The New Town

1 January 2004

After the second world war a large family of New Towns was built all over the globe. The towns were planned from scratch, based on the combined ideologies of the Garden City, CIAM-modernism and the neighbourhood principle. From Western Europe to Asia, from Africa to the former communist countries, the original universal model of the New Town was adapted to local cultures, economics and politics.

The New Town research project will try to paint a worldwide panorama of the differences and similarities between the thousands of offspring of the universalist planning model of modernism. It will point out the familiarity between the superquadras in Brasilia and the neighbourhood-modules in Rotterdam. But it will also celebrate the fact that one model could simultaneously lead to Scandinavian cleanliness, Indian visual richness and Chinese density.

Then this research project will do something rare: it will go back to urbanistic projects decades after they have been designed, and it will discover and describe the myriad ways in which the New Towns have been worn, torn, de- and reconstructed by their users.

Finally the project will critically investigate the current planning and building policies aimed at the New Towns. Between the ongoing modernist planning in Asia, the shrinking cities of the former communist block, the systematic demolition in the Netherlands and the United States and the subtle reconstructions in France, lies a toolbox for retrofitting the Modernist Town Planning to the needs of the twenty-first century citizen.[modula id="2007"]