Category Archives: Urban Patterns

Urban Patterns | El Tikkawin, Sudan

“How far is it from, how far is it from,
Walk through the storms, go through the storms.”
Storms in Africa, Enya

Urban Patterns | El Tikkawin, Sudan
by Dr. Mark David Major, AICP, CNU-A

El Tikkawin is a settlement located on the Upper Nile River in Sudan at 18°13’12” north of the equator and 33°55’12” east of the Greenwich Prime Meridian. Demographic and population data is not readily available but it appears to be a large town. The town is located adjacent to rich agricultural lands associated with the seasonal flooding of the Nile River. A large-scale (in relative terms) regular grid characterizes the largest area of the town, probably reflective of thousands of years of Egyptian influence in the Upper Nile region. Within the interstitial areas of the regular grid are the more intricate street networks more commonly associated with Middle Eastern settlements. This is a similar model to American suburban sprawl in the 20th century with the important exception that the interstitial street networks in El Tikkawin do not eliminate almost entirely connections at the periphery of the interstitial area, which is the case in the worst examples of American suburban sprawl.

Satellite view from 5 km of El Tikkawin, Sudan (Source: Google Earth).

This suggests a more sustainable and compact spatio-functional model in El Tikkawin compared to the dysfunction associated with American suburbs (being almost entirely auto-dependent). The regular grid is mostly absent in what appears to be the oldest section of El Tikkawin (to the right, immediately adjacent to Upper Nile agricultural lands). This oldest part of town is mostly characterized by a deformed grid layout. Finally, for anyone who ever criticized space syntax by asking to be shown an axial line… well, here they are… marked in the landscape. Tracks mark the path through large (undeveloped) open spaces to-and-from the surrounding agricultural lands and other parts of El Tikkawin as people linearized their use of space during their everyday activities.

(Updated: March 24, 2017)

Urban Patterns is a series of posts from The Outlaw Urbanist presenting interesting examples of terrestrial patterns shaped by human intervention in the urban landscape over time.

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Urban Patterns | Savannah, Georgia USA

“Time to call on old Anne Hannah
While she sits there wishing for her last reward
Peaceful Sunday in Savannah
Don’t you dare go fishin’, son, Amen.”
Sunday in Savannah, Rosemary Clooney

Urban Patterns | Savannah, Georgia USA
by Dr. Mark David Major, AICP, CNU-A

Savannah is the oldest city in the U.S. state of Georgia and is the county seat of Chatham County. Established in 1733 on the Savannah River, the city of Savannah became the British colonial capital of the Province of Georgia and later the first state capital of Georgia. A strategic port city in the American Revolution and during the American Civil War, Savannah is today an industrial center and an important Atlantic seaport. It is Georgia’s fifth-largest city and third-largest metropolitan area. Savannah’s architecture, history, and reputation for Southern charm and hospitality are internationally known. The city’s former promotional name was the “Hostess City of the South,” a phrase still used by the city government. An earlier nickname was “the Forest City”, in reference to the large population and species of oak trees that flourish in the Savannah area. These trees were especially valuable in shipbuilding during the 19th century. In 2014, Savannah attracted 13.5 million visitors from across the country and around the world. Savannah’s downtown area is one of the largest National Historic Landmark Districts in the United States (Source: Wikipedia).

Satellite view from 15 km of Savannah, Georgia USA (Source: Google Earth).

The Oglethorpe ward plan of Savannah sits on the banks of the Savannah River to the north (distinguished by the squares, which are darker in this image). The street alignments of the ward plan extend southwards to define the north-south streets of a larger orthogonal grid south of the Oglethorpe plan. Interstate 516, East Derenne Street, and the Harry S. Truman Parkway (road with wandering alignment to the east) effectively form a ‘ring road’ around the urban core to the south, west and east. The large blocks and offset grid to the west of the Oglethorpe plan introduce deformation into the layout to maximize the number of buildable lots in relation to the topography of the Savannah River (i.e. the port). The large airport to the extreme south is the Hunter Army Airfield. Except for Hutchinson Island itself (in Georgia), there is very little development north of Savannah in South Carolina except further north away from the river, perhaps due to a combination of environmental and jurisdictional factors.

(Updated: March 23, 2017)

Urban Patterns is a series of posts from The Outlaw Urbanist presenting interesting examples of terrestrial patterns shaped by human intervention in the urban landscape over time.

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Urban Patterns | Brasília, Brazil

“Everybody plays a beautiful game out in Brazil
‘Cause it’s all you ever wanted and it’s all that you want still.”
Brazil, Declan McKenna

Urban Patterns | Brasília, Brazil
by Dr. Mark David Major, AICP, CNU-A

Brasília is the federal capital of Brazil and seat of government for the Federal District. The city is located atop the Brazilian highlands in the country’s central western region. The city was founded on April 21, 1960, to serve as the new national capital. Brasília and its metro area are estimated to be Brazil’s 4th most populous city. It was planned and developed by Lúcio Costa and Oscar Niemeyer in 1956, moving the capital from Rio de Janeiro to a more central location. The landscape architect was Roberto Burle Marx. The city’s design divides it into numbered blocks as well as sectors for specified activities, such as the Hotel Sector, the Banking Sector, and the Embassy Sector. Brasília was chosen as a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its modernist architecture and uniquely artistic urban planning (Source: Wikipedia).

Satellite view from 30 km of Brasília, Brazil (Source: Google Earth).

Equally fascinating to the pattern of green space/greenery within AND surrounding the bounds of original city plan for Brasília by Lúcio Costa is the pattern of mostly ‘organic’ growth in the form of small-scale, offset regular grids deviating in their geometric logic in relation to the shoreline of the man-made Lago do Paranoá (Paranoá Lake) in the metropolitan environs of Brasília, Brazil.

(Updated: March 21, 2017)

Urban Patterns is a series of posts from The Outlaw Urbanist presenting interesting examples of terrestrial patterns shaped by human intervention in the urban landscape over time.

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