Yes, it is very important to consider human necessities for good quality living. Meeting those necessities might be more difficult to design depending on the budget of the city being dealt with. However, creative solutions through design cannot be underestimated. A difficulty does not suggest practicality has to clash with aesthetics. Two utopian designs come to mind when discussing this: The Garden City design and the Radiant City design.
The Garden City design was one that was rather difficult to reach realistically. Even with the prime example of Radburn in New Jersey, the emulation still did not follow the full expectation of the original design. It did, however, incorporate key aspects from the design . It included super blocks, allowing for plenty of core space within the city without traffic. This was at a time when the automobile was only gaining more importance! There was parking access behind houses, allowing families to face inward toward the city without considering access to their cars. When there were inevitable roads, pedestrians could get across them under the road through tunnels or over them with bridges.
Having a space without traffic can keep a community safer and more socially involved as they avoid automobiles and encounter each other openly. It also helps avoid much of the pollution involved with the exhaust vehicles. The key here was that they also had plenty of room for green space and landscaping considerations because the applications of the design were made considering a rural space.
The Radiant City Design was very practical in the way that it moved all the density of a tight urban space vertically—in tall buildings. It maximized air and light access to citizens when that access was becoming sparse. It was a very important consideration, especially considering that many of the people living in a city are likely to avoid the areas that provide them that benefit if it means avoiding expenses because many more people there have small incomes. In fact, this design is utilized in many of today’s “projects”, where many low income citizens live.
The problem with the Radiant City Design is that it is not very visually appealing and not very exciting to live in. Although this is tough to accomplish with the obstacle of not having access to the ground, as much of the aesthetics of a community are usually outside of the “home” environment, it seems incorrect to exempt the design of fulfilling aesthetically pleasing and social spaces because that is where people want to live, where they have hope of thriving, where they are happy. It is a challenge the designer has to overcome to truly be successful. In Levy’s Contemporary Urban Planning, the Garden City Design is described to offer “the tranquility, healthful environment, and closeness to nature of the countryside” (48), something not even expected of a suburb but something that does not seem unfair to expect in any kind of area. It is easy to imagine that any citizen in an urban environment can idealize a healthy environment with a closeness to nature. If that countryside quality was achieved in a suburban area, than why not in an urban area?
Yes, the Garden City Design might have been more easily made an attractive living space, but its success should only inspire greater accomplishments in utopian urban design. The people living in urban cities will forego many of their necessities so that they can survive more reasonably. Healthful and greener design trends need to increase so that those individuals do not have the option of lessening the quality of fundamental parts of their lives, even if their environmental design has to be done under a budget.