The work of Sitte is not exactly a criticism of Mainly an urban planning theory book, it has a. Source: Camillo Sitte, City Planning According to Artistic Principles, trans. In the field of city planning the limitations on artistry of arrangement have, to be sure . Camillo Sitte distinguished himself in the art of city planning culminating in his seminal work City Planning According to Artistic Principles with a great influence .

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Collins and Christiane Crasemann Collins London: We have at our disposal three major methods of city planning, and several subsidiary types. The major ones are the gridiron system, the radial system, and the triangular system. The sub-types are mostly hybrids of these three. Artistically speaking, not one of them is of any interest, for in their veins pulses not a single drop of artistic blood. All three are concerned exclusively with the arrangement of street patterns, and hence their intention is from the very start a purely technical one.

A network of streets always serves only the purposes of communication, never of art, since it can never be comprehended sensorily, can never be grasped as a whole except in a plan of it…. They are of no concern artistically, because they are inapprehensible in their entirety. Only that which a spectator can hold in view, what can be seen, is of artistic importance, for instance, the single street or the individual plaza. It follows simply from this that under the proper conditions an artistic effect can be achieved with whatever street network be chosen, but the pattern should never be applied with that really brutal ruthlessness which characterizes the cities of the New World and which has, unfortunately and frequently, become the fashion with us.

Artistically contrived streets and plazas might be wrested even from the gridiron system if the traffic expert would just let the artist peer over his shoulder occasionally or would set aside his compass and drawing board now and then. If only the desire were to exist, one could establish a basis for peaceful coexistence between these two. After all, the artist needs for his purpose only a few main streets and plazas; all the rest he is glad to turn over to traffic and to daily material needs.

The broad mass of living quarters should be businesslike, and there the city may appear in its work-clothes. This is exactly the way it is in the old towns.

City Planning According to Artistic Principles | Architectuul

The overwhelming majority of their side streets are artistically unimportant, and only vity tourist in his exceptionally predisposed mood finds them beautiful, because he likes everything he sees. Just a few thoroughfares and major plazas in the centers of towns stand up under critical appraisal- -those upon which our forefathers lavished wisely, and with all means at their disposal, whatever they could muster of works of civic art.

The artistic possibilities of modern systems of city planning should be judged from this standpoint, viz. Whoever is to be spokesman for this artistic attitude must point out that a policy of unwavering adherence to matters of transportation is erroneous, and furthermore that the demands of art do not necessarily run contrary to the dictates of modern living traffic, hygiene, etc.


The grid plan is the one most frequently applied. It was carried out already very early with an unrelenting thoroughness at Mannheim, whose plan looks exactly like a accogding there exists not a single exception to the arid rule that all streets intersect perpendicularly and that each one runs straight in both directions until it reaches the countryside beyond the town.

The rectangular city block prevailed here to such a degree that even street names were considered superfluous, the city blocks being designated merely by letters in one direction and by numbers in the other.

Thus the last vestige of ancient tradition was eliminated and nothing remained for the plan of imagination or fantasy. Mannheim assumes the credit for the invention of this system. Volenti not fit injuria No injury is done to a consenting party.

One could fill volumes recording the censure and scorn that have been lavished upon its plan in innumerable publications. In the light of what we have seen it is hard to believe that this very system could have conquered the world.

Wherever a new town extension is being planned agtistic method is applied—even in radial and triangular systems the subsidiary nets of streets are organized this way in so far as possible. It is the more remarkable because this very arrangement has long been condemned from the point of view of traffic; Principlez contains all that has been said to date on the matter. Aside from the inconveniences which he mentions, only one more, which seems to have been overlooked, will be pointed out here, namely the disadvantage of its street crossings for vehicular traffic.

In the illustration it is assumed that traffic drives on the left. These make four encounters.

In addition four encounters arise with a vehicle driving from A to B. With vehicles driving from B to A there are only two new encounters. The two others drop out because they are already contained in prknciples earlier series, cjty it is the same if a vehicle driving from B to A encounters one driving from A to B, or the reverse.


Likewise with the vehicles driving from B to C only two new encounters results, and with driving directions C to A and C to B there are atristic new variants. Avoiding duplications, then, the following twelve situations are possible:. A B against B A. By checking each of these twelve encounters in Fig. The little sitet represent these three bad traffic situations wherein a traffic delay may result since one vehicle has to pass by before the other can proceed.

However, three such awkward situations are still allowable, because in light traffic a congestion would rarely result. This opening of pronciples one street into a second usually a broader and more important one is the most common case in old towns, and at the same time the most advantageous for traffic. The situation is much worse when streets actually cross completely Fig. Here the various encounters, diagrammed and calculated without duplication, come to 54, among which occur 16 cases of intersecting traffic trajectories.

This is more than five times as many crossings and possible traffic disruptions as before. The course of a single vehicle driving from Prnciples to C is cut by four others, and the vehicle moving from C to D comes at it exactly from the side.

Therefore at such crossings, when they are very busy, drivers must go at a slow pace, and anyone who drives about much in xity knows that in the modern sections of town he is often slowed down, while in the narrow alleys of the old part of town, crowded with traffic as they are, he can proceed quite nicely at a trot. This is reasonable because a street seldom crosses there, and even simple street openings are relatively infrequent. For pedestrians the situation is even worse.

Every hundred steps they have to leave the sidewalk in order to cross another street, and they cannot be careful enough in looking to the right and left for vehicles which may be coming along every which way. They miss the natural protection of uninterrupted house fronts. In artisric town where a so-called corso or promenade has developed, one can observe how a long continuous row of houses was sitre chosen as side-protection, since otherwise its whole pleasure of strolling would be spoilt by the constant lookout for cross traffic….

But what marvelous traffic conditions arise when more than four thoroughfares run into each other! With the addition acclrding just one more street opening to such a junction, the possible vehicle encounters already total which is more than ten times the first case, and the number of crossings which disrupt traffic increases proportionately.

Yet what shall we say accordinb traffic intersections where as many as six or more streets run together from all sides, pfinciples in Fig. In the center of a populous town, at certain busy times of day, a smooth flow of traffic is actually impossible, and the authorities have to intervene, first, by stationing a policeman who, with his signals, keeps the traffic precariously moving.

For pedestrians such a place Fig. This safety island with its gas lamp is perhaps the most magnificent and original invention of modern city planning!

In spite of all these precautions, crossing the street is advisable only for alert persons; the old and the prknciples will always by preference take a long detour in order to avoid it. These, then, are the achievements of a system that, relentlessly condemning all artistic traditions, has restricted itself exclusively to questions of traffic. These are the consequences of design based on traffic considerations rather than, as it should be, on the arrangement of plazas and streets.

These occur even more frequently in the accoeding of the radial system or in mixed systems. They become the greatest glory indeed of new accordig when they are completely regular: Nowhere can the bankruptcy of all artistic feeling and tradition be more clearly perceived than here.

In plan such a plaza appears, camill course, to be nicely regular, but what is the consequence in reality? Vistas opening out along a thoroughfare, which the ancients avoided so artfully, have here been used as much as possible The traffic junction is also a junction of all lines of sight.

As one circles the plaza he always sees the same panorama, so that it is never exactly clear where one is standing A stranger has only to turn around once on such a disconcerting merry-go-round of a plaza and immediately all sense of orientation is lost. On the Piazza Vigliena Quattro Canti in Palermo even the elaborate decoration of the four corners does not help, since they are all alike.

Although only two major streets intersect perpendicularly on this octagonal plaza, one still finds strangers frequently turning into one of them to look for the street name or a familiar house, thus to regain their orientation. In reality all that is attained is a complete loss of our bearings, a monotony of vistas, and an architectural ineffectiveness.

How odd a whim of the old masters to have ascribed importance to the avoidance of such things! This type of plaza, along with its safety island and gas light or columnar monument, found its earliest manifestation in Paris …Fig. This was due in part to the intractable nature of the existing layout and in part to the tenacity with which fine old artistic traditions had preserved themselves. Different procedures were followed in various parts of the city, and, if nothing else, one can suggest that a certain remnant of Baroque tradition served as a common basis.


The striving for perspective effects has obviously continued, and we could designate as the backbone of the system the broad avenue closed off in the distance by a monumental structure…. Later the modern motif of the ring-boulevard was added to this, and a certain vigorous clearing out or breaking through of the dense mass of old houses was required by the circumstances.

This remarkable reorganization, carried out on a large scale, became almost a fad, first and most frequently observable in the large cities of France. The Place du Pont at Lyons Fig. In Italy a similar broad artery with several traffic lanes and shaded walks is called a corso or largo. Broad circumvallating boulevards were usually developed on the circuit of abandoned fortifications—in Vienna, Hamburg, Munich, Leipzig, Breslau, Bremen, Hanover; at Prague between the Altstadt and the Neustadt; at Antwerp; as a pentagon at Wurzburg Juliuspromenade, Hofpromenade, etc.

The avenue as a very old and independently developed plannint is, for instance, to be found in the Langgasse at Danzig; the Breite Gasse at Weimar; the Kaiserstrasse at Freiburg; the Maximilianstrasse at Augsburg; Unter prinnciples Linden in Berlin. The Jagerzeile in Vienna [now Vamillo is representative of such broader avenues developed for their long vistas, and the Graben there will, after its redesigning is completed, be transformed pllanning a plaza into such an avenue.

These are forms in modern city planning that are still artistically effective and are truly in the spirit of the Baroque.

Camillo Sitte

However, as soon as the geometric pattern and the building block became dominant, art was forced into silence. The modernizing of Gotha, Darmstadt, Dusseldorf, the fan-shaped plan of Karlsruhe, etc.

The absence of pedestrians on so many modern gigantic streets and plazas the Ludwigstrasse in Munich, the Rathausplatz in Vienna in contrast to the crowds in the narrow alleyways of the older parts of towns, demonstrates unequivocally how little the matter of traffic received its due consideration in such city expansions, although supposedly everything was based on just that.

Whereas new broad streets are laid out on the periphery of the city where dense traffic is never likely to develop, the old city center remains forever congested. This should be principlrs enough that the exponents of an exclusively traffic-oriented point of view, despite principled success, are not justified in throwing to the winds as useless the assistance of art, the teachings of history, and the great traditions of city building.

One more important motif of modern planning remains to be mentioned. This is the matter of tree-lined avenues and gardens.

Without doubt they constitute an important hygienic factor, and they also afford the undeniable charm of landscape elements in the middle of a big city and, occasionally, a splendid contrast between groups of trees and architecture. Yet it is open to question whether they are placed at the right spots.

From the purely hygienic aspect the answer seems quite simple: Not so from the artistic point of view, for the question arises as to where and how the greenery is to be applied. The usual and most felicitous application is to be found in the residential sections of modern cities, as in the justly famous residential belt around Frankfurt a.

However, the closer such landscape elements encroach upon the center of a large city, and especially upon large monumental structures, the more difficult it becomes to find a universally satisfactory and artistically faultless solution. Modern naturalistic landscape painting is not suitable for monumental purposes; when it is used as a background for great mythological and religious representations or in the interiors of monumental buildings or churches, there necessarily arises an uncomfortable conflict between the Realism of style and the Idealism acocrding subject matter, which no device, however clever, can relieve.

In just the same way, the penetration of the English park into the major plazas of a city produces a conflict between the principles and effects of naturalism princpiles the rigor of a monumental style. An awareness of this contradiction and a wish to avoid it were the forces which cmaillo into being the Baroque park with its trimmed trees; an architectonically disciplined nature was used in former times primarily in connection with the chateau, whereas the larger monumental city-squares of classic times, of the Middle Ages, and of the Renaissance were exclusively focal points of creative art and especially of architecture and sculpture.