New Towns

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.

Songdo, South Korea

Songdo, South Korea, a high tech business district, is an example of an aerotropolis because it is connected to Incheon International Airport by a bridge, as well as one of the world’s smartest cities with its thought out construction and technology. Arranged in a grid form, it was built with the goal to be sustainable, eliminating pollution by mitigating the effects of garbage disposal and car transmissions. The biggest flaw of Songdo is being severely underpopulated, which is a result of only a few large companies and universities choosing to open offices, leaving many empty apartments and businesses.

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. One of the company lots eventually became the settlement of Twin Falls. 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. Only two streets were originally named, creating a confusing numbered street and avenue system that was only renamed in 2003. A major regional economic center, Twin Falls became a processing center for several agricultural commodities, a role it currently presently serves.

Kyoto, Japan

Kyoto, Japan was built in 794 as the new capital of Japan in order to lessen the influence of powerful Buddhist monks in court. Designed around the Emperor’s palace at the heart of the city, the city’s famous grid layout is heavily influenced by earlier Chinese cities. The city is an example of new cities built for political purposes in a centralized manner.

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. 

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