The law of Indies as a foundation of urban design in the Americas

  • Roberto B. Rodriguez University of Texas at San Antonio. San Antonio, Texas Simon Bolivar University, Caracas, Venezuela
Keywords: urban design, planning history, urban morphology

Abstract

This study analyzes the establishment and functional structure of the population centres during the colonization process of the new provinces in the Americas. It is therefore a valuable attempt at recollecting and understanding information on the phenomena which marked the beginning of these settlements. When the Spanish Empire enacted a series of norms to guide the process of the founding of future populations in the discovered territories, thereby establishing the first territorial codes carried out that could be considered the first record of urban design and planning in the Americas. This paper analyses the criteria used by the Law of Indies in the settlements of frontier towns in Latin America using as a case study the city of Barcelona (Venezuela). This research relies on urban historiography of early cities in Venezuela and the morphology structure of the historic centre of Barcelona (Venezuela) from its foundation in the XVII century (circa 1671) to the turn of the XX century. Barcelona constitutes one of the clearest examples of the implementation of the regulations to direct the foundational process of the new settlements in the Americas. These regulations were based on a number of urban planning and sanitary principles that in turn, fostered order and organization over the colonization process in Hispanic America. On the other hand, the morphological principles derived from the Law of the Indies were already used in the layout of the Pre-Columbian American cities (Cuzco, Peru; Tenochtitlan, Mexico) as timeless ‘Universal’ principles in city design. These principles, conceived more than 400 years ago, are still prevalent as ordering concepts in modern urban planning. The relevance of this work lies in the fact that for the first time the city of Barcelona has gone under scholarly scrutiny of its physical structure and urban form.

Author Biography

Roberto B. Rodriguez, University of Texas at San Antonio. San Antonio, Texas Simon Bolivar University, Caracas, Venezuela
Published
2013-08-30
How to Cite
Rodriguez, R. (2013). The law of Indies as a foundation of urban design in the Americas. ARCC Conference Repository. https://doi.org/10.17831/rep:arcc%y151