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UNIVERSITY OF THE PUNJAB

Historical Background
of
Urban Spaces
Assignment 4




Written by: Maryam Liaquat
Roll # 37
Date: 11/21/2013




Table of Contents






1.1 - Introduction.....3
2.1- Historical Background.............3
2.2- Pre Romanesque Era...3
2.3 - The Roman Era...3
2.4- Post Roman Era..4
1.1- Introduction
Over many years, many civilizations have grown and met their downfall. In the duration
of their birth to their demise, the urban context has varied. A careful glance in their history
clarifies the circumstances in which the urbanization either flourished or perished.
2.1- Historical Background
In the olden days, the urban squares were utilized as a space for communal gatherings to
ponder over their liberal issues ranging over various subjects.
In 2000 BCE, squares were separated physically according to their functions and
bifurcation of urban spaces was induced. The basic squares found in these civilizations were the
Temple and the Market squares. The Temple squares were bounded off from the city by
constructing walls, whereas, the market place had no rigid confinements and acted as a municipal
space for the local traders.
2.2- Pre Romanesque Era
During the regime of Alexander the Great, Hellenistic culture materialized. A great
emphasis to fuse urban designing and architecture with Hellenistic style was put forward. One of
the examples showcasing this kind of architecture was Alexandria, famous for its library, which
was destroyed and was later redesigned by Hassan Fatih.
Alexanders rule lasted for five centuries in which he introduced grand structures
depicting dominance.
2.3 The Roman Era
Rome was declared as a republic in 509 BCE. They were the inventors of the most
commonly used in construction: concrete and arch. Romans, further, pioneered three concepts
which were:
- First was a concept of a fully enclosed outdoor.
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This came into practice at around 200BCE.
- Second was the concept to make the streets interesting and special. Hence, the streets were
widened and sidewalks were added between the colonnades and the walls of the shops. At
both ends, commonly Triumphal Arches were added.
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Colossal Rome 70-82 AD is an example showing the Agoras and stoas in the buildings.
- Third concept was to cultivate and refine a common Recreational Open Space. Due to a
victorious conquest in capturing the Mediterranean world, the Romans had the luxury to
construct and use Amphitheatres, hot and cold baths, Gladiator Coliseums etc.
By 365 CE, the Roman Republic was segregated into two parts; Byzantine (East of Rome) and
Roman Catholic (West of Rome). In the East of Rome, followed the Greek Orthodox Church which
followed the Greek Cross Plan, meanwhile, the West of Rome followed the Latin Cross Plan.
Roman Empire met its demise in 475CE.
Rise of Christianity after 5
th
Century AD. The dominances of the churches and the religion led to
the downfall of the communal spaces which included amphitheatres and coliseum. Furthermore, a
Bubonic plague also known as the Black Death further extinguished the tradition of social
gatherings. The hot and cold Baths survived till the 14
th
Century. Mediterranean towns retained
some features, such as urban open space at the crossing of two main roads.
2.4- Post Roman Era
Renaissance came in after Roman regime which regularized plazas. Whereas, in the Baroque
period, dramatization was induced in the urban elements.
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Sixtus V (1585) introduced a concept to make
the disorder of the city into a carefully organized one. The new urban spaces corresponded to the new
theories and practices of conscious and extensive planning.
Ideas of the Baroques Era were brought to the New world as a part of the intellectual baggage of
the colonists. During the Industrial Revolution, the human emotions were set aside and the rising
population led to the termination of urban spaces. This continued till 1850s in the Big Apple in which
parks were designed. The New York City was provided with the Lungs of the City which was
designed Fedrick Law Olmsted (1822-1903) which now act as a cultural hub for the city and a modern
urban space.
Long after our cities are condemned and deserted, our city parks will stand as a
testament of the serenity of our weekend to distant trespassers Benson Bruno.

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Palmyra, Syria is an important Roman colony showcasing this form. Another prime example is the Great Street
of Columns in Jerash, Jordan
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Saint Marks Square 830 AD is an efficient example.