Postmodern Urbanism and Urban Development


Urbanism is the study of urban areas taking into consideration their economic, physical, political and social characteristics. Urbanism goes further to talk of the effects caused by the manmade environment on the socio-political and economic conditions of these areas. One view of urbanism is that traditional urban areas are of great significance to society as they play a variety of significant functions. In non-urban areas individuals are not exposed to the high levels of diversity in form of opinions and individual characteristics as is the case within the city. Urbanism goes further to argue that in urban areas individuals share common goods and resources as a way of saving costs that would have however been born. Urbanism also argues that cities form the origins of different cultures and further house cultural institutions, therefore forming the centre of cultural aspects within society. Urbanism distinguishes cities as areas with higher population density and a more complex social-political order. (Ellin, 1996)

Postmodern urbanism on the other hand is the urban plan movement which seeks to create an urban environment where there is a range of job types and housing. It is a movement that was first started in the United States in the 1980s with the view to improve the aspects of urban planning and giving a new touch to estate development.

Post-modern urbanism also advocates for a balanced development in the levels of housing and employment, so as to increase the levels of affordable housing, reduce traffic congestion and reduce the impacts of urban sprawl. Other goals of the new urbanism is the preservation of historic structures, street lighting among other measures to ensure safety and green building that seeks to conserve resources and human health. The other role of the new urbanism was developing underused commercial and industrial resources like land that could be re-used or utilized during expansion of these firms or the urban areas in general. (Ellin, 1996)

According to the ideas of post-modern urbanism, urban areas should be developed to take a given form that would help ease the daily lives of the urban dwellers by making certain changes to the way residential areas are designed. These ideas hold that within residential areas a central region should be created, and that this region will form the core of the collective activities that take place within the area. This area would play the role of a trade centre and a transit stop, as it would be placed at a central point within the residential areas. From this central area, majority of the residential buildings are supposed to be a few minutes walk from the centre that meant quarter a mile on average. (Ellin, 1996)

On the area of housing residential areas would host different types of housing, so that different classes and ages of people could afford and be comfortable living within these residential areas. The different classes of people in this case are; the poor and the rich; the young and old; single and family hosting individuals. At the margins of the residential areas there should be offices and business outlets of different types, so that the area can be able to provide for the different professional and business related needs of the dwellers. (Robert, 1925).

The other provision within this system is that, every house would be permitted to have a garage apartment at the backyard of the independent rental module, which could be used by the owner of the house for personal or other uses. Within or close to this residential place, a school should be erected so that the children of the residents can be able to walk to the school from their homes. Another feature of this urban system is that close to the residential places, there is supposed to be a small playground that would be reachable to the people living within the given area. Further the streets would be made comparatively narrow and have trees planted by the sides so as to help slow traffic and help create surroundings appropriate for use by pedestrians and cyclists. (Ellin, 1996)

Another feature of the new urbanism is the need to have parking lots and garages on the backside of the different houses, so as to improve the front facial look of the residential area. There would also be conservation of sites that would be used for building of pubic buildings, which would provide locations for community meetings, cultural, learning and religious activities. The other aspect of the new urbanism is that these areas would be organized in a way that they would be self-governing. This would be achieved by having an association that would make decisions on matters of physical changes, maintenance and the security of the area. (Ellin, 1996)

An analysis of the Lahore urban progress project in Pakistan

This is a development project organized by the World Bank meant to improve the living standards of the low-income people of Lahore. These residents did not have access to affordable housing and urban services as a result of high land prices, poor urban planning and poor state of the service provision industry. The effect of this poor management of affairs went farther to include access to trade and financial markets and as a result the residents were living in crowded deteriorated houses. (Robert, 1925).

The major roles of this development project plan were to provide the residents with affordable housing; a service provision centre and provision of financial facilities. Another focus of this project was to improve the planning of this residential area that covers the area of accessibility and reducing both traffic and human congestion. All these goals of the development project fall within the characteristics of post-modern planning and therefore the project can be used to illustrate this concept of urbanism. (Robert, 1925).

The major objectives of the development project according to the development agents were; to strengthen the performance of local institutions, incorporate urban improvement programs and stop the decay in residential surroundings. Another objective was to improve the administration and service delivery within the area, and addressing the issue of shelter provision and service delivery. All these objectives fall within the areas of society that the new urbanism ideas seek to address therefore this development project can be argued to be illustrative of the ideas of modernism. (Robert, 1925).

The components of society that were to be changed or improved by this project were upgrading of the infrastructure within the region; establishment of sites and service provision schemes in Gujjapura that was targeted to benefit 60,000 residents. House construction was to be enhanced through loan provision and putting in place measures of solid waste collection by the administrative authorities were to be improved. As seen from the analysis of the new modernism ideas, all of these components or measures that were being employed are addressed by the new modernism. As a result, the project can be argued to illustrate on the concept of post-modern urbanism. (Ellin, 1996)

As an administrative measure the city authorities were left to collect taxes; provide water and sewerage services; collect property tax from the residents within the city and to create a scheme for housing venture repayments. As a control measure, the government through the city authorities was to collect taxes for the services of solid waste management and make a 5% increase on the amounts paid as rent after every five years. From this study it can be seen that all the areas of operation of this project fall within the frame of the development activities of post-modern urbanism. (Ellin, 1996)

However development project plans do not have to work in all the target areas that are to be changed or improved, and therefore the ideas of urbanism may be used to further attempt finding ways of implementing the changes that the development projects do not achieve. In the case of the Lahore development project, the house construction and rehabilitation loan component did not succeed and in return the funds to be used were reallocated to other channels of development. The cause for the failure were: city bylaws that needed to be altered so as to pave way for the developments were not altered; lending terms were too strenuous making it difficult for individuals to benefit; and there was lack of interest repayment for loans that is meant to ensure continued provision of credit provision. (Robert, 1925).


Urbanism is the focus of the aspects of urban residence with emphasis on the social, economic and political conditions with reference to urban infrastructure. Post-modern urbanism on the other hand is the attempt of preserving the environment, resources and human resources through proper urban planning and management. On the area of urban development the ideas of post-modern urbanism form the core of development policies and implementation.

Reference list

Ellin, N. (1996). Post-modern Urbanism. Princeton Architectural Press.

Robert, E. (1925). The City – Suggestions for the Study of Human Nature in the Urban Environment. Chicago: Chicago school publishers. Web.

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