Landscape urbanism and architecture in the design of Edinburgh New Town

Too many old cities, like Beijing, have been destroyed to make way for modernity. And two many have been extended without due regard for landscape architecture. Far too often, design teams have been led by architects, engineers, planners or real estate specialists. Their skills are essential but the first steps in making new urban areas should be led by landscape architects with expertise in composing landform, vegetation and water with buildings and paving.
Edinburgh’s New Town, which was an extension of its Old Town, was planned in 1766. The design resulted from a competition won by James Craig. Though sometimes described as an ‘architect’ Craig served his apprenticeship with a stone mason and his inspiration, like that of many eighteenth century landscape designers, came from poetry. Craig’s maternal uncle was the famous landscape poet James Thomson, author of The Seasons and of Rule Britannia.
Edinburgh New Town’s streets, squares and views were planned before any of its buildings were designed. This excellent procedure is now described as landscape urbanism or, if embodies a deeper understanding of ecology, ecological urbanism.

Tom Turner

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