Skip to content
Header banner full
Header banner

Figure 1. Idealized Venn diagram disciplinary model placing urban design as a hybridization of architecture, landscape architecture, and urban planning. [5]

Figure 2. Static spatial design disciplinary model. Proportional size of architecture, urban planning, and landscape architecture reflect the relative membership of each professional organization as quantified in USBLS (2012). [5]

On the 6th of December I have attended a lecture by Urban Designer William Ault, who has academic qualifications in Architecture, Town planning, Traffic engineering & transportation. The lecture had made a lasting impression, as a lot of very important things were covered. This fascinating lecture gave us a very clear understanding of relationships between Urban Design and other disciplines (Architecture, Urban Planning, Landscape Architecture). The lecture was called:

‘From concept to realisation – delivering Urban Design’

As I was interested in that theme since applying to our University, in this post I will try to compare Architecture and Urban Design

Architecture: shape follows the function

Urban Design: Architecture follows the people’s needs

At the time I was applying to study at the Newcastle University, I was almost 100% sure, that I’m going to radically change my specialization because I thought, that Urban Design is something about huge areas, large masterplans and structural differences of cities. But it turned out to be a greatvupgrade, the next step in an exciting way of becoming an Architect.

I’ve been studying Architecture for 5 years, so I’ve learned the “alphabet” (how to make a 3D – model, according to the rules and regulations,  how to make a desired shape, how to create floor plans, etc.) and the next step where I am now is the beginning of an exciting way of learning how to plant the building on the terrain, how to make clusters of buildings, but in such a way that they are in complete harmony with each other, ahead of their time because they do not only meet today’s requirements of people, but they do also run ahead, being flexible and able to improve, considering the wishes of people of the future and also considering the living progress and innovative solutions in all spheres of human life.


Urban Design

Urban Planning

Individual building Spaces between buildings: streets, parks, bus stops, etc. Whole neighbourhoods, districts & cities
Aesthetic and functional Aesthetic and functional


Treatment of space
2D & 3D 3D

Predominantly 2D

Time frame
No definite time frame Short term (<5 years)

Long terms (5 to 20 years)


Urban Design
       The 3 Fs of Architecture:

  1. Function: Fundamentally to provide shelter
  2. Form: An art that is appreciated by many for its beauty
  3. Firmness: Stability of structure


  • Art of Making Places for People
  • Human Interaction with the environment
  • Design in an urban context
  • Involves places such as Squares, Plazas, Streets, Pedestrian Precinct, etc.
    Urban Design:
  • Methods of creating places that are good to live and attractive to visit.
  • Techniques of makinf places that are successful both socially and economically.
  • Is essential in creating community identity.
  • May contribute to a reduction in crime and anti-social behavior.

‘Urban design is the design of towns and cities, streets and spaces.’ [1]

‘It is the collaborative and multi-disciplinary process of shaping the physical setting for life in cities, towns and villages. Urban design involves the design of buildings, groups of buildings, spaces and landscapes, and the establishment of frameworks and processes that facilitate successful development’ [1]

Peter Webber defines urban design as ‘the process of moulding the form of the city through time’.[1]

To Carmona, Heath, Oc and Tiesdell it is ‘the process of making better places for people than would otherwise be produced.[2]

The urban designer Doug Paterson has defined urban design as ‘merging civitas and the urbs: building the values and ideals of a civilized place into the structure of a city’.[1]

Peter Batchelor and David Lewis define urban design as ‘design in an urban context‘. They use the word design ‘not in its traditional narrow sense, but in a much broader way. Economic projections, packaging new developments, negotiating public/private financial partnerships, setting up guidelines and standards for historic revitalisation, forming non-profit corporations that combine citizens with public and private sector financing resources, all are considered as design.’ [1]

Also comparing architecture and urban design, it was said, that:

Urban design is a field and a discipline located between urban planning and architecture: on the one hand the goal-directed, farsighted intervention in urban development, on the other the individual construction measures which create the city in material physical terms...’ [3]

‘Urban design

participates in the planning of buildings, or architecture, as well as in town and spatial planning. As a result, each of these two spheres lay claim to urban design as an integral part. It thus seems all the more important to investigate the relationships of urban design to both architecture and town-planning, in other words to provide “a clear exposition of the differences between the intellectual territories claimed by architecture, urban design and urban planning” (Cuthbert 2006:5) [4]

About My Own Experience

THE DIFFERENCE: ‘It is too architectural!’ – that was what I’ve heard during one of the tutorials.
It meant, that as Urban Designers (not as only Architects):
  • We have to think not just about the shape of buildings and the lines
  • Masterplan has to be not just a significant picture on the screen
  • It should be livable and it also has to cover as much people’s needs, as physically possible

CHOICE: We have to provide people with freedom to choose the way that they want to choose, to give opportunities, not to make rules. Masterplan has to be not just a significant picture on the screen of a computer. It should be livable and also it has to cover as much people’s needs, as physically possible.

My own definition

of a term ‘Urban Design’ is: the intersection of architecture, urban planning and design of the urban environment; urban designing is taking into account the needs and requirements of citizens and filling the space between buildings with unique sense of place.

Urban Design is like cement,

which puts bricks (architectural buildings and structures) together and creates a strong and responsive to people’s needs structure, which is also made of innovative materials and protects people against all possible aggressive factors.

In other words,

urban design provides “a clear exposition of the differences between the intellectual territories claimed by architecture, urban design and urban planning” [3].

‘Some urban designers define urban design as ‘the design of the spaces between buildings’, presumably to distinguish it from architecture, which they define as the design of the buildings themselves. This definition excludes urban design’s proper concern with the structure of a place; it ignores the fact that to a significant extent the characteristics of the spaces between buildings are determined by the buildings themselves; and it encourages architects in any tendency they may have to ignore the context in which they are designing. The question of where urban design should or does fit into the landscape of urban professions — whether it should be regarded as a distinct profession itself, or as a way of thinking, or as common ground between a number of professions or between a wide range of people involved in urban change, for example — is widely discussed.’ [1]


  1. Urban Design Group (2011). ‘What is Urban Design?’ Available at:
  2. Matthew Carmona, Tim Heath, Taner Oc and Steven Tiesdell (2003). ‘Public Places, Urban Spaces: the dimensions of urban design’
  3. Städtebau zwischen Architektur und Stadtplanung (Urban Design between Architecture and Town-Planning. On the relationship between theory in urban design, architecture and planning), Zum Verhältnis von Städtebau-, Architektur- und Planungstheorie, Dieter Frick
  4. Alexander R. Cuthbert (2006). The Form of Cities. Political Economy and Urban Design. Malden, MA/Oxford/Carlton, Victoria: Blackwell [Google Scholar]
  5. Karl Kullmann (2016). ‘Disciplinary Convergence. Landscape architecture and the spatial design disciplines’, Journal of Landscape Architecture 11 (1): 30–41

School of Architecture
Planning and Landscape
Newcastle upon Tyne
Tyne and Wear, NE1 7RU

Tel: 0191 208 6509


Hit Counter provided by recruiting services