Charter Awards 2022: Bringing people together
New Urbanism has always been about the architecture of community—that phrase was in the subtitle of Peter Katz’s seminal 1994 book that helped launch this movement. The architecture of community has a double meaning—first, it refers to a scale of design that is larger than one building, a philosophy that treats context as a primary consideration even in the design of individual buildings. Second, the phrase refers to using design to promote “a feeling of fellowship with others,” as the Oxford Languages puts it.
Therefore New Urbanism not only focuses on scale, but also on bringing people together. And projects that bring people together is the theme of the 2022 Charter Awards. (The application process opened this week.). CNU has been giving Charter Awards since 2001, recognizing “outstanding achievements in architectural, landscape, and urban design and planning worldwide.” Every year, a jury of urbanists sorts through top-level projects, which are submitted by urban designers, developers, cities, and other entities involved in designing and building places. The jury this year consists of Andrew von Maur (chair), Jaime Correa, Wendell Joseph, Megan O’Hara, and Maria Sanchez.
All new urbanist projects should bring people together on some level. This year’s winners are sure to be especially strong in addressing that quality, and how well they address the principles of the Charter of the New Urbanism.
A handful of Charter principles speak to me mostly strongly the subject of “bringing people together,” in addition to text in the preamble. From the Charter:
We are committed to reestablishing the relationship between the art of building and the making of community, through citizen-based participatory planning and design.
13. Within neighborhoods, a broad range of housing types and price levels can bring people of diverse ages, races, and incomes into daily interaction, strengthening the personal and civic bonds essential to an authentic community.
18. A range of parks, from tot-lots and village greens to ballfields and community gardens, should be distributed within neighborhoods.
19. A primary task of all urban architecture and landscape design is the physical definition of streets and public spaces as places of shared use.
23. Streets and squares should be safe, comfortable, and interesting to the pedestrian. Properly configured, they encourage walking and enable neighbors to know each other and protect their communities.
25. Civic buildings and public gathering places require important sites to reinforce community identity and the culture of democracy.
These are worthy principles, and I hope that this year’s theme inspires new urbanists to submit their best work.