Monday, June 25, 2012

Urban Design Controls

Urban design controls are The tools by which urban design strategy is reinforced and implemented
It is essentially the design elements of both private and public spaces coordinated in a way to reinforce the place identity and bring about a sense of community
We need to caution sometimes not to restrict the potential of space by putting comprehensive design guidelines that inhibit creativity and may prevent organic growth of the urban fabric through different phases
This said, it is important that before we put the guidelines , we are extremely clear about what is the main driving principles in design that we want the guidelines to address
The plot guidelines document rarely these days are modeled. It is. A written text with various two dimensional sketches . Recent technology tools enable us to test the consistency of the guidelines . By modeling the materials finishes, we can understand more easily the overall pattern and texture of the space. It will also place in context color , a factor usually put on the side in design guidelines although cognitive research has proved that it is one of the important experiential factors of perceiving space and classifying it.
Testing guidelines in terms of urban form , the impact it has on the fabric and the typologies it can engender is bother tool of verifying integration.
Building a virtual mock up of a street interpreting the guidelines is another important tool to observe if the emphasis on massing has lead to a monotonous space and that buildings response became too constrained to form an interesting fabric.
As reviewed, urban design guidelines are the tools to implement an urban design strategy but unless this tool is tested in our drafting virtual studios, we my be at risk of the tool becoming the end not the mean

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

master planning and urban planning ,obviously different?

It does seem obvious for the professionals of the built environment that urban planning is one set of skills needed to get a master plan out , but do we really understand what it takes to transform a shape representing a tract of land into a living organism called communities.

Master planning has always been associated historically with either town planning or urban planning. Town planners work on the urban fabric qualities in order to enable legible and permeable urban structure to emerge- street layout, urban form , vistas , perspectives and other spatial elements become essential in bringing an overall vision into fruition. Urban planners are interested in the demographic analysis and the land use budget that will enable the developers to understand their implementation plans when it comes to infrastructure demand and public facilities.

But definitely, there is more to a master plan than the land use numbers it add to, the development controls of its urban form and the shape of its networks. There is an intangible that we all strive to bring about in a master plan - breath into its structure , a unique persona based on mixture that build on the existing resources and extend its cultural identity- Master planning is a transformation exercise not only of the natural, built and social dimension- it is a transformation program that adds, enrich and extend the existing cultural, human dimensions.

Such a holistic program will need skills beyond the technical expertise of  designing large scale environment- it needs skills and abilities that touches on cultural understanding, open-mindedness, negotiation and mos importantly perception .

Perceptive thinking instead of critical thinking is a major skill that will be more and more in demand in planning new communities .

Perceptive thinking sees connections, coherence and way forward in what seems separate, dismantled part and bring it into fruition - be it between different stakeholders, different consultants or working across different disciplines .

 It goes beyond logic to the deep value and belief systems that drives our value and expectations of what vibrant livable and sustainable communities are and build it on it a PLAN that takes us there..