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Urban design

Urban design

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Urban design concerns the arrangement, appearance and functionality of towns and cities, and in particular the shaping and uses of urban public space
Public space
A public space is a social space such as a town square that is open and accessible to all, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, age or socio-economic level. One of the earliest examples of public spaces are commons. For example, no fees or paid tickets are required for entry, nor are the entrants...

. It has traditionally been regarded as a disciplinary subset of urban planning
Urban planning
Urban planning incorporates areas such as economics, design, ecology, sociology, geography, law, political science, and statistics to guide and ensure the orderly development of settlements and communities....

, landscape architecture
Landscape architecture
Landscape architecture is the design of outdoor and public spaces to achieve environmental, socio-behavioral, or aesthetic outcomes. It involves the systematic investigation of existing social, ecological, and geological conditions and processes in the landscape, and the design of interventions...

, or architecture
Architecture
Architecture is both the process and product of planning, designing and construction. Architectural works, in the material form of buildings, are often perceived as cultural and political symbols and as works of art...

 and in more recent times has been linked to emergent disciplines such as landscape urbanism
Landscape urbanism
Landscape Urbanism is a theory of urbanism arguing that landscape, rather than architecture, is more capable of organizing the city and enhancing the urban experience. Landscape Urbanism has emerged as a theory in the last fifteen years...

. However, with its increasing prominence in the activities of these disciplines, it is better conceptualised as a design practice that operates at the intersection of all three, and requires a good understanding of a range of others besides, such as real estate development
Real estate development
Real estate development, or Property Development, is a multifaceted business, encompassing activities that range from the renovation and re-lease of existing buildings to the purchase of raw land and the sale of improved land or parcels to others...

, urban economics
Economics
Economics is the social science that analyzes the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services. The term economics comes from the Ancient Greek from + , hence "rules of the house"...

, political economy
Political economy
Political economy originally was the term for studying production, buying, and selling, and their relations with law, custom, and government, as well as with the distribution of national income and wealth, including through the budget process. Political economy originated in moral philosophy...

 and social theory
Social theory
Social theories are theoretical frameworks which are used to study and interpret social phenomena within a particular school of thought. An essential tool used by social scientists, theories relate to historical debates over the most valid and reliable methodologies , as well as the primacy of...

.

Urban design is the art of creating and shaping cities and towns. Urban design involves the arrangement and design of buildings, public spaces, transport systems, services, and amenities. Urban design is the process of giving form, shape, and character to groups of buildings, to whole neighborhoods, and the city.  It is a framework that orders the elements into a network of streets, squares, and blocks. Urban design blends architecture, landscape architecture, and city planning together to make urban areas functional and attractive.

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 is derived from but transcends planning and transportation policy, architectural design, development economics, engineering and landscape. It 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
Public space
A public space is a social space such as a town square that is open and accessible to all, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, age or socio-economic level. One of the earliest examples of public spaces are commons. For example, no fees or paid tickets are required for entry, nor are the entrants...

 (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, and advocates for, urban design theory include Christopher Alexander
Christopher Alexander
Christopher Wolfgang Alexander is a registered architect noted for his theories about design, and for more than 200 building projects in California, Japan, Mexico and around the world...

, Michael E. Arth
Michael E. Arth
Michael E. Arth is an American artist, home/landscape/urban designer, public policy analyst, advocate for the homeless, futurist, and author. He was a candidate for the governor of Florida in 2009 and 2010.-Art:Michael E...

, Edmund Bacon, Ian Bentley,Peter Calthorpe
Peter Calthorpe
Peter Calthorpe is a San Francisco-based architect, urban designer and urban planner. He is a founding member of the Congress for New Urbanism, a Chicago-based advocacy group formed in 1992 that promotes sustainable building practices.-Biography:...

, Gordon Cullen
Gordon Cullen
Thomas Gordon Cullen was an influential English architect and urban designer who was a key motivator in the Townscape movement. He is best known for the book The Concise Townscape, first published in 1961.-Biography:Cullen was born in Calverley, Pudsey, near Leeds...

, Andres Duany
Andrés Duany
Andrés Duany is an American architect and urban planner.Duany was born in New York City but grew up in Cuba until 1960. He attended The Choate School and received his undergraduate degree in architecture and urban planning from Princeton University...

, Jane Jacobs
The Death and Life of Great American Cities
The Death and Life of Great American Cities, by Jane Jacobs, is a greatly influential book on the subject of urban planning in the 20th century...

, Jan Gehl
Jan Gehl
Jan Gehl is a Danish architect and urban design consultant based in Copenhagen and whose career has focused on improving the quality of urban life by re-orienting city design towards the pedestrian and cyclist.-Biography:...

, Allan B. Jacobs
Allan Jacobs
Allan B. Jacobs is an urban designer, renowned for his publications and research on urban design. His well-known paper "Towards an Urban Design Manifesto", written with Donald Appleyard, describes how cities should be laid out....

, Mitchell Joachim
Mitchell Joachim
Mitchell Joachim is acknowledged as an innovator in ecological design, architecture, and urban design. He is also a researcher, and architectural educator...

, Kevin Lynch
Kevin A. Lynch
Kevin Andrew Lynch was an American urban planner and author.Lynch studied at Yale University, Taliesin under Frank Lloyd Wright, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and received a Bachelor's degree in city planning from MIT in 1947...

, Roger Montgomery
Roger Montgomery
Roger Montgomery was a city planner, urban designer, architect, and educator.-Biography:He was born in New York City to parents Graham Livingston Montgomery and Anne Cook and lived in Greenwich Village until 1930, when he moved to Port Washington, Long Island. Roger's father died suddenly from a...

, Aldo Rossi
Aldo Rossi
Aldo Rossi was an Italian architect and designer who accomplished the unusual feat of achieving international recognition in four distinct areas: theory, drawing, architecture and product design.-Early life:...

, Colin Rowe
Colin Rowe
Colin Rowe , was a British-born, American-naturalised architectural historian, critic, theoretician, and teacher; acknowledged as a major intellectual influence on world architecture and urbanism in the second half of the twentieth century and beyond, particularly in the fields of city planning,...

, Robert Venturi
Robert Venturi
Robert Charles Venturi, Jr. is an American architect, founding principal of the firm Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates, and one of the major figures in the architecture of the twentieth century...

, William H. Whyte
William H. Whyte
William Hollingsworth "Holly" Whyte was an American urbanist, organizational analyst, journalist and people-watcher.Whyte was born in West Chester, Pennsylvania in 1917 and died in New York City in 1999. An early graduate of St. Andrew's School in Middletown, Delaware, he graduated from Princeton...

, Bill Hillier, and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk
Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk
Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk is an American architect and urban planner of Polish aristocratic roots based in Miami, Florida...

.

While the two fields are closely related, 'urban design' differs from 'urban planning' in its focus on physical improvement of the public environment, whereas the latter tends, in practice, to focus on the management of private development through established planning methods and programs, and other statutory development controls.

Principles




Public spaces are frequently subject to overlapping management responsibilities of multiple public agencies or authorities and the interests of nearby property owners, as well as the requirements of multiple and sometimes competing users. The design, construction and management of public spaces therefore typically demands consultation and negotiation across a variety of spheres. Urban designers rarely have the degree of artistic liberty or control sometimes offered in design professions such as architecture. It also typically requires interdisciplinary input with balanced representation of multiple fields including engineering
Engineering
Engineering is the discipline, art, skill and profession of acquiring and applying scientific, mathematical, economic, social, and practical knowledge, in order to design and build structures, machines, devices, systems, materials and processes that safely realize improvements to the lives of...

, ecology
Ecology
Ecology is the scientific study of the relations that living organisms have with respect to each other and their natural environment. Variables of interest to ecologists include the composition, distribution, amount , number, and changing states of organisms within and among ecosystems...

, local history
Local history
Local history is the study of history in a geographically local context and it often concentrates on the local community. It incorporates cultural and social aspects of history...

, and transport planning.

The scale and degree of detail considered varies depending on context and needs. It ranges from the layout of entire cities, as with l'Enfant's
Pierre Charles L'Enfant
Pierre Charles L'Enfant was a French-born American architect and civil engineer best known for designing the layout of the streets of Washington, D.C..-Early life:...

 plan for Washington DC, Griffin and Mahony's
Walter Burley Griffin
Walter Burley Griffin was an American architect and landscape architect, who is best known for his role in designing Canberra, Australia's capital city...

 plan for Canberra
Canberra
Canberra is the capital city of Australia. With a population of over 345,000, it is Australia's largest inland city and the eighth-largest city overall. The city is located at the northern end of the Australian Capital Territory , south-west of Sydney, and north-east of Melbourne...

 and Doxiadis'
Konstantinos Apostolos Doxiadis
Constantinos Apostolou Doxiadis , was a Greek architect and town planner. He became world wide known as the lead architect of Islamabad, the new capital of Pakistan, and later as the father of Ekistics...

 plan for Islamabad (although such opportunities are obviously rare), through 'managing the sense of a region' as described by Kevin Lynch
Kevin A. Lynch
Kevin Andrew Lynch was an American urban planner and author.Lynch studied at Yale University, Taliesin under Frank Lloyd Wright, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and received a Bachelor's degree in city planning from MIT in 1947...

, to the design of street furniture
Street furniture
Street furniture is a collective term for objects and pieces of equipment installed on streets and roads for various purposes, including traffic barriers,...

.

Urban design may encompass the preparation of design guidelines and regulatory frameworks, or even legislation to control development, advertising, etc. and in this sense overlaps with urban planning
Urban planning
Urban planning incorporates areas such as economics, design, ecology, sociology, geography, law, political science, and statistics to guide and ensure the orderly development of settlements and communities....

. It may encompass the design of particular spaces and structures and in this sense overlaps with architecture
Architecture
Architecture is both the process and product of planning, designing and construction. Architectural works, in the material form of buildings, are often perceived as cultural and political symbols and as works of art...

, landscape architecture
Landscape architecture
Landscape architecture is the design of outdoor and public spaces to achieve environmental, socio-behavioral, or aesthetic outcomes. It involves the systematic investigation of existing social, ecological, and geological conditions and processes in the landscape, and the design of interventions...

, highway engineering
Highway engineering
Highway engineering is an engineering discipline branching from civil engineering which involves the design, construction and maintenance of Highway Systems. Highway Engineering become prominent towards the latter half of the 20th Century after World War 2. Standards of highway engineering are...

 and industrial design
Industrial design
Industrial design is the use of a combination of applied art and applied science to improve the aesthetics, ergonomics, and usability of a product, but it may also be used to improve the product's marketability and production...

. It may also deal with ‘place management
Place management
Place management is the process of making places better. This is practiced through programmes to improve a location or to maintain an already attained desired standard of operation. Place management can be undertaken by private, public or voluntary organisations or a mixture of each...

’ to guide and assist the use and maintenance of urban areas and public spaces.

Much urban design work is undertaken by urban planners, landscape architects and architects but there are professionals who identify themselves specifically as urban designers. Many architecture, landscape and planning programs incorporate urban design theory and design subjects into their curricula and there are an increasing number of university programs offering degrees in urban design, usually at post-graduate level.

Urban design considers:
  • Urban structure
    Urban structure
    Urban structure is the arrangement of land use in urban areas. Sociologists, economists, and geographers have developed several models, explaining where different types of people and businesses tend to exist within the urban setting. Three models are described in this article...

    – How a place is put together and how its parts relate to each other
  • Urban typology, density
    Urban density
    Urban density is a term used in urban planning and urban design to refer to the number of people inhabiting a given urbanized area. As such it is to be distinguished from other measures of population density. Urban density is considered an important factor in understanding how cities function...

    and sustainability - spatial types and morphologies related to intensity of use, consumption of resources and production and maintenance of viable communities
  • Accessibility
    Accessibility
    Accessibility is a general term used to describe the degree to which a product, device, service, or environment is available to as many people as possible. Accessibility can be viewed as the "ability to access" and benefit from some system or entity...

    – Providing for ease, safety and choice when moving to and through places
  • Legibility and wayfinding
    Wayfinding
    Wayfinding encompasses all of the ways in which people and animals orient themselves in physical space and navigate from place to place.-Historical:...

    – 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
    Neighbourhood character
    Neighbourhood character refers to the 'look and feel of an area', in particular a residential area. It also includes the activities that occur there...

     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
    Cultural heritage
    Cultural heritage is the legacy of physical artifacts and intangible attributes of a group or society that are inherited from past generations, maintained in the present and bestowed for the benefit of future generations...

     and support for contemporary culture
  • Civil society
    Civil society
    Civil society is composed of the totality of many voluntary social relationships, civic and social organizations, and institutions that form the basis of a functioning society, as distinct from the force-backed structures of a state , the commercial institutions of the market, and private criminal...

    – Making places where people are free to encounter each other as civic equals, an important component in building social capital
    Social capital
    Social capital is a sociological concept, which refers to connections within and between social networks. The concept of social capital highlights the value of social relations and the role of cooperation and confidence to get collective or economic results. The term social capital is frequently...


History


Although contemporary professional use of the term 'urban design' dates from the mid-20th century, urban design as such has been practiced throughout history. Ancient examples of carefully planned and designed cities exist in Asia, India, Africa, Europe and the Americas, and are particularly well-known within Classical Chinese, Roman and Greek cultures (see Hippodamus of Miletus
Hippodamus of Miletus
Hippodamus of Miletos was an ancient Greek architect, urban planner, physician, mathematician, meteorologist and philosopher and is considered to be the “father” of urban planning, the namesake of Hippodamian plan of city layouts...

).

European Medieval cities are often, and often erroneously regarded as exemplars of undesigned or 'organic' city development. There are many examples of considered urban design in the Middle Ages (see, e.g., David Friedman, Florentine New Towns: Urban Design in the Late Middle Ages, MIT 1988). In England, many of the towns listed in the 9th century Burghal Hidage
Burghal Hidage
The Burghal Hidage is an Anglo-Saxon document providing a list of the fortified burhs in Wessex and elsewhere in southern England. It offers an unusually detailed picture of the network of burhs that Alfred the Great designed to defend his kingdom from the predations of Viking invaders.-Burhs and...

 were designed on a grid, examples including Southampton
Southampton
Southampton is the largest city in the county of Hampshire on the south coast of England, and is situated south-west of London and north-west of Portsmouth. Southampton is a major port and the closest city to the New Forest...

, Wareham, Dorset
Wareham, Dorset
Wareham is an historic market town and, under the name Wareham Town, a civil parish, in the English county of Dorset. The town is situated on the River Frome eight miles southwest of Poole.-Situation and geography:...

 and Wallingford, Oxfordshire, having been rapidly created to provide a defensive network against Danish invaders. 12th century western Europe brought renewed focus on urbanisation as a means of stimulating economic growth and generating revenue. The burgage
Burgage
Burgage is a medieval land term used in England and Scotland, well established by the 13th century. A burgage was a town rental property , owned by a king or lord. The property usually, and distinctly, consisted of a house on a long and narrow plot of land, with the narrow end facing the street...

 system dating from that time and its associated burgage plots brought a form of self-organising design to medieval towns. Rectangular grids were used in the Bastides
Bastides
Bastides are fortified new towns built in medieval Languedoc, Gascony and Aquitaine during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, although some authorities count Mont-de-Marsan and Montauban, which was founded in 1144, as the first bastides...

 of 13th and 14th century Gascony, and the new towns of England created in the same period.

Throughout history, design of street
Street
A street is a paved public thoroughfare in a built environment. It is a public parcel of land adjoining buildings in an urban context, on which people may freely assemble, interact, and move about. A street can be as simple as a level patch of dirt, but is more often paved with a hard, durable...

s and deliberate configuration of public spaces with buildings have reflected contemporaneous social norms or philosophical and religious beliefs (see, e.g., Erwin Panofsky
Erwin Panofsky
Erwin Panofsky was a German art historian, whose academic career was pursued mostly in the U.S. after the rise of the Nazi regime. Panofsky's work remains highly influential in the modern academic study of iconography...

, Gothic Architecture and Scholasticism, Meridian Books, 1957). Yet the link between designed urban space and human mind appears to be bidirectional
Bidirectional
The term "bidirectional" may refer to:*Anything that can move in two directions*A roadway that carries traffic moving in opposite directions*A tram or train or any other vehicle that can be controlled from either end and can move forward or backward with equal ease without any need to be turned...

. Indeed, the reverse impact of urban structure
Urban structure
Urban structure is the arrangement of land use in urban areas. Sociologists, economists, and geographers have developed several models, explaining where different types of people and businesses tend to exist within the urban setting. Three models are described in this article...

 upon human behaviour and upon thought is evidenced by both observational
Environmental psychology
Environmental psychology is an interdisciplinary field focused on the interplay between humans and their surroundings. The field defines the term environment broadly, encompassing natural environments, social settings, built environments, learning environments, and informational environments...

 study and historical record. There are clear indications of impact through Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

 urban design on the thought of Johannes Kepler
Johannes Kepler
Johannes Kepler was a German mathematician, astronomer and astrologer. A key figure in the 17th century scientific revolution, he is best known for his eponymous laws of planetary motion, codified by later astronomers, based on his works Astronomia nova, Harmonices Mundi, and Epitome of Copernican...

 and Galileo Galilei
Galileo Galilei
Galileo Galilei , was an Italian physicist, mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher who played a major role in the Scientific Revolution. His achievements include improvements to the telescope and consequent astronomical observations and support for Copernicanism...

 (see, e.g., Abraham Akkerman, "Urban planning in the founding of Cartesian thought," Philosophy and Geography 4(1), 2001). Already René Descartes
René Descartes
René Descartes ; was a French philosopher and writer who spent most of his adult life in the Dutch Republic. He has been dubbed the 'Father of Modern Philosophy', and much subsequent Western philosophy is a response to his writings, which are studied closely to this day...

 in his Discourse on the Method had attested to the impact Renaissance planned new towns had upon his own thought, and much evidence exists that the Renaissance streetscape was also the perceptual stimulus that had led to the development of coordinate geometry (see, e.g., Claudia Lacour Brodsky, Lines of Thought: Discourse, Architectonics, and the Origins of Modern Philosophy, Duke 1996).

The beginnings of modern urban design in Europe are indeed associated with the Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

 but, especially, with the Age of Enlightenment
Age of Enlightenment
The Age of Enlightenment was an elite cultural movement of intellectuals in 18th century Europe that sought to mobilize the power of reason in order to reform society and advance knowledge. It promoted intellectual interchange and opposed intolerance and abuses in church and state...

. Spanish colonial cities were often planned, as were some towns settled by other imperial cultures. These sometimes embodied utopian ambitions as well as aims for functionality and good governance, as with James Oglethorpe
James Oglethorpe
James Edward Oglethorpe was a British general, member of Parliament, philanthropist, and founder of the colony of Georgia...

's plan for Savannah, Georgia
Savannah, Georgia
Savannah is the largest city and the county seat of Chatham County, in the U.S. state of Georgia. Established in 1733, the city of Savannah was the colonial capital of the Province of Georgia and later the first state capital of Georgia. Today Savannah is an industrial center and an important...

. In the Baroque
Baroque
The Baroque is a period and the style that used exaggerated motion and clear, easily interpreted detail to produce drama, tension, exuberance, and grandeur in sculpture, painting, literature, dance, and music...

 period the design approaches developed in French formal gardens such as Versailles
Versailles
Versailles , a city renowned for its château, the Palace of Versailles, was the de facto capital of the kingdom of France for over a century, from 1682 to 1789. It is now a wealthy suburb of Paris and remains an important administrative and judicial centre...

 were extended into urban development and redevelopment. In this period, when modern professional specialisations did not exist, urban design was undertaken by people with skills in areas as diverse as sculpture
Sculpture
Sculpture is three-dimensional artwork created by shaping or combining hard materials—typically stone such as marble—or metal, glass, or wood. Softer materials can also be used, such as clay, textiles, plastics, polymers and softer metals...

, architecture
Architecture
Architecture is both the process and product of planning, designing and construction. Architectural works, in the material form of buildings, are often perceived as cultural and political symbols and as works of art...

, garden design
Garden design
Garden design is the art and process of designing and creating plans for layout and planting of gardens and landscapes. Garden design may be done by the garden owner themselves, or by professionals of varying levels of experience and expertise...

, surveying
Surveying
See Also: Public Land Survey SystemSurveying or land surveying is the technique, profession, and science of accurately determining the terrestrial or three-dimensional position of points and the distances and angles between them...

, astronomy
Astronomy
Astronomy is a natural science that deals with the study of celestial objects and phenomena that originate outside the atmosphere of Earth...

, and military engineering. In the 18th and 19th centuries, urban design was perhaps most closely linked with surveyors (engineers) and architects. The increase in urban populations brought with it problems of epidemic disease, the response to which was a focus on public health, the rise in the UK of municipal engineering and the inclusion in British legislation of provisions such as minimum widths of street in relation to heights of buildings in order to ensure adequate light and ventilation.

Much of Frederick Law Olmsted
Frederick Law Olmsted
Frederick Law Olmsted was an American journalist, social critic, public administrator, and landscape designer. He is popularly considered to be the father of American landscape architecture, although many scholars have bestowed that title upon Andrew Jackson Downing...

's work was concerned with urban design, and so the (then-new) profession of landscape architecture also began to play a significant role in the late 19th century.

Modern urban design can be considered as part of the wider discipline of Urban planning
Urban planning
Urban planning incorporates areas such as economics, design, ecology, sociology, geography, law, political science, and statistics to guide and ensure the orderly development of settlements and communities....

. Indeed, Urban planning began as a movement primarily occupied with matters of urban design. Works such as Ildefons Cerda
Ildefons Cerdà
Ildefons Cerdà i Sunyer was the progressive Catalan Spanish urban planner who designed the 19th-century "extension" of Barcelona called the Eixample.-Biography:...

's General Theory of Urbanization (1867), Camillo Sitte
Camillo Sitte
Camillo Sitte was a noted Austrian architect, painter and city planning theoretician with great influence and authority of the development of urban construction planning and regulation in Europe.- Life :...

’s City Planning According to Artistic Principles (1889), and Robinson’s
Charles Mulford Robinson
Charles Mulford Robinson was a journalist and a writer who became famous as a pioneering Urban Planning theorist. He was the first Professor for Civic Design at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, which was only one of two universities offering courses in Urban Planning at the time, the...

 The Improvement of Cities and Towns (1901) and Modern Civic Art (1903), all were primarily concerned with urban design, as did the later City Beautiful movement
City Beautiful movement
The City Beautiful Movement was a reform philosophy concerning North American architecture and urban planning that flourished during the 1890s and 1900s with the intent of using beautification and monumental grandeur in cities. The movement, which was originally associated mainly with Chicago,...

 in North America.

The motor vehicle was the core influence on the design of urban development in the 20th century. And the rise of the "urban design" movement can be seen in part as a reaction to the adverse impact of car-use and car orientated design.

'Urban design' was first used as a distinctive term when Harvard University
Harvard University
Harvard University is a private Ivy League university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, established in 1636 by the Massachusetts legislature. Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the first corporation chartered in the country...

 hosted a series of Urban Design Conferences from 1956 . These conferences provided a platform for the launching of Harvard's Urban Design program in 1959-60. The writings of Jane Jacobs
Jane Jacobs
Jane Jacobs, was an American-Canadian writer and activist with primary interest in communities and urban planning and decay. She is best known for The Death and Life of Great American Cities , a powerful critique of the urban renewal policies of the 1950s in the United States...

, Kevin Lynch
Kevin A. Lynch
Kevin Andrew Lynch was an American urban planner and author.Lynch studied at Yale University, Taliesin under Frank Lloyd Wright, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and received a Bachelor's degree in city planning from MIT in 1947...

, Gordon Cullen
Gordon Cullen
Thomas Gordon Cullen was an influential English architect and urban designer who was a key motivator in the Townscape movement. He is best known for the book The Concise Townscape, first published in 1961.-Biography:Cullen was born in Calverley, Pudsey, near Leeds...

 and Christopher Alexander
Christopher Alexander
Christopher Wolfgang Alexander is a registered architect noted for his theories about design, and for more than 200 building projects in California, Japan, Mexico and around the world...

 became authoritative works for the school of Urban Design.

Gordon Cullen
Gordon Cullen
Thomas Gordon Cullen was an influential English architect and urban designer who was a key motivator in the Townscape movement. He is best known for the book The Concise Townscape, first published in 1961.-Biography:Cullen was born in Calverley, Pudsey, near Leeds...

's The Concise Townscape, first published in 1961, also had a great influence on many urban designers. Cullen examined the traditional artistic approach to city design of theorists such as Camillo Sitte, Barry Parker and Raymond Unwin
Raymond Unwin
Sir Raymond Unwin was a prominent and influential English engineer, architect and town planner, with an emphasis on improvements in working class housing.-Early years:...

. He created the concept of 'serial vision', defining the urban landscape as a series of related spaces.

Jane Jacobs
Jane Jacobs
Jane Jacobs, was an American-Canadian writer and activist with primary interest in communities and urban planning and decay. She is best known for The Death and Life of Great American Cities , a powerful critique of the urban renewal policies of the 1950s in the United States...

' The Death and Life of Great American Cities
The Death and Life of Great American Cities
The Death and Life of Great American Cities, by Jane Jacobs, is a greatly influential book on the subject of urban planning in the 20th century...

, published in 1961, was also a catalyst for interest in ideas of urban design. She critiqued the Modernism
Modernism
Modernism, in its broadest definition, is modern thought, character, or practice. More specifically, the term describes the modernist movement, its set of cultural tendencies and array of associated cultural movements, originally arising from wide-scale and far-reaching changes to Western society...

 of CIAM, and asserted that the publicly unowned spaces created by the 'city in the park' notion of Modernists was one of the main reasons for the rising crime rate. She argued instead for an 'eyes on the street' approach to town planning, and the resurrection of main public space precedents, such as streets and squares, in the design of cities.

Kevin Lynch
Kevin A. Lynch
Kevin Andrew Lynch was an American urban planner and author.Lynch studied at Yale University, Taliesin under Frank Lloyd Wright, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and received a Bachelor's degree in city planning from MIT in 1947...

's The Image of the City of 1961 was also seminal to the movement, particularly with regards to the concept of legibility, and the reduction of urban design theory to five basic elements - paths, districts, edges, nodes, landmarks. He also made popular the use of mental maps to understanding the city, rather than the two-dimensional physical master plans of the previous 50 years.

Other notable works include Rossi's
Aldo Rossi
Aldo Rossi was an Italian architect and designer who accomplished the unusual feat of achieving international recognition in four distinct areas: theory, drawing, architecture and product design.-Early life:...

 Architecture of the City (1966), Venturi’s
Robert Venturi
Robert Charles Venturi, Jr. is an American architect, founding principal of the firm Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates, and one of the major figures in the architecture of the twentieth century...

 Learning from Las Vegas (1972), Colin Rowe
Colin Rowe
Colin Rowe , was a British-born, American-naturalised architectural historian, critic, theoretician, and teacher; acknowledged as a major intellectual influence on world architecture and urbanism in the second half of the twentieth century and beyond, particularly in the fields of city planning,...

's Collage City (1978), and Peter Calthorpe
Peter Calthorpe
Peter Calthorpe is a San Francisco-based architect, urban designer and urban planner. He is a founding member of the Congress for New Urbanism, a Chicago-based advocacy group formed in 1992 that promotes sustainable building practices.-Biography:...

's The Next American Metropolis (1993). Rossi introduced the concepts of 'historicism' and 'collective memory' to urban design, and proposed a 'collage metaphor' to understand the collage of new and older forms within the same urban space. Calthorpe, on the other hand, developed a manifesto for sustainable urban living via medium density living, as well as a design manual for building new settlements in accordance with his concept of Transit Oriented Development
Transit-oriented development
A transit-oriented development is a mixed-use residential or commercial area designed to maximize access to public transport, and often incorporates features to encourage transit ridership...

 (TOD). Bill Hillier and Julienne Hanson in "The Social Logic of Space" (1984) introduced the concept of Space Syntax
Space syntax
The term space syntax encompasses a set of theories and techniques for the analysis of spatial configurations. Originally it was conceived by Bill Hillier, Julienne Hanson and colleagues at The Bartlett, University College London in the late 1970s to early 1980s as a tool to help architects...

 to predict how movement patterns in cities would contribute to urban vitality, anti-social behaviour and economic success. The popularity of these works resulted in terms such as 'historicism', 'sustainability', 'livability', 'high quality of urban components', etc. become everyday language in the field of urban planning.

Equality issues


Until the 1970s, urban designers had taken little account of the needs of people with disabilities
Disability
A disability may be physical, cognitive, mental, sensory, emotional, developmental or some combination of these.Many people would rather be referred to as a person with a disability instead of handicapped...

. At that time, disabled people began to form movements demanding recognition of their potential contribution if social obstacles were removed. Disabled people challenged the 'medical model' of disability which saw physical and mental problems as an individual 'tragedy' and people with disabilities as 'brave' for enduring them. They proposed instead a 'social model' which said that barriers to disabled people result from the design of the built environment
Built environment
The term built environment refers to the human-made surroundings that provide the setting for human activity, ranging in scale from personal shelter and buildings to neighborhoods and cities that can often include their supporting infrastructure, such as water supply or energy networks.The built...

 and attitudes of able-bodied people. 'Access Groups' were established composed of people with disabilities who audited their local areas, checked planning applications and made representations for improvements. The new profession of 'access officer' was established around that time to produce guidelines based on the recommendations of access groups and to oversee adaptations to existing buildings as well as to check on the accessibility of new proposals. Many local authorities
Local government
Local government refers collectively to administrative authorities over areas that are smaller than a state.The term is used to contrast with offices at nation-state level, which are referred to as the central government, national government, or federal government...

 now employ access officers who are regulated by the Access Association. A new chapter of the Building Regulations (Part M) was introduced in 1992. Although it was beneficial to have legislation on this issue the requirements were fairly minimal but continue to be improved with ongoing amendments. The Disability Discrimination Act 1995
Disability Discrimination Act 1995
The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom which has now been repealed and replaced by the Equality Act 2010 , except in Northern Ireland where the Act still applies...

 continues to raise awareness and enforce action on disability issues in the urban environment.

See also

  • Activity centre
    Activity centre
    Activity centre is a term used in urban planning and design for a mixed-use urban area where there is a concentration of commercial and other land uses...

  • Automobile dependency
    Automobile dependency
    Automobile dependency is a term coined by Professors Peter Newman and Jeff Kenworthy to capture the predicament of most cities in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, and to a lesser extent, large cities in Europe....

  • Behavioural sciences
    Behavioural sciences
    The term behavioural sciences encompasses all the disciplines that explore the activities of and interactions among organisms in the natural world. It involves the systematic analysis and investigation of human and animal behaviour through controlled and naturalistic observation, and disciplined...

  • Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment
    Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment
    The Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment was an executive non-departmental public body of the UK government, established in 1999. It was funded by both the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Department for Communities and Local Government.-Function:CABE was the...

  • Congress for the New Urbanism
  • Context theory
    Context theory
    Context theory is the theory of how environmental design and planning of new development should relate to its context. When decisions have been taken they are implemented by means of Land Use Plans, Zoning Plans and Environmental Assessments...

  • Crime prevention through environmental design
    Crime prevention through environmental design
    Crime prevention through environmental design is a multi-disciplinary approach to deterring criminal behavior through environmental design. CPTED strategies rely upon the ability to influence offender decisions that precede criminal acts...

  • Environmental psychology
    Environmental psychology
    Environmental psychology is an interdisciplinary field focused on the interplay between humans and their surroundings. The field defines the term environment broadly, encompassing natural environments, social settings, built environments, learning environments, and informational environments...

  • Gordon Cullen
    Gordon Cullen
    Thomas Gordon Cullen was an influential English architect and urban designer who was a key motivator in the Townscape movement. He is best known for the book The Concise Townscape, first published in 1961.-Biography:Cullen was born in Calverley, Pudsey, near Leeds...

  • HUD USER
    HUD USER
    In 1978, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Office of Policy Development and Research established HUD USER, an information source for housing and community development researchers, academics, policymakers, and the American public.-Background on HUD USER:HUD USER is the primary...

  • Landscape architecture
    Landscape architecture
    Landscape architecture is the design of outdoor and public spaces to achieve environmental, socio-behavioral, or aesthetic outcomes. It involves the systematic investigation of existing social, ecological, and geological conditions and processes in the landscape, and the design of interventions...

  • Landscape urbanism
    Landscape urbanism
    Landscape Urbanism is a theory of urbanism arguing that landscape, rather than architecture, is more capable of organizing the city and enhancing the urban experience. Landscape Urbanism has emerged as a theory in the last fifteen years...

  • Neighbourhood character
    Neighbourhood character
    Neighbourhood character refers to the 'look and feel of an area', in particular a residential area. It also includes the activities that occur there...

  • New Pedestrianism
    New pedestrianism
    New Pedestrianism is a more idealistic variation of New Urbanism in urban planning theory, founded in 1999 by Michael E. Arth, an American artist, urban/home/landscape designer, futurist, and author...

  • New Urbanism
    New urbanism
    New Urbanism is an urban design movement, which promotes walkable neighborhoods that contain a range of housing and job types. It arose in the United States in the early 1980s, and has gradually continued to reform many aspects of real estate development, urban planning, and municipal land-use...

  • Peer-to-peer urbanism
  • Placemaking
    Placemaking
    Placemaking is a term that began to be used in the 1970s by architects and planners to describe the process of creating squares, plazas, parks, streets and waterfronts that will attract people because they are pleasurable or interesting...

  • Principles of Intelligent Urbanism
    Principles of Intelligent Urbanism
    Principles of Intelligent Urbanism is a theory of urban planning composed of a set of ten axioms intended to guide the formulation of city plans and urban designs. They are intended to reconcile and integrate diverse urban planning and management concerns...

  • Real estate development
    Real estate development
    Real estate development, or Property Development, is a multifaceted business, encompassing activities that range from the renovation and re-lease of existing buildings to the purchase of raw land and the sale of improved land or parcels to others...

  • Regulatory Barriers Clearinghouse
    Regulatory Barriers Clearinghouse
    The Regulatory Barriers Clearinghouse collects, processes, assembles, and disseminates information on existing barriers that inhibit the production and conservation of affordable housing. RBC is part of the U.S...

  • Space syntax
    Space syntax
    The term space syntax encompasses a set of theories and techniques for the analysis of spatial configurations. Originally it was conceived by Bill Hillier, Julienne Hanson and colleagues at The Bartlett, University College London in the late 1970s to early 1980s as a tool to help architects...

  • Transit-oriented development
    Transit-oriented development
    A transit-oriented development is a mixed-use residential or commercial area designed to maximize access to public transport, and often incorporates features to encourage transit ridership...

  • Urban Acupuncture
    Urban Acupuncture
    Urban Acupuncture is an urban environmentalism theory which combines urban design with traditional Chinese medical theory of acupuncture. This strategy views cities as living, breathing organisms and pinpoints areas in need of repair...

  • Urban consolidation
    Urban consolidation
    Urban consolidation refers to a diverse set of planning policies intended to make better use of existing urban infrastructure by encouraging development within existing urbanised areas rather than on non-urbanised land , thus limiting urban sprawl...

  • Urban density
    Urban density
    Urban density is a term used in urban planning and urban design to refer to the number of people inhabiting a given urbanized area. As such it is to be distinguished from other measures of population density. Urban density is considered an important factor in understanding how cities function...

  • Urban economics
    Urban economics
    Urban economics is broadly the economic study of urban areas; as such, it involves using the tools of economics to analyze urban issues such as crime, education, public transit, housing, and local government finance...

  • Urban planning
    Urban planning
    Urban planning incorporates areas such as economics, design, ecology, sociology, geography, law, political science, and statistics to guide and ensure the orderly development of settlements and communities....

  • Urban village
    Urban village
    An urban village is an urban planning and urban design concept. It refers to an urban form typically characterized by:* Medium density development* Mixed use zoning* The provision of good public transit...

  • Urban Planning Society of China
    Urban Planning Society of China
    The Urban Planning Society of China , voluntarily incorporated by urban planners across the country in 1956, is the only legally registered academic organization at state level.-Aims:...

  • Walkability
    Walkability
    Walkability is a measure of how friendly an area is to walking. Walkability has many health, environmental, and economic benefits. Factors influencing walkability include the presence or absence and quality of footpaths, sidewalks or other pedestrian right-of-ways, traffic and road conditions,...


  • External links