Urban design

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Monumental Axis, Brasilia designed by Oscar Niemeyer and Lucio Costa Brasilia aerea torredetv1304 4713.jpg
Monumental Axis, Brasília designed by Oscar Niemeyer and Lúcio Costa

Urban design is the process of designing and shaping the physical features of cities, towns, and villages and planning for the provision of municipal services to residents and visitors. Although it deals with issues of a larger scale than architecture, it cannot be understood as a wholly separated field of research and design, since the quality of one depends on the quality of the other. In fact, it is this very interdependency, which has been termed relational design [1] by Barcelona-based architect Enric Massip-Bosch, which makes urban design and architecture inextricably linked in many university education programs, especially in Europe. This tendency towards reintegration in architectural studies is also gaining momentum in the USA. [2]



Urban design deals with the larger scale of groups of buildings, infrastructure, streets, and public spaces, entire neighbourhoods and districts, and entire cities, with the goal of making urban environments that are equitable, beautiful, performative, and sustainable.

Urban design is an interdisciplinary field that utilizes the procedures and the elements of architecture and other related professions, including landscape design, urban planning, civil engineering, and municipal engineering. [3] [4] It borrows substantive and procedural knowledge from public administration, sociology, law, urban geography, urban economics and other related disciplines from the social and behavioral sciences, as well as from the natural sciences. [5] In more recent times different sub-subfields 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 to social science, and an appreciation for disciplines, such as real estate development, urban economics, political economy and social theory.

Urban designers work to create inclusive cities that protect the commons, ensure equal access to and distribution of public goods, and meet the needs of all residents, particularly women, people of color, and other marginalized populations. Through design interventions, urban designers work to revolutionize the way we conceptualize our social, political and spatial systems as strategies to produce and reproduce a more equitable and innovative future.

Model of Dubai Sports City in Dubai, United Arab Emirates Dubai Sports City Model Pict 5.jpg
Model of Dubai Sports City in Dubai, United Arab Emirates

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 used and experienced. 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.


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, Africa, Europe and the Americas, and are particularly well known within Classical Chinese, Roman and Greek cultures (see Hippodamus of Miletus).[ citation needed ]

European Medieval cities are often, and often erroneously, regarded as exemplars of undesigned or 'organic' city development.[ citation needed ] 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 were designed on a grid, examples including Southampton, Wareham, Dorset and Wallingford, Oxfordshire, having been rapidly created to provide a defensive network against Danish invaders.[ citation needed ] 12th century western Europe brought renewed focus on urbanisation as a means of stimulating economic growth and generating revenue.[ citation needed ] The burgage system dating from that time and its associated burgage plots brought a form of self-organising design to medieval towns.[ citation needed ] Rectangular grids were used in the Bastides of 13th and 14th century Gascony, and the new towns of England created in the same period.[ citation needed ]

Throughout history, design of streets and deliberate configuration of public spaces with buildings have reflected contemporaneous social norms or philosophical and religious beliefs (see, e.g., Erwin Panofsky, Gothic Architecture and Scholasticism, Meridian Books, 1957). Yet the link between designed urban space and human mind appears to be bidirectional.[ citation needed ] Indeed, the reverse impact of urban structure upon human behaviour and upon thought is evidenced by both observational study and historical record.[ citation needed ] There are clear indications of impact through Renaissance urban design on the thought of Johannes Kepler and Galileo Galilei (see, e.g., Abraham Akkerman, "Urban planning in the founding of Cartesian thought," Philosophy and Geography 4(1), 1973). Already René Descartes 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).

Early modern era

The beginnings of modern urban design in Europe are associated with the Renaissance but, especially, with the Age of Enlightenment.[ citation needed ] Spanish colonial cities were often planned, as were some towns settled by other imperial cultures.[ citation needed ] These sometimes embodied utopian ambitions as well as aims for functionality and good governance, as with James Oglethorpe's plan for Savannah, Georgia.[ citation needed ] In the Baroque period the design approaches developed in French formal gardens such as Versailles 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, architecture, garden design, surveying, astronomy, 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,[ citation needed ] 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.[ citation needed ]

Much of Frederick Law Olmsted's work was concerned with urban design, and the newly formed profession of landscape architecture also began to play a significant role in the late 19th century. [6]

Modern urban design

Ebenezer Howard's influential 1902 diagram, illustrating urban growth through garden city "off-shoots" Lorategi-hiriaren diagrama 1902.jpg
Ebenezer Howard's influential 1902 diagram, illustrating urban growth through garden city "off-shoots"

In the 19th century, cities were industrializing and expanding at a tremendous rate. Private business largely dictated the pace and style of this development. The expansion created many hardships for the working poor and concern for public health increased. However, the laissez-faire style of government, in fashion for most of the Victorian era, was starting to give way to a New Liberalism. This gave more power to the public. The public wanted the government to provide citizens, especially factory workers, with healthier environments. Around 1900, modern urban design emerged from developing theories on how to mitigate the consequences of the industrial age.

The first modern urban planning theorist was Sir Ebenezer Howard. His ideas, although utopian, were adopted around the world because they were highly practical. He initiated the garden city movement in 1898 garden city movement. [7] His garden cities were intended to be planned, self-contained communities surrounded by parks. Howard wanted the cities to be proportional with separate areas of residences, industry, and agriculture. Inspired by the Utopian novel Looking Backward and Henry George's work Progress and Poverty , Howard published his book Garden Cities of To-morrow in 1898. His work is an important reference in the history of urban planning. [8] He envisioned the self-sufficient garden city to house 32,000 people on a site of 6,000 acres (2,428 ha). He planned on a concentric pattern with open spaces, public parks, and six radial boulevards, 120 ft (37 m) wide, extending from the center. When it reached full population, Howard wanted another garden city to be developed nearby. He envisaged a cluster of several garden cities as satellites of a central city of 50,000 people, linked by road and rail. [9] His model for a garden city was first created at Letchworth [10] and Welwyn Garden City in Hertfordshire. Howard's movement was extended by Sir Frederic Osborn to regional planning. [11]

20th century

In the early 1900s, urban planning became professionalized. With input from utopian visionaries, civil engineers, and local councilors, new approaches to city design were developed for consideration by decision makers such as elected officials. In 1899, the Town and Country Planning Association was founded. In 1909, the first academic course on urban planning was offered by the University of Liverpool. [12] Urban planning was first officially embodied in the Housing and Town Planning Act of 1909 Howard's ‘garden city’ compelled local authorities to introduce a system where all housing construction conformed to specific building standards. [13] In the United Kingdom following this Act, surveyor, civil engineers, architects, and lawyers began working together within local authorities. In 1910, Thomas Adams became the first Town Planning Inspector at the Local Government Board and began meeting with practitioners. In 1914, The Town Planning Institute was established. The first urban planning course in America wasn't established until 1924 at Harvard University. Professionals developed schemes for the development of land, transforming town planning into a new area of expertise.

In the 20th century, urban planning was changed by the automobile industry. Car oriented design impacted the rise of ‘urban design’. City layouts now revolved around roadways and traffic patterns.

In June 1928, the International Congresses of Modern Architecture (CIAM) was founded at the Chateau de la Sarraz in Switzerland, by a group of 28 European architects organized by Le Corbusier, Hélène de Mandrot, and Sigfried Giedion. At the CIAM was one of many 20th century manifestos meant to advance the cause of "architecture as a social art".


Team X was a group of architects and other invited participants who assembled starting in July 1953 at the 9th Congress of the International Congresses of Modern Architecture (CIAM) and created a schism within CIAM by challenging its doctrinaire approach to urbanism.

In 1956, the term  “Urban design” was first used at a series of conferences hosted by Harvard University. The event provided a platform for Harvard's Urban Design program. The program also utilized the writings of famous urban planning thinkers: Gordon Cullen, Jane Jacobs, Kevin Lynch, and Christopher Alexander.

In 1961, Gordon Cullen published The Concise Townscape. He examined the traditional artistic approach to city design of theorists including Camillo Sitte, Barry Parker and Raymond Unwin. Cullen also created the concept of 'serial vision'. It defined the urban landscape as a series of related spaces.

In 1961, Jane Jacobs published ' The Death and Life of Great American Cities . She critiqued the Modernism of CIAM (International Congresses of Modern Architecture). Jacobs also claimed crime rates in publicly owned spaces were rising because of the Modernist approach of ‘city in the park’. She argued instead for an 'eyes on the street' approach to town planning through the resurrection of main public space precedents (e.g. streets, squares).

In the same year, Kevin Lynch published The Image of the City. He was seminal to urban design, particularly with regards to the concept of legibility. He reduced urban design theory to five basic elements: paths, districts, edges, nodes, landmarks. He also made the use of mental maps to understanding the city popular, rather than the two-dimensional physical master plans of the previous 50 years.

Other notable works:

Architecture of the City by Aldo Rossi (1966)

Learning from Las Vegas by Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown (1972)

Collage City by Colin Rowe (1978)

The Next American Metropolis by Peter Calthorpe (1993)

The Social Logic of Space by Bill Hillier and Julienne Hanson (1984)

The popularity of these works resulted in terms that become everyday language in the field of urban planning. Aldo Rossi introduced 'historicism' and 'collective memory' to urban design. Rossi also proposed a 'collage metaphor' to understand the collection of new and old forms within the same urban space. Peter Calthorpe developed a manifesto for sustainable urban living via medium density living. He also designed a manual for building new settlements in his concept of Transit Oriented Development (TOD). Bill Hillier and Julienne Hanson introduced Space Syntax to predict how movement patterns in cities would contribute to urban vitality, anti-social behaviour and economic success. 'Sustainability', 'livability', and 'high quality of urban components' also became commonplace in the field.

Jakriborg in Sweden, started in the late 1990s as a new urbanist eco-friendly new town near Malmo Jakriborg, juni 2005 c.jpg
Jakriborg in Sweden, started in the late 1990s as a new urbanist eco-friendly new town near Malmö

Today, urban design seeks to create sustainable urban environments with long-lasting structures, buildings, and overall livability. Walkable urbanism is another approach to practice that is defined within the Charter of New Urbanism . It aims to reduce environmental impacts by altering the built environment to create smart cities that support sustainable transport. Compact urban neighborhoods encourage residents to drive less. These neighborhoods have significantly lower environmental impacts when compared to sprawling suburbs. [14] To prevent urban sprawl, Circular flow land use management was introduced in Europe to promote sustainable land use patterns.

As a result of the recent New Classical Architecture movement, sustainable construction aims to develop smart growth, walkability, architectural tradition, and classical design. [15] [16] It contrasts from modernist and globally uniform architecture. In the 1980s, urban design began to oppose the increasing solitary housing estates and suburban sprawl. [17] Managed Urbanisation with the view to making the urbanising process completely culturally and economically and environmentally sustainable, and as a possible solution to the urban sprawl, Frank Reale has submitted an interesting concept of Expanding Nodular Development (E.N.D.) that integrates many urban design and ecological principles, to design and build smaller rural hubs with high-grade connecting freeways, rather than adding more expensive infrastructure to existing big cities and the resulting congestion.

Paradigm shifts

Throughout the young existence of the Urban Design discipline, many paradigm shifts have occurred that have affected the trajectory of the field regarding theory and practice. These paradigm shifts cover multiple subject areas outside of the traditional design disciplines.

  • Team 10 - The first major paradigm shift was the formation of Team 10 out of CIAM, or the Congres Internationaux d’Architecture Moderne. They believed that Urban Design should introduce ideas of ‘Human Association’, which pivots the design focus from the individual patron to concentrating on the collective urban population.  
  • The Brundtland Report and Silent Spring - Another paradigm shift was the publication of the Brundtland Report and the book Silent Spring by Rachel Carson. These writings introduced the idea that human settlements could have detrimental impacts on ecological processes, as well as human health, which spurred a new era of environmental awareness in the field.  
  • The Planner's Triangle - The Planner's Triangle, created by Scott Cambell, emphasized three main conflicts in the planning process. This diagram exposed the complex relationships between  Economic Development, Environmental Protection, and Equity and Social Justice. For the first time, the concept of Equity and Social Justice was considered as equally important as Economic Development and Environmental Protection within the design process.
  • Death of Modernism (Demolition of Pruitt Igoe) - Pruitt Igoe was a spatial symbol and representation of Modernist theory regarding social housing. In its failure and demolition, these theories were put into question and many within the design field considered the era of Modernism to be dead.  
  • Neoliberalism & the election of Reagan - The election of President Reagan and the rise of Neoliberalism affected the Urban Design discipline because it shifted the planning process to emphasize capitalistic gains and spatial privatization. Inspired by the trickle down approach of Reaganomics,  it was believed that the benefits of a capitalist emphasis within design would positively impact everyone. Conversely, this led exclusionary design practices and to what many consider as “the death of public space”.
  • Right to the City - The spatial and political battle over our citizens rights to the city has been an ongoing one. David Harvey, along with Dan Mitchell and Edward Soja, discussed rights to the city as a matter of shifting the historical thinking of how spatial matter was determined in a critical form. This change of thinking occurred in three forms: ontologically, sociologically, and the combination of this socio-spatial dialect. Together the aim shifted to be able to measure what matters in a socio-spatial context.  
  • Black Lives Matter (Ferguson) - The Black Lives Matter movement challenged design thinking because it emphasized the injustices and inequities suffered by people of color in urban space, as well as emphasized their right to public space without discrimination and brutality. It claims that minority groups lack certain spatial privileges, and that this deficiency can result in matters of life and death. In order to reach an equitable state of urbanism, there needs to be equal identification of socio-economic lives within our urban scapes.

New approaches

There have been many different theories and approaches applied to the practice of urban design.

New Urbanism is an approach that began in the 1980s as a place-making initiative to combat suburban sprawl. Its goal is to increase density by creating compact and complete towns and neighborhoods. The 10 principles of new urbanism are: walkability, connectivity, mixed-use and diversity, mixed housing, quality architecture and urban design, traditional neighborhood structure, increased density, smart transportation, sustainability, and quality of life. New urbanism and the developments that it has created are sources of debates within the discipline, primarily with the landscape urbanist approach but also due to its reproduction of idyllic architectural tropes that do not respond to the context. Andres Duany, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, Peter Calthorpe, and Jeff Speck are all strongly associated with New Urbanism and its evolution over the years.

Landscape Urbanism is a theory that first surfaced in the 1990s, arguing that the city is constructed of interconnected and ecologically rich horizontal field conditions, rather than the arrangement of objects and buildings. Charles Waldheim, Mohsen Mostafavi, James Corner, and Richard Weller are closely associated with this theory. Landscape urbanism theorises sites, territories, ecosystems, networks, and infrastructures though landscape practice according to Corner, [18] while applying a dynamic concept to cities as ecosystems that grow, shrink or change phases of development according to Waldheim. [19]

Everyday Urbanism is a concept introduced by Margaret Crawford and influenced by Henry Lefebvre that describes the everyday lived experience shared by urban residents including: commuting, working, relaxing, moving through city streets and sidewalks, shopping, buying and eating food, running errands. Everyday urbanism is not concerned with aesthetic value. Instead, it introduces the idea of eliminating the distance between experts and ordinary users and forces designers and planners to contemplate a ‘shift of power’ and address social life from a direct and ordinary perspective.

Tactical Urbanism (also known as DIY Urbanism, Planning-by-Doing, Urban Acupuncture, or Urban Prototyping) is a city, organizational, or citizen-led approach to neighborhood-building that uses short-term, low-cost, and scalable interventions and policies to catalyze long term change.

Top-up Urbanism is the theory and implementation of two techniques in urban design: top-down and bottom-up. Top-down urbanism is when the design is implemented from the top of the hierarchy - normally the government or planning department. Bottom-up or grassroots urbanism begins with the people or the bottom of the hierarchy. Top-up means that both methods are used together to make a more participatory design, so it is sure to be comprehensive and well regarded in order to be as successful as possible.

Infrastructural Urbanism is the study of how the major investments that go into making infrastructural systems can be leveraged to be more sustainable for communities. Instead of the systems being solely about efficiency in both cost and production, infrastructural urbanism strives to utilize these investments to be more equitable for social and environmental issues as well. Linda Samuels is a designer investigating how to accomplish this change in infrastructure in what she calls "next-generation infrastructure" which is “multifunctional; public; visible; socially productive; locally specific, flexible, and adaptable; sensitive to the eco-economy; composed of design prototypes or demonstration projects; symbiotic; technologically smart; and developed collaboratively across disciplines and agencies.”

Sustainable Urbanism is the study from the 1990s of how a community can be beneficial for the ecosystem, the people, and the economy for which it is associated. It is based on Scott Campbell's planner's triangle which tries to find the balance between economy, equity and the environment. Its main concept is to try and make cities as self-sufficient as possible while not damaging the ecosystem around it, today with an increased focus on climate stability. A key designer working with sustainable urbanism is Douglas Farr.

Feminist Urbanism is the study and critique of how the built environment effects genders differently because of patriarchal social and political structures in society. Typically, the people at the table making design decisions are men, so their conception about public space and the built environment relate to their life perspectives and experiences, which do not reflect the same experiences of women or children. Dolores Hayden is a scholar who has researched this topic from 1980 to present day. Hayden's writing says, “when women, men and children of all classes and races can identify the public domain as the place where they feel most comfortable as citizens, Americans will finally have homelike urban space.”

Educational Urbanism is an emerging discipline, at the crossroads of urban planning, educational planning and pedagogy. An approach that tackles the notion that economic activities, the need of new skills at workplace, and the spatial configuration of the workplace rely on the spatial reorientation in the design of educational spaces and the urban dimension of educational planning.

Black Urbanism is an approach in which black communities are active creators, innovators, and authors of the process of designing and creating the neighborhoods and spaces of the metropolitan areas they have done so much to help revive over the past half century. The goal is not to build black cities for black people but to explore and develop the creative energy that exists in so-called black areas: that has the potential to contribute to the sustainable development of the whole city.

Debates in urbanism [20]

Underlying the practice of urban design are the many theories about how to best design the city. Each theory makes a unique claim about how to effectively design thriving, sustainable urban environments. Debate over the efficacy of these approaches fills the urban design discourse. Landscape Urbanism and New Urbanism are commonly debated as distinct approaches to addressing suburban sprawl. While Landscape Urbanism proposes landscape as the basic building block of the city and embraces horizontality, flexibility, and adaptability, New Urbanism offers the neighborhood as the basic building block of the city and argues for increased density, mixed uses, and walkability. Opponents of Landscape Urbanism point out that most of its projects are urban parks, and as such, its application is limited. Opponents of New Urbanism claim that its preoccupation with traditional neighborhood structures is nostalgic, unimaginative, and culturally problematic. Everyday Urbanism argues for grassroots neighborhood improvements rather than master-planned, top-down interventions. Each theory elevates the roles of certain professions in the urban design process, further fueling the debate. In practice, urban designers often apply principles from many urban design theories. Emerging from the conversation is a universal acknowledgement of the importance of increased interdisciplinary collaboration in designing the modern city. [21]

Urban design as an integrative profession

L'Enfant's plan for Washington DC L'Enfant plan.jpg
L'Enfant's plan for Washington DC
Gehl Architects' project for Brighton New Road employing shared space New Road, Brighton - shared space.jpg
Gehl Architects' project for Brighton New Road employing shared space

Urban designers work with architects, landscape architects, transportation engineers, urban planners, and industrial designers to reshape the city. Cooperation with public agencies, authorities, and the interests of nearby property owners is necessary to manage public spaces. Users often compete over the spaces and negotiate across a variety of spheres. Input is frequently needed from a wide range of stakeholders. This can lead to different levels of participation as defined in Arnstein's Ladder of Citizen Participation. [22]

While there are some professionals who identify themselves specifically as urban designers, a majority have backgrounds in urban planning, architecture, or landscape architecture. Many collegiate programs incorporate urban design theory and design subjects into their curricula. There are an increasing number of university programs offering degrees in urban design at the post-graduate level.

Urban design considers:

The original urban design was thought to be separated from architecture and urban planning. Urban design has developed to a certain extent, but it still comes from the foundation of architecture. Most urban designers are primarily trained in architecture. It is often considered as a branch under the architecture, urban planning and landscape architecture and essentially the construction of the urban physical environment. Now urban design is more integrated into the social science-based, cultural, economic, political and other aspects. Not only focus on space and architectural groups, but also look at the whole city from a broader and more holistic perspective to shape a better living environment. Compared to architecture, the spatial and temporal scale of urban design processing is much larger. It deals with neighborhoods, communities, and even the entire city.

The urban design education

Following the 1956 Urban Design conference, Harvard University established the first graduate program with urban design in its title, The Master of Architecture in Urban Design, although as a subject taught in universities its history in Europe is far older. Urban design programs explore the built environment from diverse disciplinary backgrounds and points of view. The pedagogically innovative combination of interdisciplinary studios, lecture courses, seminars, and independent study creates an intimate and engaged educational atmosphere in which students thrive and learn. Soon after in 1961, Washington University in St. Louis founded their Master of Urban Design program. Today, nineteen urban design programs exist in the United States:

Urban Design Center Kashiwa-no-ha Urban Design Center Kashiwa-no-ha.JPG
Urban Design Center Kashiwa-no-ha


The field of urban design holds enormous potential for helping us address today's biggest challenges: an expanding population, mass urbanization, rising inequality, and climate change. In its practice as well as its theories, urban design attempts to tackle these pressing issues. As climate change progresses, urban design can mitigate the results of flooding, temperature changes, and increasingly detrimental storm impacts through a mindset of sustainability and resilience. In doing so, the urban design discipline attempts to create environments that are constructed with longevity in mind. Cities today must be designed to minimize resource consumption, waste generation, and pollution while also withstanding the unknown impacts of climate change. In order to be truly resilient, our cities need to be able to not just bounce back from a catastrophic climate event, but to bounce forward to an improved state.

Justice is and will always be a key issue in urban design. As previously mentioned, past urban strategies have caused injustices within communities in capable of being remedied via simple means. As urban designers tackle the issue of justice, they often are required to look at the injustices of the past and must be careful not to overlook the nuances of race, place, and socioeconomic status in their design efforts. This includes ensuring reasonable access to basic services, transportation, and fighting against gentrification and the commodification of space for economic gain. Organizations such as the Divided Cities Initiatives at Washington University in St. Louis and the Just City Lab at Harvard work on promoting justice in urban design.

Until the 1970s, the design of towns and cities took little account of the needs of people with disabilities. 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 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 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 continues to raise awareness and enforce action on disability issues in the urban environment.

See also

Related Research Articles

Theories of urban planning

Planning theory is the body of scientific concepts, definitions, behavioral relationships, and assumptions that define the body of knowledge of urban planning. There are nine procedural theories of planning that remain the principal theories of planning procedure today: the Rational-Comprehensive approach, the Incremental approach, the Transformative Incremental (TI) approach, the Transactive approach, the Communicative approach, the Advocacy approach, the Equity approach, the Radical approach, and the Humanist or Phenomenological approach.

Landscape architecture Design of outdoor public areas, landmarks, and structures to achieve environmental, social-behavioral, or aesthetic outcomes

Landscape architecture is the design of outdoor areas, landmarks, and structures to achieve environmental, social-behavioural, or aesthetic outcomes. It involves the systematic design and general engineering of various structures for construction and human use, investigation of existing social, ecological, and soil conditions and processes in the landscape, and the design of other interventions that will produce desired outcomes. The scope of the profession is broad and can be subdivided into several sub-categories including professional or licensed landscape architects who are regulated by governmental agencies and possess the expertise to design a wide range of structures and landforms for human use; landscape design which is not a licensed profession; site planning; stormwater management; erosion control; environmental restoration; parks, recreation and urban planning; visual resource management; green infrastructure planning and provision; and private estate and residence landscape master planning and design; all at varying scales of design, planning and management. A practitioner in the profession of landscape architecture may be called a landscape architect, however in jurisdictions where professional licenses are required it is often only those who possess a landscape architect license who can be called a landscape architect.

New Urbanism Urban design movement promoting environmentally friendly habits

New Urbanism is an urban design movement which promotes environmentally friendly habits by creating walkable neighbourhoods containing a wide range of housing and job types. It arose in the United States in the early 1980s, and has gradually influenced many aspects of real estate development, urban planning, and municipal land-use strategies. New urbanism attempts to address the ills associated with urban sprawl and post-Second World War suburban development.

Built environment The human-made space in which people live, work and recreate on a day-to-day basis

In urban planning, architecture and civil engineering, the term built environment, or built world, refers to the human-made environment that provides the setting for human activity, including homes, buildings, zoning, streets, sidewalks, open spaces, transportation options, and more. It is defined as "the human-made space in which people live, work and recreate on a day-to-day basis."

Urbanism Study of how inhabitants of towns and cities interact with the built environment

Urbanism is the study of how inhabitants of urban areas, such as towns and cities, interact with the built environment. It is a direct component of disciplines such as urban planning, which is the profession focusing on the physical design and management of urban structures and urban sociology which is the academic field the study of urban life and culture.

Environmental psychology is an interdisciplinary field that focuses on the transactions between individuals and their surroundings. It examines the way in which the natural environment and our built environments shape us as individuals. Environmental Psychology emphasises how humans change the environment and how the environment changes humans experiences and behaviors. The field defines the term environment broadly, encompassing natural environments, social settings, built environments, learning environments, and informational environments.

Urban morphology is the study of the formation of human settlements and the process of their formation and transformation. The study seeks to understand the spatial structure and character of a metropolitan area, city, town or village by examining the patterns of its component parts and the ownership or control and occupation. Typically, analysis of physical form focuses on street pattern, lot pattern and building pattern, sometimes referred to collectively as urban grain. Analysis of specific settlements is usually undertaken using cartographic sources and the process of development is deduced from comparison of historic maps.

Sustainable city City designed with consideration for social, economic, environmental impact

Sustainable cities, urban sustainability, or eco-city is a city designed with consideration for social, economic, environmental impact, and resilient habitat for existing populations, without compromising the ability of future generations to experience the same. The UN Sustainable Development Goal 11 defines sustainable cities as those that are dedicated to achieving green sustainability, social sustainability and economic sustainability. They are committed to doing so by enabling opportunities for all through a design focused on inclusivity as well as maintaining a sustainable economic growth. The focus also includes minimizing required inputs of energy, water, and food, and drastically reducing waste, output of heat, air pollution – CO
, methane, and water pollution. Richard Register first coined the term ecocity in his 1987 book Ecocity Berkeley: Building Cities for a Healthy Future, where he offers innovative city planning solutions that would work anywhere. Other leading figures who envisioned sustainable cities are architect Paul F Downton, who later founded the company Ecopolis Pty Ltd, as well as authors Timothy Beatley and Steffen Lehmann, who have written extensively on the subject. The field of industrial ecology is sometimes used in planning these cities.

Sustainable landscape architecture

Sustainable landscape architecture is a category of sustainable design concerned with the planning and design of the built and natural environments.

Principles of intelligent urbanism (PIU) 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. These axioms include environmental sustainability, heritage conservation, appropriate technology, infrastructure-efficiency, placemaking, social access, transit-oriented development, regional integration, human scale, and institutional integrity. The term was coined by Prof. Christopher Charles Benninger.

Architectural plan

In the field of architecture an architectural plan is a design and planning for a building, and can contain architectural drawings, specifications of the design, calculations, time planning of the building process, and other documentation.

Environmentally sustainable design is the philosophy of designing physical objects, the built environment, and services to comply with the principles of ecological sustainability.

Sustainable urbanism

Sustainable urbanism is both the study of cities and the practices to build them (urbanism), that focuses on promoting their long term viability by reducing consumption, waste and harmful impacts on people and place while enhancing the overall well-being of both people and place. Well-being includes the physical, ecological, economic, social, health and equity factors, among others, that comprise cities and their populations. In the context of contemporary urbanism, the term cities refers to several scales of human settlements from towns to cities, metropolises and mega-city regions that includes their peripheries / suburbs / exurbs. Sustainability is a key component to professional practice in urban planning and urban design along with its related disciplines landscape architecture, architecture, and civil and environmental engineering. Green urbanism and ecological urbanism are other common terms that are similar to sustainable urbanism, however they can be construed as focusing more on the natural environment and ecosystems and less on economic and social aspects. Also related to sustainable urbanism are the practices of land development called Sustainable development, which is the process of physically constructing sustainable buildings, as well as the practices of urban planning called smart growth or growth management, which denote the processes of planning, designing, and building urban settlements that are more sustainable than if they were not planned according to sustainability criteria and principles.

Urban acupuncture

Urban acupuncture is a socio-environmental theory that combines contemporary urban design with traditional Chinese acupuncture, using small-scale interventions to transform the larger urban context. Sites are selected through analysis of aggregate social, economic and ecological factors, and are developed through a dialogue between designers and the community. Just as the practice of acupuncture is aimed at relieving stress in the human body, the goal of urban acupuncture is to relieve stress in the built environment. In Taipei, there was an urban acupuncture workshop that aimed to "produce small-scale but socially catalytic interventions" into the city's fabric.

This article delineates the history of urban planning, a technical and political process concerned with the use of land and design of the urban environment, including air, water, and the infrastructure passing into and out of urban areas such as transportation and distribution networks.

Urban planning Technical and political process concerned with the use of land and design of the urban environment

Urban planning, also known as regional planning, town planning, city planning, or rural planning, is a technical and political process that is focused on the development and design of land use and the built environment, including air, water, and the infrastructure passing into and out of urban areas, such as transportation, communications, and distribution networks and their accessibility. Traditionally, urban planning followed a top-down approach in master planning the physical layout of human settlements. The primary concern was the public welfare, which included considerations of efficiency, sanitation, protection and use of the environment, as well as effects of the master plans on the social and economic activities. Over time, urban planning has adopted a focus on the social and environmental bottom-lines that focus on planning as a tool to improve the health and well-being of people while maintaining sustainability standards. Sustainable development was added as one of the main goals of all planning endeavors in the late 20th century when the detrimental economic and the environmental impacts of the previous models of planning had become apparent.. Similarly, in the early 21st century, Jane Jacob's writings on legal and political perspectives to emphasize the interests of residents, businesses and communities effectively influenced urban planners to take into broader consideration of resident experiences and needs while planning.

Urbanism in Iran: Tehran

Modern urbanist ideas were first conceived and applied in Iran beginning in 1952. During the British boycott of Iranian oil of 1952, the Iranian government looked inward for income by investing in infrastructural and agricultural projects. It is during this period that the Bank Sakhtemani was established to create capital and funding for infrastructure projects throughout Iran, including urban development. In 1952, the Iranian parliament approved the purchase of lands outside the Tehran city limits by Sakhtemani Bank for development into towns. Bank Sakhtemani collaborated with The Association of Iranian Architect Diploma (AIAD) to prepare master plans for these projects. The first of these projects were Kuy-e-Narmak, TehranPars, and Nazi-Abad. The AIAD attempted to integrate ideas from modernist conferences such as the Union Internationale Des Architectes (UIA) and Congrès Internationaux D'architecture Modern (CIAM), with vernacular Persian architecture, hence practicing a vernacular modernism. Decades onward, these neighborhoods still maintain their underlying structure which organized them and makes them identifiable even though social and economic factors of the society have changed.

Everyday Urbanism is a concept introduced by Margaret Crawford, John Chase and John Kaliski in 1999. Everyday Urbanism is in Margaret Crawford words: ”an approach to Urbanism that finds its meanings in everyday life”. Contrary to New Urbanism, Everyday Urbanism is not concerned with aesthetics but with specific activities of the daily life. It constitutes an empirical approach that strengthens frequently unnoticed existing situations and experiences that occur in everyday life.

Wei Yang (urban designer) Chinese-British town planner and urban designer, born 1974

Wei Yang FAcSS FRTPI MCIHT is a Chinese-British town planner and urban designer. She is the founder of Wei Yang & Partners in London. She is a lead figure in researching, promoting and implementing the 21st Century Garden City approach and promoting joined up thinking between different built environment professionals.

Finding Lost Space: Theories of Urban Design is an architecture book by Roger Trancik, an educator and practitioner of urban design. The book has been translated into "simple" as well as "orthodox" Chinese translations. This book introduces the theory, vocabulary and issues of urban spatial design. It identifies and introduces the issue of ‘Lost Spaces’ that had emerged in the cities with the modern urban development and growth. The book was intended primarily for designers and students of the city. The book includes theoretical and critical discussion along with practical applications and strategies for correcting the problems of spatial structure.


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Further reading