Urban theory since a theory of good city form (1981)–a progress review


Kevin Lynch's magnum opus A Theory of Good City Form (1981) is well known as a normative theory of the city. The intersection of human purposeful activity and city form is a principal feature. However, little attention is given in the literature to a small appendix in the book, A Theory of Good City Form (1981), in which the theories that explain the form and function of the city are classified and reviewed. The brief review insightfully reveals embedded values that are implicit in urban theory. We use a similar classification to review the progress of urban theory since Lynch's brief assessment noting the city's complexity can only be effectively explained through multiple historical and theoretical, value-laden perspectives. The values are the bridge between human purpose and city form, between substance–the city–and procedure–decision making about the city, that is between urban theory and planning (procedural) theory. Finally, the review is concluded with the implications of urban theory, informed by A Theory of Good City Form, for urban morphological design theory as well as planning (procedural) theory. © 2009 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.

Publication Title

Journal of Urbanism