Can we learn from the past and build new, better cities?

Posted by Design & Construct on 13-Jul-2016 19:32:37

In Architecture

This month we feature an infographic by architects, Cantrell & Crowley on the evolution of urban planning. They provide professional services covering all aspects of design, procurement & project management. They pursue a belief that our surroundings directly influence the quality of our lives, whether in the work place, at home or in the spaces between.

According to the University of Oslo's, urban development is the social, cultural, economic and physical development of cities. The term urban development is used differently by researchers, in that some focus on the physical development, such as architecture and city planning and others start with social change, such as inequality or gentrification to explain changes and discuss the social consequences.

What does good urban development mean to you?

Having the Idea of developing new cities is not new, throughout history, man has attempted to sculpt the land to provide a functional safe haven from the elements and adversaries. We have evolved with our architecture to overcome some of the obstacles we face today, such as villages on stilts, to combat the rising water levels due to global warming. Adaptability seems to be the key, so how can we overcome the other problems expanding cities face such as overcrowding, pollution and congestion?


Cantrell and Crowley Infographic by Cantrell & Crowley - The evolution of urban planning


Some of the issues we have touched upon are currently being addressed by a blog by Silicon Valley-based start-up accelerator, Y Combinator (YC). The company is one the most commercially successful company's offering start-up funding for new projects in the world. They recently announced that they intend to launch a new initiative which is focused on the idea of building new, better cities.

Written by Adora Cheung, she discusses the importance of developing new cities, now more than ever, and encourages new ideas and the use of technology to enable us to live in a way which has benefits for all.
The first phase of the project will involve research, once completed, they will then decide if it's something they will pursue and in which exact location.

If you had the funding, what kind of city would you build?

The infographic demonstrates how architects have created some of the most influential urban designs in history to meet the needs of a community. How do we learn from these examples and build new cities that can have a positive impact on today's environment and society? While the infographic is a good starting point for discussion and looks at the evolution of urban planning, how can we take it a step further and help build a new, better city? If anyone can help make it possible, maybe YC can? They have already funded well over a thousand start-ups, have an impressive founders list and have companies with a valuation of over $65 billion. Potential participants are asked to consider tactical questions and think about the restraints of current developments. They are looking for people with strong interests and bold ideas in architecture, ecology, economics, politics, technology and urban planning. 

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Infographic courtesy of Konstantin von der Schulenburg.
YCombinator. 2016. Retrieved 12 July, 2016 from
University of Oslo Department of Sociology and Human Geography. 2016. Retrieved 12 July, 2016 from