The Hippodamian system

Hippodamus of Miletus, architect-urban planner, designed the port of Piraeus on behalf of Pericles in the middle of the 5th century BC (460 BC) according to the Hippodamian system.

The street planning of the city was based on an orthonormal grid of streets, intersecting vertically, so as to create building blocks of the same size and regular public squares. The building blocks were precisely laid out and divided into plots of equal area. Each building block contained eight houses, which displayed identical characteristics. The road network was dense and three wide avenues stood out, while two large public squares defined its center. The locations of administrative buildings, temples and residences were precisely defined. To ensure the proper operation of the cities, Hippodamus planned their water supply, made sure they were supplied with plenty of water and oriented them so that the houses had sunlight in the winter and shade in the summer. He provided for slopes in the streets for rainwater removal. He placed the temples and public buildings in conspicuous and fortified positions, so as to serve their functionality and ensure their defense.

The “Urban Planning Study of Piraeus” (451 BC) was a model for all the cities of the classical era (examples can be found e.g. in Priene-Ionia, Asia Minor, Olynthos, Messina etc.). “Quarters” were built, small groups of houses on plots of 240 sq.m. for each residence. The houses were placed in a row with partition walls and were oriented towards the south. Each house was a two-story detached house with a living room, kitchen, guest room and yard. The city contained advanced, for the time, water reservoirs with rainwater collection wells as well as drainage systems. The road network, the connection between ports, gates and the markets in the center prove the functionality of this design.