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Crossing the roads: urban diagonals in New Zealand and the nineteenth century Anglo-colonial world

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Diagonal street orientations in urban Europe were cut through the crust of the ancient city by popes, monarchs and governments to create a network of voided lines and points which injected the city with new levels of functionality and legibility for a particular regime. In the Anglo-Colonial New World, the grid was the dominant plan form with diagonals emerging only occasionally, as gestures of projected urban grandeur, geometric whimsy or vigorous boosterism. Despite inauspicious beginnings in Auckland in 1841, diagonal planning became a feature of a number of New Zealand's cities and towns. The research methodology privileges the autonomy of visual language as a critical component of the economy of knowledge1 and focuses on primary archival graphic material from the Alexander Turnbull Library, and the National Archives in Wellington. The paper surveys the development of diagonal plans across settlements in late nineteenth century New Zealand and, with reference to examples in the USA, identifies the typologies of, and motivations behind, diagonal planning in this context.
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Keywords: British colonial town planning; diagonal street morphology; urban design

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Faculty of Architecture and Design, School of Architecture,Victoria University of Wellington, PO Box 600Wellington6140, New Zealand

Publication date: 2011-07-01

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