THE PRINCIPLES OF INTELLIGENT URBANISM
Prof. Christopher Charles Benninger
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The Principles of Intelligent Urbanism (PIU) is a set
of axioms, laying down a value-based framework, within which participatory
planning can proceed. After review and amendment by stake holders, the
PIU acts as a consensual charter around which constructive debate over
actual decisions can be evaluated and confirmed. The PIU emerged from
several decades of urban planning practice by Christopher Benninger
in the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia. They were the foundation
upon which the new capital plan for Bhutan was prepared.
The ten Principles of
Intelligent Urbanism are:
Principle One: A
Balance with Nature emphasizes the distinction between utilizing resources
and exploiting them. It focuses on a threshold beyond which deforestation,
soil erosion, aquifer deterioration, silting, and flooding reinforce
one another in urban systems, destroying life support systems. The principle
promotes environmental assessments of ecosystems to identify fragile
zones, threatened natural systems and habitats that can be enhanced
through conservation, density, land use and open space planning.
A Balance with Tradition integrates plan interventions with existing
cultural assets, respecting traditional patterns and precedents of style.
It respects heritage precincts and historical assets that weave the
past and the futures of cities into a continuity of values.
Appropriate Technology promotes materials, building techniques, infrastructural
systems and construction management that are consistent with peoples=
capacities, geo-climatic conditions, local resources, and suitable capital
investments. The PIU focus on matching interfaces between the physical
spread of urban utilities and services, watershed catchments, urban
administrative wards and electoral constituent boundaries.
Principle Four: Conviviality
sponsors social interaction through public domains, in a hierarchy of
places, devised for personal solace, engaging friendship, romance, householding,
neighboring, community and civic life. It promotes the protection, enhancement
and creation of “open public spaces” which ae accessible
Principle Five: Efficiency
promotes a balance between the consumption of urban resources like energy,
time and finance, with planned achievements in comfort, safety, security,
access, tenure, and hygiene levels. It encourages optimum sharing of
land, roads, facilities and infrastructural networks to reduce per household
costs, increasing affordability and civic viability.
Human Scale encourages ground level, pedestrian oriented urban arrangements,
based on anthropometric dimensions, as opposed to Amachine-scales.=
Walkable, mixed use urban villages are encouraged, over mono-functional
blocks and zones, linked by motor ways and surrounded by parking lots.
Opportunity Matrix enriches the city as a vehicle for personal, social,
and economic development, through access to a range of organizations,
services and facilities, providing a variety of opportunities for education,
recreation, employment, business, mobility, shelter, health, safety
and basic needs.
Regional Integration, envisions the city as an organic part of a larger
environmental, economic, social and cultural geographic system, which
is essential for its future sustainability.
Balanced Movement promotes integrated transport systems composed of
pedestrian paths, cycle lanes, express bus lanes, light rail corridors
and automobile channels. The modal split nodes between these systems
become the public domains around which cluster high density, specialized
urban Hubs and walkable, mixed-use Urban Villages.
Principle Ten: Institutional
Integrity recognizes that good practices inherent in considered principles
can only be realized through the emplacement of accountable, transparent,
competent and participatory local governance. It recognizes that such
governance is founded on appropriate data bases, on due entitlements,
on civic responsibilities and duties. The PIU promotes a range of facilitative
and promotive urban development management tools to achieve intelligent
urban practices, systems and forms.
Presented at the World Society of Ekistics
Symposium in Berlin Ekistics, October, 2001