Cities are increasingly regarded as living, breathing organisms that are influenced by local laws and situations while demonstrating global order at various scales and times. Cities are no longer simply seen as planned things. This shift in perspective encourages us to view cities through the lens of geometry, symbolism and connects urban studies with culture. We learn more about the morphology, dynamics, and symbolism of urban environments by embracing the irregularity and complex interplay of urban features. This change not only alters how we view cities, but it also has the potential to revolutionize urban development and design, opening the door for more thorough and sustainable urban landscapes that reflect the complexity of the environment they inhabit, along with the extensive practice of traditional concepts of what we call space.

Understanding cultural significance in Urban Design

Due to its impact on how people interact with their surroundings and one another, culture is a key factor in urban planning and architecture. A society’s multiplicity of cultures produces distinctive architectural representations and urban patterns that mirror the neighborhood’s attitudes, convictions, and practices. A city’s architecture and design contribute to its identity and sense of place of belonging, giving its people a sense of its culture and unity in diversity.

Traditional and modern representations can collide with the advent of globalization, creating difficulties in the preservation of cultural heritage. Environmental, political, social, cultural, economic, religious, and economic variables can all have an impact on developments in urban settings. Urban environments that are dominated by symbols and other aspects brought in by globalization may lose their unique identity.

In the case of Bali, deeply ingrained traditional religious beliefs greatly influence how the city is organized. The spatial planning is guided by ideas like rwa bhinneda and absolute direction, which reflect the Balinese people’s harmonious relationship with the cosmos and their religious philosophy.

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Aerial Image of the City of Bali _©Focused Collection

Overall, culture is a crucial element in urban planning and design since it affects a city’s identity, usability, and aesthetics and keeps the population connected to its built environment. For the creation of sustainable and meaningful urban spaces that meet the needs and ambitions of the local community, a deliberate and inclusive approach that embraces cultural diversity is essential.

City Structure and Street Patterns

Road patterns must be strategically designed to maximize traffic flow, land use, and safety in cities. Several important road designs are frequently applied when developing cities. These road patterns are not simply roads and their geometry serves different purposes and provides certain benefits.

The land is divided into rectangular plots by the Rectangular or Block Pattern, which has roadways intersecting at 90° angles. It has a simple layout; however, intersections can experience heavy traffic. Roads radiate outward from the center of the circular network created by the radial road pattern. The Radial or Star & Block, Radial or Star & Circular, and Radial or Star & Grid designs are variations of the pattern. While radial design offers safer traffic flow, careful planning may be necessary.

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Rectangular or Block Road Pattern _©Town and Country Planning

By forming a hexagonal shape with three roadways at each corner, the hexagonal road pattern eases traffic. For safety, appropriate traffic signals and lighting are crucial. The Minimum Travel Pattern reduces risky collisions by connecting suburbs and metropolitan centers with straight motorways. It’s essential to have effective traffic control measures. The Grid Pattern’s last component is squares formed by crossing streets. Grids make navigating simple, but the numerous intersections make them risky. For effective city development, urban planners must balance efficiency, safety, and infrastructure costs while choosing a road system.

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Radial Road Pattern _© Richmond Time Despatch

Role of Geometry and Symbolism in Urban Morphology

Cities’ visual perception has changed significantly over time in terms of how they are abstracted and represented. Pure geometric shapes like grids and circles predominated in urban planning from antiquity to the Renaissance, showing a desire for control and order. But as cities developed, attention turned to a fusion of geometric and sinuously curved components.

The perfect city was a topic of exploration for architects and urban designers in the 20th century, with a focus on land use, transportation, and service provision. The emphasis on the three-dimensional component increased the city’s visual impact, yet geometry remained the guiding philosophy. These idealized views, however, frequently failed to depict urban progress and organic growth.

Urban morphology today includes symbolism and significance in addition to just geometric elements. Today, it is believed that cities are living things that are shaped by the people who lived there and their history, culture, and way of life. The complexity and diversity of the contemporary urban landscape are reflected in the evolution of the visual depiction of cities.

Example of Barcelona

The case study of Barcelona’s urban planning emphasizes the crucial role that geometry plays in forming and creating future cities. With its grid of short, regular blocks, Ildefons Cerdà’s imaginative design for the Eixample neighborhood has proven to be incredibly adaptive and durable over time. The grid layout promotes walking, active street life, and foot traffic dispersion, all of which help create a more friendly and cohesive neighborhood. Additionally, the thoughtfully planned block orientation maximizes tenants’ access to natural light, fresh air, and greenery, promoting a healthier and more comfortable living environment.

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Barcelona City Plan _© ArchDaily

Using geometry in urban design can help Barcelona address the issues of growing urbanization and climate change by producing more livable, walkable, and people-centric communities. The accomplishment of Barcelona’s Example acts as a powerful motivation for cities all around the world to give careful geometrical designs a high priority in their urban development plans.

Barcelona City Aerial View _© Logan Armstrong via UnSplash

Future of Symbolism and Geometry in Urban Morphology

The ongoing investigation of organized complexity and fractal geometry is expected to shape the future of geometry and symbolism in urban planning. Architects and urban planners will look for more sophisticated methods to comprehend and create urban forms as cities continue to develop and change. Geometry provides a viable foundation for describing and explaining the complex shapes seen in both natural and artificial systems because of its emphasis on irregularity and continual variation.

By using this geometry, architects will be able to embrace the dynamic and varied essence of cities rather than being constrained by conventional Euclidean paradigms. Designers may build urban areas that are more responsive and adaptive by tying form to function and process. 

The symbolism of buildings may change as a result of the concepts of organized complexity and the attractiveness of fractal patterns being incorporated into building designs. As well as using organic development principles and embracing the multi-scale interwoven networks typical of healthy urban environments, these designs can demonstrate harmony with natural systems. It will be possible to design sustainable, visually appealing, and culturally significant architectural experiences by embracing this new geometry and symbolism.


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  • 6 types of road patterns (2022) The Constructor. Available at: (Accessed: 22 July 2023). 
  • Batty, M. and Longley, P. (1994a) Fractal cities: A geometry of form and function, UCL Discovery – UCL Discovery. Available at: (Accessed: 22 July 2023). 
  • Roberts, D. (2019a) Barcelona’s remarkable history of rebirth and transformation, Vox. Available at: (Accessed: 22 July 2023). 


Sampurna is an architecture student, fascinated by intricate study of spatial psychology and the historical context that shapes the built environment. She views architecture as a blend of artistic and scientific disciplines, and is driven by her passion to shape human interactions with surroundings, on Earth and beyond.