Urbanizing is Faster than Current City-design Practice Can Keep Up

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The world is urbanizing faster than current city-design practice can keep up. Climate change has introduced a new dynamism into what once appeared to be a stable environment and there are controversies and uncertainties about the basic theory of city design, as shown by the failure to create a coherent rebuilding plan for the World Trade Center site after the terrorist attack in September of 2001. These are three of the most important challenges to effective city design today.

Santo Domingo serves as one of the main industries for trade, gold mining and sugar. Cities are so called because of the shapes, patterns and amenities that are found within. Cities have been separated into two groups: primary, which includes Hydraulic, Economic, Military and Religious theories and secondary, which includes Organic, Grid, Diagram, Grand and Skyline which are based on their shapes and patterns. Santo Domingo is the oldest continually inhabited European settlement in the Caribbean, having been founded in 1498 by Bartholomew Columbus, brother of Christopher.

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The city was laid down in a grid pattern but consisted of European style buildings. Based on the history of Santa Domingo and the invasion of the English, this would explain the building style. Other distinguishing feature is that the city consists of a hydraulic pattern because of its coastal location which allows access for ships and other vessels to the city. Although there have been minor adjustments to the grid layout such as architectural improvements in recent times; otherwise, the city’s antiquity has been preserved. The city has retained its high defensive walls and forts which suggests a Military pattern. The urban grid plan is well preserved taking into consideration damages caused by hurricanes and earthquakes.

Figure 1 shows a clear representation of the grid, hydraulic and military pattern that Santo Domingo followed before the destruction of the city by a hurricane in 1930. (Marley 2005 p.104) states that the capital had expanded beyond its old colonial boundaries, spreading into the low surrounding hills. The expansion of the city allowed for it to develop into a land mass which today is 104.4 km² and shows evidence of an organic pattern.

Chiba is an urban city located just on the eastern side of the Tokyo metropolitan area in Japan, and occupies a peninsula that juts out into the Pacific. Studies show that along this coastline, dolphins were being fished during the Jomon period (ca 10,000 B.C. – ca 300 B.C.) Japanese architectural traditions are imported from China and other Asian countries. The different architectural traditions led to Japan are organic and grid patterned road networks. It can be seen that along the coastline of Chiba and in most of the towns, a grid pattern is followed and as the city developed it moved into an organic pattern. For example, in Konakadai and Asahigaoka, two towns in Chiba, the road networks are in an organic pattern. Organic patterns are generally formed because roads are built wherever they are necessary which is as a result of the rapid urbanization of the world. The organic pattern of Japan’s ancient architecture can also be related to their Buddhist belief where they view nature as an integral part of life. As time progressed, in the 19th century Japan began incorporating Western traditions into its architectural designs and also continues today to preserve and celebrate their cultural resources of the past (clay sculptures of people and animals from the 250-710 B.C.E period).

In comparison, Chiba and Santo Domingo have very similar architectural designs. Chiba is built on a grid and organic pattern. The city is also hydraulic because its shores wash the Pacific Ocean. The citizens live their lives guided by Buddhist principles attempting to obtain nirvana by living at peace in nature. Santo Domingo is similar to this city in antiquity because it too is built on an organic, grid and hydraulic pattern. In the past, Santo Domingo was enclosed by a wall which made it fall under the military theory. This wall no longer exists so the only difference between the two cities in terms of the derivation of the city is their religious practices.

To conclude, urbanizing is really moving faster than current city-design practice can keep up and cities such as Santo Domingo have managed to reflect such architectural movement and is greatly related to the Chiba city.

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