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What is Urban Design?

MAS informal talk 02

Sarah Nichols

on 2 March 2015

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Transcript of What is Urban Design?

What is Urban Design?
Josep Lluis Sert
Conferences at Harvard School of Design

other participants:
Jane Jacobs, Lewis Mumford, Hideko Sasaki, Victor Gruen...

"City planners today are concerned with the structure of the city, its process of growth and decay, and the study of the factors - geographic, social political, and economic - which have shaped the city... In fact, in late years, the scientific phase has been more emphasized than the artistic one. Urban design is that part of city planning which deals with the physical form of the city... the most creative phase and that in which imaginative and artistic capacities can play an important part.
"City planners, landscape architects, and architects can only be a part of a larger team of specialists required to solve urban design problems.

housing the 'largest number of people' vs the growth of slums

Europeans in America
postwar building boom, suburbanization, transfer of values
less a professional set of skills than a common aim across design disciplines
originally, the aesthetic design of urban spaces (Sitte, Hegemann...)
concern for the ordinary elements of the city, more about housing, space than monuments, hierarchy
importance of pedagogy, civic-mindedness
inherently collective
Why Urban Design?
Rapid Urbanization of World Population
1975 - 1/3 world's population in cities
2007 - 1/2, and growing
(source: UN, World Urbanization Prospects)

Death of Planning
Role of the nation-state is distributed
The city is being shaped by many actors - private and public - with conflicting interests
Guiding decisions and reaching consensus has become critical to designing the city

"Civilization cannot be a string of country villas or a sprawl across the landscape of incomplete satellites revolving around nothing"
-David Lawrence, Mayor of Philadelphia
Aldo Rossi
L'architettura della città, 1966
Rem Koolhaas
If Bigness transforms architecture, its accumulation generates a new kind of city. The exterior of the city is no longer a collective theater where "it" happens; there's no collective "it" left. The street has become residue, organizational device, mere segment of the continuous metropolitan plane where the remnants of the past face the equipments of the new in an uneasy standoff. Bigness can exist any where on that plane. Not only is Bigness incapable of establishing relationships with the classical city-at most, it coexists-but in the quantity and complexity of the facilities it offers, it is itself urban.

Megaform as Urban Landscape
Ken Frampton
photo: lallomatto2010, flickr
city as continuous flow of history
architecture as object standing outside that flow
Leon (and Rob) Krier
civilization is in decline
"The catastrophic state of great parts of our environment is a direct expression of how far urban politics are now dominated by factional interests to the disadvantage of the common good"
we cannot invent a new language, must use traditional forms
associates: Rob Krier (brother), Andrés Duany, Richard Rogers

Tramline development funded by the rise in real estate value from the implementation of the tram line
Louis Kahn - traffic flow study
Hugh Ferriss
Relational Urban Design studio work, Eduardo Rico and Enriqueta Llabres, AA
The form of cities is essentially the physicalization of processes, interdepencies, and relations controlled at various scales by different decision-making bodies, design teams, and other agents in a constant process of defining the spaces we live in.
Regulatory bodies and the installation of parameters are essential to control, coherence, and legibility
One of the most heavily used, but also one of the most low-cost urban transportation systems in the world
Mayor-planner Jaime Lerner conceived of the system as a means of guiding urban growth and alleviating poverty through the implementation of a public transporation system
guides growth along specific corridors and allows the city center to be pedestrian-only
Iconic red stations also act as public facilities with post offices, newspaper stands, and small-scale rental facilities
Robert Moses
Object-Based and Typological
Landscape Urbanism
mobility is the essential condition of modern life.
The development potential of a city or region relies on the quality of its connections to various transit networks, while the existence of infrastructure spurs and guides development. As such, investment in infrastructure is a form of welfare.
Infrastructural hubs in turn create hyper-urban spaces (see also: archipelago)
Teddy Cruz
Without transforming the public’s image of the city, it is difficult to produce meaningful urban transformations... urban pedagogy can elevate a sense of civic awareness and participation
see also: infrastructure

true experimental architectures can emerge from the intelligence of social networks and dynamics of informal settlements
The city is a community construct and is foremost about constructing community. It is not a special exception, rather, what is built should be evaluated and developed alongside social structures, legislation, property rights, and rights in general. Thus, public engagement should be used to establish a social platform for exchange, which should be fostered by the resulting built environment.
The built environment is a pedagogical tool to promote urban pedagogy and even eco-literacy.
Ciudad Lineal, Madrid
Arturo Soria y Mata
Curitiba Bus System
Curitiba, Brazil
Jaime Lerner 1966-1990

and Ecology

and Innovation

figures: Hilberseimer, Neufert, Hugh Ferriss, Ove Arup & Assoc., Patrick Schumacher
The role of the designer is to make the city legible as a discrete form, using a language that has been developed through time, but constantly shifting with the city itself.
The city can be read through its physical nature - analsis of the city can be done through built form and can provide the basis for design proposals
The city is an accumulation of objects, sometimes structured in a hierarchy. To focus on architecture is to focus on a piece of the city, and to implement a building is to work on the ctiy itself.
Urbanity is not necessarily urban, it can be found in objects that have transcended a scale beyond human experience of an interior.
The scale of development and experience has transcended architecture and the city, while the rate of change has left behind the built environment. Landscape, whose conceptual scope gives it capacity to theorize sites, territories, ecosystems, networks and infrastructures, and to organize large urban fields, has a unique abilitiy to shift scale from locating urban fabrics in their regional context and to design relationships between dynamic processes and urban form.
Landscape has a smoothing affect able to render visible multiple and sometimes disparate field conditions and support looser, more emergent urbanism.
James Corner, Field Operations
Fresh Kills Park
"The urban designer must first of all believe in the cities, their importance, and their value to human progress and culture. We must be urban-minded."
"Urban Design constantly borrows from, negotiates with, and overlaps many fields -- those concerned with the physical environment as well as those devoted to the cultural, social, political, and economic dimensions of urbanism... Contemporary urban design work ranges from constructing building ensembles, to projecting regional growth patterns, to devising urban marketing strategies, to fostering local community empowerment, to guiding national transportation policy... Urban designers generate futuristic visions, advocate for restorative urban preservation, design streets, cities, airports, websites, landscapes."
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