Category: New Towns

Sverdlovsk-45, Russia

Sverdlovsk-45 is one of the USSR’s closed towns build in 1948 for the purpose of top-secret scientific research. Unlike most of the post-soviet spaces, the plan of the city is extremely simple half-circle, as it had to be rapidly erected by Stalin’s orders: to build a city around a uranium-enrichment facility that can be easily and quickly navigated by the researchers. As all the research was super confidential, extreme surveillance was easier to maintain in a town with a basic structure of wide radial roads leading to one open point – the public embarkment. Moreover, the town is completely surrounded by vast forests and a river, limiting access to unsupervised exit and entry.

Coober Pedy

Coober Pedy is a small, isolated, desert community in South Australia that was established in 1916 after the gemstone opal was found in surrounding mines. An “opal rush” caused foreigners and native Australian’s alike to flock to this area in order to seek riches. However, the area prior to 1916 was inhabited solely by aboriginal populations, due to the intense heat and sun exposure in the region. In order to cope with the harsh climate, the migrating miners decided to build their homes and institutions in the one place where they could find shade: underground. The entire town has roughly 2500 inhabitants and much of their infrastructure, outside of the main roads that connect them with the outside world, is underground. There is a myriad of tunnels that connect churches, townhouses, stores, tourist attractions, restaurants, and other amenities. The personality of the inhabitants is very neighborly due to the close proximity and the intense work that it takes to settle in Coober Pedy. Teamwork has allowed the people in this community to thrive in a very inhospitable place. Furthermore, the dynamic of the town allows the dwellers to find tight-knit community relations.


The community of Pinawa was first developed to support the construction/operation of a hydroelectric generating plant. It ran until 1951, and the original site is now a heritage park. Present day, the community is located south of the original site, but was still created for the purpose of a research facility, i.e., for the purpose of some company. For most of it’s lifetime, the community was solely based on its ability to support whatever project was providing employment opportunities and even housing.

Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Eureka Springs, Arkansas was incorporated as a city in 1880 after it gained
widespread public appeal from its hot springs that were rumored to have magical healing properties. The springs acted as both an economic and physical focal point for the city. Settlements concentrated around the number of hot springs in the area and the structures
(primarily shanties and tents) were built for immediate occupancy and valued by their accessibility to the springs. Eureka Springs serves as an intriguing example of how cities can experience rapid economic growth and popularity through a public attraction–
and how that attraction can also have an influence on the physical environment and layout of the city.

Cyberjaya, Malaysia

Cyberjaya, Malaysia is a planned city home to multiple universities and hi-tech corporations. Pitched to the government as a Malaysian Silicon Valley, Cyberjaya is the centerpiece of MSC Malaysia, a special economic zone meant to catalyze Malaysia’s transformation into a “new knowledge economy.” It is an example of a new city designed to fulfill an specific economic and social purpose, and its design reflects that purpose, with housing developments like Neo Cyber and Taman Pinggiran Cyber on the periphery of Multimedia University and Cyberjaya’s two business districts.

Image Source: Google Earth

New Town, Kolkata, India

New Town, India, was developed in the 1990s by the state government of West Bengal to cater to the rising middle class population and to develop a brand new technology hub. While the city has been hailed as a ‘Solar City’ due to its planned sustainable, and high-tech infrastructure, it has also garnered criticisms due to the displacement of farmers, street vendors and laborers from its fertile lands. The city demonstrates a tension between India’s working class and white collar workers as they share space, and the government’s vision and the reality when developing new cities in India.

Quebec City

Quebec City is the capital of the Quebec province in Canada. Settled by the French in 1608, it is the only North American city still with fortified walls north of Mexico. It shows an example of the Greek Grid – with its grid adapting to the hilly geography of the coast and peninsula. The city is built with the example of a French “ville” as opposed to a more centralized new city, and was originally divided into an upper city made for the elite and lower city for merchants and artisans.

Twin Falls, Idaho

Twin Falls, Idaho is a coastal city in the Magic Valley region in south-central Idaho. Incorporated in 1905, it is the regional commercial center for south-central Idaho and northeastern Nevada. Its origins lie in the Twin Falls Land and Water Company, which was created to build an irrigation canal system for the area. Although planning was sparked by the company, the town was a comprehensively planned community, designed by celebrated architect Emmanual Louis Masqueray after previously failed drawings.  The original townsite follows northeast-to-southwest and northwest-to-southeast roads, unique design, as a way to allow the sun to come into every room in the home at some point during the day.

However, it’s initial layout and design continued to evolve after Masqueray’s planning – the later expansion of the town ignored Masqueray’s careful planning, forgoing his unique designs for north-south and east-west streets. This juxtaposition emphasizes the original layout’s unique and valuable qualities with the cardinal design implemented by later town planners.

Kyoto, Japan

Kyoto, Japan was built in 794 as the new capital of Japan. The city’s famous grid layout is reflective of the Emperor’s desire to centralize power – the Emperor’s palace, from which most major roads originated, functioned as the political and social heart of the city, and governmental institutions were clustered around the palace district. In modern times, the city’s center has shifted away from the palace, and the large, rigid grid is broken up into smaller alley roads. However, the historical city center still maintains the original grid and continues to be the heart of traditional culture in Kyoto.

Riverside Plaza, Minneapolis, MN

Riverside Plaza is a housing complex in Minneapolis that encompasses 11 buildings, 5,000 residents, and 1,300 units. It was developed as part of the New Town-in-Town movement from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in the 1970s. Because Riverside Plaza is just a housing complex, we have to wonder why it was classified as a “new town,” lacking a lot of quintessential city attributes like businesses where residents work. It was developed with the vision of being a self-sufficient, densely-populated urban area that catered to multiple income levels. However, its development has been controversial, as its developers “shunned community input, bought and razed homes and historical structures and were accused of coercing residents and business owners to sell out and get out.” More recently, it has been referred to as the “Ghetto in the Sky,” “Non-Reading Rainbow,” “Little Mogadishu,” and “Crack Stacks,” partly because of its association with lower-income Northeast African immigrants. Some residents say the density of the buildings and its apartment units has helped to foster a strong sense of community, despite and perhaps related to these epithets. 

Image source:

Brasilía, Brazil

Brasilia was founded in 1960, replacing Rio de Janeiro as the capital of Brazil. It was built with the intention of bringing further progress and urbanization into the interior while also relieving pressure from the overpopulated Atlantic coast. Brasilía was designed with residential, administrative, and monumental purpose in mind, and it separated itself from the slums, the baroque and classical architecture, and the colonial legacy of Rio de Janeiro. Designers’ use of urban planning, new roads, and futuristic architecture has been recognized as a fresh start by Brazilians. However, it was built to fit a smaller population than it holds now and was not designed with pedestrians in mind, so it is congested and environmentally unfriendly. Brasilía is coherent but lacks shops, street life, markets, and a sense of day-to-day life since it was built for civil service and the government.

Songdo, South Korea

Songdo, South Korea, a high tech business district, is an example of an aerotropolis: the city was built around an airport. It is also one of the world’s smartest cities with its high end technology surveilling the city. Arranged in a grid form, it was built with the goal of being an international business hub and eliminating problems like pollution. Sustainability was at the core of the city’s development, and it had over 40% of the city being park spaces, areas for urban farming, heavy public transit usage, and an advanced underground trash system. The biggest drawback of Songdo continues to be the difficulty to interact with other people, as the city is severely underpopulated.

The Villages

The Villages is an age-restricted CDP located in Central Florida. Since its creation in 1983, the population has swelled to over 120,000 and between 2010-2019 about 25,000 new homes were constructed. The sense of community, impressive array of amenities, and fairly robust housing stock have made it America’s most popular retirement destination and largest private development. While currently held as an industry model in the growing retirement market, The Villages nonetheless faces legitimate questions regarding urban sprawl, the health of its community, legislative oversight, and the implications of its age restrictions.


Bogalusa, Louisiana is a company town built by the Great Southern Lumber Company in 1902. It serves as an example of how company towns worked to alter the social and civic lives of their employees at a very basic level – by controlling where and how they lived, not just where they worked.

Chandigarh –– A Symbol of Modernity and Independence

Chandigarh, whose construction began in 1952, is a built example of a city with a gridiron plan. Interestingly, the arrangement of this plan, divided into 47 self-contained micro neighborhoods, is justified by means of human analogy — for example, Sector 17, the central business district, is likened to the heart and Sector 1, the Capitol Complex, to the head. Chandigarh, in this sense, appears to have not only been a statement economic project for post-independence India but also an unrestrictive lab for Le Corbusier’s theories of the urban. India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, wanted Chandigarh to become a monumental city symbolizing India’s bright future of modernity, progress, and independence, but its segmentation into cells based on neighborhood units became a symbol of class segregation. 

Angkor Thom, Cambodia

Angkor Thom demonstrates an urban layout with a religious/spiritual component fundamental to its creation. The centrally located Bayon/temple signifies Mount Meru–the home of the gods–and stands higher and grander than everything else, which is in accordance to their cosmic belief in the gods inhabiting the universe. The city was surrounded by walls and moat with axial gates at the four cardinal directions, with common people living in dense villages outside of the temple complex, and coming into the complex to pay tribute.

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