The Evolution of urban Planning – From Le Corbusier to Andrea Branzi

Masterplan Strijp Philips a Eindhoven “Modello di urbanizzazione debole”

The contents of the Athens charter (1933) were clear, since the beginning. The text was a kind of manifest, able to spread largely in the environment of international urban planning. The masters of Modern architecture, captained by Le Corbusier, indentified the main and the primary functions from which and for which a city had to be planned. They arrived to those conclusions by analyzing what was already existing, as to say the past. The process that brought them to conceive the theory of zoning, of the mechanization of the city and further projects was based on the history.

They observed and certified that the contemporary city had some issues. From this analysis they created some rules in order to have a unique and definitive remedy, that would have lasted forever. This was their biggest error: to think that the city, and above all citizens, were static and that there wasn’t any evolution in human dynamics.

Le Corbusier’s project “La ville radieuse” (1935) represents clearly a city conceived as an assembly line, with any care for the relationships existing inside it. What appears is an urban conglomerate, well distinct in every part that builds it. With this project the architect that has mainly influenced the architecture in the XXth century seems to show his last and definitive idea of city. He would have destroyed the majority of Paris city center in order to build tidy neighborhoods, for living, working and free time.

Evolution of urban Planning
Le Corbusier, maquette of the project “Ville radieuse” (1935)

Never as in recent years we can see how much this vision is controversial and not farsighted. The so called “modern city” has failed and has been put aside starting from the 70s- the disastrous project of public housing by Yamasaki in Missouri (1954) is a clear proof.
Today cities are evolving, with the boom of the “new economy” and the advent of internet connection many things have changed. Citizens are no more the same of half century ago, the concepts of communication and network pervade the socio-economic world.
A urban planner has the duty to look at the future and foster the city development in multiple directions, without setting any limit or conceiving the city as an assembly line.

In the cover there is A photograpy of the Masterplan Strijp Philips in Eindhoven – “Model of weak urbanization” 2002 – 2004 by Lapo Lani, Andrea Branzi, Ernesto Bartolini. An example of what we mean with “Open Planning”.

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