This is another book review for a must-have classic. City Planning According to Artistic Principles is an amazing read and is one of our office’s core design books. If you have any interest in urban design or city planning, then you not only need this book, but, more importantly, you need to know Camillo Sitte.
Sitte was a nineteenth century Austrian city planner who struggled with modern planning methods in his own city of Vienna, most of which were more utilitarian-based approaches (sound familiar?) In response, Sitte turned to ancient and medieval urbanism for inspiration in planning. The book is full of his sketches on observations illustrating his points and theories. They alone offer enough reason enough to purchase this book.
One of the major points of design theory is that the urban space is much more important than the urban form. Modern architects are especially guilty about this point. Sitte asserts that the urban space should be designed as an urban “room” and that this includes the importance of height & spatial closure.
The other major point is to design urban spaces as “picturesque” experiences. That is, to design the space or street as a series of experiences for the person using the space or street. This was a much different approach than that of Sitte’s peers, and still quite different from typical planning methods employed today.