was enacted earlier in Europe than in the United States. Such laws were passed in Italy in 1865, in Sweden in 1874, and in Prussia and Great Britain in 1875. Planning in Great Britain was especially concerned with slum elimination; its greatest exponent was Sir Patrick Geddes. At the turn of the century Sir Ebenezer Howard was the founder of the modern garden city movement. The first English garden city, Letchworth, was begun in 1903.

City Planning in the United States

In the United States, early New England towns, formally disposed along wide elm-lined central roadways or commons, exhibit a conscious planning. Annapolis, Md., Philadelphia, and Paterson, N.J., were built after plans; but the most celebrated example is the city of Washington D.C., laid out according to the plan devised (1791) by Pierre Charles L'Enfant, under the supervision of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson—a rectangular plan with diagonal main thoroughfares superimposed and the Capitol as the central feature.

In the 19th cent. Frederick Law Olmsted was a pioneer in city planning, especially in developing parks. State legislation enabling cities to appoint planning commissions and in some cases giving them authority to carry out the plans began in Pennsylvania in 1891. The work of Daniel Hudson Burnham for the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, 1893, was a stimulus to city planning, and Burnham, with Edward Bennett, drew up a plan for Chicago, much of which was put into execution. In 1901 a commission composed of Burnham, Charles Follen McKim, and Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., devised a scheme for the modern development and beautification of Washington, D.C., adhering to L'Enfant's original plan as a basis for all new operations.

A wide influence on planning in U.S. cities was exerted by the zoning laws adopted in New York City in 1916, which controlled the uses of each district in the city and regulated the areas and heights of buildings in relation to street width. The important Regional Survey of New York and Environs, completed in 1929, took into consideration legal and social factors as well as internal transit problems and various modes of approach to the metropolitan area.

Governmental efforts to provide employment during the depression of the 1930s led to the building (under the Federal Resettlement Administration) of three experimental model communities—Greenbelt, Md., Greendale, Wis., and Greenhills, Ohio. Among the many subsequent planned communities built by private developers are Columbia, Md., and Reston, Va. The increase of traffic and crowding together of tall buildings have crippled the street plans of many cities—especially U.S. cities that have been handicapped by their rectangular or checkerboard layouts.

Contemporary Planning

In the larger U.S. cities, physical deterioration, crowding, and complex socioeconomic factors have produced vast slums. Most urban renewal programs of the mid-20th cent. were aimed at clearing these slums through the demolition of decayed buildings and the construction of low-income and middle-income housing projects. It was found, however, that the mere replacement of old buildings with new structures did not eliminate slum conditions.

In contrast to traditional planning, which concentrated on improving the physical aspects of buildings and streets, modern city planning is increasingly concerned with the social and economic aspects of city living. The process of city planning is a highly complex, step-by-step procedure, usually involving a series of surveys and studies, development of a land-use plan and transportation plan, preparation of a budget, and approval of a unified master plan by various agencies or legislative bodies. City planners are usually part of an urban planning board or governmental agency that must take into account the characteristics and long-range welfare of the people of a particular urban community—their employment opportunities, income levels, need for transportation, schools, shopping areas, hospitals, parks and recreational facilities. They must face the problems of traffic, congestion, and pollution; they must also consider the availability of police, fire, and sanitation services, the limitations posed by zoning and other regulations, and the problems of funding. In recent years, residents of many communities have demanded greater participation in the planning of their own neighborhoods, and some planners have worked closely with community groups during various stages of the planning process.

Contemporary examples of planned cities include Brasília, the federal capital of Brazil, Rotterdam, main seaport of the Netherlands, Chandigarh, the joint capital of the Indian states of Haryana and Punjab, Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan, and Abuja, the capital of Nigeria.


See J. Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961, repr. 1969); L. Mumford, The City in History (1961, repr. 1966); F. Gibberd, Town Design (5th ed. 1967); W. H. Whyte, The Last Landscape (1968); H. Colman, City Planning (1971); G. E. Cherry, ed., Shaping an Urban World (1980); A. Sutcliffe, Toward the Planned City (1981); V. M. Lampugnani, Architecture and City Planning (1985).

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Urban planning

The design of urban structures and spaces.
Illustrated Dictionary of Architecture Copyright © 2012, 2002, 1998 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Urban Planning


the theory and practice of planning and building cities.

Urban planning is governed by social structure, level of development of productive forces, science, and culture, natural and climatic conditions, and a country’s national characteristics. Urban planning encompasses a complex network of socioeconomic, civil engineering, architectural and decorative, and sanitation problems. The general rule for presocialist urban planning involved to some degree the influence of private ownership of real estate and land. The inequality of property distribution was reflected in the methods of planning and construction and in the organization of public services of urban territory. Ruling-class districts, created on the basis of the best contemporary urban planning achievements were drastically different from the overcrowded working-class areas, which lacked essential public amenities. There are presently two social orders in the world—socialism and capitalism—which determine two ways of developing urban planning. Under capitalism the interests of landowners, industrialists, and financiers usually lead to the haphazard construction of population centers that contradict the goais of urban planning. Under socialism the state planning of the national economy creates all the conditions needed for the systematic, scientifically based development of the kinds of cities most suitable for the work, daily life, and relaxation of the entire population.

The first attempts to bring a definite order to the construction and planning of settlements occurred sometime between the middle of the third and the beginning of the second millennium B.C. Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa, cities belonging to an ancient civilization located in the valley of the Indus River (2500–1500 B.C.), had a rectangular network of streets, as well as organized public services. In ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, and other parts of the ancient world, cities were laid out in geometrically regular blocks, construction was zoned on the basis of public property (the city of Kahaun in ancient Egypt at the beginning of the second millennium B.C.), a main street was designated (the processional road of the goddess Ishtar in Babylon, sixth and seventh centuries B.C.), and elementary water supply and sewage systems were created. In the book Chou Li (third century B.C.) there is information about urban planning in China between the 11th and third centuries B.C.; it indicates that the capital city, Lo-yang, was laid out in a square, divided into blocks by nine latitudinal and nine meridional streets. The ruler’s palace was located at the city’s center. The ancient Greeks took the natural conditions of the locale well into account in planning their cities and stressed the importance of the agora and acropolis (places in which political and religious life were concentrated) as the compositional center of the city. The methods of regular urban planning probably arose in the East and developed into a well-structured system that was widely used during the Hellenistic period (Hippodamus’ system); however, it had lost its democratic tendency. Regular planning prevailed in ancient Roman urban development (the cities of Ostia, Pompeii, Timgad). The Romans built vast water-supply and sewage systems, paved the streets, and planted greenery. Specific questions of Greco-Hellenistic and Roman theories of urban planning and architecture were formulated in the works of Vitruvius (first century B.C.). In the ancient Indian states of pre-Columbian America cultural centers were created according to a definite plan, such as in the architectural complex of Teotihuacán in Mexico (second to ninth centuries A.D.). The shilpa shastra treatises, written in India sometime between the fifth and 12th centuries A.D. served as a guide for the construction of cities. In the kingdoms of the ancient world the ensembles distinguished by their architectural and artistic qualities symbolized the stability of the hegemony of the ruling classes.

During the Middle Ages, western European cities were girded by strong fortified walls with a network of narrow, crooked streets surrounding the castle, cathedral, or marketplace inside. The residential districts that arose outside the city walls were surrounded by a new belt of fortifications. Along or on the site of the former walls there were circular streets which, in combination with radial streets leading from the center to the city gates, gave the city its characteristically radial-annular (less frequently, fan-shaped) form. The majority of medieval Europe’s cities at first were devoid of any civil amenities. The limited area protected by fortifications led to great density within the city of multistory residential and public buildings. In Russian cities the kremlins, or de-tintsy, had great importance in the formation of cities. Unlike the castles of western Europe—the fortified dwellings of feudal lords—the much larger Russian kremlins (for example, the ancient Novgorod kremlin occupies an area of 10.5 hectares, whereas the Tower of London occupies about 4 hectares and the Castello Sforzesco in Milan, about 2) were the cities’ political-administrative and religious centers where, in addition to the mansions of the feudal lords and the high clergy, the main cathedrals, offices, armories, and storehouses were located. The construction of kremlins, as well as of monasteries, which played an important role in the development of ancient Russian cities, was especially widespread in Russia between the 15th and 17th centuries (during the rise of state centralization). The kremlins, in addition to their great defensive significance, determined the basis for planning the center of many Russian cities (for example, Moscow, Tula, and Nizhny Novgorod). In China during the same period regular planning was used in building many cities. Large palatial complexes (such as the 15th-16th century ensemble of the so-called Peking Axis in Peking) had a regular plan. In other Eastern nations during the medieval period free planning (for example, Fatehpur-Sikri in India, built between 1569 and 1584) was found, as well as regular planning (for example, Jaipur in India, founded in 1728).

In western Europe during the Renaissance new economic requirements and social conditions led to attempts to bring order to urban construction. The architects of the Renaissance developed new methods of building square ensembles (such as the Capitoline ensemble in Rome, designed by Michelangelo and built in 1546). A theory of architecture and urban planning was developed in the treatises of L. B. Alberti and Palladio, and plans were drawn for so-called ideal cities (V. Scamozzi) in which not only the needs of defense, trade, and commerce were taken into consideration, but also the everyday comforts of the citizenry. Comparatively little of this, however, was put into practice. In Central and South America after the Spanish conquest the cities that arose in the colonies, such as Mexico and Peru, were built according to the laws that had been established by the Spanish emperor in 1523 (characterized by a rectangular grid of streets and, in the city’s center, a main square with a cathedral and administrative buildings).

The concentration of political power and major material resources in the hands of absolute monarchs in a number of European countries in the 17th and 18th centuries, as well as the transformation of papal Rome into the capital city of an absolutist state and the center of European feudal Catholic culture, made it possible to expand the scale of urban construction and to create large-scale architectural ensembles embodying the power and magnitude of royal authority and the Catholic Church. Ornate design and construction became widespread (for example, the Piazza San Pietro ensemble in Rome, 1657–63; L. Bernini, architect). A radial arrangement of streets was used in palatial ensembles (for example, Versailles and the Piazza del Popolo in Rome).

During the 18th and the first third of the 19th century new methods were developed for the construction of urban ensembles that were based on the concept of the beauty of large architecturally organized spaces in which the construction of the city was organically combined with the elements of nature. Unlike the enclosed ceremonial squares of the 17th century, the square acquired an “open” character and was spatially combined with streets and quays (the Place Louis XV, now the Place de la Concorde, in Paris, 1753–75; architect, J. A. Gabriel). In the United States and a number of other non-European nations most cities are built on the basis of a monotonous rectangular grid of streets that form small blocks.

After the reforms of Peter I, urban planning was employed in Russia on a broader basis. The construction of St. Petersburg began in 1703, followed by Petrozavodsk and Nizhnyi Tagil, and later by Odessa, Ekaterinburg (now Sverdlovsk), Ekaterinoslav (now Dnepropetrovsk), and Sevastopol’. Arkhangel’sk, Voronezh, and Tula quickly developed, and new cities were built according to regular plans. During the second half of the 18th and the first half of the 19th century specially prepared master plans guided the construction of Tver’, Yaroslavl, Kostroma, Pskov, Kaluga, Poltava, and many other cities. Russian urban planning differed in the multiplicity of its methods of regular planning, and the spatial interrelationship and artistic unity of its architectural ensembles, in which old buildings usually were combined harmoniously with the new. In St. Petersburg, Yaroslavl, and other cities radial street systems were used, which served as the basis for the overall composition of the plan and were directed toward the urban nucleus. But along with the splendid city centers there were the slums and outlying districts, lacking civil amenities and where the city’s poor huddled together.

The most outstanding example of Russian urban planning is St. Petersburg, where the harmonious system of the center’s vast, spatially interrelated architectural ensembles was created in the 1830’s. In the development of Russian urban planning a great role was played by the creative activity of gifted Russian architects, such as M. G. Zemtsov, I. K. Korobov, P. M. Eropkin, A. I. Krasov, V. I. Bazhenov, M. F. Kazakov, I. E. Starov, A. D. Zakharov, A. N. Vo-ronikhin, K. I. Rossi, O. I. Bove, and V. P. Stasov. The new systems for the spatial realization of architectural ensembles, the vast scales of replanning, and the construction of Russian cities had few precedents in the history of urban planning.

The Industrial Revolution at the turn of the 19th century led to a chaotic distribution within the city of residences with growth of cities in many of the nations of the world, but progress in civil engineering and the organization of public services was accompanied by a decline in urban planning. Under the conditions generated by intensive urban growth, private ownership of land and real estate led to excessive density of construction and massive land speculation. This aggravated the disorganized nature of the construction and led to a chaotic distribution within the city of residences with plants, factories, railroad lines and installations, ports, and warehouses, which polluted the air, soil, and rivers. The traffic, which filled the cities’ streets and squares, increased the noise level and became dangerous to pedestrian movement. The adoption of a number of legislative and municipal acts to control construction, along with some attempts at planned urban development (for example, the reconstruction of the center of Paris according to the plan of prefect G. Haussmann between 1853 and 1896) could not alter the generally confused state of construction in capitalist cities. This crisis of capitalist urban development stimulated the development of theories of urban planning promoting new systems of settlement. Theoretical schools of urban planning, such as deurbanism (related to the late 19th-century concept of the garden city) and urbanism (the designs of Le Cor-busier, the leader of the school, were widely known) finally took shape toward the end of the 1920’s.

Under the influence of the struggle of the working class for its rights, the bourgeoisie was forced to resolve certain problems of urban planning. Beginning with the end of the 19th century, and particularly in the early 1920’s (principally in Europe), settlements and residential complexes of “low-cost” housing were built for low- and middle-income workers. Progressive methods of urban planning were developed during this construction: a functional, planned scheme of the complex in its entirety, the most advantageous orientation of structures, the arrangement of green areas for relaxation and of playgrounds for children, and the planned construction of public buildings and of enterprises for the provision of amenities. These trends were developed further after World War II (1939–45). Taking into consideration the experience and the progressive ideas of Soviet urban planning, the West’s leading architects developed vast urban projects, such as the restoration and reconstruction of Le Havre (1947–56), designed by architect A. Perret. Architect P. Abercrombie created a plan for the reconstruction and development of Greater London (1944). In order to limit the population growth of London during the postwar years, the construction of eight satellite cities was begun. However, the construction of satellite cities did not limit the city’s growth, and their comparatively small areas and slow rates of construction did not correspond to the natural rate of growth of London’s population. As a result, these measures failed to achieve their goals.

The experience of contemporary urban planning is being used in the construction of many new cities in the developing nations of Asia and Latin America (Chandigarh, India, 1951–56, architect, Le Corbusier; Brasilia, Brazil, architect L. Costa). The different levels of comfort in new residential blocks usually reinforce the social and property inequality among residents, since the high rent for good apartments puts them beyond the means of many types of workers. At the beginning of the 1920’s a new field of urban planning made its appearance—territorial, or regional, planning (for example, the plan for the coal region around Doncaster, England, in 1921–22; architects, P. Abercrombie and P. Johnson). However, regional planning measures in capitalist countries can have only a certain amount of regulatory effect.

By the middle of the 20th century the random growth of cities, combined with the rapid development of motor traffic, had led to a new crisis in urban planning in the capitalist countries. The attempts to overcome the crisis led to the creation of the new theories of so-called dynamic urban planning. The authors of these new theories saw the causes of the crisis not in the socioeconomic nature of capitalism, but in the fact that the planned structure of cities is static and does not consider the dynamics of the rapid growth of population centers. In the 1950’s and the 1960’s the ekistics theory appeared (by the Greek architect C. A. Doxiades and others). The authors of this theory attempt to justify the unlimited growth of cities in the form of continuous linear urban strips stretching along transport routes throughout the world; they cite the colossal agglomeration of population centers on the east coast of the United States and in the Great Lakes area as a positive prototype for man’s future settlement pattern. In the 1960’s the Japanese “metabolism” theories gained popularity (architect K. Tange and others), as did the European theories of mobile construction and spatial (three-dimensional) urban development (French architects E. Albert, I. Friedmann, and many others). In spite of differences between the solutions proposed, urban planners of this school are united in attempting to break with the traditional sprawl of cities over the earth’s surface and to carry urban planning into space by building man-made tiers above the old cities and giant, ever upward-growing treelike or conical structures, as well as cities that would be built over bays or float on the ocean. However, these theories are generally impractical, and the implementation of isolated urban planning measures does not alter the essence of capitalist urban planning as a whole—rather, it has a restricted and inconsistent character.

The Great October Socialist Revolution led to a new stage in the development of urban planning. During the first years of Soviet power, development began of new methods of planning and constructing cities, residential blocks and streets, and new types of residential and public buildings. As early as the middle of the 1920’s the transformation had begun of the outlying workers’ districts of Moscow, Leningrad, Baku, and other major industrial centers, as had the elimination of the enormous differences in the quality of construction and the level of public services between the central (formerly bourgeois-aristocratic) districts and the poorly built proletarian neighborhoods further out. Thus, for example, the former Narvskaya Zastava in Leningrad was rebuilt (now part of the Kirov district; 1925–27; architects, A. I. Gegello, G. A. Simonov, and A. S. Nikol’skii). Built before the October Revolution of squalid wooden housing and workers’ barracks, it became a beautiful and well arranged section of a socialist city. Comfortable new blocks of workers’ apartments were built on Traktornaia Street, in addition to schools, preschool nurseries, the A. M. Gorky Palace of Culture, and other facilities. Workers’ settlements were built near the Kashira State Regional Electric Power Plant, the Volkhov Hydroelectric Power Plant, and others. The nation’s industrialization called for the construction of new cities (Zaporozh’e, Komsomol’sk-na-Amur, Magnitogorsk, and many others). The development of urban planning, in turn, brought about an upsurge of theoretical thought, and at the end of the 1920’s N. A. Ladovskii developed a well-principled new model for a “developing” city: a parabola with a public center along its axis, skirted successively by residential, industrial, and park zones. In 1930, N. A. Miliutin proposed the parallel development of industrial and residential urban zones (the so-called functional-flow plan), which was used, in particular, in the construction of the Kharkov Tractor Plant district. A master plan for the reconstruction of Moscow was completed and work successfully begun (adopted in 1935; architects, V. N. Semenov and S. E. Chernyshev). In a resolution of the Council of People’s Commissars of the USSR and the Central Committee of the Ail-Union Communist Party (Bolshevik) dated July 10, 1935, practical measures for the radical reconstruction of old Moscow into a socialist Moscow were specified, and the principles of Soviet urban planning were set forth that were based on the reconstruction of other Soviet cities. At the same time the development and implementation of master plans for Leningrad, Kharkov, Baku, Gorky, Yerevan, Novosibirsk, Tbilisi, Khabarovsk, Cheliabinsk, Yaroslavl, and many other cities were begun.

The restoration and reconstruction of the hundreds of cities and settlements and the tens of thousands of rural villages that had been destroyed by the German fascists during the Great Patriotic War of 1941—45 began through the Soviet people’s historic feats of labor; this was a creative process, as a result of which the cities were improved in terms of function and architectural beauty. As a result of the implementation of the master plan for the reconstruction of Volgograd (architects K. S. Alabian, N. Kh. Poliakov, V. N. Sembirtsev), the city was provided with an architecturally planned access to the banks of the Volga; architectural ensembles for the central area of Minsk were built according to new designs (architects M. P. Parusnikov, V. A. Korol’, B. R. Rubanenko, and G. V. Zaborskii); drastic reconstruction of the main street (Kreshchatik) was carried out in Kiev (architects, A. V. Vlasov, A. V. Dobrovol’skii, and B. I. Priimak); and, in accordance with the master plan for the reconstruction and further development of Leningrad (1945–48; architects, N. V. Baranov, A. I. Naumov, and V. A. Kamenskii), new architectural ensembles were created (Lenin Square, Revolution Square), the Inzhenernyi Zamok and the Arts Square districts were rebuilt, the Primorskii and Moskovskii victory parks were created, and developmental work began in the city’s center on both sides of the Neva River. In Novgorod, in addition to the restoration of the kremlin and other architectural monuments an ensemble of a new main square was created (architect, A. V. Shchusev). During the postwar years dozens of new cities were built (Angarsk, Bratsk, Divnogorsk, Noril’sk, Volzhskii, Dubna, Novosibirsk Science City, Zelenograd, Monchegorsk, Navoi, Rustavi, Sumgait, Temirtau, Shevchenko).

During the 1950’s and 1960’s the reconstruction of old cities became widespread. In Moscow the basic transformation of the city’s central area continued; tall buildings were built, reshaping the capital’s silhouette, including the architectural ensembles of Kalinin Prospect (1964–69; architects, M. V. Posokhin and A. A. Mndoiants), Kutuzov Prospect (1957; architect, V. G. Gel’freikh), and the Zariad’e district (architect, D. N. Chichulin). In 1971 a new master plan was adopted for the development of Moscow to the year 2000 (architects, M. V. Posokhin and N. N. Ullas). The plan envisions a great deal of development for the city’s historical central area, the creation of a system of architectural ensembles along the banks of the Moskva River and along a number of main highways (for example, on Novokirovskii Prospect and Dmitrov Street). The creation of new residential areas, huge projects to improve public services within the city, and the further development of transport, cultural, domestic, and medical services for the people will improve the living conditions of Muscovites considerably. In Leningrad new residential sections have been built, such as Avtovo (1954; architect, V. A. Kamenskii) and Dachnoe (1960; architect, V. A. Kamenskii). A number of ensembles are being created for the Primorskii section of Vasil’evskii Island, thanks to which the city has a broad front with access to the shores of the Gulf of Finland. In Ul’ianovsk, in honor of the 100th birthday of V. I. Lenin, the center of the city was rebuilt and a memorial complex dedicated to the founder of the Soviet state created (designed by architect B. S. Mezentsev). The aftereffects of the 1966 earthquake have been eliminated and a new municipal center has been built in Tashkent. Large architectural complexes are being built in Alma-Ata, Arkhangel’sk, Baku, Vladivostok, Gorky, Donetsk, Dushanbe, Yerevan, Kiev, Murmansk, Novosibirsk, Perm’, Sverdlovsk, Kharkov, and other cities. During the 50 years of Soviet power about 900 cities have been completely rebuilt, a great deal of urban planning experience has been accumulated, and theoretical principles have been formulated.

The theory and practice of urban planning accomplishes two tasks: the reconstruction and development of old cities and the construction of new cities. The rapid growth of the nation’s production capacity is increasing the scope of Soviet urban planning. At the end of the 1960’s about 20 new cities and 50 urban-type settlements were being built in the USSR annually and a multitude of old cities were growing rapidly. Zoning of urban territory is being carried out in order to create the most beneficial living conditions for the population and to facilitate the functioning of the city as a whole. Urban planning decisions are being made with due regard for the development of industrial, residential, and recreation areas and for satisfying the requirements of sanitary engineering (for example, in water and air purity, insolation, and soundproofing). The decisions specify engineering training and the provision of public services for urban areas, the creation of well-planned urban road systems (providing rapid access to places of work and recreation), and the organization of a far-flung network of cultural, domestic, medical, and other services. The problems of domestic services, the education of students and preschool children, and the organization of urban transport are being resolved by the creation of residential districts that are further divided into neighborhood units (mikroraiony). These areas are provided with movie theaters, clubs, parks, clinics, maternity homes, shopping centers, and other service points. In order to implement a city’s general sociopolitical, administrative, economic, cultural, and educational functions, urban social centers are being created. The most important part of the cities are their industrial districts, since a sizable part of the populace works there, and working conditions to a great extent depend on the way in which these areas have been planned and constructed. In constructing industrial districts, the possibilities of cooperative use of rail access lines, marshaling yards, networks of engineering equipment, and elements of servicing the area by a number of plants is taken into consideration. Such cooperation offers economic and technical advantages and may be implemented according to predesigned plans for the construction of these districts and junctions.

Suburban zones are an integral part of the planned complex of a city; they are a reserve for the city’s subsequent development, a place for short-term or long-term relaxation for the mass of urban residents (workers’ resorts, tourist resorts, pioneer camps, water stations, beaches, and other facilities), and a zone for many vitally important municipal (water intakes and treatment stations) and transport (airports, commercial railroad stations, warehouses) facilities. In order to ensure the successful planning and construction of suburban zones, master plans for urban development and designs for suburban zones are formulated simultaneously, and the control of construction within these zones is carried out either by urban architectural planning agencies or with their concurrence.

Modern principles and methods of planning and building are widely used in the construction of new cities in still-open territories. The exigencies of modern urban planning in old or developed cities are gradually being met by means of their reconstruction. The following is envisaged in conjunction with reconstruction: improving health conditions in urban areas by gradually improving the insolation and ventilation of buildings, decreasing building density, widening old streets and building new highways to improve transport links between the various parts of a city, ensuring the safety of city traffic by rebuilding streets and highways and separating motor traffic from pedestrians (for example, by the construction of traffic intersections, tunnels, and overpasses). In cities with a rich architectural heritage, reconstruction is designed to preserve their artistic and historic character and organically to combine the new construction with the architectural monuments. Reconstruction is accompanied by greater comforts in residential and public buildings (water supply and sewage systems, central heating, gas) and an expanded network of enterprises for commercial, cultural, domestic, and medical services. The greater architectural and artistic qualities of a structure may be achieved through the preservation and improvement of older architectural ensembles and the creation of new ones, by the creation of the most favorable conditions for a better view of sculptured monuments and architectural memorials (by the demolition of buildings of little value and the replanning of adjacent land), and by the harmonious combination of new and old structures.

The architectural environment and the appearance of large population centers influence people’s consciousness throughout their lives. Attractive and comfortable cities facilitate the people’s vital activities, promote the formation of an optimistic outlook and a heightened level of culture, and strengthen the love of the people for their motherland. Rational and aesthetically advanced urban planning and construction come about through the development of systems of spatially interrelated architectural ensembles and the comprehensive and maximally effective evaluation of local natural and climatic conditions. A well-integrated architectural impression in a small population center can be given by a single architectural ensemble, while architectural unity in a large city is created by a system of architectural ensembles and the spatial integration of groups of ensembles.

The principal methods of building architectural ensembles that are widely applied in modern urban planning include centric planning (for example, the Kremlin and Smolensk Square in Moscow; the first example, a picturesque composition and the second, a symmetrical spatial composition, both subordinated to verticals—the bell tower of Ivan the Great and a tall administrative building), enfilade (the spatial composition of the Palace Square and Decembrists Square in Leningrad and the memorial center, N. M. Karamzin Square, and V. I. Lenin Square in Ul’ianovsk), axial (the combination of interrelated ensembles—Lomonosov Square, Zodchii Rossii Street, and Ostrovskii Square—in Leningrad; the ensembles of Moscow University in the Lenin Hills and the V. I. Lenin Central Stadium in Luzhniki, in Moscow), mainline (the system of ensembles on Nevskii Prospect in Leningrad), and panoramic-group planning (a combination of a group of three ensembles—Peter and Paul Fortress, the streiki on Vasil’evskii Island, and Dvortsovaia Naberezh-naia, in Leningrad). A synthesis of the arts is very important for clear expression of an architectural ensemble’s ideological and artistic content and for its successful organization.

Gardens and parks play an important role in urban planning. They have health value and are a positive means of creating an architectural ensemble.

The planning and construction of cities and their architectural and artistic appearance evolve gradually, as a result of the long-term collective labor of architects, engineers, and builders. Systematic urban planning therefore requires creative continuity and discipline in implementing the overall goals and architectural and engineering conceptions contained within the master plans for urban development and the construction plans for individual urban districts. A leading role in urban development belongs to the chief architects of the various cities, who provide the creative, organizational, and technical leadership in planning and construction.

Modern urban planning faces a number of complex problems. The growth of the world’s population, the rapid development of production capacity in many nations, and the enormous achievements of science and technology have led to the unprecedented growth of urban populations. The world’s largest cities, growing especially rapidly and having already attained monstrous proportions and huge populations (for example, Greater New York, with more than 16 million people, and Greater Tokyo, with more than 11 million), have become metropolitan regions, a phenomenon never before seen. As a result of this process, rational settlement and wise regulation of urban growth have become very pressing problems. Industry, power production, transport, and science are the main factors in urban formation. Thus, the settlement, location, size, and further growth of cities and urban-type settlements depend basically both upon the distribution and development of existing industrial enterprises, scientific centers, railroad junctions, electric power plants, and river and sea ports and upon the construction of new ones. In capitalist countries the random nature of urban development makes it impossible to resolve these most important problems of urban planning. Under socialism and the conditions of a planned economy, the rational distribution of city-forming projects based upon regional planning projects is possible. The national economic importance of these projects has been borne out by the experience of many socialist nations (the construction of Moscow Oblast, the Donetsk Coal Fields, and the Irkutsk-Cheremkhovo and other large raions of the USSR; the Ostrava Region in Czechoslovakia; and the Katowice Industrial Region in the People’s Republic of Poland). A master plan is the basis for the planning and construction of population centers. The main points of regional planning projects and master plans for urban development (the distribution, profile, and size of the objective and the sequence and extent of capital outlays) are determined by the national economic plans. The long-range national economic plans, regional planning projects, and master plans for urban development that constitute a reliable basis for Soviet urban planning also ensure the proper distribution of new industrial, power, transport, scientific, and educational projects. This is the chief means of ensuring the planned and controlled growth of cities of small and medium size. Experience shows that in large cities with a population of n. ore than 1 million it is necessary to construct complex and expensive transportation facilities (subways, highways) and large water supply, sewage, and power supply systems in order to provide comfortable travel and to equip it properly. In addition, the high concentration of transport and industry considerably worsens conditions of health and hygiene of the population. In the USSR and other socialist countries the growth of large cities is systematically regulated, and is conducted mainly by limiting or prohibiting the construction of new projects within a city’s territory and by distributing these projects to the small and medium cities that constitute a given economic region.

An idea of the optimal size of a city is essential in controlling urban growth. It considers the size of population, layout, and construction that will combine the best qualities of large cities (a broad network of cultural, domestic, and other services) and small cities (clean air, accessibility to places of work and nature) and that will require relatively smaller (per capita) amounts of material and monetary resources for construction. The regulation of the growth of small and medium cities so that they will remain within these optimal limits has substantial national-economic importance. The concept of optimum size applies also to groups of functionally interrelated cities and settlements. A city’s optimal size is not constant and depends on technological progress and the level of development of production capacity (including the speed of urban transport). One of the means of limiting the growth of large cities is the distribution of urban projects (connected, with respect to production, to projects located inside a large city) over the territory of the surrounding industrial region. Concurrently with the development of a large city’s master plan, a design is formulated for the regional planning of an industrial area, centered on a given city (for example, a plan for the regional planning of Moscow Oblast was worked out simultaneously with the master plan for the development of the city of Moscow, and together with the development of a master plan for Minsk a plan was drawn up for the Minsk industrial region). The method of distributing production facilities throughout a region is more effective in controlling the growth of large cities than the method of creating satellite cities. In Japan, where industry has become extraordinarily concentrated, bedroom communities with populations of 150,000–200,000 are being built in the Tokyo to Yokohama regions from 40 to 70 km from the new enterprises in order to redistribute the workers. These cities are inconvenient, since most of their residents must pay for, and take the time for, the ride back and forth to distant jobs every day. In the USSR satellite cities have been created for Moscow (for example, Dubna, Zhukovskii, and Zelenograd), Baku (Sumgait), and other cities. In these cities a large part of the population works at local enterprises or in scientific institutions. Working near one’s place of residence significantly reduces the time lost in commuting and decreases the streams of suburban traffic.

The problem of settlement is inseparably related to the problem of urban traffic. The appearance of the motor vehicle has made many suburban areas easily accessible and facilitated the rapid growth of cities. In modern urban planning the time factor is becoming more and more important. The progressive nature of a settlement system and the quality of the planning and construction of cities and whole groups of population centers is determined, in particular, by the breadth of the urban transport network and its speed of movement. The length of the trip from residence to place of work or relaxation depends upon the distribution of industry, scientific research and engineering institutes, institutions of learning, and administrative, economic, shopping, entertainment, and other facilities. Therefore, the proper mutual distribution of production, scientific, administrative, and public centers and housing is important. The appearance of problems concerning urban traffic and transport, which have become particularly acute in the largest cities of the United States and western Europe, is a consequence of the haphazard development of population centers and means of transport and of the underestimation of the influence of motor vehicles on the design and construction of cities at the beginning of the 20th century. In the United States, millions of private cars fill the cities’ streets, making cities dangerous for both pedestrians and transport. Modern types of transport and the demands of urban traffic are incompatible with a historically developed network of streets and squares. To ensure safe, rapid, and comfortable urban movement new streets are being built, old streets are being rebuilt, new highways for through traffic and special high-speed roads that separate motor traffic from pedestrian traffic are being constructed, and main streets and squares are being freed of motor traffic. However, an unsolved part of the problem of urban traffic and transport, particularly in the large American and western European cities, is the creation of stop-gap parking areas immediately adjacent to places of employment. The rapid increase in the number of motor vehicles in the USSR makes necessary the timely implementation of measures for the reconstruction of old, and the construction of new, transport arteries, for the construction of throughways, and for the reservation of areas for large ground level and underground parking lots (capable of accommodating several thousand vehicles at a time) next to plants and factories, large places of entertainment, train stations, stadiums, beaches, and other structures and buildings that attract large numbers of visitors.

It is reckoned that the physical assets of a city, such as buildings and engineering structures, will last for 80 to 100 years, although often these buildings and structures last longer. A city’s highway network is designed only for the present flow of urban transport and may become unsuitable for future, considerably greater flows and new types of transport. The established limits of a city’s territory and the capacity of its engineering structures may turn out to be insufficient for the long-term development of a city. Thus, working out scientifically based, long-term predictions concerning the development of individual cities and urban planning as a whole has become an especially important problem of modern urban planning. In planning and building cities, the achievements of social and scientific-technical progress must be considered. Long-range forecasts for urban development are being worked out in the USSR according to an overall program with the participation of many scientific research establishments and institutions of the Committee on Civil Construction and Architecture of Gosstroi (State Committee on Construction of the USSR). Gosplan (State Planning Committee of the USSR), the Ministry of Public Health of the USSR, and the Academy of Sciences of the USSR. The research is based on scientific predictions of social progress and on the outlook for the development of culture, health, science, and engineering in industry, transport, building materials, and the construction industry, all of which have an influence on urban planning. The planning of rural population centers is characterized by a number of special features, but in the future all population centers, including the rural ones, will reach a level of public amenities and cultural and domestic services equal to those of the cities. Thus, the resolution of the problems now facing Soviet urban planners that concern the majority of the population is of general economic importance.

Great changes have occurred in urban planning in countries that have taken the path of socialist development. Public ownership of land and the means and implements of production have made it possible to make great strides in urban construction. With the development of planning principles in the national economy, regional planning designs (for example, the reconstruction of the Upper Silesian coal fields in the People’s Republic of Poland, the development of the regions of Ust’-Most and other industrial regions in Czechoslovakia, and the development of a number of industrial regions in the German Democratic Republic, the People’s Republic of Hungary, the Socialist Republic of Rumania, and the People’s Republic of Bulgaria) have gained practical significance. During the postwar years the restoration of historic cities was carried on at the same time as their reconstruction on the basis of socialist urban planning: zoning, controlled density of building, regulation of transport networks, elimination of the differences in the quality of housing and the level of public amenities and cultural and domestic services between the central and outlying regions, and the construction of new housing for workers and others (for example, the execution of a master plan for the restoration and development of Warsaw in 1946; architects, R. Piotrowski, Z. Skib-newski, M. Nowicki, and I. Zachwatowicz). A great deal of attention is being given to preserving and utilizing the architectural heritage of these countries while taking contemporary needs into account (for example, in Prague and ćesky Krumlov in Czechoslovakia). The creation of new, and the transformation of old, public centers is also a major concern (the reconstruction of Sofia’s central area between the late 1940’s and early 1950’s, architects, G. Ovcharov and D. Tsolov; the reconstruction of central Berlin, 1964–69, architects, J. Neter and R. Korn). New satellite cities (for example, Hávífov in the Ostrava-Karviná basin in Czechoslovakia, beginning in 1952; Nowe Tykhy near Katowice in Poland, beginning in 1952) are being built in which pleasant living conditions have been created for the people. Industrialization brought about the construction of new cities (Eisenhüttenstadt in the German Democratic Republic, 1950; Dunaújáros in Hungary, 1950). The advantages of socialist urban planning have been best illustrated in the construction of new residential areas and, especially, of new cities. Along with the general principles that are characteristic of all socialist nations, there are differences in the urban planning of individual socialist countries that are determined by the particular nature of historic and economic development, local natural conditions, and the development of the science of urban planning in each country.

The pressing problems of modern urban planning occupy an important place in the activity of the Union of Soviet Architects and the International Union of Architects.


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Stroitel’stvo Moskvy, 1930, no. 1. (Discussion of the principles of planning of socialist cities.)
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The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

city planning, town planning, urban planning

Planning a future community, or the guidance and shaping of the expansion of a present community, in an organized manner and with an organized layout, taking into account such considerations as convenience for its inhabitants, environmental conditions, social requirements, recreational facilities, esthetic design, and economic feasibility; includes a study of present requirements and conditions, as well as projections for the future; such planning usually includes proposals for its implementation. See community planning.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Architecture and Construction. Copyright © 2003 by McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
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