Urban Planning (UP) is about the ways a city should be structured. I address the meta-question of the criteria used to evaluate and judge the appropriateness of UP. The issue is pressing: given climate change, more extreme temperatures and weather conditions, and fast-growing populations in cities we need to rethink UP, its criteria and their relationship.
I argue that (1) are there are no uniform criteria to judge good UP, moreover, (2) the reason is not just simply high context specificity. Rather, (3) the criteria in given contexts are necessarily conflicting and stand in severe tension to each other. I defend a relational concept of UP inspired by considerations in the 1960s we need to consider (a) place and context, as suggested by Utzon’s architectural transculturation; and (b) the psychological needs of people, as Aalto. I suggest a framework characterized by continuing search for coherence between combined architectural elements, social contexts, psychological needs and cultural influences. Consequently, even in specified contexts absolute judgments about good UP are void. I will (4) show that modern claims in Philosophy of Psychology and Neuroaesthetics developed for Art (Zeki 2001, Ramachandran/Hirstein 1999) are transferable and give new insights for better characterizations for several valuable historical ideas mentioned. In particular, we have tools to fill some gaps in Aalto’s and Utzon’s approaches, and get a better understanding of the aesthetic criteria and an embodiment inspired view of how architecture and living quarters influence the well-being of humans.
Verena Gottschling, York University, Canada