Starting a city from scratch takes a well thought out, collaborative effort, including areas such as transportation, politics, culture, and, of course, architecture. And, although they could create an idyllic city on paper, only time would tell...

Cities define modern life. They make more money than other places, demand more of the people who live in them, and provide more for them too. Except for the people who aren’t making money; and if you are the kind who does make money, you probably know little about them. Several million humans penned together in an unfeasibly small space, and compelled to make life work. “There is no logic that can be superimposed on the city,” Jane Jacobs, the urban activist, once said. “People make it, and it is to them, not buildings, that we must fit our plans.”

Her words are pertinent given the government’s intention to build up to 14 garden villages, plus larger garden towns across England, each created as “a new discrete settlement”. Here at last is a theoretical blank page that gives communities the chance to think about what a city or town should look like.

Cities developed in the UK as a result of the industrial revolution, and some things have changed surprisingly little. A traffic jam, that modern peril, could wreak havoc for hours in 1749. Nearly three centuries on, streets are still cleaned mostly by a human with a broom and there are still more people than places for them to live. But now stop the clock. Design a city from scratch.

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