4 Types of Cities

Gehl Architects (specialising in the design of public spaces} identified four types of city.

THE TRADITIONAL CITY was adapted to people moving on foot, and with squares tailored to markets, town meetings, parades, proces¬sions etc. Public space served simultaneously as meeting place, marketplace and traffic space.

THE INVADED CITY is where car traffic and parking have taken over. Not much space is left, and when dirt, noise, air pollution and a deteriorating visual environment are added, city life becomes impoverished. It is unpleasant and difficult to get around on foot and spending time in public spaces is made impossible by lack and by environmental problems. Only essential activities still take place.

THE ABANDONED CITY is where urban traditions are weak and where car culture has had time to develop. Pedestrian traffic has been made impossible, and public life in public spaces has disappeared. City centres are seas of asphalt and all movement takes place within the context of individual car traffic. Citizens of the abandoned city are heavily car-dependent.

THE RECONQUERED CITY is where public space for public life has been reinvented, and where dedicated efforts have been made to reorganise traffic in ways that allow for efficient transportation without deteriorating public space.

In cities such as Lyon, Curitiba, Portland, Melbourne and many others, public space has improved and the quality of urban living is improving with it.

Source: Gehl Architects 2007