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Urban design


Urban design is the process of designing and shaping cities, towns and villages. In contrast to architecture, which focuses on the design of individual buildings, urban design deals with the larger scale of groups of buildings, streets and public spaces, whole neighborhoods and districts, and entire cities, with the goal of making urban areas functional, attractive, and sustainable.

Urban design is an inter-disciplinary subject that utilizes elements of many built environment professions, including landscape architecture, urban planning, architecture, civil and municipal engineering. It is common for professionals in all these disciplines to practice in urban design. In more recent times different sub-strands of urban design have emerged such as strategic urban design, landscape urbanism, water-sensitive urban design, and sustainable urbanism.

Urban design demands an understanding of a wide range of subjects from physical geography, through to social science, and an appreciation for disciplines, such as real estate development, urban economics, political economy and social theory.

Urban design is about making connections between people and places, movement and urban form, nature and the built fabric. Urban design draws together the many strands of place-making, environmental stewardship, social equity and economic viability into the creation of places with distinct beauty and identity. Urban design draws these and other strands together creating a vision for an area and then deploying the resources and skills needed to bring the vision to life.

Urban design theory deals primarily with the design and management of public space (i.e. the 'public environment', 'public realm' or 'public domain'), and the way public places are experienced and used. Public space includes the totality of spaces used freely on a day-to-day basis by the general public, such as streets, plazas, parks and public infrastructure. Some aspects of privately owned spaces, such as building facades or domestic gardens, also contribute to public space and are therefore also considered by urban design theory. Important writers on urban design theory include Christopher Alexander, Peter Calthorpe, Gordon Cullen, Andres Duany, Jane Jacobs, Mitchell Joachim, Jan Gehl, Allan B. Jacobs, Kevin Lynch, Aldo Rossi, Colin Rowe, Robert Venturi, William H. Whyte, Camillo Sitte, Bill Hillier (Space syntax) and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk.



  • Pedestrian zones
  • Incorporation of nature within a city
  • Aesthetics
  • Urban structure – How a place is put together and how its parts relate to each other
  • Urban typology, density and sustainability - spatial types and morphologies related to intensity of use, consumption of resources and production and maintenance of viable communities
  • Accessibility – Providing for ease, safety and choice when moving to and through places
  • Legibility and wayfinding – Helping people to find their way around and understand how a place works
  • Animation – Designing places to stimulate public activity
  • Function and fit – Shaping places to support their varied intended uses
  • Complementary mixed uses – Locating activities to allow constructive interaction between them
  • Character and meaning – Recognizing and valuing the differences between one place and another
  • Order and incident – Balancing consistency and variety in the urban environment in the interests of appreciating both
  • Continuity and change – Locating people in time and place, including respect for heritage and support for contemporary culture
  • Civil society – Making places where people are free to encounter each other as civic equals, an important component in building social capital
  • Barnett, Jonathan, An Introduction to Urban Design, Harper & Row, New York 1982,
  • Carmona, Matthew, and Tiesdell, Steve, editors, Urban Design Reader, Architectural Press of Elsevier Press, Amsterdam Boston other cities 2007,
  • Foroughmand Araabi, Hooman. "A typology of Urban Design theories and its application to the shared body of knowledge" Urban Design International 21.1 (2016): 11-24.
  • Hardinghaus, Matthias, 'Learning Outcomes and Assessment Criteria in Urban Design: A Problematisation of Spatial Thinking', Cebe Transaction, The Online Journal of the Centre for Education in the Built Environment, 2006, 3(2), 9-22
  • Larice, Michael, and MacDonald, Elizabeth, editors, The Urban Design Reader, Routledge, New York London 2007,
  • Hillier B. and Hanson J. "The Social Logic of Space". Cambridge University Press, 1984. .
  • David Gosling, Barry Maitland, Concepts of urban design, University of Minnesota 1984, .
  • Aseem Inam, Designing Urban Transformation, New York and London: Routledge, 2013 ().
  • Van Assche, K., Beunen, R., Duineveld, M., & de Jong, H. "Co-evolutions of planning and design: Risks and benefits of design perspectives in planning systems". 2013 Planning Theory, 12(2), 177-198.
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Wikipedia

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