Hexagonal Planning in Theory and Practice

Hexagonal Planning in Theory and Practice

29 Pages · 2004 · 1.99 MB · English

Journal of Urban Design, Vol. 5, No. 3, 237± 265, 2000 Hexagonal Planning in Theory and Practice ERAN BEN-JOSEPH & DAVID GORDON ABSTRACT Residential neighbourhood

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Journal of Urban Design, Vol. 5, No. 3, 237± 265, 2000 Hexagonal Planning in Theory and Practice ERAN BEN-JOSEPH & DAVID GORDON A BSTRACT Residential neighbourhood designs with street patterns based upon hexagonal blocks were proposed by several planners in the early 20th century. Urban designers such as Charles Lamb, Noulan Cauchon and Barry Parker demonstrated the economic advan- tages and ef® cient land use generated by hexagonal plans. By 1930, hexagonal planning was a leading theoretical alternative to the rectangular grid for residential subdivisions, but it was displaced by the loop and cul-de-sac model developed in Radburn, New Jersey, by Clarence Stein and Henry Wright. The paper chronologically reviews the various hexagonal planning schemes and their designers. It considers the advantages and disad- vantages of hexagons, using their designers' own words and drawings. Introduction In the realm of urban design, hexagonal planning is today virtually an unknown phenomenon, a mere oddity among a vast array of ideologies, theories and methods. It regularly goes unnoticed by students of city planning and urban history. Yet, for a period of almost 30 years, between 1904 and 1934, it caught the attention of various planners, engineers and architects who saw in it a promising panacea for the city's planning ills and a replacement for the uniform rectangular street grid. Striving to establish visionary and idealistic schemes for a perfect physical environment that would also improve social conditions, these individuals advocated their ideas in papers and professional presentations for over a quarter of a century. Yet none were able to build their plans on a large scale. Why was this so? Was it because in reality, as on paper, hexagons looked too far-fetched to be a workable solution? What about the theory's suggested cost-effectiveness and ef® cient land use pattern; were not they an incentive for construction? Such idealized geometrical schemes for city design often remained theoretical. There have been many more ideal cities on paper than on

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