Many people don’t quite understand what urban design really means. It’s an integral part of the overall design of cities and towns and is something we interact with every single day whether we realize it or not.
It’s not the same as Urban Planning
The first thing to get straight is that urban design and urban planning are two different things. Urban planning deals with the overall layout of a city. This includes the road network, street network, differentiation between residential and commercial areas etc. Urban design, on the other hand, deals more with the ways the public environment can be improved physically. It has more to do with how different elements of a city, like the buildings, roads, streets, landmarks, all combine to form the essence of a place.
Why is it Important?
The design of a city is important because it gives it a sense of place. Little elements, like a small corner where two streets meet with a couple of small benches, make different places not only memorable but also turn them into focal points for people. Landmarks and nodes are crucial in making a city easy to navigate for people who are new.
There are many historic cities that have modeled a lot of the urban design around their historic buildings to give the whole place a cohesive and unique look. Some of the world’s best-designed cities see lesser cars on the roads because of excellent transit systems, lesser carbon emissions, and generally happier people. Urban design, therefore, is more than just deciding what goes where in the master plan of a city; it actually affects how a city performs and how its residents live their lives over the decades and centuries to come.