This section introduces urban design and placemaking by discussing the differences, confirming our shared focus on form and social fabric, and providing clarity on urban design leadership.
Image: Successful places like Federation Square are designed with one or more functions in mind (in this instance a celebration), they relate to the context and deliver 'soft infrastructure'.
What is Urban Design?
Urban design creates authentic, sustainable and quality places for people across the range of urban environments.
This focuses our attention on the outcome - which is the creation of places. It confirms that the focus of urban design is to meet the needs of users of places – who should determine the benchmark of success (not the designers). It also acknowledges that good places which are economically vital, environmentally responsible and socially equitable share qualities honed over thousands of years. It reminds us that our area of influence is not just cities but the suburbs as well as the towns and centres in the regions.
“Urban design is the collaborative and multi-disciplinary process of shaping the physical setting for life in cities, towns and villages; the art of making places; design in an urban context.” (Urban Design Group, 2003)
Image: thanks to Rob Cowan for this ripper! More cartoons...
Placemaking creates places for people with meaning and identity.
We favour placemaking as a term as it is more encompassing – including social fabric and form (hard infrastructure). It refers to the outcome of place creation as well as the process and implies an emphasis on the user rather than the designer. It also removes stigmas associated with ‘urban’ and ‘design’ – which many people shy away from as they don’t consider themselves designers or they are trying to improve a suburban or rural centre. A module participant suggests:
“Placemaking is the art of creating public ‘places of the soul’ that uplift and help us connect with people.”
“Urban design aims at the creation of useful, attractive, safe, environmentally sustainable, economically successful and socially equitable places.
Good urban design pursues local identity and sense of place, cultural responsiveness and purposeful environmental innovation.
It achieves a high level of quality, comfort, safety, equity, beauty and cohesion in the overall, physical outcome of all the development, planning, engineering, architectural and landscape design decisions that contribute to urban change.”
More information is available on urban design and placemaking:
- Quality public spaces
- Activity and end result
- Difference between urban design and urban designer?
- What do urban designers do?
- Urban design and form
- Sense of place
- Urban design leadership
Urban Design + Placemaking 101 E-Workbook
We offer a Urban Design + Placemaking 101 E-Workbook as part of our E-Learning series. This PDF workbook provides a bite sized chunk of interactive urban design and placemaking learning and has a range of information, references and links which you can read at your leisure.
Each workbook in the E-learning series includes an assessment which is interactive with our website and tests your understanding through a mix of content and reflective questions. This preview shows the style and layout, table of contents and reflective questions. You can purchase this E-Workbook, or any of the others from the series, from our shop.
The redevelopment of a railway yards in inner city Perth yielded a new centre anchored by a train station and some lovely residential streets.
Have a look at the additional infomation - particularly the 'value of urban design' when you are trying to convince people to spend money:
Available in PPT on slideshare - Urban design + placemaking 101
Have a look at the ‘Built to Last” movie on the internet site and tell me what you think? There are a couple of other movies on this site you might like to view as well.
What do you understand about New Urbanism?
“Informative – good introduction to principles and tools in urban design" - Rick Beers, Sydney, July 2010
“Great Introduction to the principles and evaluation techniques for positive urban design outcomes” - Joel Gajic, online June 2010