Does dense Urban Planning generates Prosperity?

Domenica Velasco

In the past decades, cities have grown to become world trade centers causing these same cities to become denser. Many might argue that, this phenomenon is caused by it self. As the city develops, more people leave the suburbs to move into the city, for better economical opportunities, and this cause the city to grow architecturally. When in fact, dense urban planning consents the city to develop. Indeed, Dense Urban Planning is a capitalist movement, use as a democratic political strategy, which is assuring the growth of the city and its economy.

In the thirteen century, during the renaissance of Florence, the city planning did not limit architecture prestige to the cathedral, as most European cities did at that time. Instead, the city’s urban planning and architecture was complex and extend, which allowed Florence to become more attractive and to domain over other civilizations. Urban density becomes a tool for growth, instead of an effect of it. During the eighteen century, London was the most populous metropolitan center in the world, and England’s only large city, government’s dense urban planning endorsed the creation of the British Empire. In the same way in the nineteen century, Hong Kong’s type of democracy have allowed an capitalistic urban planning that can be consider dense, since the growth of the city is notorious and admired by other important cities or countries in the world.

Urban planning is a methodical and political practice that is apprehensive to the use of land and the design of the urban environment, which refers to every urban space, including transportation systems and the development of communities and settlements. The practice of urban planning is directly related to architecture, urban design and public consultation. There are different ways in which a city could be planned, for example suburbs, which are a case of diffuse urban planning. On the other hand, dense urban planning acknowledges the importance of condensation of the city, imposing business, and becoming main trade centers. Major cities like Hong Kong, York City and Dubai have a vertically dense urban planning; attracting people from around the world and becoming destinies for more business and development. Dense urban planning has become part of capitalism, in which is founded on private proprietorship of the means of production and capital goods, and the manufacture of goods and services, in this case buildings and constructions, for profit in a market economy. This dense urban planning, create wealth for a city, and also commodity for citizens, in democratic countries, urban planning becomes a political strategy since it brings economical benefits, as well as others.


essay1Diagram of the relationship between Economy, Politics and Urban Planning.

Theoretical Framework, Mee Kam Ng, 1999.




The Renaissance in Florence

Florence, Italy, 13th Century – 14th Century.


The Renaissance brought innovation to existing techniques in Europe, which permitted rapid development in some cities. Development in mining and metallurgy allowed development in construction and transportation, which resulted in the construction of main cities, and important monuments. Even thought the resources were equal to every civilization, the urban planning techniques allowed some cities to be superior to others. In fact, complex urban planning helped the creation of main cities that later became metropolis. Moreover, condense cities developed into major exchange territories, assuring economic development and improving civilians living conditions, ensuring harmony between citizens and governmental authorities. Development became a tool for government entities to preserve power for longer periods.

For instance, Florence, a capitalist city, were many elite merchants and bankers’ dwell had a major urban development. During this urban explosion, the idea was to extend spatial organization beyond a central building, creating broader denser spaces. That enables the city to become a major trade center, for culture, art and business. The ionic buildings were situated all around the city boundaries created comfort for the citizens, enabling the political strategies to stay the same. The previously mentioned merchants and bankers govern Florence in 4-year periods. The city of Florence is an example of how urban planning affect a cities development, not only in size but also prominence. Florence, was a city were people want to dwell, since business were going great, and due to the dense urban planning, there were many different plazas and institutions to visit.

The promptness with which new walls were built is a emblem of the prosperity that reigned in Florence. The economic growth was notorious, in a short period the associations proliferated among categories of tradesmen and artisans. The metropolis still preserved some headquarters buildings. Nowadays, most buildings in Florence go back to the 13th and 14th centuries, since during this period Florence was so influential. During this period, Florence complex architecture relied on the principals of Gothic religious architecture. Most of the urban planning of the time was reflected on the construction of vast convent complexes, full of monasteries and rooms for education and labor. Governmental authorities were in charged of the organization of the communitarian life of the urban population, who during this era, start playing a role in political and cultural as well as religious life.

1florenciaSouth Oriented, the map covers the ancient enclosed heart of Florence as it spreads on both edges of the Arno River. Offers outstanding detail at the street and building level displaying towers, gardens, piazzas, and palaces.

Pianta della Citta di Firenze, Giuseppe Molini, 1731

florence2Citta di Firenze, 1460



London: The Foundation of the Empire

London, England, 18th Century


The creation of the British Empire follows this idea, as well. At the beginnings of the 18th century, London was the first world city. However, England its self, had not yet developed. London was Europe largest urban community and the most metropolitan center in the world. With the development of the industries, and manufactory, urban planning in England became more complex, with the creating of the industry, sizes and wealth became a factor of growth of the English economy. Even though, London’s urban planning was dense during the 18th century, without the vast expansion in the island, England would not had convert into a major trade center. During this period, The British Empire became the world greatest port and commercial center.

Thru this period, the first suffrages were held in the British islands, not everyone was enabled to vote, but as time passed by, more people had the right to vote. Throughout this development period in England, the urban planning strategy played a major role in the importance of England at the time. Once the English capitalism reached its industrial phase, with the competitive pressures of countries like France, or Germany capitalistic social relations started spreading. More cities started implementing dense urban planning to grow economically. As more and more people were brought under the sphere of market the strength of the area grew. Capitalism was able to create an image of the ideal city of the world that resembled that of London.

Rapidly, London started spreading outside its conventional limits. New districts were created, as well as, new bridges over the Thames River fortifying accelerated development, simultaneously the Port of London expanded downstream from the main city. The creating of third spaces was a phenomenon of the period; the apparition of the coffee house was a new acquaintance of urban planning. The coffee house represented debate of ideas, in a bigger scale than before. Fleet Street became the heart of the emergent British Empire during the century. Press and thirds spaces, played a major role in public awareness and development, as the urban planning continued to extend, more people became part of the right to vote and exchange ideals. Not only, did the, dense urban planning helped the development of the country its self, but also the development of each citizen, by integrating them more with social and political issues.

london Large and Precise Map of the City of London, during the 18th century, shows density in plan and the expansion around the lake.

City of London , Ogilby & Morgan, 1673.


london2London city plan diagram, during the 18th century. Division of London into small regions, in which different government entities collected taxes, designated to city growth.

Map of the Turnpike Toll gates in London, 1801.


Vertical City: Hong Kong

Hong Kong, China, 19th Century-21st Century.


Modern cities of the 19th century like Dubai, Singapore and Hong Kong followed the example urban planning that England used in the previous century. For instance, Hong Kong separated from the Chinese government strategy, to follow a capitalistic model that involved the population by satisficing the population desires of development. Hong Kong starts its economic ascent in 1950s, when central capitalists and expatriates escaped to Hong Kong from Communist rule. The socio-economic and political transition put together a restructuring economy and a democratizing polity, which reverts to Chinese rule in mid-1997. The democratization process in the last British colonial rule supported the growth of a new political community in Hong Kong. The maturing political economy has led to the rising status of professional to meet challenges imposed by a restructuring economy during a period of political transition. That is directly related with modern city ideals, following the British model of the city, Hong Kong’s planning of the city aims to outline the quality of living and of the working environment, facilitating financial development and generating prosperity by controlling the use of land.

However, due to the limited land resources in Hong Kong, there was the necessity to strike balance. The space needed to meet the contesting demands of housing, business, industries, transportation, and recreation of the capitalistic ideal city model; is compelled by using a vertically dense planning for the city. The economic growth Hong Kong faces, have brought aspiration to Hong Kong Residents’ planning system consist in comprised development strategies, dividing areas by uses such as residential, commercial industrial, open spaces, governmental spaces or any other specific use. Furthermore, architecturally Hong Kong has also developed really quickly, the economic growth have enable, that the dense urban planning to become sophisticate and complex, creating condensed networks between the different areas.

Hong Kong’s urban planning have become of great importance for the government. The monitoring of the land supply and the urban development is of tremendous significance, since the mission of the urban development is too meet the needs of the economy. Social and environmental considerations are the prime objective of economic growth. As the political community realized the need to use to satisfy all-round development needs. The dense urban planning is creating autonomy for Hong Kong from the rest of China. In addition, the capitalist ideals have created this dense modern world city, to become one of the most economical powerful cities of the world.

hongkong   Vertical City: Hong Kong, Romain Jacquet-Lagreze, 2012.


Map showing pedestrian networks and urban areas of Hong Kong.

Cities Without Ground: A Hong Kong Guide Book,2012


hong kong3Diagram showing Hong Kong’s dense walkway networks.

Cities Without Ground: A Hong Kong Guide Book,2012


HOMGKONG4 Urban planning administration in Hong Kong, Mee Kam Ng, 1999.



As has been stated, thought hundreds of years dense urban cities have become major metropolis, bringing economic and social growth. Causing this planning style to become a tool for capitalistic societies in the aim of prosperity. Urban planning being a political practice that is apprehensive to the use of land and the design of the urban environment, have allowed architecture to be directly connected to economic growth as stated in the city of Hong Kong case. In the same way, the dense expansion of cities allowed the formation of what was once known as the British Empire, and nowadays as England.  The practice in which governmental entities, use urban planning to assure development and comfort for citizens is a democratic strategy that assures them power for longer periods, as the massive complex of plazas and public institutions did in Florence during the Renaissance.



Project 1: Fidel Castro’s Cuba


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Clive Emsley, Timm Hitchcoock and Robert Shoemaker, “London History, Old Bailey Proceedings Online, version 7.0, 23 october 2013

Anonymous. The Geography of the Renaissance. The Renaissance Connection

Web Marketing  Team, About Florence.

Anonymous. “Urban Planning.” Wikipedia.

Anonymous. Turnpike Trust. Wikipedia

Anonymous. History of London. Wikipedia.

Anonymous. 18th -century London. Wikipedia.

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