The nature of urban

design and urban designing

Today the term 'urban design' is used to describe almost any design that takes place in any city setting. 'It seems that every person and their dog is an urban designer; it's sexy and it's chic' (Tennant, 2004). Legally any person can call himself or herself an urban designer. Many people in the design fields without experience or formal training or any observable interest in dealing with urban design concerns automatically tag the title on to their basic qualification in order to better market their services. Designers are, after all, generally small business operators.

Many architects believe anybody who can design a building well is capable of designing a good city. Many architects and fewer, but notable, landscape architects have designed (or rather led the designing of) fine urban environments for people (and, sometimes, other animate species). Sadly, although being well inten-tioned, they have also created some less than desirable worlds. The design process is indeed similar in all decision-making fields but the problems addressed are very different. The objective of the first part of this book is to identify the different ways in which the design process is carried out in dealing with urban phenomena and the types of products to which the label 'urban design' has been applied. The story presented in this book begins, in 'Chapter 1: The public realm of cities and urban design', with a discussion of the concerns of urban design and the nature of the public realm of cities and societies.

Many fields are concerned with the quality of the public realm of cities and other human settlements. It is an interest shared by city planners and often landscape architects. Architects, working as architects, are in contrast primarily concerned with the design of buildings for specific clients. They become strong advocates for their clients' interests and for their own rights as artists. Urban design, however, is seen as an integrative design field addressing the traditional and overlapping concerns of city planning, landscape architecture, civil engineering (now often called environmental engineering) and architecture. It is concerned with the design of specific products: new towns, new suburbs, new precincts of cities and suburbs, urban renewal, and urban squares and streets. The list is almost endless. Broadly speaking, however, there is a single concern: the design of the public, urban realm at a city and precinct level.

Part 1

Urban design deals with the creation of the physical public realm of human settlements within the public realm of decision-making. The objective in the opening chapter is thus not only with giving a broad definition to urban design but also with coming to some understanding of the nature of the public realm of the physical fabric of cities and the public realm of decision-making. There are many questions about what actually constitutes the physical public realm. The answers depend on prevailing political attitudes towards community and individual rights. The stand taken here is a broad one and with it in mind the nature of urban designing is described and explained in 'Chapter 2: Urban design processes and procedures'.

The nature of urban design varies considerably based on the process by which its various product types are implemented. Historically, many now much-admired urban design schemes were implemented through the use of autocratic power, political and/or financial. Some still are. Examples of both are included in this book. The principal concern here is, however, with urban design in democratic, capitalist societies. After his experiences with the evolving design of the World Trade Center site development in New York, Daniel Libeskind noted that design in democratic societies is 'complex . . . with many pressures and tensions . . . We are not living in Haussmann's Paris . . . We live in a pluralistic society' (Lubell, 2004). Actually Haussmann found many tensions in the redevelopment of Paris too (see Jordan, 1995).

The objective in this second chapter is to outline the steps involved in design: the analysis, synthesis, and evaluation of potential designs on the drawing board, their implementation and the evaluation of how well they function in place. Function too is an ambiguous term. In any discourse on urban design there is thus also the need to take a stand on what 'function' means. It is defined here to include how the physical forms of cities work symbolically, as an aesthetic ensemble, and as a supporter of desired activity patterns. The physical fabric of cities is also a financial investment and those investing in it expect a financial return on their investments.

A fundamental question in both autocratic and democratic societies is: 'Who actually controls the development of an urban design product whatever it is?' This question leads to a series of others. 'Who defines the problem to be addressed and the opportunities to be seized?' 'Who designs the solutions?' No definitive single answer can be given to these questions. The chapter describes the possibilities. In the past I have argued for a strongly problem-oriented urban design process relying on a knowledge base of abstract descriptive and explanatory theory (see Lang, 1987, 1994). The criticism of this position has been that designers simply do not want to work that way nor will they (see Frascati, 1989). They will rely on precedents and generic solutions.

In the final chapter of this part of the book, 'Chapter 3: An evolving typology of urban design projects', the domain of urban design is mapped. Explicitly stated in the chapter is that it is primarily the processes of implementation and control that should differentiate amongst types of urban design projects. In the typology, the distinction between the four procedural types of urban design identified in the 'Introduction: the argument' - total urban design, all-of-a-piece urban design, piece-by-piece urban design and plug-in urban design - forms the primary dimension of any categorization.

A further distinction can be made amongst urban design projects based on the vocabulary of patterns that forms the basis of their design. The vocabulary, in turn, depends on what is perceived by a set of design theorists, or ideologists, to be the model, or paradigm, of good practice. During the past 50 years we have seen Modernist views on what makes a good city give way to other ideas based on a much broader definition of the functions of the public realm than the Modernists had. Nevertheless, the major paradigms that have shaped urban design schemes over the past 50 years are still with us and are still valid in specific circumstances: the City Beautiful (or Baroque), the Modernist in its rationalist and empiricist forms, and the post-Modernist in its rationalist and empiricist forms. The typology is thus based on the observation that urban design projects can be divided into categories based on the procedure that was used to implement them, the product types they represent and the paradigms within which they were designed.

The case studies included in this book provide the evidence for the typology being a useful way of organizing the examples of work that define the urban design field. The utility of the typology will be demonstrated in Part 3 of this book. Prior to that, however, Part 2 argues that the traditional design disciplines consider urban design in terms of the types of products they, themselves, produce. They do not see urban design as a collaborative venture. Their typologies are product-driven. That approach reveals neither the dynamics of the decisionmaking process nor the lull scope of concern of urban designers.

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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