The Design Professions and Urban Design

All three of the major environmental design fields use the term 'urban design' to describe aspects of their own work. Civil engineering has yet to do so even though infrastructure design is a key element in urban design. To many people urban design and urban planning are the same thing but the products they produce are very different (see Chapter 4). Often, however, urban planning is concerned primarily with the distribution of land uses in relationship to transportation networks. It has focused on economic development regardless of the physical design consequences. Yet, at its best city planning does consider the third and fourth dimension of cities rather than allowing them to be by-products of other decisions. Urban design as a separate design activity arose largely because city planning neglected the built environment in its deliberations of urban futures.

The quality of the urban landscape is a major contributor to perceptions of the qualities of cities. A city's physical character is defined by the nature of its streets, squares and other open spaces in terms of how they are shaped by enclosing elements (Goldfinger, 1942). The biological health of cities depends on the interactions between the natural and the artificial. Few landscape architects since the era of Olmsted have, however, engaged themselves in urban design. They have tended to shy away from dealing with more than designing open spaces. They have been concerned only with select types of products (see Chapter 5).

Architects, as architects, too have looked at urban design in terms of specific types of products: buildings as objects rather than as space makers (see Chapter 6). The leadership in developing urban design as a professional field has, nevertheless, come from architects with broader concerns. They have been interested in the design of complexes of buildings, and what cities and neighbourhoods might be like. Some of their ideas and conceptual schemes have been based on rationalist thought and others on empirical observations about cities. Still other architects have, however, been highly pragmatic. They have been concerned only with how to get projects initiated and carried through. Some of the projects reviewed here may have been whimsical ego-trips but most, I would argue, have been based on a sense of idealism.

Part of the difficulty in defining the scope of urban design today is that each of the professions wants to claim it as its own. Architectural societies give urban design awards to single buildings, landscape architects to squares, and city planners to a wide variety of items. Urban design, however, involves all these matters, not individually but in concert. It is a collaborative effort between public and private sectors, between professions, and between practitioners and researchers. It deals with the four-dimensional inhabited world.

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.

Get My Free Ebook

Post a comment