Urban Design in a Time of Climate Change

By Susannah Hagan.

Published by Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal — Annual Review

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

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).

Prof. Susannah Hagan

Professor, School of Architecture and Design, Royal College of Art, London, UK

Susannah Hagan is Professor of Urban Studies at the University of Brighton (UK), and director of the interdisciplinary research consultancy R_E_D (Research into Environment + Design). She studied architecture at Columbia University, New York and the Architectural Association, London, is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and the Forum for Urban Design, New York, and has lectured extensively from Sweden and Latvia to the US and Brazil. Her books include “Taking Shape” (Architectural Press, 2001), the first to examine in detail the theoretical antecedents and implications of ecological architecture and urban design. Her work with R_E_D (www.theredgroup.org) centres on environmentally-led urban design, which increases urban resilience in the face of climate change, and can bring social and economic benefits in its wake.