New Urbanism is an urban design movement, which promotes walkable neighborhoods that contain a range of housing and job types. It arose in the United States in the early 1980s and continues to reform many aspects of real estate development and urban planning.
While new urbanism covers issues such as historic preservation, safe streets, green building, and redeveloping brownfield land. If the movement were to be boiled down to a single concept, it would be creating walkable neighborhoods. New urbanist developments are more walkable, offer a more diverse range of housing options, encourage a richer mix of uses and provide more welcoming public spaces than traditional suburban developments.
Although many well-known new urbanist projects are “master planned communities” its ideas are also incorporated into existing city cores and even in suburban and exurban neighborhoods. These neighborhoods can include measures such as traffic calming, pedestrian improvements, parking management, and commercial and residential infill.
New urbanism has also inspired a new approach to building codes, called form-based codes. These codes are an important tool for implementing urban enhancements. Rather than dictating the uses of land parcels, form based codes provide guidelines that define the types of development desired in a particular area. This provides greater design flexibility and coordination than conventional, land use based codes.
While once on the fringe of the urban planning field, new urbanism has risen in prominence in recent years, with new urbanist related initiatives like LEED and Smart Growth becoming common staples in the arsenals of urban planners and developers alike. This has led Andres Duany—one of the founders of the Congress for the New Urbanism—to label it a ‘new orthodoxy’ and calling for a ‘jolt’ to renew the movement to face the challenges of the next century.