2-What is Urban Design ?

Just definitions either prevent or put an end to a dispute, Nathaniel Emmons
La Ramblas Sketch

Sketch of Las Ramblas by the author for Urban Design Studio of The university of New South Wales

Experiencing Urban Design

What is urban design? I remember the time when I was still an undergraduate student of Institute Technology of Bandung. I knew that if people talked about city, they must talk about urban design. My personal experience began at the time when Professor Mohammad Danisworo was talking about urban design of Jakarta and then first I know it must be something about city, he said that urban design is generally a link between architecture and urban planning. While in the book, Urban Design A typology of Procedures and Products, Professor Jon Lang argued that there was confusion about the definition of what urban design is. Some people called Urban Design a discipline and the he called urban design a process. I was taught by Professor Jon Lang that we should be clear about what we are talking so I’ll start with definitions that came up from time to time.

Urban Design by Lewis Wirth

Lewis Wirth first wrote urban design in his paper ‘Urbanism as a way of life’ in 1938

Urban Design by Alexander Cuthbert

Alexander Cuthbert wrote in his book The form of the cities that

Urban Design is a discipline where, almost without exception, its major’ theorists’ have failed to engage with any substantial origins in the cognate disciples of economics , social and political science, psychology , geography or the humanities’

He later explained that there are papers which called definitions of urban design by Alan Rowley 1994 and one which titled the same by David Gosling’s 1984, Which argue that is urban design a discipline.

Cuthbert stated:

In his paper, Gosling has adopted a wholly architectural perspective, as if only architects had any right to define the discipline. While it may seem unfair to critise this paper, now twenty years old, it remains significant precisely because it represents the most powerful and enduring ideologies still dominating the field of urban design.

Urban Design by Llewellyn-Davies

There was definition from Llewellyn-davies which was:

Urban design draws together many strands of place-making, environmental responsibility, social equity and economic viability; for example – into the creation of places of beauty and identity. Urban design is derived from but transcends related matters such as planning and transportation policy, architectural design, development economics, landscape and engineering. It draws these and other strands together. In summary, urban design is about creating vision and the deploying of the skills and resources to realize that vision (Llewellyn-davies; 2000:12)

Urban Design by Jon Lang

Jon Lang made a clear definition of urban design in his book, he stated almost all definitions of urban design state that it has something to do with the public realm (or the public domain or with public space) and the elements that define it. (Lang, 2005:6)

The broad goal of urban design is to provide opportunities, behavioural and aesthetic, for all the citizens and visitors to a city or one of its precincts. (Lang, 2005:20)

Oleh Realrich Sjarief

Founder of RAW Architecture

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