The Three Modern Estates

One of the verities of the New Urbanism is that we have prominent civic buildings and background private buildings. What about government, though?

An age-old idea of different “estates” or interest-groups making up society is still relevant. Today, we have the Private, the Cultural, and the Governmental—although the latter is nearly invisible on the ground. 


One of the most important contributions that Leon Krier made to urbanism has been to differentiate the idea of the public and economic spheres in urbanism.

The Res Publica is for public affairs, the Res Economica is for private, especially commercial affairs, and Res Civitas is for civic affairs, or more accurately, citizens’ affairs. The sum of the Res Publica and the Res Economica is the domain of citizenship.

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Vernacular, Classical, and Other

According to numerous sources there is a basic life-giving “geometry.” Michael Mehaffy and Nikos Salingaros—following Christopher Alexander—have demonstrated that the brain craves them. Although they would never put it so baldly, they divide the realm of design into the life-giving and the rest: primarily minimalism and avant-garde. If we accept this mental map, how can we map the “living” side—at least within architecture and urbanism?

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