ABSTRACT

Urban designers often dream of creating new environments from scratch, environments that can demonstrate the potential for urban design and physical planning to solve important problems related to urban life. Planned residential and mixed use neighborhoods and larger scale new towns seem to offer that opportunity. While comparatively rare in practice, and frequently not achieving the aspirations of their planners and designers, proposals for new towns litter the intellectual history of urban design. This chapter explores the diversity of new towns in terms of how new towns are defi ned, the traditions they draw on, the issues they engage with, and the variations among new towns in different countries. In the United States, typically private developers have built the new towns but elsewhere governments have had a major role. New towns have achieved high visibility in different parts of the world in different periods – Britain in the 1940s, Sweden in the 1950s, the United States in the 1960s, and China, in recent years. While overall new towns have housed relatively few people, they have been important locations for innovation in design over the past decades. Contemporary new towns promise to continue that tradition with experiments in circulation planning, ecological design, social organization, and aesthetics.