If and when cities are required to become more environmentally resilient, urban design will have to deliver it on the ground. This paper interrogates the practice of urban design within a new dispensation that recognises the metabolic activities of a city to be as important as social and economic ones. It uses examples of research-by-design to examine what this new requirement means in terms of urban design practice. At present there are few, if any, models for urban design that address both the unavoidable ecological recalibration of cities AND the city-as-culture. In urban terms, if the design methods and values of Landscape Urbanism come to dominate, a Wrightian future of cities dissolved into the countryside is a possible scenario. On the other hand, if a more instrumental environmental engineering prevails, nature may be entirely synthetic, and urban densities pushed as high as culturally tolerable. Whatever the possible futures, we will need an urban design process capable of synthesising environmental design and place-making, environmental function and cultural meaning. This will require a change both in design values and in design procedures: An end to the privileging of form over performance, and the development of a practice that can synthesise both.
|Keywords:||Urban Design, Design Process, Future Scenarios, Built Environment, Environmental Design, Place-Making, Planning, Climate Change|
Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal — Annual Review, Volume 6, 2012, pp.73-96. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 20.803MB).
Professor, School of Architecture and Design, Royal College of Art, London, UK