The discipline of Urban Planning or design has been in an ongoing state of crisis since the technological utopias of the Ville Contemporeine of Le-Corbusier and Broadacre City of Frank Lloyd Wright. 20th C. Planners have failed to produce meaningfull urban spaces comperable to achievements made untill and including the 19th C.
The realisation of the crisis we are in was brought up ellocuently by Jane Jacobs in her extremely important book "The Death and Life of the Great American Cities". This book made planners look at what they were doing criticly and realize the ills of Zoning when compared to the past practice of mixed uses.
But since this realization there was little progress. We can still see fenomenons like urban sprall which are basically a continuation of residential suberbia, traffic congestion, "High Tech. Parks" etc.
It is my belief that while Jacobs pointed to the sickness, she failed to introduce the remedy. The reason is that her criticism was a result of a trial and error process. Realising the ills of the modern city, she looked to the past and found mixed uses.
I believe that in order to design a city one must define it. I'v given the issue a great deal of thought over the last few years. I did not find, among many attempts made, a definition that could serve as a tool for guiding the planning of new cities or analize existing ones.
I believe that the city is a natural habitat of humans i the same way the beehive is for the bees.
The city is the most efficient tool for humans' survival. It is so because it supplies the individual an almost inexhausible reservoir of contacts for either social or buisness purposes.
My definition of the city is: THE CITY IS A HUMAN HABITAT THAT ALLOWS PEOPLE TO FORM RELATION WITH OTHERS AT VARRIED LEVELS OF INTIMACY WHILE REMAINING ENTIRELY ANONYMOUS.
This definition is at the core of the concept I called "Intimate Anonymity".
I often discuss this theory with proffesionals who get quite irritated by the juxtaposition of these two seemingly contradictory terms, Intimacy and Anonymity. But on closer look things seem to brighten up. Following my definition one can say that in a good city, a person leaving a private space into the public space will see people around him and know nothing about them. In a bad city he will know everything about them all and therefore it will not be a city, it is avillage.
The concept of "Intimate Anonymity" has helped me form a set of rules for the city. I will quote a few:
1. Cities are made of public spaces. Buildings are not the concern of the city planner but for the fact that their primary role is to define the public space.
2. The "floor" of an urban space must be on ground level. Never sink or raise the level from that were people move on naturally.
3. Every urban space must allow the passage of people through randomly. It should not be designed as a target.
4. Avoid dead end streets.
5. The size of an urban space must relate to the nomber of people expected to pass through it randomly. When the nomber is large, design a square. when it is smaal design an alley. In between design a street.
6. When many people are expected to pass randomly, allocate space on ground floor of buildings for a variety of uses to occupy randomly.
7. When fewer people are expected, design dwellings with as many entrances facing the street.
8. Avoid the separation of traffic from pedestrians. In every car there is a pedestrian. the best pedestrian street was a mixed traffic street before.
9. Mixed uses are essensial. segregate only health hazards.
10. There is a minimum density under which "Intimate Anonymity can not be reached, there is no maximum.
I could go on but this is becoming too long for now. I am interested in as many comments, criticism, encouragement etc.
Thanks for your reaction