1.3.1- First Wave Arch. & Urban Planning

Andrew Hsu, Gabe Stroe

Arists Rendition: Lighthouse of Alexandria
Arists Rendition: Lighthouse of Alexandria

Since the beginning of complex civilizations, rulers and architects have planned the
construction of extravagant structures and complex cities.
These projects still stand today and give insight to how ancient civilizations arranged their urban dwellings and paid tribute to their gods. Urban planning and large-scale, monumental architecture has been present in nearly all of the past civilizations studied today. Prime examples are China, Rome, and Egypt, with their buildings and constructs largely intact after centuries of being exposed to the elements and turbulent times in history.

First Wave Arch. & Urban Planning



Urban planning and monumental constructions are both a result of centralized powers, such as kings, emperors, warlords, and other political leaders. Appearing in early civilizations all over the world, they are utilized to both displays the amount of economic power that a ruler may have, and to leave a permanent mark on the world. Leaders and their architects would come up with a building plan, and then lower class laborers built it. Urban planning was and is still used to effectively spend resources and manage space. Very often, urban building and street designs were based around a central point designated by things such as a palace, temple, or plaza.

Individual Examples
China's Forbidden City

~ China ~

Urban planning has been notable in several prominent civilizations, China, Rome, and Egypt to name a few. China’s Forbidden City for instance, built during the Ming Dynasty simply as an extravagant yet functional home for the emperor and his family, utilizes the collaborative planning of three architects, combining the religious beliefs of Taoism and traditional spatial designs into the structure, examples being that all buildings are built in a southerly facing along straight axis running from north to south, and multiple temples are located in positions corresponding to philosophy relating the cardinal directions and the seasons.

Roman aqueducts were used to transport water for miles into a city.

~ Rome ~

In Rome, extensive aqueduct systems provided water throughout their empire. Incredible amounts of planning were required in order to ensure uninterrupted water flow across miles of channels cut into stone archways. The water in those channels would then be directed into public baths, fountains, and private villas, the extra would be used to clear out the citywide sewer system which washed out the waste to the Tiber River. At the height of Rome’s power, the system was able to supply its population of one million with more than enough water, about one cubic meter for every person. Rome also had a large number of roads spanning most of the empire. These roads were built in a fashion that they were higher in the middle than at the edges to allow water to run off. While traveling by land was dangerous, these roads made it quicker than without.

The Sphinx and Khufu's Great Pyramid

~ Egypt ~

A peasants home in egypt

Egypt is best known for several constructs, the great pyramids, and the Sphinx. Both were created as a testament to the power the Pharaohs were able utilize and the impressive amount of resources they could muster. Pyramids were the tombs of Egypt’s ruling class, and often took decades for skilled craftsmen to complete by hand. As time passed the size of the pyramids began to gradually increase in proportion to the ego of the period’s ruler. The Sphinx’s age currently has no definite number that experts agree on, and its purpose is still unknown, however it has been deemed of large importance because of the number of restorations that have been attempted on it by the ancient Egyptians, evident through the presence of different concerning the Sphinx's role in Tuthmosis’ rise to power.types of stone. It has been postulated that it had religious influence because of the unfinished temple located in front of it and because of ancient stone tablets outlining the story

Final Analysis

Urban planning allowed for better travel with roads causing better trade for the economy, and with roman aqueducts water was now easily available in the city. Roads help militaries move faster in both Europe and Asia therefore bolstering defences and walls helped prevent enemy forces from infringing on a ruler's territory. Furthermore, buildings allowed a separation of classes through building size, location, and architectural style. People at a high social standing usually had a more elaborate estate. Monuments were often constructed as a display of superiority and many monuments were tributes to gods giving ancient peoples a motive for spending the effort, money, and materials to complete their projects. These constructs would often require huge amounts of labor usually provided by slaves or lower class workers, and take up colossal amounts of resources, sometimes to the point of straining the economy. Despite the potential for new innovations, construction projects would usually only utilize already existing or new technologies, and would rarely lead to new developments.


Ancient Egypt Online. http://www.ancientegyptonline.co.uk/monuments.html
Roman Aqueducts. http://www.unrv.com/culture/roman-aqueducts.php
Roman Sewers. http://www.schoolhistory.co.uk/year7links/romans/sewers.pdf
Roman Roads. http://library.thinkquest.org/13406/rr/
Forbidden City History. http://www.kinabaloo.com/fcb.html
Form and Meaning in the Earliest Cities: A New Approach to Ancient Urban Planning. Smith, Michael (2007). http://www.public.asu.edu/~mesmith9/1-CompleteSet/MES-07-FormMeaning.pdf

The Lighthouse of Alexandria. http://www.socialstudiesforkids.com/graphics/pharos_closeup_large.jpg
Forbidden City http://www.chinatourstravel.com/china-tourist-attractions/Beijing-touristsspots/forbidden-city.html
Roman Aqueducts http://www.art.com/products/p13228939-sa-i2347685/jim-zuckerman-the-pont-du-gard-roman-aquaduct-over-the-gard-river-avignon-france.htm
Sphinx and Great Pyramid http://www.davidpbillington.net/sphinx2.html
Peasants Home http://mademoisellemarie.typepad.com/blog/2011/06/adventures-in-egypt-part-ii.html
Pharaohs Citadel ww.trafalgar.com/egyptian-experience-2011?tab=4