Urban Design as Part of Comprehensive Planning

Urban development is an endless process. Edmund Bacon portrayed it as in Figure 4.1 (Bacon, 1969). Urban design is very much part of the development

Figure 4.1 Urban design (project planning and architectural imagery) as part of the development process.

process as he considered it. He thought of area plans and, particularly, project plans being urban design because they show the three-dimensional character that is sought for precincts of cities. The problem with these area plans is that they failed to deal with the implementation process beyond the formation of zoning codes. They did not consider the plans to be representing end states to be actively pursued and built.

The diagram does not show that the urban development process, explicitly or implicitly, involves social and economic designs for a city. Nor does it show the battle amongst different interest groups for the attention of planners - the tugs between physical design, social design and economic design concerns. What it does show is that urban design concerns should be derived from and then fed back into any comprehensive plan for a city's future. Most comprehensive planning fails to do so. Singapore is one place where that is different.

The statutory comprehensive plan for Singapore is based on a two-dimensional concept plan (originally developed in 1971 but updated in 1991 and again in 2001; see Figure 10.12). The plan envisioned a series of new towns strung along transportation routes binding the city-state into a single entity. For planning purposes the city-state is divided into 50 planning precincts, each with its set of design objectives, specifications for building uses and with design guidelines for each new development. Until recently, all these decisions were made by either the Urban Redevelopment Authority (for central Singapore) or the Housing Development Board (for the new towns) in accordance with the specifications of the statutory authorities. Now the market is allowed to play a greater role. No other city with a democratically elected government has had such clearly delineated lines of authority and such centralized control in setting design directions. In Singapore urban design occurs within an overall city-planning framework or, perhaps more accurately, city planning occurs within an urban design framework!

Singapore is a case where highly educated politicians, in particular the country's leadership ever since independence, have been concerned with the quality of the physical environment. Their concern has been with both its efficiency and aesthetics. The leadership has recognized that the economic benefits of a positive working and living environment with a modern image are vast. It came belatedly to understand that the preservation and rehabilitation of the city's history through its physical fabric has important economic (in terms of tourism) and social benefits (in terms of identity) for Singaporeans. Many outsiders see the controls imposed to achieve the state's objectives to have been too harsh but nowhere in the world has a city upgraded itself as much in as short a time period.

A very different approach was used in Curitiba, Brazil (see Chapter 10). There the comprehensive plan was translated into a number of infrastructure development strategies. The goal was to have development projects plugged into the new infrastructure of transportation links and other facilities, such as community centres. The infrastructure design involved urban, engineering and architectural components.

Major references

Hopenfeld, Morton (1961). The role of design in city planning. American Institute of Architects Journal 35 (5): 4-44.

Lewyn, Michael (2003). Zoning without zoning. http://www.planetizen.com/oped/item. php?id=112.

Punter, John and Matthew Carmona (1997). Public realm policies. In The Design Dimension of City Planning: Theory, Content, and Best Practice for Design Policies. London: E & FN Spon, 169-77.

Wasserman, Jim (2004). Growth experts push new zoning to spark aesthetic renaissance. San Diego Union Tribune. 22, February. http://www/signonsandiego.com/news/state/ 20040222-1144-ca-reinventinggrowth.html

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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