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ENVS 2006 Urban Design: Theory to Practice


This module provide students with an introductory yet comprehensive overview of urban design theory and provides an opportunity to turn urban design theory into practice through the completion of an urban design project

Teaching and Learning Methods

Knowledge is imparted through a lecture course and developed through individual and group project work. The course includes attendance at a series of tutorials and reviews.

Aims & Outcomes

The course aims to provide students with an introductory yet comprehensive overview of urban design theory. It also provides an opportunity to turn urban design theory into practice through the completion of one project in three parts.

The first - quick-fire - element is concerned with releasing your innate creativity. The second is concerned with a complimentary but very different set of skills - your analytical skills. A third part brings these two critical dimensions of urban design practice together as a means to understand and propose creative place-making solutions in a complex urban context.

The course illustrates the potential of design as a creative problem solving process, a process necessary to deliver the types of public and private investments in the built environment that will continue to return value to their users and investors over the long-term. In achieving this, the course provides a basic grounding for the exploration of urban design issues in greater depth through the Urban Design Specialism. It also provides a stepping off point for thinking creatively about planning at a larger spatial scale and for more detailed discussions about the nature of urban design as a critical process in the production of sustainable urban outcomes.

Structure / Outline

Built environment professionals should have a clear understanding of how their various interventions combine together to potentially create high quality, sustainable, people friendly, vital and viable environments; or conversely, poor quality, alienating, or simply unsustainable environments. As all significant built environment interventions inevitably have an impact on the quality of the physical environment and how it is used and experienced, it is important that an appreciation of that impact is developed.

Urban design as a discipline has been the subject of much recent attention and has secured its place in the interstice between the other established built environment professions. In this position urban design is a policy and practice based subject, which, like its related disciplines of architecture and planning, benefits from an extensive and legitimising theoretical underpinning. In this respect the theory of urban design is a subject with ancient roots and yet also a subject which in modern times has developed quickly and continues to evolve.

This course draws on the extensive theoretical underpinning of urban design as a means to explore approaches to appraise the character of the built environment, and, as a result, to forward practical and even visionary proposals aimed at beneficially influencing the quality and liveability of urban space as a key contribution to sustainable place making.


Professor Matthew Carmona
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Assessment is by the submission of one project in three parts.

Indicative Reading

Carmona M, Tiesdell S, Heath T and Oc T (2010) Public Places - Urban Spaces, The Dimensions of Urban Design (Second Edition), Oxford, Architectural Press

Carmona M & Tiesdell S [Eds] (2007) Urban Design Reader, Oxford, Architectural Press