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Euro New Urbanism

Street in Poundbury, Dorchester
by Léon Krier

(Photo by Léon Krier)

New Urbanism in Europe

Most of European cities faced the major expansion in their history since the end of the 19th century throughout the XXth century, mostly in relationship with industrial development and the consequent rural exodus. In the second half of the XXth century another major expansion followed the Post-War Reconstruction efforts, and modernization strategies of transportation and urban infrastructures.

Urban Renewal Proposal for a Small Town In Luxembourg (1960)

In the majority of European countries, both in the democratic Western and in the Eastern communist ones, within different ideologies, similar tendencies of urban dissolution and of industrial modernism, disfigured and often dismantled the integrity of historic cities. Both zoning practices, mass-produced housing structures, and the growing dominance of the automobile,  led to a more and more dishumanized and uncomfortable urban reality.

Dense Suburban Settlements in Eastern Europe

Traditional Urbanism in Eastern Europe

Suburban developments (which always existed as an organic reality in European city-building), started to become an overwhelming planning ideal. Suburban sprawl, and mono-functional planning have become codified and institutionalized in most of European planning legislations.The "anti-urban" remains today an uneasy paradigm considered as a fatality of modern urban culture.


Postcard View of Historic City of Viseu

In the wake of a deterministic and modernist historiography, it was generally  considered that the Historic City could not serve anymore as an operational model. The historic city is eventually preserved as an icon of past cultural excellence and identity, as a decorative heritage disconnected from the patterns of the contemporary visions and practicable objectives.

New Developments around Viseu, Portugal
(Photo by Lucien Steil)

The ideal of the European City has however never vanished from the reality of European city-building, and has remained a desirable model for a majority of citizens. There have been vague attempts to re-formulate concepts of the Traditional European city in Post-War reconstructions, the English New Towns, the French "Villes Nouvelles", but most of them failed by their refusal to actualize, update and apply comprehensively the essential and time-tested principles of Traditional City-Building.


Exemplary Post-War Reconstruction of Historic Warsaw
(Photo by Stephan Edelbroich)

A majority of new urban and suburban constructions are realized in a mediocre and hybrid "traditionalism", organized in the prevailing suburban patterns of monofunctional zoning. In many European cities, the original and intact historic centres are surrounded by a growing ring of loose suburban patchwork, suffocating both the city and landscape. The imagery and structure of this "con-urbanization"  look sometimes very strikingly similar to typical US sprawl areas! This "Americanization" of the European cities is an alarming and accelerating phenomena!


Urban Sprawl South of Lake Allatoona, Georgia

The sprawl problematics is however widely acknowledged and addressed by a diversity of planning measures, and occasional "model projects". These successful "model projects" or "projets-pilotes" however  mostly  remain relatively unknown, and consequently affect only the particular local planning contexts, and sometimes just remain isolated, and exceptional experiments...For example, a project like Seaside would have remained  a purely local chronicle in Europe, wheras in the US it has become a national paradigm of  an Urban Renaissance, and a remarkable and emblematic monument of the history of New Urbanism!


Quarter of Tacheles, Berlin
by Duany & Plater-Zyberk and Company

Though there is no unified urbanism policy in Europe, there seem to be however  cultural receptiveness and technocratic competence to instrumentalize NU methodologies at the various scales of the European urban reality. What seem to be lacking dramatically are the "plug-ins" and connectors, and generally, a politically instrumentalized urbanist "techné", allowing to transcend the national particularities, and political and cultural complexities of the European kaleidoscope. What is needed is not so much a cultural idealization of the Historic European City, but a technique and a technocratic instrumentation  to implement the construction of new urban developments of whatever scale, according to the  rules and principles which brought about the best Europeans cities.

New Seaside Village, Hardelot, France (2000)
by Léon Krier and Arcas Group

Paradoxically the European Community, -- formed by the union of exemplary modern democracies --, has resulted in a highly centralized and complex bureaucracy with a growing influence on national and local policies: very much in the tradition of the great central and absolutist powers and cultures from Europe's history. It seems that this polarity between the European bureaucracy and the national governments offers parallel opportunities of introducing New Urbanism, both through the central European Institutions and through the decentralized local administrations. For this to succeed it is however necessary to propose in a unified and complex strategy, -- at a European level, -- and  in the most systematic, scientific and rational way --, the methodologies of a New European Urbanism.  

New European Quarters in Luxembourg (1978)
by Léon Krier

The articulate criticism of sprawl, "desurbanization" and "rurbanization", etc., by European sociologists, psychologists, economists, politicians, as well as by a growing number of architects and urbanists started as early as the 60s, and has yet achieved no reversal of the diffuse "Americanization" of European cities; it has however created a substantial number of research work and publications, of "Counter Projects", of a variety of built projects of variable size, and of a number of fragmented efforts of the" Moral and Material Reconstruction" of the Traditional European city.

New Urban development in Le Plessis-Robinson, Paris
by Nada and Marc Breitman

Organizations and associations like, the  "Archives d'Architecture Moderne" in Brussels (Maurice Culot), the ARAU in Bruxelles (Maurice Culot and Jean François Lejeune), the "Fondation Pour L'Architecture"  in Bruxelles (Maurice Culot, Philippe Rotthier, Caroline Mierop), the "European Award for The Reconstruction of the City" (Philippe Rotthier), the " Prince of Wales's Urban Design Task Force" (Brian Hanson), "A Vision of Europe" in Bologna (Ivo and Gabriele Tagliaventi), and more recently "INTBAU", the University of Ferrara (Gabriele Tagliaventi), and the New School of Viseu (José Cornélio da Silva), etc. have set up a notable tradition of "Resistance", and of productive New Urbanist visions and strategies.


Reconstruction of Potsdam Stadtschloss and Alter Markt (1996)
by The Prince of Wales's Urban Design Task Force

The outstanding, articulate and consistent support of a popular New Urbanism and architecture by HRH The Prince of Wales has to be particularly mentioned as a continuous rallying and catalyzing effort. Besides his numerous public statements and publications regarding a New Urbanism and a New Popular Architecture, HRH The Prince of Wales has consolidated his aspirations in the "Prince of Wales's Institute of Architecture", now "The Princes Foundation", as well as in numerous related activities and initiatives.


Reconstruction of Potsdam-Süd
(Watercolor Rendering by Rick Shaupp)

by The Prince of Wales's Urban Design Task Force

They often however failed to assure an efficient, and durable impact on the complicated realities of various national, and local contexts of urbanistic production in Europe.

Despite an impressive number of New Traditional architects, Classical architects and New Urbanists in Europe, it has not been possible yet to generate an organized and coordinated movement, and a consistent and unified action strategy capable to operate successfully at the critical levels of the urbanistic planning mechanisms in Europe! The powerful lessons of the American New Urbanists and the growing impact of their built achievements, -- though operated in very different political and technical conditions --, should definitely inform and inspire the strategical concertation of New Urbanists in Europe. The coming EuroCouncil in Bruxelles and Bruges can be a privileged opportunity, -- of crucial tactical importance -- , for the formation of a solid New Urbanist movement in Europe.   


Model of New Town in Germany
by Krier & Kohl, Berlin


 Recent Examples of European New Urbanism


Master Plan of Nuova Citta, Alessandria, Italy
by Léon Krier and Gabriele Tagliaventi


"Citta Nuova" in Alessandria, Italy

by Léon Krier and Gabriele Tagliaventi


Perspective of New Piazza in Alessandria
by Léon Krier

New Piazza in Alessandria as Built
by Léon Krier and Gabriele Tagliaventi

Hardelot, France

by Léon Krier & Arcas Group

Master Plan of Hardelot, France
by Léon Krier & Arcas Group

Street in Hardelot, France
by Léon Krier & Arcas Group

New Seatown, Hardelot, France
by Léon Krier & Arcas Group


Poundbury, England

by Léon Krier

Poundbury, Dorchester
by Léon Krier

(Photo by Chris Pizzi)

Poundbury, Dorchester
by Léon Krier

(Photo by Chris Pizzi)

Poundbury, Dorchester
by Léon Krier

(Photo by Chris Pizzi)


Rue de Laeken, Brussels

by  European Architects

Rue de Laeken, Brussels
Courtyard Facade

"The controversy here is not of a stylistic order, but regards the "project" in the context of its ecological equilibrium. It addresses a global re-assessment of a consciousness regarding the controled expansion of our cities, as well as the re-definition of the scale and the dimension of the urban block; - all of this in a perspective of encouraging the typological  comprehension of a project establishing hierarchies between public buildings and domestic ones, and particularly caring for  the public spaces of our cities."

Demetri Porphyrios

Rue de Laeken, Brussels
by Gabriele Tagliaventi and Marco Gaiani

Rue de Laeken,Brussels
by Atelier 55


Ouderkerk, Holland

by Rob Krier

Street in New Town of Ouderkerk, Holland
by Rob Krier

Public Space with Canal in New Town of Ouderkerk, Holland
by Rob Krier


Kirchsteigsfeld, Potsdam

by Rob Krier & Christoph Kohl

Roofs of New Town Kirchsteigsfeld, Potsdam
by Rob Krier and Christoph Kohl

Built Center of Kirchsteigfeld and Extension Model
by Rob Krier and Christoph Kohl

Square Model in Kirchsteigfeld
by Rob Krier and Christoph Kohl


New Town of Pitiousa, Greece

by Demetri Porphyrios

New Town of Pitiousa, Spetses, Greece
by Demetri Porphyrios and Associates

New Town of Pitiousa, Spetses, Greece
by Demetri Porphyrios and Associates

Cavo Salomonti, Crete

by Demetri Porphyrios

Cavo Salomonti Plan, Crete
by Demetri Porphyrios and Associates

Elevation of Cavo Salomonti, Crete
by Demetri Porphyrios and Associates

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