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An Introduction to Urban Design

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Unfortunately, there are no hard and fast rules related to urban design. A structural beam in a building must meet certain requirements for that building to stand. A road must be built in a certain way to avoid future potholes.

Urban design, however, is not a series of rules and standards. Rather, it is a group of concepts that, once understood, can lead to a fresh way of perceiving streets, buildings, and spaces -- and insights into why certain places are appealing and others are not. With urban design concepts in mind you should be able to better question architectural presentations and consider the impact of development proposals on your town's character.

Urban design operates on various scales -- from orienting people through the layout and hierarchy of streets and buildings, to valuing an attractive paving detail in front of a store's door. The ideas can be applied to buildings, the street, land uses, urban park development, and anything else that is woven into the fabric of a town. The purpose of this article is to provide you with a basic introduction to urban design, an introduction which hopefully will lead you to further explore this vital topic.

End of excerpt

Article then covers eight key urban design concepts:

  • Physical comfort
  • Circulation and accessibility
  • Transitions and boundaries
  • The connection between street and building
  • Reasons to be there
  • Scale
  • Detail, variety, and complexity
  • Cohesiveness

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