Clarence Perry

Late October, Halloween in particular, always invokes thoughts of community and neighbourhood from my childhood. In my elementary school days, Halloween of course meant a walk around the neighbourhood for candy but also the only school dance of the year. All the nostalgia has me thinking of Clarence Perry an important contributor to neighbourhood planning in North America and Britain.  Following Ebenezer Howard’s late 19th century concept of the Garden City, particularly Howard’s ‘wards’ within the city each with 5000 people, many planners in the early 20th century worked on neighbourhood design. (Hall, P. Urban and Regional Planning. Harmondsworth, England: Penguin,1974. Pg 56) Perry developed the ‘Neighbourhood Unit’ in order to meet the immediate needs of people, providing basic services and setting out a more protected environment from increasing automobile traffic (Hodge, G. Planning Canadian Communities. 4th ed. Scarborough: Nelson, 2003. Pg 51). Perry envisioned cities with small units, 5000 people or so about 160 acres or ¼-mile walking radius. Arterial roads and highways would bound the neighbourhood unit, allowing cars to move quickly around the residential area, while internal streets would be narrow and less car oriented. Services, particularly stores, would be at the edges and one elementary school would be towards the centre.  Walk-to parks would be placed throughout the neighbourhood to provide recreational space. (Farr, D. Sustainable Urbanism: Urban Design with Nature. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, Inc 2007. Pg 125)

For an image of Perry’s neighbourhood unit checkout the piece on neighbourhood schools:

Recently, global warming and an uncertain energy future have highlighted the environmental impact of cities. Many planners and architects are looking at older designs and concepts to reshape what was a sprawling cityscape at the end of the 20th century. One planning firm that has taken up Perry’s neighbourhood unit in particular are Duany Plater Zyberk (DPZ) from the United States. The DPZ team has made various changes to Perry’s basic concept, to refocus on strong centres to neighbourhoods, providing green corridors working with the environment and emphasizing public transit (Farr, D. Sustainable Urbanism: Urban Design with Nature. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, Inc 2007. Pg 125). To read Farr’s book check with the Regina Public Library.

DPZ Perry design

Above is an image of the DPZ neighbourhood plan which is part of Douglas Farr’s “Sustainable Urbanism Key Slides” power point presentation available at his website:

Below is a youtube video of a lecture DPZ partner Andres Duany gave in San Antonio:

Clarence Perry

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