Smart Growth: A Buffer Zone between Decentrist and Centrist Theory?

Smart Growth: A Buffer Zone between Decentrist and Centrist Theory?

D. Stewart L. Sirr R. Kelly 

Futures Academy, Faculty of the Built Environment, Dublin Institute of Technology, Dublin, Ireland

3 March 2006
| Citation



The context for planning at the turn of the 19th century, in a newly industrialized world, was based on the need to find solutions to overcrowding and dire urban conditions. Planning decisions made in the post-World War II period were primarily motivated by the desire to reconstruct war torn cities. The forces of influence for planning and development in modern advanced capitalist societies are arguably set within the context of sustainable development. Many developed countries have witnessed a dramatic change in their territorial structures. Urban centres are extending into rural areas and surrounding hinterland, where large tracts of land are being developed in a ‘leapfrog’ low-density pattern. Urban sprawl is the outcome of both statistical realities such as population growth and the psychological catalyst that ‘quality of life’is superior in the suburbs. This change has brought with it challenges commonly associated with unpredicted growth: traffic congestion, restricted access to education and a perceived lack of affordable housing. Smart growth, as an alternative philosophical and methodological approach towards urban planning may provide the antidote for the negative effects of urban sprawl. This paper examines the underlying theory of decentrist and centrist development and the emergence of the smart growth movement as the antonym of urban sprawl.


centrist approach, compact city, decentrist approach, network city, smart growth, urban planning, urban sprawl.


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