3 Pillars of European City Development

Based on Oliver Frey’s definition (Zukunft der Europäischen Stadt, VS Verlag, 2011) city development is based on 3 pillars unchanged since medieval times: Urban layout, social formation and political say.
The urban layout has always been characterized by high density of people and buildings, focus to one city centre, compact structures, small area segmentation (kleinteilige Parcellierung) and a mixture of living, working and production (Nutzungsmischung).
The social formation is defined by a small level of social segregation and an active citizen who shapes the city through initiatives, organizations and associations. In Europe citizens decide on a free basis which city to stay – different to countries where living is defined by religious or tribe belonging.
The political say is defined by the interconnection and -dependency of a city with the national and supra-national government and at the same time the relative independence of decision making. Means, there is support by the state on national level but cities can still design development within their competencies. In the US cities don’t get that much of support and are therefore dependent on market investments and investors interest.

Export the european model
The three dimensions describe the “typical picture” of a european city. Of course there are variances and it doesn’t meant that e.g. the eastern european countries, that joined the EU 2004-2007 have to follow this model. In contrary some of those post social cities rather follow the north american type of cities. The image of a typical european city turned into a popular model especially in Asia and the US. However the so called “New Urbanism” was mainly focussed on the aspect of urban layout and therefore remained a shale copy. Also within Europe there are significant variances.

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