The City of Tomorrow and Its Planning Book Review ZHEN HE

September 1, 2017 | Author: Mirage Chow | Category: Traffic, Traffic Congestion, Transport, Urban Planning, Road Transport
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Book Review -- ‘The City of Tomorrow and Its Planning’ written by Le Corbusier ZHEN HE 1. Background of city development in the early 20th century

In early 20th century European cities have undergone an unusual period. With the rapid development of the industry, the social structure and city life have been greatly impacted triggering the fierce contradiction and conflict between the traditional urban and industrialized modern city. Its impact and influence can be seen mainly in the following aspects: 1) The growth of industry in city attracted a large number of people flowing into the city causing the increase of the density of urban population. 2) The traditional urban pattern has been broken by the industrialization needs, and a new structure with the commercial and industrial centers, transport hub centers has been formed. 3) The industrial development as well as population expansion has led to the traffic congestions. 4) The city has been polluted because of the industrial production and the living condition was very poor. 2. Le Corbusier's principles of reconstruction and development of cities Le Corbusier as an architect and an urban planner involved in this city renovation. For him the most direct expression on the ideal city is through drawings, glass and steel. He praised the beauty of machine, the beauty of order and the beauty of efficiency brought by the modern industry. Le Corbusier believed that the cities developed from the Middle Ages including Paris cannot meet the needs of modern social and economic development and must be reformed. He introduced the innovative ideas of industry into urban planning and advocated a whole new ideology to transform the city.

He advocated urban centralism and believed that this form can bring energy to the city. By centralization of the space and transformation of function the new urban environment can be created to meet the requirement of modern society. Le Corbusier considered that the main problems in city were the greatly increasing density of population in city center, the conflict between the growth of the number and speed of transportation and the existing road system and the lack of enough green land and public space to provide enough sunshine, good ventilation and outdoor activities. Based on these Le Corbusier proposed the four principals of urban planning to improve the existing city environment and meet the new developing situation. 1) Decrease the congestion in the city center 2) Increase the density of population in city center 3) Diversify ways of transportation 4) Expand the green area

Le Corbusier proposed to increase the building height in city center to enhance the density of population. He believed that the traffic problem was because of the conflict between the increase number of cars and the limited width of the road. He argued that the closer to the city center the heavier the traffic would be, however due to the city’s development was from inner to outer, the width of the roads in the city center usually was narrower compared to that of outside of the city center. So the width of roads in city center should be increased as well as the parking space. And the direct contact of vehicles with the house should be strengthened and the street intersections should be reduced. He introduced the three-dimensional traffic system which would greatly enhance the efficiency of transportation. He believed that the city center should have more public open space and green areas to improve the quality of urban life.

3. A concrete case Based on these basic principles Le Corbusier took Paris city center as a concrete example and put forward a conceived sketch of “Contemporary city for three million people”. In this planning sketch, Le Corbusier created a rational and functional city by zoning to divide different areas of functions such as commercial area, industry area, residential area and administrative area consisting of large areas of green land and public open space and rigorous network of transportation. 4. Interpretation of Le Corbusier's ideology - continuity and freedom In his book Le Corbusier emphasized the importance of instrumental rationality which might lead to many negative comments about his functionalism, however, through his functional expressions, we can still see his spiritual ideal city: from the past to the future. It is not difficult for us to find that the French and even European ideology traditions (from recent years to remote times) have rooted in his ideal city. Le Corbusier studied the European cities from Athens to Rome to Istanbul and he praised the positive self-restraint while at the same time unified order reflected in these accent cities. This is his internal logic of the construction of city order and pattern and even the later “LA VILLE RADIEUSE". Le Corbusier is the representative of functionalism and rationalism. His depicture of the outlines of the city and housing were too abstractive that people usually cast doubt on that he was too rationalism that might betray the freedom and humanity. However, we can interpret his rich of freedom from the creative and energetic space he designed inspired by the traditional elements and the industrial science. Le Corbusier's high-density and large capacity of transportation freed the city by technic means. In his ideal city congestion would no longer exist and people can live and commute safely and conveniently not trapping in the narrow space between buildings. By building skyscrapers in the center of the city– exclusively for commercial use – and that the area occupied by these should be no greater than 5 percent, the remaining 95% can leave for the parks with trees. In this city people can enjoy a peaceful urban environment and neighbors can build communication in the public space while at the same time keep their own private space. The space gets maximum freedom by clear and reasonable ordering. As Le Corbusier said, “Once the unified order has dominated the basic units, confusion will be avoided, scene will be organized and ease will come”.

We are living in the era of the urbanization. The city is extremely compressed where more and more population is constantly flowing into cities and the transportation and telecommunication are developing in a greater speed. For us the significance of Le Corbusier's urban theory and pattern lies not in its aspects of specific technical solutions proposed in this book but in his thinking and analysis process about city as well as the deeper meaning behind this.

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