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Urban design lecture 7

Lecture 07: Theory of Urban Design
Lawrence Ogunsanya

Contemporary urban design exists at a crossroads of
architecture, landscape architecture and city planning.
It functions as a collaborative, creative process between
several disciplines and results in three dimensional urban
forms and space, enhancing the life of the city and its
inhabitants (Wall & Waterman, 2010).
Urban design is concerned with how places function, not
just how they look.
Urban design has historically been the domain of the
architecture and planning professions. It was not until
the 1960s that landscape architecture secured a
significant role in the urban design process
The following are a few well known Theorists and their

Hippodamus (5th century BC) of Miletus was a
Greek architect who introduced order and regularity
into the planning of cities, which were intricate and
For Pericles (Greek emperor), he planned the
arrangement of the harbor-town Peiraeus at Athens.
His schemes consisted of series of broad, straight
streets, intersecting one another at right angles.

harbor-town Peiraeus, 451BC

Grid model/Hippodamian plan

Examples; The city of Priene
Proposed by Hippodamus of Miletus who is
considered the father of rational city planning
The center of the city contains the agora (Market
place), theaters, and temples. Private rooms
surround the citys public arenas.
The plan can be laid out uniformly over any kind
of terrain since its based on angles and

Grid model/Hippodamian plan

Hippodamian plan /Grid Model used in Priene city

Le Corbusier
Le Corbusier (1887-1965) was without doubt one of the most
influential admired, and sometimes most hated architect of
the twentieth century.
He advanced ideas dramatically different from the comfortable,
low-rise communities proposed by earlier garden city planners.
Many of his ideas on urban living became the blueprint for
post-war reconstruction, and the many failures of his would-be
imitators led to Le Corbusier being blamed for the problems of
western cities in the 1960s and 1970s.
Le Corbusier is frequently blamed for the monotonous, single
use zoning and car-dependent developments immediately after
the Second World War.

Ville Contemporaine

Figure ground-Linkage and Place

Figure-ground Theory: relationship between building
mass and open space; analyse textures and patterns
of urban fabric; and spatial order.
Linkage Theory: Dynamics of circulation as
generators of urban form; connection and
Place Theory: Importance of historic, cultural, and
social values in urban open space; contextualists

Solids and Voids


Kevin lynch
The visual quality of the city is concentrated in four elements in
Lynch's theory
legibility - is defined as elements whose parts can be recognized and
organized in a coherent pattern or symbols,
building the image (image) - the image of a given urban environment
may vary between different observers (users) and it is an individual
mental image as the result of a two-way process between the
observer and his environment,
structure and identity (identity) - were defined by Lynch as an
environmental image that can be analysed into three components:
identity, structure and meaning and they are in reality always appear
together, and
imageability - is defined as the "quality in a physical object which
gives it a high probability of evoking a strong image in any given

Kevin lynch theory

The five elements derived from the analysis of urban objects in Lynch's theory
Paths - are the channels along which the observer customarily, occasionally,
or potentially moves, they may be streets, walkways, transit lines, canals,
edges - are the linear elements not used or considered as paths by the
observe, they are the boundaries between two paths, linear breaks in
continuity: shores, railroad cuts, edges of development, and walls,
districts - are the medium-to-large sections of the city, conceived of as
having two dimensional extent, which the observer mentally enters 'inside
of', and which are recognizable as having some common, identifying
nodes - are points, the strategic spots in a city into which an observer can
enter, and which are the intensive foci to and from which he is traveling, they
may be primarily junctions, places of a break in transportation, a crossing or
convergence of paths, moments of shift from one structure to another, and
landmarks - are another type of point-reference, but in this case the
observer does not enter within them, they are external, and they are usually
a rather simply defined physical object: building, sign, store, or mountain;
some landmarks are distant ones, typically seen from many angles and
distances, over the tops of smaller elements, and used as radial references.

Jane Jacobs
Jane Jacobss The Death and Life of Great American Cities
(1961) had an enormous influence on urban design theories
and practices.
Jacobs suggested that a vital urban life could be sustained
by an urban realm that promotes pedestrian activity for
various purposes at various times.

She promoted small-scale, voluntary civil efforts instead of

large-scale, capital-supported redevelopment projects.
The physical environment should be characterized by
diversity at both the district and street levels. Diversity in
this sense required four essential conditions: mixed land
uses, small blocks, buildings from many different
eras, and sufficient building densities.

Jane Jacobs theory

Camillo Sitte
He strongly criticized the prevailing emphasis on broad,
straight boulevards, public squares arranged primarily for the
convenience of traffic,
He focused his efforts to strip major public or religious
landmarks of adjoining smaller structures that were regarded
as encumbering monuments of the past.
He advocated curving or irregular street alignments to provide
ever-changing vistas. He pointed out the advantages of what
came to be know as turbine squares civic spaces served
by streets entering in such a way as to resemble a pinwheel in
His teachings became widely accepted in Austria, Germany,
and Scandinavia.

Camillo Sitte

Camillo Sitte

Christopher Wolfgang Alexander

He is regarded as the father of the Pattern Language
movement, which seek to help normal people reclaim control
over their built environments.
Reasoning that users know more about the buildings they
need than any architect could and
to empower anyone to design and build at any scale.
Postulated the 7 rules for city growth:
Piecemeal growth
The growth of larger wholes
Positive urban space
Layout of large buildings
Formation of centres

Contemporary urban design

Contemporary urban design theory is concerned with shaping city and
urban spaces to:

Encourage social activities within the urban fabric

Create positive social interactions
Satisfy ecological needs

Mitigate negative effects of urbanisation

Promote economic growth
Some contemporary urban design concepts and theories

Place making
New Urbanism
Urban catalyst
Urban Resilience
Urban ecology

Contemporary urban design

Theories and Concepts
Place making
Place making is a multi-faceted approach to the planning,

design and management of public spaces. Placemaking

capitalizes on a local community's assets, inspiration, and
potential, with the intention of creating public spaces that
promote people's health, happiness, and well-being.
Place making is also the creation of a place or a built


Contemporary urban design

Theories and Concepts
New Urbanism
New Urbanism is an urban design movement which

promotes walkable neighbourhoods containing a range of

mixed-use land-use and human activities (i.e. housing,
commercial, educational etc.) in close proximity to each

Contemporary urban design

Theories and Concepts
Urban catalyst
This concept is based on using a design element, process

or idea to transform an existing available urban space in a

positive way.
With a good understanding of the context, the new
element modifies the existing elements around it and does
not damage its context. The design is strategic and


Contemporary urban design

Theories and Concepts
Urban Resilience
Urban resilience is defined as the capability to prepare

for, respond to, and recover from significant multi-hazard

threats with minimum damage to public safety and health,
the economy, and security"of a given urban area.
Contemporary academic discussion of urban resilience
focuses on three distinct threats; climate change, natural

disasters ,terrorism and other social issues such as

marginalisation, poverty and segregation.

Contemporary urban design

Theories and Concepts
Urban ecology

Urban ecology is the scientific study of the relation of

living organisms with each other and their surroundings in
the context of an urban environment.
It is the study of ecosystems that include humans living in
cities and urbanizing landscapes.
It is an emerging, interdisciplinary field that aims to
understand how human and ecological processes can

coexist in human-dominated systems and help societies

with their efforts to become more sustainable.