Planned Cities Catalog is a project that aims to index significant planned cities to uncover the subconscious proclivities that arise from either particular designed configurations or subsequent mechanic or organic growth in the hopes to ascertain functional arrangements of a post-oil city where walking is seen as the preferred choice of human mobility—not a hindrance to cities’ development.
Currently in its early stages, Planned Cities Catalog is in the research stage of a planned two-year experimental project that is currently systematically indexing large scale planned cities that were built at a single point in time. Neighborhood developments plans, urban design projects or other (small) large scale architecture projects do not count. No, we are seeking those configurations that resulted from grand visions, master plans or even misguided attempts of monumental engineering of a city at once. While some have been successful, others have met with a more nuanced fate. Cities like Astana, Brasilia, Canberra, Coatzacoalcos, La Plata, Masdar City or Palmanova are but a few of those who meet these requirements, and while designed and constructed at different times in history by different cultures forged by unique nations, they already begin to demonstrate an interesting set of patterns. Most crucial, however, is the focus to investigate modes that engage the human factor in a pedestrian setting, evolving out our need for cars or stifling technologies that find convenient ways to make a city not about people, but about things.
At the end of the project, an exhibition and book publication are planned, and it is the hope of the AESir Lab that uncovered processes will provide added lucidity to the growing discourse of urban design and directed place-making with a primary focus on walkability and open, public spaces. After more than six millennia of organized city-making, we are getting closer and closer to coalescing upon universal truths for more pleasant living, increased human mobility, more productive lifestyles and a more enriching experience in the environments we call home—isn’t it about time we sought to concretize the design and furthered the governing mechanisms of these livable networks? As Robert Cervero very thoughtfully argues, “Planning of the automobile city focuses on saving time. Planning for the accessible city, on the other hand, focuses on time well spent.”