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Monday, May 4, 2015

Almere New City, Netherlands: ReThink in action

This street in The Hague, Netherlands, lacks sidewalks.

It was called ReThink London. It was a bust. All that was new was the moniker. So far it seems the new London, Ontario, will simply be more of the old London, Ontario. The changes to the city, and there will be some, will be the ones to be expected. ReThink contained no surprises.

If one wants to view a city with a true ReThink approach, check out Almere New City in the Netherlands. It has been reported that Dutch planners and architects consider the Almere New City plan and its urban form to be unique. There is little unique in London now or on the drawing board for the future.

If interested in knowing a little more about Almere New City, please click the link. The author of the piece, Mirela Newman, contends that Almere could be used as an example to follow by both new town planners throughout the world, and for the development and redevelopment of old and new subdivisions and districts already in existence.

Be warned, a tour of Almere New City using Google Street Views did not convince me that the designers of Almere had it totally right. Oddly enough, I personally still see the South Walkerville neighbourhoods developed in Windsor, Ontario, in the early part of the last century as just about perfect for the time. The area was very walkable with some streets bordered by sidewalks and others left totally without. Some streets originally lacked curbs but over the years curbs have appeared almost everywhere in the area.

If the neighbourhood in which I now live, Byron in London, had sidewalks through the wooded areas to link commercial shopping areas with residential areas, Byron would be a very fine example of good urban design. Sadly, Byron is being developed more in the style of a '50s suburban neighbourhood but with the addition of some box stores and some highrises on a major thoroughfare.

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