Developing German-styled "Innenstädte"

Posted by tule00 on 3 May 2021 in English (English).

Hey everyone,

I’ve been drawing German-styled cities for years now, and many of them look decent, but none of them have that characteristic inner city well mapped. I know roughly how those develop historically, but there isn’t any guide on how to map those developments.

I’ve been told that I should start from the main square and then develop “blocks” – spaces in between streets. Then, the streets should follow the borders of the blocks. This advice seems good, but it’d be nice if there were a more detailed guide on how to do that – for example, I have no idea how to develop blocks.

If someone experienced enough could explain this whole process, we could use this entry on the wiki in the help/resources section.

Thanks in advance.

Comment from nadriko on 4 May 2021 at 13:19

Hi tule00,

here you will find 485 city maps from Germany (from the years 1900 - 1945).

And here 250 city maps from Germany (from the years 1903 - 1945).

Perhaps it is best to read a brief treatise on the history of a city while looking at the map.

Comment from Leowezy on 5 May 2021 at 14:36

I find this very challenging as well, old towns in general. It is the very nature of such settlements that they often developed without conscious planning; as soon as I get to “newer” sections of towns I can start emulating the planning philosophy of the respective time and region. I don’t have any advise other than looking at real-world examples and trying to figure out patterns that you can then recreate. Just came here to say that I think organically grown old towns are, IMO, one of the most difficult mapping tasks out there.

Comment from Lithium-Ion on 6 May 2021 at 14:56

Yeah, old towns are hard to get right, Cretra’s has been through probably four different iterations by now, for example, and only now am I finally getting something that I’m somewhat satisfied with in terms of road layout. I’m going to second Leowezy and say that trying to figure out patterns from real-world examples is useful, but practice is really what’s needed. You can also try to think of it from a historical perspective - how would the old town have expanded over time? I don’t really have much else to offer, I’m afraid.

Comment from stjur on 9 May 2021 at 11:41

I think a good advise for you is to start from streets and remember that the more important streets are always connections between two places, mostly markets or important buildings - or settlements, looking from further above. Other smaller streets are just for access purposes and can be drawn, in a simplyfied way, as rectangular grids, distorted and adjusted to the more important streets. You also need a clear “city concept”, how/why they have formed (from important bridges, streets, intersections between trading routes, castles, monasteries, ports etc.) - the development should start from that element and will come together by itself. I remember I went further into detail about city concepts with rw examples 3 years ago when you’ve asked in the forums.

Comment from Vay on 16 May 2021 at 00:09

I agree with all of the comments and I would add, if you want to go into more detail, to take a look at what Camillo Sitte did. He was an Austrian architect from the 19th century and he led a vast analysis of european urban shapes before the industrial revolution. if going through some reading is ok for you, I would advise you to look for articles about “The Art of Building Cities”. However, what Sitte says remains only one point of view and aspect of the question. I agree that designing a good historic inner city is really hard, and I myself am not really proud of any of the old towns i’ve done so far. (“Town Planning in Practice” by Raymond Unwin is really interesting too tho).

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