Designing Today’s Cities: The Evolution of Urban Landscapes

Preserving Scenic Beauty: 5 Transformative Visual Impact Mitigation Strategies
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What if you could stroll through a city that once felt like a concrete jungle, only to find it teeming with vibrant green spaces, bustling markets, and people leisurely walking or biking along tree-lined streets? This type of transformation isn’t a distant dream; it’s the near future.

Cities around the world are now ingeniously repurposing their spaces to create more sustainable, vibrant, and livable communities.

Stockholm Old Town Alamy

Photo by Catalina Johnson on Unsplash



Photo by Tobias on Unsplash

Urban Planning: A Bridge between Form and Function

Urban planning, often called city planning, shapes the development of cities and towns through strategies that enhance the growth and well-being of urban landscapes.

Key players in this industry are planners and architects. Urban planners guide the destiny of spaces, deciding how they’ll be used and considering the impact of development. Architects inject buildings and landscapes with character by focusing on the design aesthetics, and ensuring functionality, safety, and code compliance.1

The Dawn of Urban Aesthetics

Historically, urban planning emerged as a response to the crowded and unhygienic conditions of the late 19th century. Diseases such as cholera, typhoid, and influenza ravaged overcrowded cities, prompting planners to advocate for separating industries from residential areas through zoning ordinances.2

Not-so-fun fact: When the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the world in 2020, rats spread from living in and near restaurants to invading nearby homes for food.3

Drawing from the European Vision

Aerial view of city building

Photo by Lucas Gallone on Unsplash

The pursuit of urban beauty dates back to when cities were centers of imperial grandeur and architectural marvels. In Europe, the grand plazas, majestic cathedrals, and palaces symbolized the importance of appearance in shaping perceptions and asserting authority.4

This concept transitioned to public spaces and parks as the early-20th century Progressive Era introduced the idea of recreation and relaxation as essential elements of urban planning.4

The seeds of urban beauty took root in the United States through the City Beautiful movement, which found its pinnacle in the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 in Chicago.4

Championed by American architect Daniel Burnham, this movement established a template characterized by grand malls, majestic civic buildings, and Greco-Roman architecture. This template, intended to contrast with the disarray of the surroundings, inspired the transformation of civic centers and boulevards across the country.4

Green-leafted palm trees during daytime

Photo by Guneet Jassal on Unsplash


Fun fact: Orlando’s nickname is “The City Beautiful.” It was named after the City Beautiful Movement because Orlando was heavily influenced by urban planning focused on including parks, tree-lined streets, and favorable conditions for pedestrians.5

Parks: A Worldwide Phenomenon

One iconic example of the growing importance of parks is New York’s Central Park.

Central Park showcased the separation of pedestrian and vehicular traffic, embraced natural landscapes, and highlighted the potential of parks to enhance property values in their vicinity. The park’s impact reverberated worldwide, influencing the way cities approached the interplay of aesthetics and function.4

New York Central Park

Photo by Jermaine Ee on Unsplash

The Urban Architectural Renaissance

In the present day, the fusion of form and function drives urban beautification strategies. Cities are reimagining spaces as holistic environments that cater to both aesthetics and practicality.

Parks are not only places of leisure but also urban oases designed for relaxation and social interaction. Mixed-use communities combine residential and commercial elements, minimizing reliance on automobiles and promoting walkability.

Woman working on her laptop

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels

The Emergence of Mixed-Use Communities 

Have you ever seen advertisements for communities where you can “Work, Live, Play”? That’s a result of the focus on mixed-use communities, which integrate housing, shops, and public transport within neighborhoods.

Projects, such as Civano in Tucson, Arizona, and Loreto Bay in Baja California Sur, Mexico, exemplify the potential of blending urban functions for enhanced quality of life.2

This approach reduces the reliance on cars and fosters a more walkable lifestyle.


Three bikers on a foggy road near a cliff

Photo by Tessa Rampersad on Unsplash

Pioneering Sustainable Transportation

Cities worldwide are reducing car dependency and encouraging more sustainable modes of transportation.

From Vienna and Munich to Copenhagen, streets are being reclaimed from car traffic. Barcelona, Paris, and Chicago are dedicating more roadways to bicycles, while London and Stockholm are even implementing fees for city driving, fueling the shift toward walking,
cycling, and public transit use.2


Neckar river in Germany

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

Redefining Urban Agriculture

Another trend in city planning is the rise of urban agriculture and community gardens. For example, in Flint, Michigan, and Chicago, vacant land is being repurposed to grow local produce.2

In Philadelphia’s Haddington neighborhood, the Urban Tree Connection has transformed derelict land into the Neighborhood Food Central Production Farm, cultivating various crops.2

As urban space becomes scarcer, innovative solutions like vertical farming have also emerged. This practice involves cultivating food within high-rise buildings. Vertical farming not only maximizes land use but also offers sustainable alternatives to traditional agriculture.2 

These initiatives not only contribute to local food security but also promote a connection between residents and their environment.

Rewilding: A Biodiversity Revolution

Today’s urban landscape is also shifting to address the global biodiversity crisis. Animal populations have declined by nearly 70 percent on average in the last 50 years, so cities are stepping into the forefront of the rewilding movement, embracing ecological sustainability into urban architecture and planning.6

This ecological strategy, championed by researchers since the late 1990s, is finding its place in the urban landscape. Rewilding introduces a paradigm shift in urban architecture and planning, where accommodating urban biodiversity becomes a cornerstone of design.6

Bioarchitecture, for instance, integrates wildlife-friendly features into urban designs, catering to creatures such as bats, opossums, and birds. Meanwhile, biophilic planning emerges as a movement that not only supports biodiversity but also enhances ecological connectivity for both humans and animals. This twofold approach doesn’t just increase biodiversity; it also addresses issues such as urban heat and climate resilience.6

One of the critical aspects of rewilding is the revival of large mammal populations. Yet, this undertaking faces complex challenges, as the decline of these creatures is often met with misconceptions of danger and destruction. Urban areas are now embracing a responsibility to infuse wildlife-friendly planning, while suburban zones recognize their role in fostering coexistence with larger mammals.6

The synergy between planners, architects, biologists, and wildlife experts is paramount in this new era of rewilding.

Two yezo sika deer

Photo by Nagara Oyodo on Unsplash

Crafting Urban Beauty for All

Urban architecture and planning are no longer confined to aesthetics and infrastructure; they now embrace a profound commitment to the preserving and restoring of biodiversity.

As urban landscapes evolve, they become powerful agents of change, igniting hope in the hearts of future generations. The fusion of architecture and planning is where cities bloom as sanctuaries of life, coexisting harmoniously with nature’s grand design.


 Signage in front of a building with Natina Steel accents

Photo by Natina

Changing the Way You See Construction®

Natina strives to be at the forefront of changing how you see construction.

With a commitment to innovation and sustainability, Natina revolutionizes urban design by blending construction projects into their natural environments. By embracing cutting-edge color technology, Natina reshapes landscapes by transforming the look of concrete, steel, and rock.

As we envision the future, urban planning, design, and functionality will continue to define the cities we inhabit, inspiring new ways to perceive and interact with our environments.

So, if you’re interested in reducing the visual impact of your next construction projectcontact us to start planning today!





1 The University of Texas at El Paso

2 National Geographic

3 National Geographic — Animals

4 Britannica

5 City of Orlando




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