Intentional urbanism : a study of the components of grid-layout cities through time

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Roger Bardsley (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Selima Sultana

Abstract: This paper postulates that those responsible for the layout out of cities will take an approach that is recognizable across time and culture. The conditions that may result in a grid layout are: 1) An unconstrained site that is large enough to accommodate the expected population; 2) A social structure that can direct the layout using accurate surveying equipment and skills; 3) The perceived need to provide an urban environment quickly. The research consisted of measuring lots, blocks, streets, and sidewalks in five cities in the ancient Mediterranean Basin, three from the 19th century in the U.S. and three New Urbanist-influenced communities from the late 20th century, also in the U.S. The measurements were obtained from GIS systems using the “measure” tool, official records, excavation reports and personal field data. The measurements are displayed in their original form and in meters. The paper deconstructs the grid into its components, including the lot, the block, the street, and the sidewalk. These are analyzed individually and yield ratios that transcend time and culture. For instance, lots range in dimension from 1:1 (width to length) to 1:4, with a mean of 1:2. Blocks, likewise, range from nearly square to 1:4 with the mean, median and mode being 1:2. Streets are designed for traffic expected at the time of city layout. Several streets in a city may be intentionally wider to convey a sense of importance. These axial streets may cross at right angles near the center of town and may be oriented to the cardinal points or important destinations.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2023
Block, Grid, Orthogonal
City blocks
Grid plans (City planning)

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