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What is Urban Design?

Basic Urban Design Principles

Urban design is the process of designing, shaping, and planning the physical features of an area and planning for the provision of municipal services to residents and visitors. Urban planning is a crucial component of the overall look and feel of public space.

 Below are some urban design guidelines that are worth noting.

1. Centres and Nodes can make or break a city

A node is the focal point of an area. A node is where people congregate and can include things like civic buildings, employment centres, shopping centers, entertainment areas, and more. You want the node of a city to have appeal and you want people to feel the need to congregate.

2. Urban Design should encourage social interaction

A well thought out urban design should encourage people to congregate and they should feel that they have a meeting spot in their community. The design should appeal to human proportions, senses, and experience. Amenities and buildings should be accessible and welcoming. You need to take into account the unique needs of everyone who lives, works, and plays in the given space. Ideally, the space should promote a sense of wellness and wellbeing.

3. Think of open space

Think of the space around the buildings. The open space is just as important as the buildings themselves – they must go hand-in-hand. Open space can make or break the look and feel of a space. There has to be a good balance of buildings as well as open space that allows for leisure, play, relaxation and everything in between. Ideally, the open space also includes green space which can help control noise and pollution and facilitate carbon sequestration. Green space is not only good for the planet – but it also contributes to the quality of the urban space itself. JPTA and its consultant teams are committed to the practice of sustainable design initiatives. More clients, businesses, schools and universities today want and expect sustainable and environmentally sensitive spaces.

Sustainable practices are integral to our design philosophy at JPTA. We seek to incorporate sustainable technologies and materials as “common sense” approaches to architecture and seek to design projects that endure time.

4. Think of walkability

The urban design plan must take into account walkability. The space should be designed with walkability in mind. Alongside a strong transportation system (ideally), it is important that the space is walkable or cycle and individuals feel safe going to and from places. This can directly impact the quality of people’s lives if they feel safe while doing their daily activities. The space should encourage people to get outdoors and ideally walk, cycle, or choose a more environmentally form of transportation. Long-term, this creates a sustainable urban environment! At JPTA, sustainability is integral to our design philosophy and approach. We design all buildings with the environment in mind.

5. Urban mobility

Urban mobility is much more than simply getting from point A to B. It encompasses being able to access culture, education, employment, transportation and leisure. Transportation is changing rapidly and is always evolving. There need to be sustainable innovations for combining different modes of transportation. Urban mobility ensures that both cars and pedestrians have safe and efficient modes of transport. Poorly designed areas will be inefficient, unsafe, and create traffic.

6. Missing middle housing

Missing middle housing means a diverse range of house-scale buildings that have multiple units and are compatible in form and scale with detached single-family homes. They are also located in a walkable neighbourhood.

For example, missing middle housing includes duplexes, triplexes, and four-plexes.

7. Urban catalyst

Urban catalysts are new developments in underused spaces that speed up revitalization in their communities. Their design takes into account that city spaces are constantly changing, and that any new element needs to be able to change too. They can be temporary installations or longer term projects that evolve over time. 

8. Multi-Family housing

Multifamily housing is made up of separate units in a single building. Common types include apartment buildings, condominiums, and one-plus-fives. 

This type of housing allows for more people to live within a community because it uses living space more efficiently than single-family housing. It also can often be a more affordable option for residents than a single-family home. 

9. Sustainable cities

Sustainable cities are designed to allow future generations to experience the same quality of life that their current residents do. The urban planning of these communities takes social, economic, and environmental factors into account. The design of these cities tries to limit pollution and waste, while promoting good health, equity, and a minimal ecological footprint.

 The above urban design principles are just a few of many. We take into account all the above principles with every project we design.

Contact us today to learn more.

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