Neighborhood Units

Shanghai French concession, China

The Shanghai French concession was an area of land in Shanghai that were governed, planed and administrated by the French government between 1849 and 1946. After rapid city redevelopments and urbanization in the 21th century, it is still very easy to identify the traces of French influence. The old western style architectures and neighborhoods are now being preserved by the city government. The area can be viewed as large neighborhood sharing one unique identity. Even until this day, the Shanghai French concessions is still a fashionable, artistic, wealthy, heavily westernized, area.

Radburn, New Jersey

Radburn, a neighborhood in New Jersey, contained as Perry wanted, a school at its center as well as roads going around rather than through the homes. Radburn’s neighborhood population was calculated by Perry’s ideal, sustaining an elementary school. Further, Radburn contained elements of Howard’s garden city with superblocks and green spaces as boundaries. A unified neighborhood, Radburn has an association meant to upkeep communal spaces and entities, which are for residents only forming a sense of community within the neighborhood. Today, Radburn remains a place where families can experience modern life “while still providing the amenities of open space, community service and economic viability”.

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Babcock Ranch, Florida

Babcock Ranch is a neighborhood unit currently being built in southwest Florida.  Created as part of a state deal to preserve much of the historic Babcock Ranch, this neighborhood is marketed as the future of green design in America.  Incorporating principles of New Urbanism, the houses are tightly clustered together and centered on communal structures.  Between lofty carbon neutral goals, a number of technology partnerships, and the preservation of over 90% of the ranch, this neighborhood looks to change the narrative of Florida’s suburban sprawl.  While still an upper-middle class suburban neighborhood, Babcock Ranch is nonetheless encouraging more sustainable design.

Georgetown, Washington, DC

Georgetown is a wealthy neighborhood in Washington, DC. Located along the Potomac River, the neighborhood maintains an architectural style, characterized by red-brick roads and row houses, and a separate grid system that is visibly distinct from the rest of D.C. Georgetown also has key cultural institutions (such as Georgetown University) and an active neighborhood association that foster a distinct cultural and political identity. The neighborhood’s rivers and parks also create a sense of distinctness by forming a flexible boundary that is prominent enough to be a spatial separator, but still easily crossed if needed.

Stevenage, United Kingdom

Stevenage, one of the British new towns built in the post-war period, highlights some of the ways in which Perry’s neighborhood unit idea was adapted. Like Perry’s ideal, the plan’s neighborhood units included ample provisions for small parks, were centered around an elementary school, and described pedestrian-oriented internal streets. Even so, their population and density of 9600 people and 31 people per acre, respectively, were greater than Perry’s and they included a central — not a peripheral — shopping area. Interestingly, despite being denser than Perry’s model, they were described as not being conducive to social activity by immediate studies (Peter Willmot, 1962). The case of Stevenage suggests that neighborhoods — in the social sense — may not be things that can be planned but rather emerge.

Chandigarh –– A Symbol of Modernity and Independence

India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, wanted Chandigarh to become a monumental city symbolizing India’s bright future of modernity, progress, and independence, as it was the first city built after India’s independence from British rule in 1947. But the city, segmented into cells based on the neighborhood unit, became a symbol of class segregation.

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