An Observation

In his essay, 'Politics and the English Language,' written in 1946, George Orwell observed that words such as democracy, socialism, freedom, patriotic, realistic and justice have several different meanings that 'cannot be reconciled with each other'. In the case of democracy, he noted, 'not only is there no agreed on definition, but the attempt to make one is resisted from all sides'. The consequence is that 'the defenders of every kind of régime claim it is a democracy' (Orwell, 1961). The art world also finds high utility in the ambiguity of words.

Words such as 'romantic, plastic, values, human, dead, sentimental, natural, vitality', Orwell claimed, are meaningless. Moreover, those who use them do not expect them to have a meaning. Consequently, critics can discuss a topic without knowing what each other is talking about and can agree or, if they prefer, disagree with each other. Orwell could have made much the same remarks about the field of architecture. The terms human scale, organic, dynamic and context are equally loosely used by architects. It is advantageous in all three worlds (politics, art and architecture) for the words to be ambiguous or multiva-lent and thus largely meaningless. It allows the discourse to flow freely, albeit without clarity.

The same comment can be made about the use of the rubric 'urban design' today. Certainly the majority of the design professionals and others involved in what they call urban design avoid having to define the term. The advantage is that each can claim to have expertise as an urban designer and, if Orwell is correct, talk about it with others without having a common understanding. This confusion is both unnecessary and unhelpful if architects, landscape architects and city planners are to make a positive contribution to the development of cities and other human settlements. We really need to know what we are talking about when we use the term. Are we, however, capable of clarifying what we mean?

An analysis of the building projects completed during the past five decades that have been regarded as 'urban design' presents us with an opportunity to understand what the domain of urban design has become. A set of systematic case studies focusing on these projects as products and on how they were generated makes it possible to develop a typology, a system of classification of urban design projects, that adds clarity to discussions on urban design. A clear typology also enables design professionals to understand how different approaches to urban design have created the results they have in different socio-political situations. Before creating a typology, however, it is necessary to understand what urban design might mean at a general level. Then the specifics can be considered.

Homeowners Guide To Landscaping

Homeowners Guide To Landscaping

How would you like to save a ton of money and increase the value of your home by as much as thirty percent! If your homes landscape is designed properly it will be a source of enjoyment for your entire family, it will enhance your community and add to the resale value of your property. Landscape design involves much more than placing trees, shrubs and other plants on the property. It is an art which deals with conscious arrangement or organization of outdoor space for human satisfaction and enjoyment.

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