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Difference between urban planning and urban design

The essential difference between urban planning and urban design is simply that
the former makes provision for known spatial arrangements of known forms (land
use, transport, open space, infrastructure) that are reliant upon the effects (outputs)
of known forms of exchange (particular industries, e.g. property development,
housing, infrastructure, social and government services), and the latter makes
imagined spatial arrangements (e.g. village hearts, green lungs, quay-sides,
urban boulevards, housing typologies, single-loaded dwellings), the realisation of
which are reliant upon the effects (outputs) of the very same known forms of
exchange. Both do not enquire into intentions for living, or enquire into existing or
imagined forms of exchange for living. Both promote effects over causes. Planning
focuses on land use, rather than the use of living; on housing provision rather than a
concept of home. Urban design focuses on how land is to be used, with little
regard to who it may be for; on housing typologies with little enquiry into how
housing is or could be delivered. Both promote mixed use almost exclusively over
mixing people, ideas, interests, resources. Both ignore the content they are named
by. Both deny the cause of cities. In recalling the distinction in the underlying
conceptual basis of planning and design made earlier, the fact that this planning
deals only with the known and the given, and that this design imagines only formal
outcomes of the city, and both are without relation to urban intention, means they
could be more accurately described as city engineering

Urban design is the discipline between planning and architecture which can create
or renew a sense of local pride and identity. It has great potential for enhancing the
visual image and quality of neighbourhoods by providing a three-dimensional
physical form to policies described in a comprehensive plan. It focuses on design of
the public realm, which is created by both public spaces and the buildings that
define them. Urban design views these spaces holistically and is concerned with

bringing together the different disciplines responsible for the components of cities
into a unified vision. Compared to comprehensive plans, urban design plans
generally have a short time horizon are typically area or project specific.
Criteria for Urban Design

Appeal (how places look)

Function(how places work)

Quality of urban areas; (ambience)

Community well-being: (Vitality; safety)

Environmental stress

Behavioural support






Perceptual engagements



Role of Urban Design


Description: character of place

Imagination/Clarification- legibility of function/form
Negotiation: among conflicting interests; space contestation
Visualization: scenarios-building; simulation; foresight
Correction/ reconstruction: defects/malfunctions; destruction (hazards:
fires, earthquakes, flooding, tsunamis, hurricanes, erosion,/landslides,
glaciers e.t.c
6. Mitigation: e.g disaster preparedness, crime prevention
7. Prescription: Show the way out of situations- sprawl, land use conflict,
pollution e.t.c
8. Prowess: celebration of civic excellence (high-cost projects)
Levels/scale of Urban Design

The Region: metropolis, city and town

Finite boundaries and identifiable edges

Infill development
Broad spectrum of public and private uses to support a regional
economy that benefits people of all incomes
A framework of transportation alternatives

The Neighbourhood: the district and the corridor

Identifiable areas- maintenance and evolution

Neighbourhoods- compact, pedestrian friendly, and mixed used
Districts emphasis a day and night use
Corridors are regional connectors of neighbourhoods and
districts; they range from boulevards and rail lines, to river and
networks of streets
should be designed
to encourage

The Block: street and building

automobiles but respect
the pedestrian and the
form of public spaces
Streets and squares
should be safe,
comfortable and
interesting to the

Elements of Urban Design

o Signage- When choosing a sign one must consider several aspects as to the
desired size, type and placement of a sign. The first question that you should ask is
how much space do you have to construct a sign? If you have limited space you
should consider constructing a wall, canopy or awning sign. If the site is large
enough to construct a monument sign you should do so in addition to wall, canopy
or awning signs. Architecturally integrate all signs with their surroundings in terms
of size, shape, color, texture and lighting so that they are complementary to the
overall design of the building and are not in visual competition with other signs in
the area.
o Lighting- Lighting is an important element in Urban Design. When considering a
lighting design one must take into account the type of light needed for the specific
purpose of the site. Is the light designed to enhance security to the property,
provide ambiance, aid drivers by increasing visibility on roadways, or is used simply
to illuminate a sign? Once you know what kind of lighting you want then it is a
relatively simple process deciding what type of lighting you need. Consult the U.D.C.
for Baton Rouge to determine the proper lighting for you structure or site
o Parking- Parking is an essential element in regards to urban design and traffic
circulation. A parking plan should be developed for each site prior to development
(consult the Unified Development Code). The type and number of parking spaces
should reflect the desired uses of each site. Landscaping of parking areas is also
recommended to provide shade, enhance the beauty of a site, and allow for a
reduction is storm-water runoff. Parking structures are generally constructed using
asphalt or concrete, but the East Baton Rouge City Parish Planning Commission
suggests the use of alternative and porous pavement materials whenever feasible.
o Landscaping- The enhancement of an areas aesthetic beauty is directly related
to that areas landscaping.

o Service areas-When considering the placement of service areas one should

remember the old maxim, out of site, out of mind. Service areas should be
oriented towards the rear of the building to minimize visual eyesores. In addition
service areas should be screened from public view, and the best way to do this is to
build a solid fence around the service area in the same style as the building to
which the service area is designated.
o Fencing- Good fences make good neighbors so it is to everyones advantage to
construct, and maintain good solid fences between two abutting properties,
especially when the abutting properties are not under the same zoning
o Building materials- Facade treatment and the architectural detail of buildings
contribute significantly to the way a building reads from the street and to the
character and continuity of the streetscape. The composition and detailing of the
building facade also has an impact on the apparent bulk and scale of a building. It is
important when considering the design of new development that the predominant
patterns, compositions and articulation of facades reinforces the character and
continuity of the streetscape. This does not mean replicating the appearance of
buildings. Contemporary design solutions based on sound design principles, which
reinforce and make reference to the underlying elements that create the character
of the area are encouraged. Design consideration is to be given to the underlying
building materials that contribute to the character of a building. Such things include
roof shape, pitch and overhangs; entry porches, verandas, balconies and terraces;
materials, finishes, fixtures, patterns, fenestrations, colors and detailing; the
location and proportion of windows and doors.
o Building articulation- Building articulation refers to the three dimensional
modeling of a building and its surfaces, giving emphasis to architectural elements
(windows, balconies, porches, entries, etc.) that create a complementary pattern or
rhythm, dividing large buildings into smaller identifiable pieces. Building articulation
establishes the buildings street address, its response to the local context and
environmental conditions and the degree of continuity between indoor and outdoor
rooms. Use existing lot structure to influence the design of building articulation
when development on amalgamated sites is required to respond to the existing or
prevalent lot structure.
o Transportation-When planning a new development one should make
transportation one of their foremost concerns. You should incorporate into your
development a sidewalk system with walkways with large enough surface area to
allow at least two people to walk side by side concurrently. Attention should also be
given to cyclists. You should provide an adequate number of bicycle parking spaces
as well as bicycle racks which are in plain sight and easily accessible to all. Public
transit should also be incorporated into development plans with new bus shelters
and stops. Public transportation decreases the number of vehicles on the road, thus

reducing traffic and emissions, as well as providing those without vehicles a means
to travel, shop and go to work.
Materials of Urban Design
1. Space Frame: Space and its definition; enclosure; built (+ve) versus unbuilt
(-ve); skyscape; landform
2. Elements of form: Point, Line, plane
3. Urban Functions: Living; Working; Leisure; Mobility; Administration
4. Urban Fabric: Texture; water, vegetation; furniture; light e.t.c
5. Environmental Factors: precipitation; temperatures; humidity; wind;
lighting e.t.c
Community Planning
Community planning is a practice that is engaged in by numerous disciplines:
community work, urban planning, macro social work, architecture, urban
geography, community psychology, environmental psychology, community
psychiatry. A study of the practice of community planning in the various disciplines
leads to the conclusion that despite their similar means, and the fact that they are
influenced by the same social processes, almost no dialogue exists among the
various professions engaged in community planning. The diversified activity, rather
than contributing to an enrichment of this occupation, has led to a dispersal of the
knowledge, has made it difficult to create a significant mass, and has interfered with
efficient learning of lessons from experience.
Planning from Above or Planning from Below
Planners who see planning as stemming from below are more interested in
advocacy for people who are deprived of their rights, and believe more in
participation than in the achievement of pre-defined goals. On the other hand,
planners who see planning as management from above emphasize the achievement
of specific goals and prefer a central planning , which in their view is more
objective. These two approaches represent two levels of planning: local planning
initiatives and supra-local initiatives that come from outside the community. Despite
the differences between them, both kinds of planning are task-oriented, efficient,
and adhere to a planned schedule, and are likely to transmit the same impatience
with the process that characterizes most kinds of planning (Lauffer, 1979).

Decentralized Neighborhood Planning and Centralized Sub-Regional


According to Checkoway (1984), we may distinguish between two kinds of

planning in the community that originate in two different planning schools: planning
that originates in community work is oriented towards neighborhood planning, and
planning which originates in urban planning is oriented towards sub-regional
planning. Neighborhood planning is directed from below and sub-regional planning
is directed from above. This presentation seeks to remain neutral on the question of
decentralization-centralization, but some writers explicitly prefer decentralized
planning to centralized planning (Handler, 1990). The planners independent
judgment 187 Community Planning and autonomy in the course of his activity in the
community are an essential component of a professional practice that is interested
in developing a community. Organizational centralization and the planners lack of
authority frustrate his effectiveness in these domains.
Project-Focused Planning and People-Focused Planning
Community planning may be divided into planning that focuses on service
and projects and planning that focuses on people. People-focused community
planning activates people in the planning process to develop a project by
themselves, and is compatible with decentralized neighborhood planning from
below. Briscoe (1976) maintains that both kinds of practice the service-focused
and the people-focused are necessary, and complement one another. They
represent more of a duality than a polarity. The two extremes are likely to represent
different situations, different conditions, and different organizational structures that
dictate a different diversity of work methods. However, we must not ignore the fact
that they may also represent an ethical dilemma, when the planner has to choose
whether to plan a project that has been dictated by the service that employs him
even if he knows that the people it is meant for are interested in a different solution
Directive and Non-directive Professional Intervention
At one end of the scale we find directive intervention, where the initiative for
the planning is in the hands of the planner, the planning system, and other
professionals, from the beginning of the process until its conclusion; at the other
end is non-directive interventionhere the planner serves as a counselor and a
companion in a planning process in which people are enabled to decide, plan, and
carry out the project by themselves (York, 1984, 1990).