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Linear City Concept

In 1882, Madrid, a Spanish urban planner pondered the problems the city faced, namely: transport, overpopulation, and sanitary conditions. His name was Arturo Soria y Mata (pictured below), and the solution he came up with was the concept of a Linear City.

The linear city was an urban plan for an elongated urban formation. All other functions were arranged along that axis with defined width and indefinite length, intersected at certain intervals by secondary perpendicular streets. The layout consisted of large blocks with residential buildings surrounded by vegetation with commercial and public structures situated at intersections.

Arturio Soria came up with the concept and implemented it in Ciudad Lineal de Madrid, so as to turn Madrid into a more human city, closer to nature. He aimed to keep the suburbs less populated and to preserve individualism. For the integration of nature, several rows of trees were planted along the street. The houses would also have a garden and an orchard.

The streets were 200 meters long and 20 meters wide, and the center line of the street connected with the different blocks of houses, each of which were square, rectangular or trapezoid in shape. Thus, the city grew parallel to the main street,

The new houses were bigger and had a garden. There was also a vegetable garden or a space for working the land. Arturo Soria left the architects free to build different models of houses in order to avoid monotony.

Some other places where this concept has been used successfully include Magnitogorsk and Stalingrad, where Soviet urban planner N. A. Milyutin implemented linear schemes of development in the 1930s.

However, the concept did draw some criticisms. A few of them include: a lack of centrality (which is psychologically important), slow and limited growth rate due to only being able to grow at one end, and limitations of choice of connections and direction of movement.

Ultimately, despite its drawbacks, Lynch (1981) came to the conclusion that as the linear shape does appear naturally at the local scale, the concept might have some use at particular scales and in particular situations and for particular uses.


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