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P32072 Urban Design Studio 2 CherngYu Chen 13089905

P32072 Urban Design Studio 2 CherngYu Chen 13089905

Content Page Project Background..................................................................................02 Studio 1’s Master Plan...............................................................................03 Vision......................................................................................................04 500ppha..................................................................................................05 Site Analysis............................................................................................06 Design Objectives.....................................................................................07 Studio 2’s Master Plan...............................................................................08 Design Explanations..................................................................................11 Conclusion & Reflections............................................................................24 References..............................................................................................26 Appendix................................................................................................30



Project Background

Location of site in Oxford.

Site’s proximity to Oxford’s city centre.

The Report

This is the design report for individual design project for Urban Design Studio II.

Structure of Report Introduction and Site Analysis

Taking forward the design explanations from studio 1, evaluating and refining them through an areafocused SWOT analysis.


Explaining the aim to be achieved within the individual parcel


It aims to illustrate the design process undertaken in developing the master plan as well as setting out methods of intervention and explain how this is achieved.

The Brief

The brief for design studio II is as follows: Taking an agreed part of the site developed as a framework in Studio I and develop design proposals at appropriate scales, along with a ‘design explanation’ (DE) to explain design ideas for the site in question. Pick up on learning outcomes from Issues 1 project, and design for a density of 500 pph.

Figure 01. The brief calls for a development with density of 500 ppha within the individual site. 02

Produce a detailed master plan which delivers the main vision and shows the neighbourhood character, along with street and block patterns, use distribution and their supporting physical elements.


Setting out implications of density of 500 ppha in overall masterplan as well as individual parcel

Masterplan and Site Analysis

Illustrating and identifying key aspects of the proposal plan. Site analysis will be carried out in relation to vision and density of 500 ppha.

Design objectives

Generated from site analysis to achieve intended vision and accommodate the increased density of 500ppha.

Design explanations

Elaborating on design actions that address the design objectives.


Providing an overall view of the masterplan and reflecting on the design project.


The master plan was developed from re-evaluation of vision from Studio 1’s and study of site implication of increased density of 500ppha, which is then followed by a detailed site analysis through SWOT review. A series of design objectives and actions are then developed to implement the vision. The master plan is designed to consider its surrounding context, both existing environment and the proposal set out in Studio 1.

Morphological Layers

The vision will be achieved through addressing the multiple morphological layers associated with urban design principles. The different scale of morphological layers range from general and permanent networks to more specific and temporary development parts. In Studio 2, the key morphological layers to be applied are generallyof smaller and more detailed scales.

Studio 1’s Master Plan Studio 1

The West End of Oxford is known for its underutilised land area and potential for infill development. Though it has flooding risk issues that need to be managed, Oxford City Council has identified it as a key area of regeneration and development. The group’s aim in Studio 1 is to produce a master plan that revives the West End and create a design that upholds and synergizes with Oxford but also creates its own identify and sense of place.

Existing Railway Line 02

Oxpens Meadow

To achieve the Vision, Group 1’s master plan delivers the following: • a redesign of Oxford Train Station and Frideswide Square to create a gateway to Oxford; • a mixed used development that delivers a selfsustaining community and a place where people want to stay; • a public transport system that connects back into Oxford and enforces sustainable movement of people; • cycle and pedestrian links that connect the site to

Proposed Linear Park

its surrounds and allow people to experience the environment; and • a network of open spaces that deliver healthy people.

Built Form Private Public

A balance of built form and open space is proposed to support existing and new communities through implementation of grid layout to reduce isolation.


Redesigned Oxford Railway Station

Residential Office Retail Council Office Transportation Institution Cultural Parking

Oxpens Road


A mix of compatible land uses are introduced to cater to different and all needs.

Collector Road Local Routes Pedestrian/ Bike Paths Figure 02. Aerial Perspective of Studio 1’s master plan. Figure 03 & 04. Individual parcels within the group.


Aisyah’s Individual Site 07

Figure 05. Figure ground diagram of Studio 1’s master plan. Not to scale. Figure 06. Land use diagram of Studio 1’s master plan. Not to scale. Figure 07. Street network diagram of Studio 1’s master plan. Not to scale. Figure 08. Building height diagram of Studio 1’s master plan. Not to scale.

A road hierarchy system in the form of ‘filtered permeability’ together with re-evaluation of public transportation network is proposed to reduce car dependence.

4 Storeys 3-4 Storeys 3 Storeys 2 Storeys 1 Storey

Castle Mill Stream 04

Existing Oxford Ice Rink

Cherngyu’s Individual Site

Redesigned Oxford & Cherwell Valley College

Appropriate building density is proposed with strategic response to site without impacting the existing built form of Oxford. 08 03



Individual Area for Studio 2

The individual site is defined by its existing and proposed green links and street networks. The site is bounded to the east by Oxpens Road, to the west by Railway track and linear park and to the south by Oxpens Meadows.

Built Form Private Public


Residential Office Retail Council Office Transportation Institution Cultural Parking 10

Collector Road Local Routes Pedestrian/ Bike Paths

Figure 09. Figure ground diagram of original individual site. Not to scale.

4 Storeys 3-4 Storeys 3 Storeys 2 Storeys 1 Storey

Figure 11. Street network diagram of original individual site. Not to scale.


No longer applicable to Studio 2 as individual site does not cover the relevant area.


Studio 1

To create not just a world class gateway to Oxford, but to also deliver a sustainable community where people want to stay. An area with its own sense of place and identity that is separate to but also synergises with the city centre of Oxford. A diverse and sustainable urban and built form with an appropriate mix of land uses supported by a network of open spaces and a highly efficient public transport system. With Studio 2 zooming in on smaller scaled morphological layers, it needs to be redefined to achieve the same intention.


Figure 10. Land use diagram of original individual site. Not to scale.

Figure 12. Building height diagram of original individual site. Not to scale.


Vision for the individual site in Studio 2 will be developed from and built on the group’s vision in Studio 1. This is to ensure that the design direction, while remaining coherent and non-conflicting with the bigger development, will be more specific in addressing the issues pertaining to the individual site.

Studio 2

In Studio 2, the term ‘sustainable’ will be examinated closely in the aspects of economy, environment and social.

A new sustainable community that is economically, environmentally and socially healthy and resilient. An area with its own sense of place and identity that is distinct but also synergises with the masterplan as well as city centre of Oxford.

The individual parcel needs be developed strategically to complement the proposed Studio’1 master plan.

A diverse and sustainable urban and built form with compatible and flexible mix of land uses as well as a network of open spaces that support intermodal transportation network. Studio 2 aims to study the transition between different modes of transportation in order for the proposed public transportation in studio 1 to work.

500 ppha

Health and Community: 2.18 ha -Health Centre -Community Centre -Leisure Centre For the whole master plan,

A density of 500 ppha

will require

Retail: 0.47 ha -Local Shop -Pub -Local Centre -District Centre

House: 16.12 ha -Mix of Dwelling Types

Education: 11.00 ha -Nursery -Primary School -Secondary School -College

Open Space: 14.20 ha -Pitches, Green & Courts -Playgrounds -Informal Play Space

500 ppha

In order to develop a quality urban design for a density of 500 ppha, it is crucial to understand what such hyperdensity implies on the site. T

The fundamental categories of land use required are housing, education, health and community, retail and open spaces.

Therefore, assumptions of the type and amount of land use required are made and referenced through London’s local planning data and requirements as well as various relevant theories such as Shaping Neighbourhoods, The Plot, Urban Design Compendium 2, and Metric Handbook: Planning & Design Data to serve as a design framework for Studio 2.

The calculation shows that a density of 500 ppha in the site will require an increase to 7-8 storeys throughout the individual site to accommodate all the land use required to support the users in the area.

The average amount and size of land use required for each land use at 500 ppha are determined and calculated by distribution and the catchment population mentioned in the abovementioned literature and/or local policies.

An average of 8 storeys is, therefore, required to accommodate the various land use required.

The main challenges, therefore, lie in accommodating the different uses within the land piece without sacrificing the various urban design qualities desired. Spreadsheet for the calculation of land use required can be located in the appendix.



Site Analysis To evaluate the master plan from Studio I, a focused S.W.O.T. analysis was carried out on the individual parcel. Based upon urban design principles and sound theory of what make a ‘good place’, the S.W.O.T. analysis tested the area against design actions from Studio I as well as its suitability in a design scheme for 500-ppha density.






S.01 The street networks and its hierarchy as set out in Studio 1 are pedestrianoriented and reduce car dependence - an aspect that is especially crucial for a density of 500 ppha.

W.01 While a mix of dwelling units have been introduced to the site as a whole, the zoning of different residential types within the site might result in lack of social interaction between different user groups.

O.01 It is now possible to redefine the perimeter block typology to provide more open spaces and resolve the issues of overlooked pedestrian links (W.o4) and issue of infrastructure (W.02).

T.01 The high traffic level along the collector road and local routes around the site as a result of high-density development may cause isolation of the site from its immediate surroundings.

S.02 The introduction of variation in degree of mix-use and tenure types, together with the application of fine grain plots, will be able to cater to different needs and users within the site.

W.02 With each perimeter block now having to accommodate the density of 500 ppha, the private open spaces within each perimeter block need clear definitions with resolved infrastructure issues.

O.02 Development of higher density at the plots to the east of site will help in addressing the brief (W.03) and improving economic feasibility with desirable views towards linear park and across railway track.

T.02 While the variety of land uses is encouraged and celebrated (S.02), the possible incompatible mixed-use may instead hinder the success of proposed development at site.

S.03 The implementation of perimeter block layout within the site delivers optimum permeability, increases level of activity in the public space and provides sufficient level of passive surveillance on the street.

W.03 The level of density introduced in Studio 1 across the site, especially the plots next to linear park, is no longer feasible for a brief that calls for a development of 500ppha density.

O.03 Strategic and refined development of the plots at the perimeter of individual site will assist in fostering a stronger connection to and complementing the surrounding development as a whole.

T.03 There is a high flood risk potential at the south part of individual site if flood-risk mitigation measures are not implemented carefully and sufficiently.

S.04 The individual site is well-surrounded by and in good proximity with green open spaces (linear park and Oxpens Meadow) which promote healthy living.

W.04 The inactive edges within some perimeter blocks fail to provide sufficient passive surveillance to the pedestrian links that are introduced across them, resulting in possible security and safety issue.

Design Objectives The results from the focused SWOT analysis suggest that apart from the few shortcomings in studio 1’s master plan, the implications of 500ppha makes it apparent that a new set of design objectives need to be created to achieve the aims for the overall masterplan as set out in West End’s Revival and more importantly the vision for the individual parcel. Often, satisfying one consideration will make it difficult to satisfy another, and invariably, a balance has to be achieved. This is one of the reasons that design objectives have to be agreed at an early stage.

D.O. 01

D.O. 02 To promote high levels of experienced and perceived security through traffic safety and crime prevention.

D.O. 03

A topic that was examined intensively in Issues 1, it aims to enchance the street life and encourage ownership of place. In the context of the individual site which consists mainly of residential development, this is especially relevant and essential with highdensity living within a small land area.

Another issue that was raised in Issues 1, it is believed that a neighbourhood must achieve safety through safe roads and streets, providing a sense of security, socially inclusiveness whilst defining ownership over territory. The infrastructre must not only be safe but also perceived to be safe - and this applies to both traffic safety and crime provision.

Developing from Studio 1 in which pedestrians and cyclists are prioritised over motorised vehicles, it is now essential to look into the ease and convenience of intermodality between modes of transportation to complement the improved and established public transportation network as set out in the bigger master plan.

D.O. 05

D.O. 06

D.O. 07

Another requirement of Practice II, there will be a need in creating interest and character at the different morphological scales within a high density development to enhance the district whilst being sensitive to the surrounding environment and development.

In a world of globalisation and increasing densities, innovative ways of creating a distinctive sense of place to enhance the experience and engagement of users in a place are particularly valuable in helping to sustain high levels of social and environmental quality. A requirement for Practice II.

Above all, it is crucial to design a district that is robust, flexible and future proof. Therefore, the proposal, beside fulfilling the requirement for Practice II, needs to be financially feasible as an individual area and to the overall West End development.

To deliver a socially active and inclusive environment with high quality public realm and communal spaces.

To reinforce a cohesive identity in the area with distinct interest and character that responds to and reinforces locally distinctive patterns of development, landscape and culture.

To introduce sensory richness and diversity in the urban form that allows people to connect and experience the environment.

To create well-connected urban fabric with high walkability around and within the area.

D.O. 04

To produce a benchmark for energy efficient urban design for new developments in Oxford. A densely populated development and a high level of environmental quality go hand in hand with sustainability, be it economically, environmentally or socially. In order to produce an energy efficent urban design as required for Practice II, the design must, therefore, be strategic at various morphological scales.

To achieve strong economic viability and adaptability through development that can respond to changing social, technological and economic conditions.



Studio 2’s Master Plan The new masterplan shows the vision reached through detailed design actions carried out to achieve the various design objectives. The following sections of this report will detail how objectives for the scheme of the individual parcel are reached by elaborating on the major design actions. Scaled version of 1:500 roof plan, 1:200 detailed plans and 1:200 sections can be found in the appendix.

Figure 13. Roof plan of Studio 2’s master plan. Scale of 1 to 1000. (For roof plan of Studio 2’s master plan in scale of 1 to 500, please refer to appendix) Figure 14-16. Detailed ground floor plans of Studio 2’s master plan. Scale of 1 to 750. (For detailed ground floor plans of Studio 2’s master plan in scale of 1 to 200, please refer to appendix) Figure 17 & 18. Sections A & B of Studio 2’s master plan. Scale of 1 to 750. (For sections A & B of Studio 2’s master plan in scale of 1 to 200, please refer to appendox) 08

Roof Plan Scale 1:1000



Detailed Plan Scale 1:750



Detailed Plan Scale 1:750



Detailed Plan Scale 1:750



Section A Scale 1:750


Section B Scale 1:750

18 09


Design Explanations


Figure 19. The first matrix table created. Each design action is assigned an individual colour. It shows that most of the design actions address multiple design objectives each. Figure 20. The improved matrix table of design actions against design objectives. The table provides an overview of the design actions carried out in this project and the objectives each of them addresses.


Both matrix tables attempt to show how the various design objectives are addressed through different design actions and, therefore, how they relate to each morphological layer. The earlier matrix table produced noted that each design actions address more than one design objectives. Therefore, in this report, design explanations will be carried out by going through each of the major design actions in the order of their respective morphological layers as well as their level of intervention. The aim is that with the application of all of the design actions within the site at various morphological layers, the vision will be achieved. 11


Management Design Objectives D.O. 01 Socially Active and Inclusive Environment D.O. 05 Distinct Interest and Character D.O. 06 Sensory Richness and Diversity D.O. 07 Strong Economic Viability and Adaptability

Case Studies

BO01, Malmo, Sweden (2001)/Professor Klas Tham



For the development of the entire individual site, it is proposed that a master plan is prepared while individual or part of blocks or plots are parcelled out to different developers. Such approach calls for flexible block structure – there are several rules but no fixed urban design. The development requires a cooperative approach to developing the block as a whole and must be overseen by a coordinating agent and a coordinating architect. A framework is formed for development in which the rules of game is set. Building lines, massing and height will be predefined and protocols for the interfaces between plots, such as building on boundaries, will be established.

Figure 21. The diagram illustrates the management system proposed in this studio. Overseen by a coordinating agent, part of the master plan is parcelled out to various builders who can then appoint various architects to design the buildings. 12

The various approaches that can be taken are as follows: -the allocation of individual blocks to different developers -the allocation of parts of blocks to different developers, including co-housing groups or building cooperatives -the allocation of individual plots within blocks to different developers, including building cooperatives and/or self builders -a hybrid of these options in which, for example, control of a single block (or blocks) may be retained by one developer but where different architects are commissioned to design building for individual plots.


With a diverse range of parcels, blocks and plot sizes resulted, it is intended that, at a strategic level, the approaches will be able to achieve a successively greater measure of diversity as compared to comprehensive development over a wider area. The involvement of different parties – be it developers, co-housing groups, building cooperatives or self-builders – within the site as well as the procurement of different builders and architects will foster the creation of a multitude of very different, highly individual projects and encourage diversity of architectural forms and facades. This will have great impacts on the character and sensory richness of the place (D.O. 05 & D.O. 06). The degree of variety and interest made possible by involving more than one builders also provides a much greater choice to the market than equivalent ‘homogenised’ blocks. The resulted mix of tenure types and range of user groups within the site will hence promote social diversity and interaction (D.O. 01). Selling of plots to private bidders as well as parcelling of plots with its size and shaped determined in accordance with the buyers’ needs will also result in a development with much lower costs than those generated by conventional builders (D.O. 07).

For the Development B001 in Malmo, Sweden in 2001, city space, views and climate conditions were carefully considered before architects were invited to fill in the building plots. B001 exemplifies careful work with city space, with focus on the proportions of spatial sequences as well as climate protection, with large buildings sheltering lower buildings. Care was also given to ensure variation by using many contractors and architects.The result is a developmnent with an unusual number of qualities that have made the area popular as a residential area as well as a destination for the entire city and region.

Street Networks Design Objectives D.O. 01 Socially Active and Inclusive Environment D.O. 02 High Levels of Experienced and Perceived Security D.O. 03 Well-Connected Urban Fabric D.O. 04 Energy Efficient Urban Design D.O. 06 Sensory Richness and Diversity

Area of Application

User Groups


Heavy traffic is kept out of the proposed residential area, mostly taking place at Oxpens Road. Pedestrian paths of sufficient width to encourage ‘spill-out’ activities (D.O. 06) as well as frequent informal crossings will be provided along Oxpens Road to create a direct visual and psychological link across the busy road.

The implementation of shared surface at secondary route will allow moderate traffic to take place around the residential area with higher priority given to pedestrians and cyclists.

The inner section of the residential area will consist of smaller, local roads that are only accessible pedestrians and cyclists.

Approach In order to promote sustainable mobility within the site and across its surroundings, the road hierarchy system based on the principle of filtered permeability as introduced in Studio 1 is retained. To complement the road hierarchy system, street characters are developed on a location-specific basis with reference to both the place and movement functions of each street, resulting in streets types with differing characteristics, including type of use, width and building heights. More detailed designs of the various street types and their relationships to the built envrironment will be explained at smaller morphological scale in the later part of the report. Rationale In designing for a density of 500 ppha, the approach recognises the community function of streets - the role that streets play in the life of a community, particularly the positive opportunities that they can bring for social interaction. By designing for walking and cycling, this helps to connect people, deliver communities and foster a socially active built environment (D.O. 01). With the function of streets as a traffic network relegated to second place and priority given over to walking and cycling, the aim is to encourage more people on the streets. Research shows that besides improving personal security, the presence of pedestrians on streets also causes drivers to travel more slowly and, thus, has a positive impact on traffice safety (D.O. 02). The enchanced pedestrian and bicycle accessibility within the site and between the site and its immediate surroundings (D.O. 03) as a result of safe and walkable streets will reduce car dependence, resulting in lower consumption of fossil fuel (D.O. 04).

This will be done in the form of homezone as spill out spaces where people can meet casually outside their dwellings especially when living in higher-density development. 22

Figure 22. The intention of the design action is to reduce the reliance on private motor vehicles. Figure 23. Network types with different character types for specific users applied at different part of the site as highlighted in section B.

23 13


Land Use Design Objectives D.O. 01 Socially Active and Inclusive Environment D.O. 02 High Levels of Experienced and Perceived Security D.O. 03 Well-Connected Urban Fabric D.O. 04 Energy Efficient Urban Design D.O. 07 Strong Economic Viability and Adaptability

Area of Application

Proposed Land Use

Explanation As proposed in Studio 1, mixed-use development will be proposed along Oxpens Road. The concentration of retails, facilities and services along Oxpens Road aims to attract users from both side of the thoroughfare.

Office at Ground Floor with Retail Above

High footfall and visibility from passing cars and cyclists as well as activated public realm will aid in the economic performance of proposed retail use at ground floor (D.O. 07). The active edges and passive surveillance provided at the ground floor due to activities in or near the building round the clock will also heighten the level of safety and security of pedestrians (D.O. 02).

A mixed-use area is also proposed to the west of Oxpens road with frontage to Oxpens Meadow. Residential with Flexibility for Conversion to Retail at Ground Floor


Where it can be anticipated that commercial uses will not be viable in the short term, it may be appropriate to provide for residential groundfloor uses in the interim for these buildings while designing in adaptability for changes of use later when necessary (D.O. 07).


The residential area, with the strategic management of the development, will attract a mixture of housing types and tenures, introducing social diversity within the site.

Cultural Centre with Residental Above

Differing from Studio 1’s master plan, arts centre will be designed with the addition of residential above to cater to the additional dwelling units to accommodate the density of 500ppha.


The two-storey nursery together with an open space in front will be sleeved within the perimeter block and is accessible during the day. The open space can double as communal spaces during the rest of the day when the nursery is not functioning (D.O. 01).

Approach In response to Studio 1’s master plan and to ensure that the developed area is a place people want to stay, the proposal aims to deliver a variety of land uses to cater for different and all needs. It is attempted to introduce a mixture of compatible developments and layers of land uses that work together to create viable spaces. It proposes retail and mixed use development along and within close proximity to Oxpens Road. This will be supported by a critical mass of people that will be living within the residential buildings located to the west of Oxpens Road. The introduction of 500-ppha density will also means that generally more mixture of land use will be applied within the site to make the development a feasible scheme (D.O. 07). Rationale The variety of land use introduced throughout the site seeks to create an animated and heterogeneous neighbourhoods that mix distinct types of people and activities (D.O. 01). The grouping and proximity of facilities and services along Oxpens Road, which are accessible to public transport and passing traffic, will render the organisation of daily life easier, facilitating contacts, minimising distances (D.O. 03) and reduce dependence of motorised vehicular transportation (D.O. 04). Compatibility and flexibility of the proposed land use to cater to the changing needs to users and society over the time will enhance the economic adaptability of the development in the long run (D.O. 07). In order for this approach to work, urban design intervention at smaller morphological scale will be discussed later in the report.

Building Density Design Objectives D.O. 02 High Levels of Experienced and Perceived Security D.O. 05 Distinct Interest and Character D.O. 07 Strong Economic Viability and Adaptability

Area of Application

Proposed Density Level

Low Density

High Density

Section B

Section A

Low Density

High Density

Section B


In order for the scheme to be viable, the ‘Future Land Value’ has to be above £8m per ha. Putting figures of a draft proposal into a feasibility spread sheet serves as a design tool in figuring out if such proposal will be economically viable. Necessary adjuments can then be done to suit the requirements, which will be transferred back to drawing board to represent the viable scheme. With the simulation of proposed development, the individual site has a future land value of only £6, 600, 629 per hectare - below the value intended. However, it is important to note that this calculation is not an accurate representation of the actual viability of the scheme due to the nature of this project’s approach in management which facilitates organic and flexible development. It is, therefore, important for the coordinating agent of the entire development to oversee the whole development throughout the project in making sure that the density of development is appropriate in making the scheme a viable one (D.O.07).

Low Density

High Density

Section B

Section A

Section B

Low Density

High Density


As proposed in Studio 1, mixed-use development along Oxpens Road will be in the highest density. The aim is to enclose the street and deliver a local high street environment (D.O. 05). Finer grain of plots are introduced to allow for smaller scale businesses that are adaptable in the future should the use changes (D.O. 07) and will help in improving the safety and security level of pedestrians (D.O. 02).

From Site Analysis O.2, significantly higher density is proposed for buildings facing Oxpens Meadow and propose linear park. Taking advantage of the desirable and panoramic views of Oxpens Meadow, linear park and across the railway track, these residential units will, therefore, be priced relatively higher, significantly improving the economic feasibility of the development (D.O. 07).

Higher density is also proposed for the corner buildings of development to accommodate apartments or mixed-use commercial and apartment buildings. Moreover, higher density will also create visual prominence of the corner buildings, helping to define the space and create a legible node which can be used for navigation (D.O. 05).

The lower building designs proposed for most residential buildings in the inner streets are more regular and structured in character, with studios, workshops and open spaces ensuring life and movement throughout. Besides, the lower building heights will also mean there will be a more appropriate building height to street width ratio.



Perimeter Block Design Objectives D.O. 01 Socially Active and Inclusive Environment D.O. 02 High Levels of Experienced and Perceived Security D.O. 03 Well-Connected Urban Fabric

Case Studies

Urban Hybrid, Emmen, Switzerland/MVRDV

Housing Mariaplaats, Utrecht, Netherlands /AWG Bob Van Reeth

Figure 24. In the context of Studio 2’s high-density development, sleeving of units into the inner courtyards can help in breaking down the scale of conventional perimeter blocks. Figure 25. Redefinition of perimeter block typology while retaining many of its strengths.

Java Eiland, Amsterdam, Amsterdam /Lafour & Wijk

Figure 26. Sketch section of the proposed perimeter block design. Figure 27-30. Isometric diagrams showing figure ground, accessibility of user groups, inner courtyard treatment and passive surveillance provided internally with the application of the new perimete block design. Figure 31. Section across the individual site illustrating how the proposed new perimeter block functions. 16

Different approaches have been experimented at various projects by architects and urban designers at other sites in their attempt to redefine the perimeter block typology to tackle the issue of high-density living. 24

Issue In response to Studio 1’s proposed master plan and Studio 2’s brief which calls for an urban design for a density of 500ppha, site analysis shows that the conventional perimeter block typology might no longer be appropriate for such high density.

Therefore, there is now a need (W.o3) and an opportunity (O.01) to clearly define the configuration of private open spaces within each perimeter block. This can be be addressed at smaller morphological scales, but a framework has to be set out at the block level itself.

Of course, throughout out the entire process, the disadvantages of the conventional typology need to be weighed meticulously against its benefits in the context of Studio 2’s individual site.

While there are many merits of such projects in which this project can learn from, the application of these principles are to be considered and weighed carefully against the site context and possible cultural differences in the individual site of Studio 2’s project.



Figure Ground


Mixed-Use Residential

Grid layout at the site and its scale are similar to those in Studio 1. Conventional perimeter block design at the outside with its edges lined with buildings provides continuous frontage, increases level of activity in the public space (D.O. 01) and prevents the creation of unsafe places through active edges (D.O. 02).

Only accessible for public during the day, this perimeter block typology offers multiple but secured entry points as well as unexpected short cuts from various parts of each block, resulting in a more permeable urban fabric (D.O. 03). Separate accesses are provided for residential inner courtyards and mixed-use backyards.

A by-product of such perimeter block typology is the transition zones between public and private space where collectiveness, appropriation and private activities can take place.



With buildings arranged around and within shared courtyards, such arrangement is inherently flexible and can combine a range of plot sizes and building types in many different configurations and densities.

Sensitively crafted as a serene enclave of plazas, the internal courtyard offers intimate spaces and playgrounds. Accentuated by the use of soft furniture, floor finishes and landscapes, this area becomes a central space for the inhabitants - an outdoor living room that encourages social activities (D.O. 01).

Strategic management of plot layout and building configurations will allow the shared spaces to be overlooked and remain secure (D.O. 02) and well-cared for while maintaining an adequate level of privacy among inhabitants.


The proposed solution is a perimeter block development that encloses a clutch of block on a central courtyard, providing a diversity of open collective spaces. By breaking down the size of high-density perimeter block, it allows for a scale more in keeping with the rest of Oxford’s city.


Passive Surveillance

31 17


Urban Break Design Objectives D.O. 01 Socially Active and Inclusive Environment D.O. 04 Energy Efficient Urban Design D.O. 05 Distinct Interest and Character

FIgure 32.The application of urban break allows for more accessible and meaningful roofscape as well as sunlight penetration.


With the inevitable increase in building height to accommodate the high density of 500 ppha, some parts of the development will experience overshadowing , especially at the street level.


In response to the issue, the application of urban break in the massing of perimeter block is proposed and is done concurrently with preliminary solar shading analysis of proposed development at site to facilitate the change in building heights whenever necessary.

Figure 33.The resulted variation in roof line help create interesting and legible streets, enhancing townscape of the site.

It will be introduced through the play of different building heights throughout the development. This can be done through variation in the roofline by one or two storey heights and a minimum width of urban break of 5m and will help in creating useful and accessible roofscape. While there remain some level of overshadowing at certain parts of the development, it is believed that such shortcomings can be dealt with through design interventions at a smaller-scaled morphological layers.

Figure 34. The play of different building heights , besides creating useful rooftop spaces, introduces a more humane dimension to the scale of perimeter block which will otherwise be out of scale in the attempt to accommodate development of 500 ppha. 18


The result is a highly varied urban fabric that preserves access to views, natural air and sunlight. Variation in building heights with the help of solar shading analysis will help improve ventilation and solar access both at street level and between ad beyond the breaks while maximising winter solar gain in and around buildings, reducing the amount of energy required for internal space heating (D.O. 04). The different building heights resulted will provide variety and add interest within the built envrionment, preventing the monotonous outlook of the development otherwise (D.O. 05). The outdoor space in the form of oofscapes as a by-product of such intervention can then be used as open spaces, roof terraces, play areas, etc, encouraging social activitiies and promoting social interaction among the inhabitants (D.O. 01).

Creating the Conditions: Building Envelope

Mixed-Use Plots

Plots facing Oxpens Meadow

Corner Plots

East/West-facing Plots

North/South-facing Plots

width of 5-7m and depth of 10-12m

width of 10-12m and depth of max 6-8m

Design Objectives D.O. 04 Energy Efficient Urban Design D.O. 07 Strong Economic Viability and Adaptability

Plot Depth

Plot Width

>10m to accommodate viable smallunit commercial frontage at grd lvl, separate access and space for vertical circulation, andspace requirements for a dual-aspect mixed uses above. (D.O. 07) >6m to accommodate viable smallunit commercial frontage at grd lvl, separate access and space for vertical circulation, andspace requirements for a dual-aspect mixed uses above. (D.O. 07)


Floor-to-Ceiling Height at Ground Level Rationale

adequate to provide enough room for suspended ceilings to conceal horizontal runs if necessary. (D.O. 07)

width of 10-12m and depth of max 6-8m

wide frontage, shallow buildings to allow full solar access at their south facades. (D.O.07) sufficient width to accommodate viable smallunit retail or commercial frontage at ground level, with separate access and space for vertical circulation, space requirements for residential use above. (D.O. 04)

up to 10m on both sides larger plots allow flexibility in space-planning where the block turns the corner (returns) at the junction of streets. (D.O. 07)

narrow frontage, deep buildings to allow more solar exposure on their sides. (D.O. 04)

wide frontage, shallow buildings to allow full solar access at their south facades. (D.O. 04)




future-proofing the units for possible land use changes internally in the future. (D.O. 07)


The design action seeks to set out a guideline of building envelope appropriate to a particular plot or plot typology without predetermining the building design. The front building line, building height, building depth and the width of the plot itself are all interdependent. They are influenced by the range of more strategic design considerations relating to the type and configuration of the block itself as well as the range of building typologies appropriate to it. In addition, they must be supplemented at the more detailed level by considerations of privacy, sunlight and daylight, vertical circulation, access and services. Therefore, the plot needs to be configured to facilitate development that will be able to contribute to the various design objectives set out earlier in this project, without determining the design or space-planning of the building and neighbouring buildings in advance. 19


Creating the Conditions: Internal Layout Design Objectives D.O. 01 Socially Active and Inclusive Environment D.O. 02 High Levels of Experienced and Perceived Security D.O. 03 Well-Connected Urban Fabric D.O. 04 Energy Efficient Urban Design

South-entry Units

Single Aspect

North-entry Units

Upper Floor


Lower Floor

Upper Floor

Upper Floor

Lower Floor

Lower Floor


Dual Aspect

Living Kitchen Bedroom Bathroom Circulation Entry

Single-Aspect & Dual-Aspect

In this proposal, it is strongly encouraged that most units should have two orientation aspects - dual-aspect, which will maximise passive solar gain and allow cross ventilation The depth of dual-aspect units should be at a maximum of 12m (D.O 04). Figure 35 & 36. The diagrams provide a simulation of appropriate configuration of internal layout for individual units at parts of the site in response to their orientations in achieving the various objectives set out in this project. 20

Single-aspect units should face south or south west while north-facing singleaspect dwellings are not encouraged due to insufficient solar gain. The maximum depth of of single-aspect units should not exceed 6m.

Internal Passive Solar Layout

The internal layout is designed to ensure the main living room and other frequently used rooms are at the south side and rooms that benefit less from sunlight (bathroom and utility room) on the north side. The resulted passive solar design will, therefore, reduce energy consumption of inhabitants (D.O. 04). In other words, living areas, where higher temperature are tolerated and welcomed, are orientated towards south and southwest while sleeping and cooking areas are orientated towards east and northeast. It is crucial to avoid south and west aspect for bedrooms in Oxford to avoid night-time overheating. Kitchen are better

positioned on the north side to avoid excessive heat gain. In the case of single-aspect units, it should generally come in double-height living rooms to allow sufficient solar gain.


Creating the Conditions: Building Edges and Space Configurations Design Objectives D.O. 01 Socially Active and Inclusive Environment D.O. 02 High Levels of Experienced and Perceived Security D.O. 04 Energy Efficient Urban Design

Building Edges

In the context of building edges within the redefined perimeter block, the thresholds for residential uses at ground-floor level need to be carefully articulated as the desirability of promoting interaction between inhabitants and the street as well as between neighbours (D.O. 01) need to be balanced with the need to create a sense of privacy and security (D.O. 02). A number of design treatments around building edges are set out here to provide a better idea of how territories of private and public can be clearly marked to afford the degree of protection that people need to make contact with others.


There will be a limit to the height of boundary fences at private backyards. Such control will engender neighbourly contact while providing a certain degree of privacy through soft edges.

Where boundary fences are nonapplicable, the change in pavement and landscaping can mark the transition zones between private and public space, providing a buffer from the internal shared courtyards.

Height differences, steps and staircases are also effective in providing the soft edges in linking the inside and outside while making sure no one can see in.

Spaces Configuration


The overshadowing resulted in this high-density development as mentioned earlier in the report can be tackled through strategic design of space configurations within the buildings. The few design solutions as explained here seek to illustrate how architectural interventions could help in increasing the amount of daylight penetration with each building, hence reducing the need of energy consumption for artificial lighting (D.O. 04). However, it is important to note that all the suggestions here are by no means exhaustive and aims to act as a guideline in which designers and architects can refer to and develop on.

Figure 37. Excerpts of Section A (right) and Section B (left) showing applications of suggested design treatments at building edges and of space configurations.



More generous floor-to-ceiling heights, particularly at lower floors, allow for better daylighting with the introduction of taller windows.

Ground floors can be combined with floor as maisonettes with doubleheight spaces to introduce more daylight penetration within the dwelling unit.

The application of internal courtyards as well as skywells can throw light into deep plans and can provide an attractive internal space where no private garden space is available.









6 21


Oxpen’s Road

The pedestrian path next to the mixed-use buildings is designed with threshold spaces to encourage activities to ‘spill out’ onto the street. The use of a limited palette of paving materials will create a visually coherent floorscape which, combined with the clearly defined footway kerb line, adds to the simple elegance and legibility of the street (D.O. 05).

Design Objectives D.O. 01 Socially Active and Inclusive Environment D.O. 03 Well-Connected Urban Fabric D.O. 05 Distinct Interest and Character

Street furniture, signs, bicycle zones and bins are arranged into a furniture zone to reduce visual intrusion and impediment to users, creating a coherent legible and easily accessible street. The use of street furniture to add visual interest and enhances the sense of place and comfort while engaging or stimulating activities (D.O. 01). Cycle stands are spaced at wider centres at more than 1m within the central reserve to allow easier pedestrian crossing (D.O. 03). 38

Figure 38 & 39. Magnified plans and sections illustrating design of pedestrian paths along Oxpen’s Road. Not to scale. Figure 40. Sketch of eye-level perspective at pedestrian path along Oxpen’s Road.


Sub-surface waste containers for the residential inhabitants are introduced for its practicality in which waste is collected in underground containers that are emptied by specially equipped vehicles. Multi-function poles incorporate separate carriageway and footway luminaries at 10m and 5m in height respectively, and also accommodate mountings for both traffic and pedestrian signals at pelican crossings, reducing the number of columns required.


Shared Surface Design Objectives D.O. 01 Socially Active and Inclusive Environment D.O. 02 High Levels of Experienced and Perceived Security D.O. 03 Well-Connected Urban Fabric


Unlike traditional street layouts, the demarcation between footways and carriageway is absent. Pedestrians and vehicles share the same surface and are, therefore, required to be generally more aware of each other. The lack of signs or markings and minimalized palette of paving materials reduces visual clutter, besides improving the street performance, will encourage low vehicle speeds (D.O. 02).

Figure 41 & 42. Magnified plans and sections illustrating design of shared surface streets. Not to scale. Figure 43. Sketch of eyelevel perspective at shared surface street within the site. 22



A deliberate blurring of the boundary between carriageway and footway is also achieved through placing trees in the notional

carriageway to further emphasise the shared character of the spaces, and there are very few signs or conventional road markings. The raised paving around new trees as well as subtle variations in shades, levels and materials and applications of softscapes also helps to give subtle direction to the movement of vehicles. This will create an environment in which pedestrians can walk, or stop and chat, without feeling intimidated by motor traffic, making it easier for people to move around and promote social interaction (D.O. 01, D.O. 03).

Home Zones Design Objectives D.O. 01 Socially Active and Inclusive Environment D.O. 02 High Levels of Experienced and Perceived Security D.O. 05 Distinct Interest and Character D.O. 06 Sensory Richness and Diversity



Figure 44, 45 & 46. Magnified plans and sections illustrating design of home zones. Not to scale. Figure 47. Sketch of eyelevel perspective at home zone between residential blocks.



Street features such as informal play spaces are provided in some locations in order to anchor activity (D.O. 01) and create a sensory-rich environment (D.O. 06). The locations need to be well-overlooked and cater for a range of ages, but at the same time not creating a nuisance for neighbours.

The use of surface materials of similar but different shades and textures helps with breaking down the scale of the street and introducing a humane scale among inhabitants. This is also designed to provide a more comfortable transition between public and private spaces and introduce a variation of floor textures.

Strong ‘gateway’ features through the play of hardscape and softscape as well as planting of trees help identify to users that they are entering (or leaving) the homezone area or a junction and set the tone and character for the rest of the area, reinforcing the sense of place (D.O. 05).

Lighting columns as well as their style, height and spacing of columns and colour spectrum of the lighting should be designed with the involvement of a lighting engineer in mark routes to strengthen the real and the experienced sense of security (D.O. 02) while reducing intrusive light and light pollution.

Internal Courtyards Design Objectives D.O. 01 Socially Active and Inclusive Environment D.O. 03 Well-Connected Urban Fabric D.O. 06 Sensory Richness and Diversity

50 48 Figure 48 & 49. Magnified plans and sections illustrating design of internal courtyards. Not to scale. Figure 50. Sketch of eyelevel perspective at internal courtyards inside the new perimeter block design.


The design of shared spaces inside perimeter block needs to be articulated and managed strategically in relation to the design of edges of each buildings to ensure the effectiveness of the new perimeter block typology.

distinct enough to introduce the transition of public places to more intimate communal spaces are applied in the inner courtyards, enhancing the sensory richness experienced by users when moving through different places (D.O. 06)

Micro-landscaping with soft furniture, together with the variation in floor finishes, is introduced throughout the internal courtyards, providing suggestive functions of the different open spaces that encourage ownership of place and complementing the intimate nature of shared spaces (D.O. o1). Floor materials that are similar to those of home zone yet

Cycle parking are provided in communal areas within perimeter block with the aim to create social spaces and encourage social interactions between inhabitants. They are strategically located properly designed to provide convenience and increase the use of bicycles (D.O. o3) while preventing parked cycles from becoming a nuisance for residents. 23




In the context of Studio 2, applying sound urban design principles and combining these with the design objectives have helped with achieving the vision of this project: A new sustainable community that is economically, environmentally and socially healthy and resilient. An area with its own sense of place and identity that is distinct but also synergises with the masterplan as well as city centre of Oxford. A diverse and sustainable urban and built form with compatible and flexible mix of land uses as well as a network of open spaces that support intermodal transportation network.

Figure 51. Creating a blank canvas for which different builders can work on, but of course not without rules. 24

With the introduction of 500-ppha density within the individual development, minor tweaks are proposed to address the various implications resulted without sacrificing the intended built environment qualities envisioned in Studio 1. While the bigger framework laid out in Studio 1 is robust enough to accommodate the change in density, the unique design approach of the development as a whole in Studio 2 means that it is important for design actions of different morphological layers to be meticulously articulated in order to be coherent and complement one another.

The overall intention is that while urban design is carried out with the aim to craft a quality urban environment, a level of flexibility is provided for the built form to grow organically and be more responsive to the needs of users at different points of time. Therefore, analysis of effectiveness of the whole development such as solar shading analysis and financial feasibility calculation requires the close collaboration between all parties - urban designers, authority, developers and builders - in order for the objectives and visions of this project to be fully realised and for the development to supplement Studio’s master plan as well as the Oxford.



Appendix: Land Use Calculation


Appendix: Financial Feasibility Spreadsheet - Future Land Value



Appendix: Large Format Drawings

Roof Plan, 1:500. Detailed Plans, 1:200. Section A, 1:200. Section B, 1:200.





Barton, H. et al (2003) Shaping Neighbourhoods: A Guide for Health, Sustainability and Vitality. Abingdon: Spon Press. Bentley, I. et al (1985) Responsive Environments: A Manual for Designers. London: Routledge. Tarbatt, J. (2012) The Plot: Designing Diversity in the Built Environment: A Manual for Architects and Urban Designers. London: RIBA Publishing. Littlefield, D. (Ed.) (2012) Metric Handbook: Planning and Design Data. Abingdon: Architectural Press. Gehl, J. (2010) Cities for People. Washington: Island Press. Department for Transport (2007) Manual for Streets. London: Thomas Telford Publishing. Pelsmakers, S. (2012) The Environmental Design Pocketbook. London: RIBA Publishing.


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Urban Design Studio 2 Design Report  

Urban Design Studio 2 Design Report  

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