As much architectural and urban design follows a mimetic process in which known schemes or generic designs are adapted to a current situation, most designers prefer to distinguish among project types: new towns, mixed-use development, water front developments and housing schemes. The list can go on and on. The designs act as precedents of the current design. At any time in history these projects are designed within contemporarily accepted paradigms. During the twentieth century and into the twenty-first the competing paradigms can be classified broadly into two categories; the rationalist and the empiricist. Designs following the former line of thought are based on imagined ideal worlds; those following the latter approach are based on a knowledge of what works and what does not work. The rationalists amongst urban designers have created some fine trend-setting designs but many have proven to be failures because the ideal model of the human being – men, women and children – on which they were based deviated too much from who we really are within different cultures. They also tended to focus on eliminating the problems of the world and in doing so failed to recognise what works well. They threw out the baby with the bathwater. Empiricist designs are seldom failures but, being conservative, they break little new ground. Today a standard modernist urban design of economic libertarianism competes with the neotraditional, or new urbanist model of the good city. What is really important in developing urban designs is that we understand how the world works. This understanding has been steadily developed over the past century and is captured in abstract descriptive and explanatory theories and in detailed case studies. All this information, however, describes past and present circumstances while urban design is concerned with the future city and its environs. Yet without an understanding of what has worked, what now works and the possible implementation scenarios, any vision for the future city or one of its precincts is likely be flawed. The second edition of Urban Design; A Typology of Processes and Products illustrated with over 50 case studies will be published in New York by Routledge in early 2017.
“Urban design, itself, is the design of images of the future city, or more likely a precinct within it or, even more likely a coordinated project of a number of blocks and, as importantly, the mechanisms for achieving those visions”
Master of Urban Development
Published on Apr 26, 2016
Published on Apr 26, 2016
City Visions: Method & Design Chicago | Berlin | Sydney International Studio workshops from the Masters of Urban Development & Design degree...