Blog

Compact City by ZHONGJIE LIN

The compact city is a relatively recent concept in the discourses of urbanism. Many attribute the idea to Jane Jacobs and her seminal work The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The 'MODERNIST CITY' which argues for dense and diverse urban centers.

Centers like Manhattan over the planned Modernist City or Garden City, but it was not until the late 1980s that the term "compact city" became commonly used academically and professionally. Studies of the compact city have evolved along with raising awareness of climate change and the global movement of sustainable development following the 1987 Brundtland Report. This report, published by the United Nations' World Commission on Environment and Development, prompts policymakers as well as professionals to rethink the role of future urban design and development to better protect and sustain human habitats. As a result, the idea of the compact city was circulated in both policy circles as well as professional planning and development communities and became particularly influential in Europe where political leaders appeared to be more concerned about issues pertaining to energy shortages, global warming, and the negative impacts of urban sprawl.

"The Contradictions of the Compact City," published in 1992, summarizes the early-and still unresolved-debates on the concept and its planning implications. On the one hand, its proponents claim that the compact and functionally mixed urban form can meet two major planning objectives neatly: one to protect the natural environment, and the other to foster the quality of life in a healthy city. On the other hand, opponents point out several limitations of the concept. Critics suspect that the relationship between a compact urban form and environmental improvement might not be as direct as its sponsors claim. They also criticize that the prevailing definitions of compact city are tied primarily to Western models, often referring to pre-modern or early-modern urban forms in Europe, and thus represent a particular set of fixed cultural identities. Although most scholars recognize that a compact form contributes positively to urban sustainability, the criticisms nevertheless indicate inadequacies of current approaches to building a compact city. mixed-uses, walkability, traditional neighborhood development, and transit-oriented development (TOD). While these principles represent fundamentals of sustainable development, the fixed design language further strengthens the compact city's connotation of traditional Western urban form. In addition, complex political, social, and cultural factors in contemporary societies have led to different forms of urban density, and demand incorporation of regional contexts both morphologically and sociologically in urban design practice. The expanding associated with principles of the New Urbanism movement like high density, ritory of human agglomeration has also led to a growing scale of urban systems, including its mass transportation, information networks, and ecological systems, which in turn are changing the process of urban intensification. These global conditions, thus, require a reinterpretation of compactness in which a higher degree of integration and interaction of urban components becomes the key. The idea of New Urbanism on one hand, and Modernist notions promoting tall buildings as a dominant urban typology on the other. We have continued to frame the methodology of Vertical Urbanism in the context of a series of capstone urban design studios, using them as laboratories to investigate the design, ecological, and socio-cultural dimensions of building the compact city. source-Vertical Urbanism: Re-conceptualizing the Compact City ZHONGJIE LIN The University of North Carolina at Charlotte book