Is This the Best Planned City in the World?

  • 26 Jul 2013
  • by
  • Architecture News
Machu Picchu. Image © Dan Merino via Flickr

This discussion on Quora, entitled “which is the most well planned city in the world?” certainly got us thinking; not only because of the interesting and diverse answers to the question, but also because of the different reasons which were used to support these answers.

Currently the most popular answer seems to be Zurich, on account of its excellent (and obsessively punctual) public transport, organized waste disposal and numerous public drinking fountains. Other cities which are commended for their public transport and cleanliness are Singapore and Seoul. But other contributors seem to have a very different idea of what makes a well-planned city – read on to find out more.

Amsterdam. Image © cermivelli via Flickr

Amsterdam is cited for its ability to maintain 17th century charm without feeling old-fashioned, integrating new and old into its well-planned canal system. On the other hand, cities such as Brasilia, Chandigarh and Canberra are commended as 20th Century, logically planned cities that still adhere to the original vision. Along similar lines, Chicago and Salt Lake City are offered as examples of cities where the gridded road systems adhere to a relentless logic.

Yet more contributors think that the golden age of city planning is long gone, claiming Machu Picchu is the best planned city in the world. Indeed it’s hard to argue with the logic – a terraced, perfectly irrigated city built (without the the wheel) on the peak of a mountain is surely an amazing achievement.

Singapore. Image © Timothy Hursley via Flickr

There’s also a nod to Auroville, an experimental town in India which is not only meticulously planned spatially – as a spiral of different districts with its ‘peace zone’ in the center – it is also a planned social experiment bringing together people of different nationalities who share the same worldview.

Finally, even Minas Tirith is mentioned – though strictly this city can at most claim to be the best planned city in Middle Earth.

So what, in your opinion, makes a city well planned? Is it order, rules and regularity? A single guiding vision? Is it combining new and old in a way that enhances both? Leave your opinion in the comments below.

The Meditation Center in Auroville. Image © Aleksandr Zykov via Flickr
Cite: Stott, Rory. "Is This the Best Planned City in the World?" 26 Jul 2013. ArchDaily. Accessed 27 May 2015. <>
  • Vikas Mittal

    well according to me its the quality of life in all aspects and the approachability/reach of spaces from a place like a hospital/school/market/entertainment zones/parks etc should be the most basic criterias of a planned city…. these all can also change according to the variation from place to place…. if a city can provide these things without any confusion…… it is a well planned city…….

  • Willem Els

    The best city is where people want to be and are happy being there

    • Nick

      so Boca Raton?…that would be a fail…

  • Martin Lucas

    Best cities are NOT planned, but carefully grown, adapted, respectfully to their past, and to the needs of most the inhabitants, not just for a minority.
    Further, you can’t think a city without its surroundings, especially the area needed to feed, equip, bring water, etc, to the people who live there. In fact, good cities are well organized territories, far bigger than what we usually call cities.

  • Eloisa Carvalho de Araujo

    Best cities are well planned. Machu Picchu for me is the best.

  • Claudia

    The best planned city is a city that offers social and environmental equity for its inhabitants. A city that grows sustainably and in a responsible manner for its citizens. A city that conserves it’s natural resources and doesn’t infringe on non-human habitats. I agree Machu Pichu was perhaps the one that came closest to being the best planned city of its scale. I attribute it to a culture that values land as a life source, rather than an economic resource. It’s important to note that planning entails time. A fast-tracked development city will not succeed in the long term.

  • suraj

    Best planned city in the world in undoubtedly Patna in Bihar, India