Urban planning

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Partizanske in Slovakia - an example of a typical planned European industrial city founded in 1938 together with a shoemaking factory in which practically all adult inhabitants of the city were employed. Partizanske4.jpg
Partizánske in Slovakia – an example of a typical planned European industrial city founded in 1938 together with a shoemaking factory in which practically all adult inhabitants of the city were employed.

Urban planning is a technical and political process concerned with 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. [1] Urban planning deals with physical layout of human settlements. [2] The primary concern is the public welfare, [1] [2] which includes considerations of efficiency, sanitation, protection and use of the environment, [1] as well as effects on social and economic activities. [3] Urban planning is considered an interdisciplinary field that includes social engineering and design sciences. It is closely related to the field of urban design and some urban planners provide designs for streets, parks, buildings and other urban areas. [4] Urban planning is also referred to as urban and regional planning, regional planning, town planning, city planning, rural planning, urban development or some combination in various areas worldwide.

A design is a plan or specification for the construction of an object or system or for the implementation of an activity or process, or the result of that plan or specification in the form of a prototype, product or process. The verb to design expresses the process of developing a design. In some cases, the direct construction of an object without an explicit prior plan may also be considered to be a design activity. A design usually has to satisfy certain goals and constraints, may take into account aesthetic, functional, economic, or socio-political considerations, and is expected to interact with a certain environment. Major examples of designs include architectural blueprints, engineering drawings, business processes, circuit diagrams, and sewing patterns.

Land use total of arrangements, activities, and inputs that people undertake in a certain land cover type

Land use involves the management and modification of natural environment or wilderness into built environment such as settlements and semi-natural habitats such as arable fields, pastures, and managed woods. Land use by humans has a long history, first emerging more than 10,000 years ago. It also has been defined as "the total of arrangements, activities, and inputs that people undertake in a certain land cover type."

Urban area Human settlement with high population density and infrastructure of built environment

An urban area, or urban agglomeration, is a human settlement with high population density and infrastructure of built environment. Urban areas are created through urbanization and are categorized by urban morphology as cities, towns, conurbations or suburbs. In urbanism, the term contrasts to rural areas such as villages and hamlets and in urban sociology or urban anthropology it contrasts with natural environment. The creation of early predecessors of urban areas during the urban revolution led to the creation of human civilization with modern urban planning, which along with other human activities such as exploitation of natural resources leads to human impact on the environment.


Urban planning guides orderly development in urban, suburban and rural areas. Although predominantly concerned with the planning of settlements and communities, urban planning is also responsible for the planning and development of water use and resources, rural and agricultural land, parks and conserving areas of natural environmental significance. Practitioners of urban planning are concerned with research and analysis, strategic thinking, architecture, urban design, public consultation, policy recommendations, implementation and management. [2] Enforcement methodologies include governmental zoning, planning permissions, and building codes, [1] as well as private easements and restrictive covenants. [5]

Suburb Human settlement that is part of or near to a larger city

A suburb is a mixed-use or residential area, existing either as part of a city or urban area or as a separate residential community within commuting distance of a city. In most English-speaking countries, suburban areas are defined in contrast to central or inner-city areas, but in Australian English and South African English, suburb has become largely synonymous with what is called a "neighborhood" in other countries and the term extends to inner-city areas. In some areas, such as Australia, India, China, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and parts of the United States and Canada, new suburbs are routinely annexed by adjacent cities. In others, such as Saudi Arabia, France, and much of the United States and Canada, many suburbs remain separate municipalities or are governed as part of a larger local government area such as a county. In the United States, beyond the suburbs are exurbs, or "exurban areas", with less density but linked to the metropolitan area economically and by commuters.

Rural area geographic area that is located outside towns and cities

In general, a rural area or countryside is a geographic area that is located outside towns and cities. The Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines the word rural as encompassing "...all population, housing, and territory not included within an urban area. Whatever is not urban is considered rural."

Human settlement Community of any size, in which people live

In geography, statistics and archaeology, a settlement, locality or populated place is a community in which people live. The complexity of a settlement can range from a small number of dwellings grouped together to the largest of cities with surrounding urbanized areas. Settlements may include hamlets, villages, towns and cities. A settlement may have known historical properties such as the date or era in which it was first settled, or first settled by particular people.

Urban planners work with the cognate fields of architecture, landscape architecture, civil engineering, and public administration to achieve strategic, policy and sustainability goals. Early urban planners were often members of these cognate fields. Today urban planning is a separate, independent professional discipline. The discipline is the broader category that includes different sub-fields such as land-use planning, zoning, economic development, environmental planning, and transportation planning. [6]

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 investigation of existing social, ecological, and soil conditions and processes in the landscape, and the design of interventions that will produce the desired outcome. The scope of the profession includes landscape design; site planning; stormwater management; erosion control; environmental restoration; parks and recreation 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 is called a landscape architect.

Civil engineering engineering discipline specializing in design, construction and maintenance of the built environment

Civil engineering is a professional engineering discipline that deals with the design, construction, and maintenance of the physical and naturally built environment, including public works such as roads, bridges, canals, dams, airports, sewerage systems, pipelines, structural components of buildings, and railways.

Public administration public leadership of public affairs directly responsible for executive action

Public administration is the implementation of government policy and also an academic discipline that studies this implementation and prepares civil servants for working in the public service. As a "field of inquiry with a diverse scope" whose fundamental goal is to "advance management and policies so that government can function". Some of the various definitions which have been offered for the term are: "the management of public programs"; the "translation of politics into the reality that citizens see every day"; and "the study of government decision making, the analysis of the policies themselves, the various inputs that have produced them, and the inputs necessary to produce alternative policies."


Berlin - Siegessaule. Spacious and organized city planning in Germany was official government policy dating back to Nazi rule. Berlin - Siegessaule.jpg
Berlin - Siegessäule. Spacious and organized city planning in Germany was official government policy dating back to Nazi rule.

There is evidence of urban planning and designed communities dating back to the Mesopotamian, Indus Valley, Minoan, and Egyptian civilizations in the third millennium BCE. Archeologists studying the ruins of cities in these areas find paved streets that were laid out at right angles in a grid pattern. [8] The idea of a planned out urban area evolved as different civilizations adopted it. Beginning in the 8th century BCE, Greek city states were primarily centered on orthogonal (or grid-like) plans. [9] The ancient Romans, inspired by the Greeks, also used orthogonal plans for their cities. City planning in the Roman world was developed for military defense and public convenience. The spread of the Roman Empire subsequently spread the ideas of urban planning. As the Roman Empire declined, these ideas slowly disappeared. However, many cities in Europe still held onto the planned Roman city center. Cities in Europe from the 9th to 14th centuries, often grew organically and sometimes chaotically. But in the following centuries some newly created towns were built according to preconceived plans, and many others were enlarged with newly planned extensions. [10] From the 15th century on, much more is recorded of urban design and the people that were involved. In this period, theoretical treatises on architecture and urban planning start to appear in which theoretical questions are addressed and designs of towns and cities are described and depicted. During the Enlightenment period, several European rulers ambitiously attempted to redesign capital cities. During the Second French Republic, Baron Georges-Eugène Haussmann, under the direction of Napoleon III, redesigned the city of Paris into a more modern capital, with long, straight, wide boulevards. [11]

Mesopotamia Historical region within the Tigris–Euphrates river system

Mesopotamia is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in the northern part of the Fertile Crescent, in modern days roughly corresponding to most of Iraq, Kuwait, the eastern parts of Syria, Southeastern Turkey, and regions along the Turkish–Syrian and Iran–Iraq borders.

Ancient Egypt ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa

Ancient Egypt was a civilization of ancient North Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in the place that is now the country Egypt. Ancient Egyptian civilization followed prehistoric Egypt and coalesced around 3100 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under Menes. The history of ancient Egypt occurred as a series of stable kingdoms, separated by periods of relative instability known as Intermediate Periods: the Old Kingdom of the Early Bronze Age, the Middle Kingdom of the Middle Bronze Age and the New Kingdom of the Late Bronze Age.

3rd millennium BC years from 3000 BC to 2001 BC

The 3rd millennium BC spanned the years 3000 through 2001 BC. This period of time corresponds to the Early to Middle Bronze Age, characterized by the early empires in the Ancient Near East. In Ancient Egypt, the Early Dynastic Period is followed by the Old Kingdom. In Mesopotamia, the Early Dynastic Period is followed by the Akkadian Empire.

Planning and architecture went through a paradigm shift at the turn of the 20th century. The industrialized cities of the 19th century grew at a tremendous rate. The evils of urban life for the working poor were becoming increasingly evident as a matter for public concern. The laissez-faire style of government management of the economy, in fashion for most of the Victorian era, was starting to give way to a New Liberalism that championed intervention on the part of the poor and disadvantaged. Around 1900, theorists began developing urban planning models to mitigate the consequences of the industrial age, by providing citizens, especially factory workers, with healthier environments. The following century would therefore be globally dominated by a central planning approach to urban planning, not necessarily representing an increment in the overall quality of the urban realm. If anything, the new paradigm of highly regulated land-use forced the poorer urban class into informal settlements and slums.

The working poor are working people whose incomes fall below a given poverty line due to lack of work hours and/or low wages. Largely because they are earning such low wages, the working poor face numerous obstacles that make it difficult for many of them to find and keep a job, save up money, and maintain a sense of self-worth.

Laissez-faire is an economic system in which transactions between private parties are free from any form of government intervention such as regulation, privileges, imperialism, tariffs and subsidies. Proponents of laissez faire argue for a complete separation of government from the economic sector. The phrase laissez-faire is part of a larger French phrase and literally translates to 'let [it/them] do'; however, in this context, the phrase usually means 'let go'.

Victorian era Period of British history encompassing Queen Victorias reign

In the history of the United Kingdom, the Victorian era was the period of Queen Victoria's reign, from 20 June 1837 until her death on 22 January 1901. The era followed the Georgian period and preceded the Edwardian period, and its later half overlaps with the first part of the Belle Époque era of Continental Europe. In terms of moral sensibilities and political reforms, this period began with the passage of the Reform Act 1832. There was a strong religious drive for higher moral standards led by the nonconformist churches, such as the Methodists, and the Evangelical wing of the established Church of England. Britain's relations with the other Great Powers were driven by the colonial antagonism of the Great Game with Russia, climaxing during the Crimean War; a Pax Britannica of international free trade was maintained by the country's naval and industrial supremacy. Britain embarked on global imperial expansion, particularly in Asia and Africa, which made the British Empire the largest empire in history. National self-confidence peaked.

At the beginning of the 20th century, urban planning began to be recognized as a profession. The Town and Country Planning Association was founded in 1899 and the first academic course in Great Britain on urban planning was offered by the University of Liverpool in 1909. [12] In the 1920s, the ideas of modernism and uniformity began to surface in urban planning, and lasted until the 1970s. Many planners started to believe that the ideas of modernism in urban planning led to higher crime rates and social problems. [3] [13] Urban planners now focus more on individualism and diversity in urban centers.

The Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) is an independent charity founded and based in the United Kingdom. It works to improve the art and science of town and country planning.

University of Liverpool university in Liverpool, United Kingdom

The University of Liverpool is a public university based in the city of Liverpool, England. Founded as a college in 1881, it gained its royal charter in 1903 with the ability to award degrees and is also known to be one of the six original 'red brick' civic universities. It comprises three faculties organised into 35 departments and schools. It is a founding member of the Russell Group, the N8 Group for research collaboration and the university management school is AACSB accredited.

Modernism Philosophical and art movement (late 19th – early 20th century)

Modernism is both a philosophical movement and an art movement that, along with cultural trends and changes, arose from wide-scale and far-reaching transformations in Western society during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Among the factors that shaped modernism were the development of modern industrial societies and the rapid growth of cities, followed then by reactions of horror to World War I. Modernism also rejected the certainty of Enlightenment thinking, although many modernists also rejected religious belief.


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 approach, the transactive approach, the communicative approach, the advocacy approach, the equity approach, the radical approach, and the humanist or phenomenological approach. [14]

Technical aspects

Technical aspects of urban planning involve the applying scientific, technical processes, considerations and features that are involved in planning for land use, urban design, natural resources, transportation, and infrastructure. Urban planning includes techniques such as: predicting population growth, zoning, geographic mapping and analysis, analyzing park space, surveying the water supply, identifying transportation patterns, recognizing food supply demands, allocating healthcare and social services, and analyzing the impact of land use.

In order to predict how cities will develop and estimate the effects of their interventions, planners use various models. These models can be used to indicate relationships and patterns in demographic, geographic, and economic data. They might deal with short-term issues such as how people move through cities, or long-term issues such as land use and growth. [15]

Building codes and other regulations dovetail with urban planning by governing how cities are constructed and used from the individual level. [16]

Urban planners

An urban planner is a professional who works in the field of urban planning for the purpose of optimizing the effectiveness of a community's land use and infrastructure. They formulate plans for the development and management of urban and suburban areas, typically analyzing land use compatibility as well as economic, environmental and social trends. In developing any plan for a community (whether commercial, residential, agricultural, natural or recreational), urban planners must consider a wide array of issues including sustainability, existing and potential pollution, transport including potential congestion, crime, land values, economic development, social equity, zoning codes, and other legislation.

The importance of the urban planner is increasing in the 21st century, as modern society begins to face issues of increased population growth, climate change and unsustainable development. An urban planner could be considered a green collar professional. [17]

Some researchers suggest that urban planners around the world work in different "planning cultures", adapted to their local cities and cultures. [18] However, professionals have identified skills, abilities and basic knowledge sets that are common to urban planners across national and regional boundaries. [19] [20] [21]

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.

Smart growth is an urban planning and transportation theory that concentrates growth in compact walkable urban centers to avoid sprawl. It also advocates compact, transit-oriented, walkable, bicycle-friendly land use, including neighborhood schools, complete streets, and mixed-use development with a range of housing choices. The term "smart growth" is particularly used in North America. In Europe and particularly the UK, the terms "compact city", "urban densification" or "urban intensification" have often been used to describe similar concepts, which have influenced government planning policies in the UK, the Netherlands and several other European countries.

Urban design process of designing and shaping cities, towns and villages

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. In contrast to architecture, which focuses on the design of individual buildings, urban design deals with the larger scale of groups of buildings, streets and public spaces, whole neighbourhoods and districts, and entire cities, with the goal of making urban areas functional, attractive, and sustainable.

Zoning describes the control by authority of the use of land, and of the buildings thereon

Zoning is the process of dividing land in a municipality into zones in which certain land uses are permitted or prohibited. In addition, the sizes, bulk, and placement of buildings may be regulated. The type of zone determines whether planning permission for a given development is granted. Zoning may specify a variety of outright and conditional uses of land. It may also indicate the size and dimensions of land area as well as the form and scale of buildings. These guidelines are set in order to guide urban growth and development.

New Urbanism urban design movement promoting environmentally friendly habits

New Urbanism is an urban design movement which promotes environmentally friendly habits by creating walkable neighborhoods 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.

Urban studies is the diverse range of disciplines and approaches to the study of all aspects of cities, their suburbs, and other urban areas. This includes among others: urban economics, urban planning, urban ecology, urban transportation systems, urban politics, sociology and urban social relations. This can be contrasted with the study of rural areas and rural lifestyles.

Land-use planning is the process of regulating the use of land in an effort to promote more desirable social and environmental outcomes as well as a more efficient use of resources. Goals of land use planning may include environmental conservation, restraint of urban sprawl, minimization of transport costs, prevention of land use conflicts, and a reduction in exposure to pollutants. By and large, the uses of land determine the diverse socioeconomic activities that occur in a specific area, the patterns of human behavior they produce, and their impact on the environment.

Spatial planning technique for physical organisation of space

Spatial planning systems refer to the methods and approaches used by the public and private sector to influence the distribution of people and activities in spaces of various scales. Spatial planning can be defined as the coordination of practices and policies affecting spatial organization. Spatial planning is synonymous with the practices of urban planning in the United States but at larger scales and the term is often used in reference to planning efforts in European countries. Discrete professional disciplines which involve spatial planning include land use, urban, regional, transport and environmental planning. Other related areas are also important, including economic and community planning. Spatial planning takes place on local, regional, national and inter-national levels and often results in the creation of a spatial plan.

Paul Davidoff American academic

Paul Davidoff was an American planner, planning educator, and planning theoretician who conceptualized "advocacy planning" with his wife, Linda Stone Davidoff. In legal scholarship, he is known as the primary litigant in the Mount Laurel decision, which established a state-constitutional basis for inclusionary zoning in New Jersey, a doctrine which has been accepted in other United States jurisdictions. Davidoff founded the Suburban Action Institute and the urban planning department at Hunter College, and also taught at the University of Pennsylvania and Princeton University during his career.

Urban, city, or town planning is the discipline of planning which explores several aspects of the built and social environments of municipalities and communities:

An urban planner is a professional who practices in the field of urban planning.

Urban planning in China

Urban Planning in China (中国) or The People's Republic of China (中华人民共和国) is currently characterized by a top down approach, high density urban development and extensive urbanization. China's urban planning philosophies and practices have undergone multiple transitions due to governance and economic structure changes throughout the nation's extensive history. The founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949 marks the beginning of three recent historical stages of urban planning philosophies and practice that represent a divergence from traditional Chinese urban planning morphologies are broadly categorized as socialist, hybrid and global cities.

Geodesign is a set of concepts and methods to get all stakeholders and different professions involved in order to collaboratively design and realize the optimal solution for spatial challenges in the built and natural environments, utilizing all available techniques and data in an integrated process. Originally, geodesign was mainly applied during the design & planning phase. "Geodesign is a design and planning method which tightly couples the creation of design proposals with impact simulations informed by geographic contexts." Now, it is also used during realization and maintenance phases and to facilitate re-use of for example buildings or industrial areas. Geodesign includes project conceptualization, analysis, design specification, stakeholder participation and collaboration, design creation, simulation, and evaluation.

Urban planning education is a practice of teaching and learning urban theory, studies, and professional practices. The interaction between public officials, professional planners and the public involves a continuous education on planning process. Community members often serve on a city planning commission, council or board. As a result, education outreach is effectively an ongoing cycle.

Open-source architecture (OSArc) is an emerging paradigm that advocates new procedures in imagination and formation of virtual and real spaces within a universal infrastructure. Drawing from references as diverse as open-source culture, modular design, avant-garde architectural theory, science fiction, language theory, and neuro-surgery, it adopts an inclusive approach as per spatial design towards a collaborative use of design and design tools by professionals and ordinary citizen users. The umbrella term citizen-centered design harnesses the notion of open-source architecture, which in itself involves the non-building architecture of computer networks, and goes beyond it to the movement that encompass the building design professions, as a whole.

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.

Technical aspects of urban planning involve the technical processes, considerations and features that are involved in planning for land use, urban design, natural resources, transportation, and infrastructure.

Planning cultures are the differing customs and practices in the profession of urban and regional planning that exist around the world. The discourse, models, and styles of communication in planning are adapted to the various local conditions of each community such that planning approaches from one part of the world are not necessarily transferrable to other parts of the globe. Planning culture can refer to how planning professionals undertake their practice in a given location, where they are "affected by both individual and collectively shared cognitive frames" that shape their view of the world. Planners, as stated by Simone Abram, are "constantly in the process of actually producing culture". The concept of planning culture also encompasses how planning actually unfolds within a community, as shaped by its culture and influenced by its people. Differing cultural contexts produce different planning and policy responses to issues "bound to specific local (cultural) contexts". Examples of planning cultures include those specific to different countries, regions, and parts of the globe, as well as differing cultures that exist within the same location, such as indigenous planning cultures.

Indigenous planning is an ideological approach to the field of regional planning where planning done by Indigenous peoples for Indigenous communities. Practitioners integrate traditional knowledge or cultural knowledge into the process of planning. Indigenous planning recognizes that "all human communities plan" and that Indigenous communities have been carrying out their own community planning processes for thousands of years. While the broader context of urban planning, and social planning includes the need to work cooperatively with indigenous persons and organizations, the process in doing so is dependent on social, political and cultural forces.

Complete communities is an urban and rural planning concept that aims to meet the basic needs of all residents in a community, regardless of income, culture, or political ideologies through integrated land use planning, transportation planning, and community design. While the concept is used by many communities as part of their community plan, each plan interprets what complete community means in their own way. The idea of the complete community has roots in early planning theory, beginning with The Garden City Movement, and is a component of contemporary planning methods including Smart Growth.


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  16. Codes, rules, and standards are part of a matrix of relations that influence the practice of urban planning and design. These forms of regulation provide an important and inescapable framework for development, from the laying out of subdivisions to the control of stormwater runoff. The subject of regulations leads to the source of how communities are designed and constructed—defining how they can and can't be built—and how codes, rules, and standards continue to shape the physical space where we live and work.Ben-Joseph, Eran (2012). "Codes and Standards in Urban Planning and Design". In Weber, Rachel; Crane, Randall (eds.). The Oxford Handbook of Urban Planning. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press. pp. 352–370. ISBN   978-0-19-537499-5.
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  18. Friedman, John (2012). "Varieties of Planning Experience: Toward a Globalized Planning Culture?". In Weber, Rachel; Crane, Randall (eds.). The Oxford Handbook of Urban Planning. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press. pp. 87–98. ISBN   978-0-19-537499-5.
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Further reading

Library guides for urban planning