The traditional design

professions, their products and urban design


One of the reasons for there being so much confusion over the nature of urban design is that each of the traditional design professions regards the products of its own domain as urban design if they are located in cities. In addition, architects assume many urban problems can be treated as architecture, landscape architects as landscape architecture and city planners as city planning. They look at urban design through the norms of their professional products. The position taken here is that most of such professional work in urban environments is on the periphery of urban design per se. By stating that it is on the periphery does not mean that it is unimportant in enhancing the quality of human settlements, but that it really is part of the core work of the three professions: city planning (see Chapter 4), landscape architecture (see Chapter 5) or architecture (see Chapter 6).

The labours of these three major environmental design fields (civil engineering could easily be added to the list) involve collaborative work. City planning involves the collaboration of sociologists, economists and lawyers as well as planners in designing urban policies and programmes. Architecture involves a variety of engineers and specialists in the design of any building and landscape architecture the assistance of engineers and horticulturalists. Urban design is the field that involves all three design fields but except for some total urban designs not at the level of detail that they address. Urban design products are different and so is the process by which they are developed.

The nature of the city-planning endeavour varies considerably across the world. In a number of countries in Europe and Asia, it is very much urban design oriented. It deals not only with broad urban policies but also with precinct plans and specifications for the buildings within them. More generally in the English-speaking world, however, city-planning deals with broad policy concerns that may or may not have an impact, predicted or not, on the physical quality of cities. Much of the attention in recent years has been focused on social and economic change with policies and programmes as the products of this type of planning. Physical planning, other than in dealing with the desired distribution of land uses, has been very much neglected. The product of such city-planning work is the land-use master plan with zoning codes as the mechanism for achieving its ends. The social and economic policies developed by municipal governments do impinge on urban design, but whether city planning and urban designing are conterminous or whether urban design is simply a sub-field of city planning or vice versa is open to considerable debate. Some product types may well be both city planning and urban design. Many new towns fall into this category.

Both landscape architecture and architecture are concerned with the detailed design and implementation of specific products at one time. Given this observation it could be argued that what has been identified as total urban design is often simply large-scale architecture. The logic for including some such work in the mainstream of urban design in Part 3: 'The Core of Urban Design Work: Procedures and Products' is that its comprehensive treatment brings together all the design fields into focusing on single three-dimensional, multi-building design endeavours. Neither landscape architectural nor architectural work, per se, does that.

The qualities of streets, squares and other urban places and the links between them, as behaviour settings and as aesthetic displays, are amongst the core concerns of urban design. The distinction between landscape architecture and the core of urban design work described in 'Part 3' depends on whether the enclosing elements form part of the design or whether it is simply the ground surface between buildings that is of concern. The first is urban design; the latter falls into the realm of landscape architecture. Many landscape architects will dispute this position saying that any design in cities is urban design. In this way, landscape architecture differentiates itself from horticulture and garden design. If landscape architecture broadens its concerns to embrace the three-dimensional world of buildings it is well placed to claim urban design as its very own.

Architectural societies around the world give urban design awards to the products of everyday architectural work - individual buildings. Certainly, all buildings affect their surroundings but many architects pay little heed to how their work affects the public realm. Either they know not how to do so or the social context in which they are working prevents them from doing so. Most buildings represent private rather than public interests. Architects' prime obligations are to their clients - those who pay them - and to their own need to market themselves in order to stay in practice. It is only through the application of controls and design guidelines that they are compelled to deal with public interest concerns. Single building design is not urban design except, perhaps, when a building has been located as a catalyst to encourage development around it as part of a public policy. Designing a complex of buildings may well be urban design.

The three chapters that comprise this part of the book cover the work of the traditional design professions and the products that are associated with them. The products described in the case studies used to illustrate the work of what these three professions regard as urban design are only really urban design if they deal: (1) with the three-dimensional world and (2) their impact on their context, and not simply the consequences of the context for the design. The conclusion ultimately is that the product-oriented view of urban design is an important but limited one, if the desire is to really understand the nature of the field and its complexities.

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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