Two Kinds of Urban Design

I just read a book, and have some thoughts about it, despite I just read the first couple pages of the book. Most of the content of this post is based on Emily Talen’s book. The graphic that I made for it is also based on the book.

Two kinds of urban design

Emily Talen on her book, Urban Design Reclaimed, wrote that there are two kinds of urban design.

The first one is done by architects. It treats urban design like a big architectural project – a simultaneously designed group of buildings and public spaces. The approach is mostly concerned with the arrangement of three-dimensional objects in space:

  • Massing
  • Texture
  • Materials
  • And the unique designs of individual buildings and spaces

One of the main issues that Emily wrote about this kind of urban design was that it’s generally driven by monied client like a private developer or a municipal government. Well, as examples, you can see some urban design projects in Beijing and Dubai.

The other kind of urban design is community based. It is rooted in urban planning profession rather than architecture, and has a much more distinctly social purpose in mind. It is focused on the health of the neighborhoods as social units rather than the aesthetic qualities.

This kind of urban design, said Emily is not developer driven, it is the result of people who care about place coming together and formulating a physical plan for neighborhood improvement.

On those two kinds of urban design, you can see the differences that have been written by Emily. You can have your own opinion about them, but in my opinion, urban design has to be done by mixing the two kinds of the approaches. It seems that architects are selfish, but actually, not all of them have a big ego in consideration of an urban design projects. Urban design has to be planned well, community based, but on the other hand, it has to have a good aesthetic appearance. Although it’s not the first thing to be considered.

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