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ShowMeKC

Best city layout - Grid, Hexagonal, Circular or Natural?

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I was wondering today which is a better layout for a city?

Standard grid format:

grid.bsp.gif

Hexagonal:

hexagon.gif

Concentric Circles (with streets going down from outer to inner city):

moiree_5.gif

Natural layout formed with terrain

Most American cities are in the standard grid format... I don't think there are any large cities in a hexagonal format, and I know Moscow is in a pattern of concentric circles...

Moscow-Concentric Circles:

MapMoscow.jpg

Manhattan NYC-Grid:

manhattan.gif

Jerusalem- Natural:

map19.jpg

I personally think the concentric circles design is best.

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For ease of navigating a city, grid seems to be best. With a grid pattern, you are more apt to know which direction you are heading and can more easily figure out how to get from point A to point B.

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That is what I was thinking, but with the circular design, you never have to make 90* turns, they are always smooth turns. Not to mention that although it's a smaller area, it would take less time to travel around areas, as a circle is smaller than a square...

Plus I believe cities should use the smallest area possible these days, expanding outwards is bad no matter who you are, it not only creates sprawl, but it kills the environment and many animals.

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These days suburbs run me in circles... I say no to them!

Long live the grid!

And Richmond has an excellent grid but the design of the city in the past was very artistic. We gracefully superimposed the grid over steep hills (I have no idea what they were thinking for some streets... which don't exist now). I'd post some maps but they came from books. I guess I could cite the books...

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I love the grid for its ease of navigation and pedestrian friendliness. I have to say though, the haphazard layouts of cities like Boston is kind of fun sometimes, and very unique.

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I don't believe cities should be built with the automobile or ease of navigation taking first precedence - I have a firm belief that cities are for people, and public transit the key. With that in mind, I support organic growth of cities, and think that it adds uniqueness, value, and sense of place to a city and its neighborhoods. I am noticing a theme of "ease of navigation" being the primary reason to support the other city planning styles, and though I am not doubting the importance of this factor, I do believe there are alternative forms of navigation that do not require a cookie-cutter style of city planning. Most European cities and some American cities that have grown organically are very successful, prosperous, and true, are hell to drive through, yet easy for pedestrians, and easy for underground, and above ground, public transit to service efficiently. Most importantly though, going back to the idea that cities are for people, it is my opinion that people would rather live in a city that is unique, interesting, and contains surprises, than one that is laid out in a monotonous grid, over and over, sucking the character out of the city, and collectivizing its people. <_<

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I have never heard of a hexagonal city plan before. Seems kind of, well, weird.

Anyway, it all depends upon for what, where, the kind of city it is, and a whole bunch of other factors. Grids are nice and easy to navigate, and also lend themselves much better to density and tall buildings. NAtural layouts create a much more enjoyable city, but can be a nightmare to navigate, and this does eat up resources. Still, what is worse is when they have make a grid with parallel streets doing weird dead ends.

Personally I think natural, but only because I don't think cities should really be laid out that much. Unless you have some other natural elemnt to limit growth, I think things like grids and hexagons only ecourage sprawling out, no density. Circles are a bit of a compromise, but ultimately become "natural"layouts over time.

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Grids are the easiest for public transportation and pedestrians to navigate as well though, that's why I like them.

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I think that the grid layout encourages expansion as well as the construction of more boxier buildings. I'd think it'd be harder to expand outward in a city laid out in a circle because of it's mathematical layout. Which, sprawl and other expansions outward should be greatly discouraged.

It also creates a central area where the government buildings, parks, the CBD, etc... all exist.

I agree somewhat with the automobile argument, but it's not realistic because the car is not going anywhere. Yes they should be designed for pedestrians, but they also need to be car friendly.

A square with it's sides at 5m would be 25 sq. m.

A circle with a diameter of 5m would be at about 19.6 sq. m.

That's the reason I like the circular pattern, it covers less area, has a smaller diameter, is harder to expand with, and creates more interesting buildings/skyscrapers.

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I don't believe cities should be built with the automobile or ease of navigation taking first precedence - I have a firm belief that cities are for people, and public transit the key. With that in mind, I support organic growth of cities, and think that it adds uniqueness, value, and sense of place to a city and its neighborhoods. I am noticing a theme of "ease of navigation" being the primary reason to support the other city planning styles, and though I am not doubting the importance of this factor, I do believe there are alternative forms of navigation that do not require a cookie-cutter style of city planning. Most European cities and some American cities that have grown organically are very successful, prosperous, and true, are hell to drive through, yet easy for pedestrians, and easy for underground, and above ground, public transit to service efficiently. Most importantly though, going back to the idea that cities are for people, it is my opinion that people would rather live in a city that is unique, interesting, and contains surprises, than one that is laid out in a monotonous grid, over and over, sucking the character out of the city, and collectivizing its people. <_<

Very well said Dozer.

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That is what I was thinking, but with the circular design, you never have to make 90* turns, they are always smooth turns.
With a circular layout, you'd still need cross streets. Those cross streets would create turns greater than 90

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However those turns would not be tight. They will not be 45 degrees or anything like that. They also would be easier to turn into.

I see on there that it is not an equal distance, the home in the first one has just one turn to make and it's then straightline. The second home has to make multiple turns, crisscrossing to reach city hall, unless the person wishes to go a longer distance and go straight then down.

I also still support the circle because of the difficulty of expanding outwards. Not to mention the fact that it centralizes the important things and wouldn't put as large of a strain on postage.

And like I said, the grid can cause more square buildings to be built than uniquely shaped buildings.

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The concentric circle layout seems better termed "wheel and spoke" layout. I believe DC, a wonderfully planned city, employs this pattern.

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I think grid is the best. Concentric circles is another one of those ideas that seems good in theory, but navigating it is extremely confusing unless you are familiar with the layout. Also, the design is only efficient to get to the center of it (city hall on the map) , navigating to other points is not as easy, where with the grid everything is equally hard/easy to get to.

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I have to agree with the poster from Boston. A grid layout is boring. I like the confusing layouts of the New England cities. It adds character.

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A grid layout just adds to sprawl. I would like to see an old world layout.

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A grid layout just adds to sprawl. I would like to see an old world layout.

Well.. the least sprawling city in the country invented the grid (I think). It's all supply, demand, and zoning.

On an off note... many times when I go to New York and I am on the "uptown" train I get that billy joel song in my head. It pisses me off but always happens. Does anyone else here have a similar habit?

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i like Detroit's, its kind of a combination of grid and circular

detroit_map.jpg

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I believe the Romans invented the grid system (or am I wrong?)

I know their roads couldn't make angled turns and always had to be 90 degrees

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In general, I like grids well enough, but one place I think it's way overdone is Miami. The combination of the flat landscape with the grid relentlessly extended out so many miles from downtown is just... ugh. Not sure what the right word is. Is it just me?

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Off topic, but here is a Google map of a bizarre network of roads laid out in grid patterns with absolutely nothing built along them. Hundreds of miles of roads spaced generally a block apart without a single resident or business. A TerraServer map from ten years ago shows the same.

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strange, looking for new development i gues...

That town is the third largest and the fastest growing city in NM. In 2000 it was 50k, it's estimated to be at 70k now and over 100k by 2010.

Apparently no buildings there are over 40 years old.

Rio Rancho=Sprawl City/Suburban Wannabe

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Here's another interesting map of Salton City, CA. Bunch of roads laid out, but almost devoid of homes. Been like that for 10+ years.

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I prefer the grid system, but any system is better than these typical 70s-era massive subdivisions with a poorly connected and auto-centric layout.

Here are some maps of similar places/cities in Florida with master-planned street patterns, some with little or no housing. I believe all or most of these communities were built by the infamous General Development Corp. as exurban communities far from the existing city centers on thousands of acres of swampland, wilderness and farmland. Although some of these places have been experiencing alot of growth in the past decade, there are some areas that are still nearly empty platted land with barely an inch of pavement as a street.

Palm Bay, Brevard Co, FL

This area became a city (Palm Bay) but has grown rapdily with the City of Melbourne to the north. Although many of the NE and NW areas have filled in the SW quadrant is not, and probably will not be due swampy ground, despite many canals. The City of Palm Bay is the biggest city in Brevard County with over 100,000 residents, bigger than Melbourne, its "center city".

Port St. Lucie, St. Lucie Co, FL

This was the fastest growing city in the US in 2004, despite being directly hit by 2 hurricanes (Frances and Jeanne). Although they were relatively weak, St. Lucie County is poised to take all the sprawl and growth squeezed out of Palm Beach and Martin counties to the south. You can see many of the sparsely populated streets on the south side.

Port St. John, Brevard Co, FL

This is smaller example, between Titusville and Cocoa, it has filled in due to it central location, relative to Orlando, the space center and port.

Palm Coast, Flager Co, FL

This is north of Daytona Beach, this area was the #1 fastest growing county in the US in 2005.

Crystal River, Citrus Co, FL

This is near the partially-complete and now cancelled Cross-Florida Barge Canal, on the NW side of the pic. the northward sprawl from Tampa Bay may eventually make this area develop.

Silver Springs Shores, Marion Co, FL

This is SE of Ocala and has filled in decently as other growth has spread between Orlando and Ocala. Note the proximity to the pristine Silver River to the east. On the northside there is a SW-NE tract of undeveloped swath of land that created the wide alignment for the Barge Canal that was aquired but never built. You can follow this westward to the Gulf.

Port Charlotte, Charlotte Co. & North Port, Sarasota Co.

The east-west line through the center, a canal called the "Cocopulm Waterway" divides the two counties and "cities". Although this area has also partially fileld in, there are many empty streets on the northside of the image. This area was also hit very hard by Hurricane Charley in 2004.

I know there are many other smaller GDC communities that may have similar patterns, and I may have forgotten some. If anyone has any more insight, comments, complaints on the inefficient layout and poor planning of these GDC communities...

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I think grid is the best. Concentric circles is another one of those ideas that seems good in theory, but navigating it is extremely confusing unless you are familiar with the layout. Also, the design is only efficient to get to the center of it (city hall on the map) , navigating to other points is not as easy, where with the grid everything is equally hard/easy to get to.

I agree. I navigated DC's streets, which have their circles (eg, Dupont), late at night/early in the AM and got really confused--and that was with practically no other traffic on the road.

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