For a while now I’ve had an issue with both the term and the definition of ‘urban design’. What exactly is it? Compare it to architecture or planning, which are professions that are easy to define and identify, even to a child’s mind. At its most simple level, architects design buildings, while planners design cities. We understand those roles because they have boundaries and actions that give them a clear identity. But not so for urban design.
We can all identify a well-designed space when we see it, but what part of this is due to good contemporary design? Did it come about due to robust planning policies that encouraged a vibrant mix of uses? Was it due to the active participation of community groups? For most projects, it is probably of all the above… and then some more. What we understand to be urban design involves a broad spectrum of disciplines, such as landscape architects, planners, architects, engineers, etc. In addition, there is the involvement of the public, government agencies, and developers. It’s clearly a ‘team effort’ to produce good urban design interventions.
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