New Urbanism in Asia

The world is building cities at unprecedented rates – at the same time, the planning and design profession seems to have forgotten how to create a livable city. Nowhere is this more prescient than in urban development throughout Asia.

For the first time in history, more than half of the world’s population will be living in cities, and this rate of urbanization is accelerating. With the beginning of the 21st century, Asia has become the leading edge of this global trend. Asian urbanism has thus far adopted the largely outdated modernist approaches of western modernism – without the benefit of the historical urban patterns of the West. The scale of Asian urbanism raises the blandness of western modernism to an unprecedented level – and generates a call to action for a new approach.

JRDV is facing these challenges by rewriting the rules of how to create successful urban design. We are focused on creating a new urbanism that is adapted to the Asian context. Our approach creates city forms that link the emerging new economy with an environmental quality of culture and place that can become the prototypes for the next-generation of Asian urban development.

We start with an enormous amount of “product research” on places and buildings that people love to be in. We study the regional culture and places that have created rich emotional connections. We have developed strategies to adapt modern user and building requirements to new patterns of urban place that reflect a sense of memory and authentic urban experience. Our urban design is based on creating walkable urban centers that make memorable places, not isolated objects or “islands” of development.

Our architecture is focused on the spaces in-between buildings, which is where people really live. Great shopping streets, famous plazas, and even intimate courtyards spaces are in-between spaces that generate active communal experiences that sustain life and culture, usually for generations. City making is about creating places where people actually want to live and invest and create long-term emotional connections. It creates frameworks for an authentic urban experience that lies between memory and invention, continuity and change.