The Urban Designing Process

There have been a number of efforts to model the process and procedures of urban designing. Most generic models suggest a rational step-by-step procedure that moves from perceptions of a problem to post-implementation evaluation of a completed work as in Figure 2.2. While the models give some structure to our thinking and to our design of the decision-making process appropriate to a job at hand, urban design does not take place in the neat sequential manner that the models suggest. It is a highly argumentative process of conjecturing - putting out ideas - and testing them in an iterative fashion.

The participants in the development of any urban design project will be arguing with each other and with themselves as they speculate about what the issues are and how best to deal with them. Urban designing is an argumentative process

in which participants in it learn as they go along. They learn about goals and means as perceived by different stakeholders, they learn from the evidence that each provides for its views. They take stands on what they believe the public realm should be to be in the public interest. They argue about the variables that should be taken into consideration and what good design entails. Conjectures are tested by individuals using their own logics based on their predictions of the consequences of different design actions.

It is easy to be cynical about who wins the arguments (i.e. those holding the purse strings) but good information based on empirical knowledge is a powerful tool that designers can employ. So are their reputations (except when facing cross-examination in court). In his design for the DG Bank building on Pariser Platz in Berlin, Frank Gehry showed that reputations allow for concessions that less-renowned architects might not get (see Chapter 8).

The rational model of design suggests that the urban designing process begins with the perception of an opportunity worth exploiting or a problem worth overcoming. According to the model a designer should start with an open mind. We all, however, have heads lull of generic solutions, examples and anecdotal knowledge that guide us. It is likely that all designers begin designing with some vague image of a possible solution in mind. This design gets shaped though a series of approximations as designing progresses and new information becomes available. Most, if not all, of the case studies included in this book have antecedents or a mixture of antecedents. How much should designers rely on precedents? (see Rowe, 1983). Case studies and sound generic solutions are certainly helpful both in understanding the problems that require attention in specific situations and in creating solutions. The world is, however, changing. Inventing new generic solutions is thus a worthwhile task. Whose responsibility is it to do so? In the past they have been the products of visionaries and practitioners, professionals and lay-people, social scientists and artists. Future models need to be culture and climate specific. Much can be learnt from the generic qualities of case studies.

There are great similarities amongst the decision-making processes used in all the case studies included in this book. All urban designing involves the basic steps of deciding to engage in a situation, developing a brief and building programme, finding the finances, and seeing that programme through to completion. What differs is how the overall process is handled and the way each step is carried out. Who controls? Who does what?

There are four generic types of urban design work that vary in the procedure that is followed and/or the degree of control that a designer, as an individual or as a team, has over the creation of a product. They are as follows:

1 Total urban design, where the urban designer is part of the development team that carries a scheme through from inception to completion.

2 All-of-a-piece urban design, where the urban design team devises a master plan and sets the parameters within which a number of developers work on components of the overall project.

3 Piece-by-piece urban design, in which general policies and procedures are applied to a precinct of a city in order to steer development in specific directions.

4 Plug-in urban design, where the design goal is to create the infrastructure so that subsequent developments can 'plug in' to it or, alternatively, a new element of infrastructure is plugged into the existing urban fabric to enhance a location's amenity level as a catalyst for development.

The borderline between categories is fuzzy. The first two types, total and all-of-a-piece urban design have historically been the core of urban design work but all four are considered as such in this book because they focus on the four-dimensional built environment and require the collaborative actions of all the design disciplines.

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