Urban by Design

An online scrapbook, made up of various projects from around the world - mostly relating to Urban Design

The problem we’re trying to solve is people are disengaging more and more with formal politics. We want to allow people in the city to co-produce an agenda item for formal council meetings, replacing the idea of people as consumers of decision making to an active part of the decision making process.



Abstract Cityscapes

London-based designer and art director Yoni Alter developed this colorful series of posters entitled Shapes of Cities. Each unique creation features a particular city’s key buildings and landmarks, clustered together and depicted in an accurate comparative scale. To develop the rainbow palette, Alter combined simple vector shapes with basic color theory. The artist overlapped the transparent layers to successfully achieve a colorful and vibrant display—a series of posters that will add a great deal of style to any wall.

This is fantastic

(via thisbigcity)


Go check out this piece by life of an architecture student.  

Its an interesting start…but it focuses on process and misses the underlying critical thinking that underpins design processes.   It relies on the implicit knowledge of design process that advanced students and professionals bring to their discipline.

The 2 key issues seen in student’s are:

  • The concept is not precise enough
  • The design outcome has no association to the concept

In the latter, the concept is only a cool word on a presentation and the design becomes a programmatic response-usually with some graphical cliché of the concept laid over the top

Both of these issues are fatal to producing good quality outcomes. But more importantly they undermine the student’s ability to test and develop a workable design methodology that suits them.


“Concept” and “Design” although interrelated, are two different things. Concept is a way of drawing together all the key issues and developing a meaningful way of understanding/interpreting the problem. Design is the application of the concept to the problem to produce its final outcome. The Design is the answer and its physical form.


The concept is not random. Although, concepts are often generated by random associations between key data and ideas and rapid prototyping of ideas and relationships (a process that may appear random to novices).   For it to be useful, and meaningful, the concept must stem from the brief and the broader factors that define the problem. These include: the brief, the site, the budget, the users, the client and their aspirations/policies/governance structure. It should also include the philosophy that underpins your design and design direction. Remember you are not trying to achieve some “journalistic objectivity”—you are an active participant in this process. The best designs not only resolve the problem as they have been set by the broader suite of issues associated with that project and potentially the city itself.


If you have 2 or more concepts in a design, your concept is not precise enough. In these situations, the concept is not allowed to do its key task—to unify the design. This situation is a red flag that the designer has not fully understood and been able to draw together all the key aspects of the problem as they have defined it.  Typically the 2 concepts generate conflict (undermining each other) and cause major fractures in the design outcome


The core part of design is a critical response to the issues encapsulated in the brief. Remember the “brief” is only the problem set out in the client’s language. It is your role to interpret that information into a design problem. It is during this process that you will seek to draw all the key aspects impinging on the question into a single clear definable concept.

PROFESSIONAL CREATIVITY – .i.e. you have to do this for 20 to 40 years….

We all love creativity in inspiration. For most non-designers, this is a random event. However, as professionals we will have a very short career if we only rely on random creativity.

The role of the design process is to enable the professional to create an ongoing stream of inspiration, enabling them to produce consistently creative and high-quality functional outcomes. Hence, developing a meaningful and functional design process is the core skill of any design education.

Be voracious and analyse everything

Your ability to generate interesting, new and creative responses problems relies on your ability to generate new and creative associations and understanding. Therefore, your ability to respond is dependent on your breadth of knowledge. If you’ve ever wondered why the designers you admire have such a wide range of interests—it’s because their voracious and they observe the world and define it through a designer’s eye.


Design is too hard if it is not fun


As covered in the life-of-an-architecture-student  text, making and testing is a critical part of the process.   This is not making for making’s sake.  It is about giving physical form to your ideas and enabling you to respond to them through your core visual and compositional skills.  

You want to see the role of creating in practice?  Check out these two videos


Sou Fujimoto Tokyo studio



Ross Lovegrove: The power and beauty of organic design





Once you receive your project proposal and goals you are instructed to meet, write your thoughts down immediately. Write your initial judgments down about how you can reach these goals. From here you can start to combine your thoughts into one concept.

Via landscapearchitecture:

(Source: life-of-an-architecture-student, via studio630)

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